Re: authorship of Hebrews

From: Dale M. Wheeler (
Date: Tue Feb 11 1997 - 13:42:35 EST

Ken Litwak wrote:

>Most recent scholarly commentaries take up this issue. Many
>suggestions have been made. Besides Barnabas (...)

Let me put in my vote for Barnabas (though, I'm not precisely sure what
this has to do with Greek, except that Hebrews in in Greek (-: )

First, Tertullian's (de Pud xx) testimony is very important for as Zahn
(IntNT 2:310) says: "Inasmuch as there was no Latin Bible in Tertullian's
time, he must have had before him a Greek copy of Heb. with the title,
BARNABA PROS hEBRAIOUS (EPISTOLH). Merely oral traditions which are
associated with the text of the books Tertullian is in the habit of
reproducing in a different way, e.g., with regard to the relation of Mark
to Peter and of Luke to Paul, _contra Marc._ iv.5, he uses the words
'affirmatur adscribere solent'..."

Second, I think that Westcott (Heb, p. xxviiiff) has made a good argument
(though Zahn demures; ibid.) that the Epistle of Barnabas referred to in
the "Claromontane Stichometry" is in fact the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Finally, I find myself in general unmoved by "stylistic" arguments about
authorship (I realize that I'm not part of the current mainstream on this,
and I may be wrong...) of this or indeed the rest of the NT.

On the negative side, Jack Kilmon said:

>To those who believe Yosef bar Naba(Barnabas)was the author, I would point
to >the error in 9:4. bar Naba would have known where the golden incense
altar >was..the author of Hebrews did not..

I would suggest that a closer look at the Greek text indicates that
Barnarbas is VERY careful in what he says (the English translations have
not been so careful), for (as Westcott points out in his Commentary) the
writer shifts from saying that the lampstand, the table, and the showbread
were *in* (EN hHi) the first room to saying that the inner room "has"
(EXOUSA) the Incense Altar and the Ark...which sounds very much to me like
the Hebrew description in 1Kings 6:22 (unfortunately the LXX doesn't
translate this Heb phrase). I think the idea is that the Altar of Incense
is SUPPOSED to always stand before the belongs there and they
belong together; ie., the prayers of God's people should always ascend
before His throne, as we see in Rev 8:3; I'd also suggest that this is
part, if not the whole point of the renting of the curtain between the Holy
Place and Most Holy Place when Jesus died. I would go as far to suggest
(this is not original with me) that on the Day of Atonement that the High
Priest somehow manipulated the curtain (put it behind his back ?) so that
the Altar was on that one day part of the Most Holy Place and the excessive
smoke from the Altar filled the Most Holy place and the "prayers" of the
people not only "protected" him during this time but also "ascended before
the throne" as they should (read the narratives, esp., about how he brings
in the extra smoking incense and really "stokes up the fire" and how it
fills the area around the Ark [Lev 16:12, 18; cf., 4:7; Ex 30:6; 40:5]).

My feeling is that rather than not knowing where the furniture is, Barnabas
demonstrates an intimate understanding of what the Tabernacle was really
all about...IMHO...


Dale M. Wheeler, Th.D.
Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:06 EDT