Re: authorship of Hebrews

Date: Mon Feb 10 1997 - 00:40:57 EST

Jeffrey Gibson wrote:

<< As to historical context, one must consult and consider Alexander
 Nairne's older, and far-too-often neglected hypothesis that Hebrews was
 written to Christians in or near Palestine in repsonse to the out-break
 of the Jewish war and the "temptation" it held for Christians to join in
 the nationalistic crusade. This, it seems to me, is a fruitful context of
 interpretation, far more so than Alexandria. What was going on in
 Alexandria that would move Christians not only to abandon their faith but
 to do so in a way that its tantamount to "recrucifying the son of god" as
 the author notes his readers are in danger of doing?

This thesis has much to recommend it. It might be compatable with another
suggestion for authorship: Phillip the Evangelist. He would have been
located in Caesarea for some time before 70 AD (see 21:4). Also, there are
noted parallels between Hebrews and Stephen's speech to the Sanhedrin in Acts
7. Phillip was one of the "Seven" chosen along with Stephen in Acts 6:1-7.

Apollos is a natural choice for many reasons mentioned in the discussion.
 Howevever, the Alexandrian origin/destination is less obvious in light of
some peculiar features in the discourse. For instance, it is concentric like
a piece of music, and it has unusual cohesion so that it is impossible to
determine exact divisions in the discourse (read Paul Ellingworth).
 Classical/Hellentistic rhetorical devices can account for many features in
the discourse, and one can identify epedeictic and/or deliberative pursuasion
in some of the units. But rhetorical critics have not been able to convince
the consensus of scholars that the general structure is Hellenistic rhetoric.
 Everyone agrees that the writer has had a Hellenistic education. He
probably knew Philo and Plato, but he "used" them in the same way he has used
Hellenistic rhetorical devices. His thought ultimately is neither Philonic
nor Platonic. But I am in some agreement with Hughes who says, "By far, the
most common view has been to see the epistle as something of an alien
presence in the NT, an intruder from a thought-world which is far from the
main stream of Christian tradition." I would extend that to say it is also
alien from mainstream Hellenism. I suggest that there are three cultures in
play here: Greco-Roman and Palestinian/Hebrew, of course. But these are
incorporated into a different kind of logic (as opposed to abstract-linear
logic). The logic is closest to tribal people with a predominant oral
tradition. Besides a Palestinian destination, I wonder about a trans-Jordan
destination. The disruption in 70 AD could account for the loss of records
as well as the underlying sense of urgency in the letter.

As far as I am concerned, the structure of the discourse (under heavy debate)
and the nature of the logic suggest that the author is not Paul, and perhaps
not Apollos.

Cindy Westfall

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