7:10 PM Good evening, thoughtful bloggers of cyberdom! I want you to meet James. I thought of James while we were discussing Epaphroditus in Greek 3 class on Tuesday. James was my translator when I trekked among the Guji tribe in southern Ethiopia a couple of years ago. At the time he was a young and optimistic 24-year old, freshly graduated from the university. All who knew him loved him. His smile was infectious and so was his passion for the Gospel. Well, when Jason Evans (one of my elders at Bethel Hill) and I decided to minister among the Gujis, we needed a translator, but not just any translator.
Richard Ousworth has published a fine piece called What Are They Saying about the Letter to the Hebrews? (.pdf). Much of it is a review of Alan Mitchell’s recent commentary in the Sacra Pagina series. As someone who has published a number of essays on Hebrews, I was interested in this quote about authorship:
Let us begin, then, with authorship. It continues to be obligatory,
apparently, to quote Origen’s remark, cited by Eusebius (Church History
6.25.14) that ‘only God knows’ who wrote the Epistle, though in fact – as
Mitchell correctly points out – Origen did in several places defend the
Pauline authorship of Hebrews (see e.g. Letter to Africanus 8, Contra
Celsum 3.35 and 7.29). It is surprising, though, that Mitchell spends as
long as he does dealing with the only recent serious defence of Pauline
authorship, by D.A. Black in Faith and Mission 18 (2001). Some of
Black’s arguments are seriously flawed, and every modern commentary
offers a long and convincing list of reasons for thinking that, while there
are intriguing parallels between Hebrews and some Pauline theology –
and of course the reference to Timothy at the end of the last chapter – this Epistle simply cannot be of Pauline authorship in any meaningful sense.
I dare say I am honored to have been mentioned as someone who has given a “serious” defense of Pauline authorship. I strongly disagree, however, with the notion that Hebrews “cannot be of Pauline authorship in any meaningful sense.” If you’d like to know why, see my essay. Suffice it to say here that the external evidence continues to be overlooked in certain circles, and it is the external evidence that, in my view, is probative.