Hebrews, the Epistle to The
Hebrews, the Epistle to the the last of the Pauline Epistles, according to the arrangement of the Received Text of the New Testament.
I. Its Canonicity. — The universal Church, by allowing it a place among the holy Scriptures, acknowledges that there is nothing in its contents inconsistent with the rest of the Bible. But the peculiar position which is assigned to it among the epistles shows a trace of doubts as to its authorship or canonical authority, two points which were blended together in primitive times. Has it, then, a just claim to be received by us as a portion of that Bible which contains the rule of our faith and the rule of our practice, laid down by Christ and his apostles? Was it regarded as such by the primitive Church, to whose clearly expressed judgment in this matter all later generations of Christians agree to defer? Of course, if we possessed a declaration by an inspired apostle that this epistle is canonical, all discussion would be superfluous. But the interpretation (by F. Spanheim and later writers) of 2Pe 3:15 as a distinct reference to Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews seems scarcely tenable. For, if the "you" whom Peter addresses be all Christians (see 2Pe 1:1), the reference must not be limited to the Epistle to the Hebrews: or if it include only (see 2Pe 3:1) the Jews named in 1Pe 1:1, there may be special reference to the Galatians (Ga 6:7-9) and Ephesians (Eph 2:3-5), but not to the Hebrews. Was it, then, received and transmitted as canonical by the immediate successors of the apostles?
In the Western Church this book underwent a somewhat singular treatment. The most important witness here, Clement of Rome (A.D. 70 or 95) refers to this epistle in the same way as, and more frequently than, to any other canonical book. It seems to have been "'wholly transfused," says Mr. Westcott (On the Canon, p. 32), into Clement's mind. After his time it seems to have come under some doubt or suspicion in the West. It is not cited or referred to by any of the earlier Latin fathers except Tertullian, who ascribes it to Barnabas, and says it was "receptior apud ecclesias illo apocrvpho pastore moschorum," that is, the pastor of Hermas (De Pudicit. c. 20). Irenaeus is said by Eusebius to have made quotations from it in a work now lost (Hist. Eccl 5, 26), but he did not receive it as of Pauline authorship (Phot. Biblioth. Cod. 252, p. 904, cited by Lardneer, 2, 165); and as Eusebius connects the Wisdom of Solomon with the Epistle to the Hebrews, as cited by Irenaeus, it is probable the latter viewed the two as on the same footing. It is omitted by Caius, who only reckons thirteen Pauline epistles (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 6, 26; Jerome, De Vir. illust. c. 59); Hippolytus expressly declares it not to be Paul's (Phot. p, 301); it is omitted in the Muratori fragment; and by the Roman Church generally it seems to have been suspected (Euseb. H. E. 3, 3; 6:20). Victorinus has one or two passages which look like quotations from it, but he does not mention it, and certainly did not receive it as the work of Paul (Lardleer, 3, 300). In the 4th century it began to be more generally received. Lactantius, in the beginning of the century, apparently borrows from it; Hilary of Poictiers, Lucifer of Cagliari, Faustinus, and Marcellinus (who cites it as divina Scriptura); Victorinus of Rome, Ambrose, Philaster (though admitting that some rejected the epistle); Gaudentius, Jerome, and Augustine, in the latter half and the end of the century, attest its canonicity, and generally its Pauline origin.
In the Eastern churches it was much more generally, and from an earlier date, received. It is doubtful whether any citation from it is made by Justin Martyr, though in one or two passages of his writings he seems to have had it in his eye. Clement of Alexandria held it to be Paul's, originally written by him in Hebrew, and translated by Luke (Eusebius, H. E. 6, 14). Origen wrote homilies on this epistle; he frequently refers to it as canonical, and as the work of Paul, and he tells us he had intended to write a treatise to prove this (Lardner, 2, 472 sq.). Origen further attests that the ancients handed it do-n as Paul's (Euseb. H. E. 6, 25), by which, though he cannot be understood as intending to say that it had never been questioned by any of those who had lived before him, we must understand him at least to affirm that in the Church of Alexandria it had from the earliest period been received. Dionysus of Alexandria acknowledged it as part of sacred Scripture, and as written by Paul. By Basil, the Gregories, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Chrysostom, and all the Greeks, as Jerome attests, it was received. Eusebius, though he ranks it in one place among the ἀντιλεγόμενα, in deference to the doubts entertained respecting it in the Roman Church, nevertheless asserts its apostolic authority, and includes it among the books generally received by the churches. In public documents of the Eastern Church also, such as the Epistle of the Synod at Antioch, the Apostolical Constitutions, the Catalogue of the Council, its claims are recognized. In the Syrian churches it was received; it is found in the Peshito version; it is quoted by Ephrem as Paul's; and it is included among the canonical Scriptures in the catalogue of Ebedjesu (Lardner, 4:430, 440). To this uniform testimony there is nothing to oppose, unless we accept the somewhat dubious assertion of Jerome that it was rejected by the heretical teacher Basilides (Proem. in Ep. ad Tit.; but compare Lardner, 9:305).
At the end of the 4th century, Jerome, the most learned and critical of the Latin fathers, reviewed the conflicting opinions as to the authority of this epistle. He considered that the prevailing, though not universal view of the Latin churches was of less weight than the view not only of ancient writers, but also of all the Greek and all the Eastern churches, where the epistle was received as canonical and read daily; and he pronounced a decided opinion in favor of its authority. The great contemporary light of North Africa, St. Augustine, held a similar opinion. And after the declaration of these two eminent men, the Latin churches united with the East in receiving the epistle. The third Council of Carthage, A.D. 397, and a decretal of pope Innocent, A.D. 416, gave a final confirmation to their decision.
Such was the course and the end of the only considerable opposition which has been made to the canonical authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Its origin has not been ascertained. Some critics have conjectured that the Montanist or the Novatian controversy instigated, and that the Arian controversy dissipated so much opposition as proceeded from orthodox Christians. The references to Paul in the Clementine Homilies have led other critics to the startling theory that orthodox Christians at Rome, in the middle of the 2nd century, commonly regarded and described Paul as an enemy of the faith-a theory which, if it were established, would be a much stranger fact than the rejection of the least accredited of the epistles that bear the apostle's name. But perhaps it is more probable that that jealous care with which the Church everywhere, in the 2nd century, had learned to scrutinize all books claiming canonical authority, misled, in this instance, the churches of North Africa and Rome. For to them this epistle was an anonymous writing, unlike an epistle in its opening, unlike a treatise in its end, differing in its style from every apostolic epistle, abounding in arguments and appealing to sentiments which were always foreign to the Gentile, and growing less familiar to the Jewish mind. So they went a step beyond the church of Alexandria, which, while doubting the authorship of this epistle, always acknowledged its authority. The church of Jerusalem, as the original receiver of the epistle, was the depository of that oral testimony on which both its authorship and canonical authority rested, and was the fountainhead of information which satisfied the Eastern and Greek churches. But the church of Jerusalem was early hidden in exile and obscurity. And Palestine, after the destruction of Jerusalem, became unknown ground to that class of "dwellers in Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome," who once maintained close religious intercourse with it. All these considerations may help to account for the fact that the Latin churches hesitated to receive an epistle, the credentials of which, from peculiar circumstances, were originally imperfect, and had become inaccessible to them when their version of Scripture was in process of formation, until religious intercourse between East and West again grew frequent and intimate in the 4th century.
Cardinal Cajetan, the opponent of Luther, was the first to disturb the tradition of a thousand years, and to deny the authority of this epistle. Erasmus, Calvin, and Beza questioned only its authorship. The bolder spirit of Luther, unable to perceive its agreement with Paul's doctrine, pronounced it to be the work of some disciple of the apostle, who had built not only gold, silver, and precious stones, but also wood, hay, and stubble upon his master's foundation. And whereas the Greek Church in the 4th century gave it sometimes the tenth place, or at other times, as it now does, and as the Syrian, Roman, and English churches do, the fourteenth place among the epistles of Paul, Luther, when he printed his version of the Bible, separated this book from Paul's epistles, and placed it with the epistles of James and Jude, next before the Revelation; indicating by this change of order his opinion that the four relegated books are of less importance and less authority than the rest of the New Testament. His opinion found some promoters, but it has not been adopted in any confession of the Lutheran Church.
The canonical authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews is, then, secure, so far as it can be established by the tradition of Christian churches. The doubts which affected it were admitted in remote places, or in the failure of knowledge, or under the pressure of times of intellectual excitement; and they have disappeared before full information and calm judgment.
II. Authorship. — From the above testimonies it will be perceived that the assertion of the canonicity of this book is mostly identified with the assertion of its Pauline authorship. The former of these positions does not, it is true, necessarily depend upon the latter, for a book may be canonical, yet not be the production of any individual whose name we know; but, as the case stands, the external evidence for the canonicity of the book is so nearly commensurate with that for the Pauline authorship of the book that we cannot make use of the one unless we admit the other. This gives immense importance to the question on which we now enter; for if it could be shown that this epistle is not Paul's, the entire historical evidence for its canonicity must be laid aside as incredible.
1. History of Opinion on this Subject. — In this epistle the superscription, the ordinary source of information, is wanting. Its omission has been accounted for, since the days of Clement of Alexandria (apud Euseb. H. E, 6, 14) and Chrysostom by supposing that Paul withheld his name lest the sight of it should repel any Jewish Christians who might still regard him rather as an enemy of the law (Ac 21:21) than as a benefactor to their nation (Ac 24:17). Pantaenus, or some other predecessor of Clement, adds that Paul would not write to the Jews as an apostle because he regarded the Lord himself as their apostle (see the remarkable expression, Heb 3:1, twice quoted by Justin Martyr, Apol. 1, 12, 63).
It was the custom of the earliest fathers to quote passages of Scripture without naming the writer or the book which supplied them. But there is no reason to doubt that at first, everywhere, except in North Africa, Paul was regarded as the author. "Among the Greek fathers," says Olshausen (Opuscula, p. 95), "no one is named either in Egypt, or in Syria, Palestine, Asia, or Greece, who is opposed to the opinion that this epistle proceeds from Paul." The Alexandrian fathers, whether guided by tradition or by critical discernment, are the earliest to note the discrepancy of style between this epistle and the other thirteen. They received it in the same sense that the speech in Ac 22:1-21 is received as Paul's. Clement ascribed to Luke the translation of the epistle into Greek from a Hebrew original of Paul. Origen, embracing the opinion of those who, he says, preceded him, believed that the thoughts were Paul's, the language and composition Luke's or Clement's of Rome. Tertullian, knowing nothing of any connection of Paul with the epistle, names Barnabas as the reputed author according to the North African tradition, which in the time of Augustine had taken the less definite shape of a denial by some that the epistle was Paul's, and in the time of Isidore of Seville appears as a Latin opinion (founded on the dissonance of style) that it was written by Barnabas or Clement. At Rome Clement was silent as to the author of this as of the other epistles which he quoted; and the writers who follow him, down to the middle of the 4th century, only touch on the point to deny that the epistle is Paul's.
The view of the Alexandrian fathers, a middle point between the Eastern and Western traditions, won its way in the Church. It was adopted as the most probable opinion by Eusebius (Blunt, On the right Use of the early Fathers, p. 439-444); and its gradual reception may have led to the silent transfer, which was made about his time, of this epistle from the tenth place in the Greek Canon to the fourteenth, at the end of Paul's epistles, and before those of other apostles. This place it held everywhere till the time of Luther; as if to indicate the deliberate and final acquiescence of the universal Church in the opinion that it is one of the works of Paul, but not in the same full sense as the other ten epistles, addressed to particular churches.
In the last three centuries every word and phrase in the epistle have been scrutinized with the most exact care for historical and grammatical evidence as to the authorship. The conclusions of individual inquirers are very diverse, but the result has not been any considerable disturbance of the ancient tradition. No new kind of difficulty has been discovered; no hypothesis open to fewer objections than the tradition has been devised. The laborious work of the Rev. C. Forster (The Apostolical Authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews), which is a storehouse of grammatical evidence, advocates the opinion that Paul was the author of the language as well as the thoughts of the epistle. Professor Stuart, in the Introduction to his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, discusses the internal evidence at great length, and agrees in opinion with Mr. Forster. Dr. C. Wordsworth (On the Canon of the Scriptures, Lect. 9) leans to the same conclusion. Dr. S. Davidson, in his Introduction to the New Testament, gives a very careful and minute summary of the arguments of all the principal modern critics who reason upon the internal evidence, and concludes, in substantial agreement with the Alexandrian tradition, that Paul was the author of the epistle, and that, as regards its phraseology and style, Luke co-operated with him in making it what it now appears. The tendency of opinion in Germany has been to ascribe the epistle to some other author than Paul. 'Luther's conjecture that Apollos was the author has been widely adopted by Le Clerc, Bleek, De Wette, Tholuck, Bunsen, Alford, and others. Barnabas has been named by Wieseler, Thiersch, and others. Luke by Grotius. Silas by others. Neander attributes it to "some apostolic man" of the Pauline school, whose training and method of stating doctrinal truth differed from Paul's. The distinguished name of H. Ewald has been given recently to the hypothesis (partly anticipated by Wetstein) that it was written neither by Paul nor to the Hebrews, but by some Jewish teacher residing at Jerusalem to a church in some important Italian town, which is supposed to have sent a deputation to Palestine.
2. Arguments for and against the different Authors proposed, other than the Apostle Paul. — Most of these guesses are quite destitute of historical evidence and require the support of imaginary facts to place them on a seeming equality with the traditionary account. They cannot be said to rise out of the region of possibility into that of probability, but they are such as any man of leisure and learning might multiply till they include every name in the limited list that we possess of Paul's contemporaries.
(1.) Silas. — The claims of this companion of Paul to the authorship of one epistle find no support from the testimony of antiquity. The suggestion of them is entirely modern, having been first advanced by Bihme in the introduction to his commentary on this epistle (Lips. 1825), and by Mynster in the Studien und Kritiken, 2, 344; but they have adduced nothing in support of these claims which might not with equal plausibility have been urged on behalf of any other of the apostle's companions.
(2.) Clement of Rome. — Origen tells us that the tradition which had reached him was that some held this epistle to have been written by Clement, bishop of Rome, while others said it was written by Luke the evangelist (ap. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 6, 25). Erasmus espoused the claims of Clement, and Calvin inclined to the same view. Some evidence in favor of this hypothesis has been thought to be supplied by the resemblance of some passages in Clement's first epistle to the Corinthians to passages in one epistle; but these have much more the appearance of quotations from the former, or reminiscences of it on the part of the author of the latter, than such similarities of thought and expression as would indicate a community of authorship for the two. A close comparison of the one with the other leaves the impression very strongly that they are the productions of different minds; neither in style nor in the general cast of thought is there any prevailing affinity between them. Clement also was in all probability a convert from heathenism, whereas the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews was undoubtedly by birth and education a Jew. Perhaps what Origen records means nothing more than that Clement or Luke acted as the party who reduced the epistle to writing, leaving the question of the authorship, properly so called, untouched. His whole statement is-" not heedlessly (οὐκ εἰκῇ) had the ancients handed it down as Paul's; but who wrote the epistle God truly knows. But the story which has come down to us from some is, that Clement, who was bishop of Rome, wrote the epistle; from others, that it was Luke who wrote the Gospel and the Acts." Jerome also, in referring to the tradition, explains it thus — " quem [Clementem] aiunt ipsi adjunctum sententias Pauli proprio ordinasse et ornasse sermone" (De Viris illust. c. 5).
(3.) Luke. — The claims of Luke apparently rise a degree higher from the circumstance that, besides being named by Origen and Jerome as dividing with Clement the honors which, as these writers testify, were in certain quarters assigned to the latter, there is a character of similarity with respect to language and style between this epistle and the acknowledged productions of the evangelist. This has led several eminent scholars to adopt the hypothesis that, while the thoughts may be Paul's, the composition is Luke's. But against this conclusion the following considerations may be urged.
1. Where there is no other evidence, or at least none of any weight, in favor of identity of authorship, mere general similarity of style cannot be allowed to possess much force. Luke, however, is known to have been in such a connection with Paul as to justify in some sort the assumption of his having written on the apostle's behalf.
2. Assuming the epistle to be the production of Paul, it is easy to account for the resemblance of its style to that of Luke, from the fact that Luke was for so many years the companion and disciple of Paul; for it is well known that when persons for a long time associate closely with each other, and especially when one of the parties is an individual of powerful intellect whose forms of thought and modes of speech imperceptibly impress themselves on those with whom he associates, they fall insensibly into a similarity of tone and style both of speaking and writing (so Chrysostom, Hom. iv in Matthew, quoted by Forster, Apostolical Authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 648). The resemblances, however, in this case (see them pointed out by Alford, vol. 3, passim) are too striking and minute to be fully explained in this general manner.
3. It is not in the Epistle to the Hebrews alone that a resemblance to the style of Luke may be detected: the same feature pervades all Paul's epistles, especially those of a later date, as has frequently been observed by critics. In fine, while there are such resemblances of style, etc., as have been referred to between this epistle and the writings of Luke, there are differences of a nature so weighty as completely to overbalance these resemblances, and authorize the conclusion that the author of the latter could not also be the author of the former. Both Stuart (Comment. 1, 333, London, 1828) and Eichhorn (Einleit. 3, 465) justly lay stress on the greater predominance of Jewish feelings in the Epistle to the Hebrews than in any of Luke's writings, and still more on the marked familiarity with the peculiarities of the Jewish schools displayed by the writer of the epistle, but of which no traces are apparent in any of the writings of the evangelist. Both writings display the combined influence of the Palestinian and the Hellenistic character on the part of their author; but in the Epistle to the Hebrews the former so decidedly predominates over the latter, while the reverse is the case with the writings of Luke, that it seems to the last degree improbable that the same person could have written both. Luke, moreover, was a convert from heathenism, whereas the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews was evidently a Jew. It appears, therefore, that for the theory which ascribes the composition of this epistle to Luke as of his own dictation, there is no evidence of any kind which will bear examination, but, on the contrary, not a little against it.
4. Nevertheless, the association of Luke with Paul, and the many marked coincidences between Luke's phraseology and that of this epistle, give a strong color of probability to the supposition that the evangelist had something to do with its authorship, doubtless as assistant or under another's authority; for it cannot be presumed that he would have personally assumed the responsibility of a work like this, evidently conceived, written, and sent out as of apostolical authority, and with the personal allusions to the history apparently of Paul which we find in the final salutations. But if Luke were joint author with Paul, what share in the composition is to be assigned to him? This question has been asked by those who regard joint authorship as an impossibility, and ascribe the epistle to some other writer than Paul. Perhaps it is not easy, certainly it is not necessary, to find an answer which would satisfy or silence persons who pursue a historical inquiry into the region of conjecture. Who shall define the exact responsibility of Timothy, or Silvanus, or Sosthenes, in those seven epistles which Paul inscribes with some of their names conjointly with his own? To what extent does Mark's language clothe the inspired recollections of Peter, which, according to ancient tradition, are recorded in the second gospel? Or, to take the acknowledged writings of Luke himself — "what is the share of the eye-witnesses and ministers of the word" (Lu 1:2), or what is the share of Paul himself in that gospel which some persons, not without countenance from tradition, conjecture that Luke wrote under his master's eye in the prison at Caesarea; or who shall assign to the follower and the master their portions respectively in those seven characteristic speeches at Antioch, Lystra, Athens, Miletus, Jerusalem, and Caesarea? If Luke wrote down Paul's Gospel, and condensed his missionary speeches, may he not have afterwards taken a more important share in the composition of this epistle?
(4.) Barnabas. — The hypothesis which claims the authorship of this epistle for Barnabas has in its support the testimony of Tertullian (De Pudicitia, c. 20), with whom, as we learn from Jerome (Epist. 129, ad Dardanum), several (plerique) among the Latins concurred. For this opinion Tertullian, in the passage referred to, assigns no reasons, and Jerome appears to have treated it as a mere conjecture resting upon Tertullian's authority alone; for, in his catalogue of ecclesiastical writers (c. 5), he refers to this opinion as one "juxta Tertullianum," whilst he says that the opinion that Luke was the author was one "juxta quosdam." Hug is of opinion (Introd. p. 596, Fosdick's transl.) that in this passage we have not Tertullian's own view so much as a concession on his part to those whom he was opposing, and who, because of the very passage he is about to quote from the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb 6:4-8), were inclined to reject the claims of that epistle to be esteemed the production of Paul. This conjecture is of use, as it tends to show that Tertullian might have another reason for ascribing this epistle to Barnabas than his total ignorance that it had ever been imputed to Paul, as has been confidently inferred by several writers from the fact that it was obviously to the interest of his argument to uphold the Pauline origin of this epistle had he been aware of it. In recent times the ablest defender of this hypothesis is Ullmann, who has devoted to it an article in the first volume of his journal, the Studien und Kritiken; but the evidence he adduces in favor of it is very feeble. After enlarging on the testimony of Tertullian, he proceeds to the internal evidence in favor of Barnabas; but of the six reasons he assigns for ascribing the epistle to him, none possesses any force. The first, viz. the traces in the epistle of an Alexandrian education on the part of the author, supposing it granted, would not apply particularly to Barnabas, who was a native of Cyprus, and who, though Ullmann says "he had perhaps been in Alexandria," for aught we know had never seen that seat of allegorical learning. The second, viz. that Barnabas, being a Levite, was more likely, on that account, to understand the Jewish ritual, as we see the author of this epistle did, is of no weight, for there is nothing stated in the epistle on that head which any intelligent Jew might not have known, whether a Levite or not. The third, viz. that what the author of this epistle says concerning the law, divine revelation, faith, etc., is very Pauline, and such as we might expect from a companion of Paul, such as Barnabas was; the fourth, viz. that the tenor of the epistle is worthy such a man as Barnabas; the fifth, viz. that the writer of this epistle speaks of the Savior very frequently by the appellation ο 'Ι2(οᾷεο, which Dr. Ullmann thinks indicates that the writer must have known our Lord during his personal ministry, which was probably the case with Barnabas; and the sixth, viz. that the names of persons mentioned in this epistle are names which Barnabas might have referred to had he written it-are reasons such as it would be idle to refute, and such as fill us with surprise that a man of Ullmann's learning and vigor should have gravely adduced them. With regard to the fifth also, Olshausen has justly observed (Opusc. Theologica, p. 115) that if it were certain that Barnabas had enjoyed the advantage of our Lord's personal ministry, it would clearly prove that he was not the author of this epistle, for the latter distinctly classes himself with those by whom this advantage had not been enjoyed (ch. 2, 3). Stuart and some others have laid great stress on the contrast afforded by this epistle to the extant epistle which passes under the name of Barnabas, with respect to style, tone, and general character, as supplying indubitable evidence that the former is the production of a different and a far superior mind. Of this there can be no question, and, were we quite certain that the epistle ascribed to Barnabas was really his production, the argument would be conclusive. But, though some very distinguished names may be cited in support of its authenticity, the greater weight, both of authority and evidence, is against it. SEE BARNABAS, EPISTLE OF. The total absence of any reason in favor of imputing the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews to Barnabas affords sufficient ground for rejecting this hypothesis without our attempting to adduce dubious and uncertain reasons against it.
(5.) Some Alexandrian Christian. — This hypothesis rests on certain features of the epistle which are said to betray Alexandrian culture, habits, and modes of thought on the part of the writer. These have been much insisted upon by Eichhorn, Schulz, Bleek, and others: but they are not such, we think, as carry with them the weight which these writers have allowed to them. The standard of comparison by which the supposed Alexandrian tone of this epistle is evinced is supplied by the writings of Philo, between which and this epistle it is affirmed that there is so close a resemblance that it can be accounted for only on the supposition that the author of the latter was, like Philo, an Alexandrian Jew. Now, before this reasoning can be so much as looked at, it behooves those who use it to point out clearly how much of Philo's peculiar style and sentiment was owing to his Jewish, and how much to his Alexandrian education or habits of thought; because, unless this can be done, it will be impossible to show that any alleged peculiarity necessarily bespeaks an Alexandrian origin, and could not possibly have appeared in the writings of a pure Jew of Palestine. No attempt, however, of this sort has been made; on the contrary, it has been assumed that whatever is Philonian is therefore Alexandrian, and hence all resemblances between the writings of Philo and the Epistle to the Hebrews have been urged as certain proofs that the latter must have been written by a converted Jew of Alexandria. Such an assumption, however, we would by no means concede; and we feel confirmed in this by an examination of the evidence adduced in support of the alleged Alexandrian character of this epistle. As Stuart has, we think, clearly shown (i, 321), and as even Tholuck, though obviously inclining the other way, has candidly admitted (Comment. on the Hebrews, 1, 68, § 7), there is nothing in this evidence to show that this epistle might not have been written by a Jew who had never left the bounds of Palestine. It is worthy of notice that several of the points on which Eichhorn chiefly insists as favoring his view, such as the prevalence of typical expositions of the Mosaic ritual in this epistle, and the greater elegance of its language and style (Einleit. 3:443 sq.), are given up by Bleek, and that of the two chiefly insisted upon by the latter, viz. the close affinity between this epistle and the writings of Philo, and the alleged mistake in regard to the furniture of the tabernacle which Bleek charges upon the author of this epistle in chap. 9:3, 4, and which he thinks no Jew of Palestine could have committed, both are relinquished by Tholuck as untenable (comp. the valuable remarks of Hug, Introd. p. 584, note, Fosdick's transl.). With regard to the latter, it may be remarked that, even supposing it proved that the writer of this epistle had erred in asserting that the pot containing the manna and Aaron's rod were placed in the ark of the testimony, and that, supposing θυμιατήριον to denote the altar of incense, and not the censer, he had fallen into the mistake of placing this within instead of without the veil, nothing could be thence deduced in favor of the Alexandrian origin of the author. For, with regard to the former of these, it was a matter on which the Jews of Palestine had no better means of information than those of any other place, since, in the Temple as then standing, none of the furniture of the Holy of Holies had been preserved; and with regard to the latter, as it could not be the result of ignorance either in a Jew of Palestine or in a Jew of Alexandria, but must have been a piece of mere inadvertence on the part of either, it seems rather too much to conclude that it was such as the latter alone was capable of committing. That, however, there is no blunder in the case, has, we think, been very satisfactorily shown by Deyling (Obs. Sac. tom. 2, No. 47) and others (comp. Stuart, Tholuck, and Delitzsch, ad loc.).
(6.) Apollos. — The first to suggest Apollos as the probable author of this epistle was Luther ( Werke, ed. Walch, 12:204,1996, etc.). He has been followed by the majority of recent German scholars, many of whom have supported his conjecture with much ingenuity. It has undoubtedly been shown by them that Apollos may have been the writer; and they have, we think, proved that of all Paul's companions this is the one who was most fitted by education, life-circumstances, modes of thought, and religious stand-point, to have accomplished such a task had it fallen to his lot. Beyond this, however, their arguments seem to us signally to fail. What weight they have is derived almost entirely from the, assumed Alexandrian tone of the epistle; so that in setting aside this we of necessity invalidate what has been built on it. But it may be permitted us to remark that, even supposing the former established, the latter would by no means follow, any more than because a work produced in Germany in the present day was deeply tinctured with Hegelianism, it would follow from that alone that it must be the production of some certain individual rather than of any other disciple of Hegel's school. The adoption of this theory by Tholuck, after his exposure of the unsoundness of Bleek's reasonings, is matter of surprise. "Still," says he (1, 69), "could it be rendered probable that any distinguished person having intercourse with Paul were an Alexandrian, and of Alexandrian culture, we might, with the greatest appearance of truth, regard him as the author of the epistle. Now such a one is found in the person of Apollos." What is this but to say, "The arguments for the Alexandrian origin of this epistle, I must confess, prove nothing; but show me an end to be gained by it, and I will admit; them to be most conclusive!" Such a statement affords, we think, very clear evidence that the disposition to ascribe this epistle to Apollos is to be traced not to any constraining force of evidence, but exclusively to what Olshausen, in his strictures on Bleek (Opusc. p. 92), justly denounces as the main source of that able writer's errors, on this question — " Quod non ab omni partium studio alienum animum servare ipsi contigit." It may be added that if this epistle was the product of Apollos or any other Alexandrian convert, it is very strange that no tradition to this effect should have been preserved in the church at Alexandria, but, on the contrary, that it should be there we find the tradition that Paul was the author most firmly and from the earliest period established.
3. We now pass on to the question of the Pauline origin of this epistle. Referring our readers for particulars to the able and copious discussion of this question furnished by the works of Stuart (Commentary, Introd.), Forster (The Apostol. Authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews, etc.), and Hug, we shall attempt at present a condensed outline of the evidence both for and against the Pauline authorship of this epistle.
a. Internal evidence,
1. In favor of the Pauline origin of the epistle.
(1.) A person familiar with the doctrines on which Paul is fond of insisting in his acknowledged epistles will readily perceive that there is such a correspondence in this respect between these and the Epistle to the Hebrews as supplies good ground for presuming that the latter proceeded also from his pen. Thai Christianity as a system is superior to Judaism with respect to clearness, simplicity, and moral efficiency; that the former is the substance and reality of what the latter had presented only the typical adumbration; and that the latter was to be abolished to make way for the former, are points which, if more fully handled in the Epistle to the Hebrews, are familiar to all readers of the epistles of Paul (comp. 2Co 3:6-18; Ga 3:22; Ga 4:1-9,21-31; Col 2:16-17, etc.). The same view is given in this epistle as in those of Paul of the divine glory of the Mediator, specifically as the reflection or manifestation of Deity to man (compare Col 1:15-20; Php 2:6; Heb 1:3, etc.). His condescension is described as having consisted in an impoverishing, and lessening, and lowering of himself for man's behalf (2Co 8:9; Php 2:7-8; Heb 2:9); and his exaltation is set forth as a condition of royal dignity, which shall be consummated by all his enemies being put under his footstool (1
Corinthians 15:25-27; Heb 2:8; Heb 10:13; Heb 12:2). He is represented as discharging the office of a "mediator," a word which is never used except by Paul and the writer of this epistle (Ga 3:19-20; Heb 8:6); his death is represented as a sacrifice for the sins of man; and the peculiar idea is announced in connection with this, that he was prefigured by the sacrifices of the Mosaic dispensation (Ro 3:22-26; 1Co 5:7; Eph 1:7; Eph 5:2; Heb 7-10). Peculiar to Paul and the author of this epistle is the phrase "the God of peace" (Ro 15:33, etc.; Heb 13:20); and both seem to have the same conception of the spiritual "gifts" (1Co 12:4; Heb 2:4). It is worthy of remark, also, that the momentous question of a man's personal acceptance with God is answered in this epistle in the same peculiar way as in the acknowledged epistles of Paul. All is made to depend upon the individual's exercising what both Paul and the author of this epistle call "faith," and which they both represent as a realizing apprehension of the facts, and truths, and promises of revelation. (Bleek and Tholuck have both endeavored to show that the πίστις of the Epistle to the Hebrews is not the same as the πίστις of Paul's acknowledged writings, but, in our view, with singular want of success. Tholuck's chief argument, which he urges as of more weight than any Bleek has advanced, is, that the writer has not here contrasted νόμος and πίστις, the ἔργα νόμπυ and the ἔργα πίστεως, as Paul would have done. But how can this be said when the great lesson of the epistle is, that always, even under the law itself; πίστις was the medium of acceptance and the channel of divine blessing to men? When Paul says, "We walk by faith, not by sight" [2Co 5:7], and the writer to the Hebrews. says that faith, by which the just live, is the evidence of things not seen [10:28; 11:1], what essential difference in their notion of faith and its working can be discerned?) By both, also, the power of this gracious principle is frequently referred to and illustrated by the example of those who had distinguished themselves in the annals of the Jewish race (comp. Ro 3:4; Ro 5:2; Heb 3:6; Ga 3:5-14; Heb 10:38; Heb 11:40).
(2.) Some of the figures and allusions employed in this epistle are strictly Pauline. Thus the word of God is compared to a sword (Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12); inexperienced Christians are children who need milk, and must be instructed in the elements, whilst those of maturer attainments are full-grown men who require strong neat (1Co 3:1-2; 1Co 14:20; Ga 4:9; Col 3:14; Heb 5:12-13; Heb 6:1); redemption through Christ is an introduction and an entrance with confidence unto God (Ro 5:2; Eph 2:18; Eph 3:12; Heb 10:19); afflictions are a contest or strife, ἀγών (Php 1:30; Col 2:1; Heb 10:32); the Christian life is a race (1Co 9:24; Php 3:14; Heb 12:1); the Jewish ritual is a λατρεία (Ro 9:4; Heb 9:1,6); a person under the constraint of some unworthy feeling or principle is "subject to bondage" (Ga 5:1; Heb 2:15), etc.
(3.) Certain marked characteristics of Paul's style are found in this epistle. This department of the internal evidence has more, perhaps, than any other been canvassed by recent critics, and in some cases opposite conclusions have been drawn from the same phenomena. Thus the occurrence of era ἃπαξ λεγόμενα in this epistle has been adduced by the German scholars against the Pauline origin of it, whilst Stuart and Forster have both rested on this fact as strongly in favor of that conclusion; and as it appears to us with justice, for if it be made out from Paul's acknowledged writings that the use of unusual words is a characteristic of his style (and this has been placed by these writers beyond all question), it is obvious that the occurrence of the same characteristic in this epistle, so far from being an argument against, is, as far as it goes, an argument for our ascribing it to Paul. On arguments, however, based on such minute phenomena, we are not disposed to rest much weight on either side. Every person must be aware that an author's use of words is greatly modified by the circumstances under which he writes, or the design he has in writing; and the literature of every country presents us with numerous cases of authors whose works, written at different periods, and with different designs, present far greater diversities of expression than any which have been pointed out between the Epistle to the Hebrews and the acknowledged epistles of Paul. Hence cautious critics have declined to rest much in questions of literary parentage upon what Bentley calls (Dissert. on Phialaris, p. 19, London, 1699) "censures that are made from stile and language alone," and which, he adds, "are commonly nice and uncertain, and depend upon slender notices." Apart, however, from such minute niceties, there are certain marked peculiarities of style which attach to particular writers, and flow so directly from the character of their genius or education that they can hardly express themselves in discourse without introducing them. Now such peculiarities the writings of Paul present, and the occurrence of them has always been felt to afford no small evidence of the authenticity of any production claiming to be his in which they are found. Paley, in enumerating these (Horae Paulinae, ch. 6, No. 2, 3), has laid stress chiefly on the following: A disposition to the frequent use of a word, which cleaves, as it were, to the memory of the writer, so as to become a sort of cant word in his writings; a propensity "to go off at a word," and enter upon a parenthetic series of remarks suggested by that word; and a fondness for the paronomasia, or play upon words.
(4.) There is a striking analogy between Paul's use of the O.T. and that made by the writer of this epistle. Both make frequent appeals to the O.T.; both are in the habit of accumulating passages from different parts of the O.T., and making them bear on the point under discussion (comp. Ro 3:10-18; Ro 9:7-33, etc.; Heb 1:5-14; Heb 3; Heb 10:5-17); both are fond of linking quotations together by means of the expression "and again" (compare Ro 15:9-12; 1Co 3:19-20; Heb 1:5; Heb 2:12-13; Heb 4:4; Heb 10:30); both make use of the same passages, and that occasionally in a sense not naturally suggested by the context whence they are quoted (1Co 15:27; Eph 1:22; Heb 2:8; Ro 1:17; Ga 3:11; Heb 10:38); and both, in one instance, quotes passage in a peculiar way (comp. Ro 12:19; Heb 10:30). On the other hand, great stress has been laid by the opponents of the Pauline origin of this epistle on the fact that whilst Paul, in his acknowledged writings, quotes from the Hebrew original in preference to the Sept., where the latter differs from the former, the author of this epistle quotes exclusively from the Sept., even when it departs very widely from the Hebrew. To this it may be replied, 1st, that both Paul and the author of this epistle quote generally from the Sept.; secondly, that where the Sept. differs from the Hebrew, Paul does not always follow the Hebrew in preference to the Sept. (comp. Ro 2:24; Ro 10:11-18; Ro 11:27; Ro 15:12; 1Co 1:19, etc.); and, thirdly, That the writer of this epistle does not always follow the Sept. where it differs from the Hebrew, but occasionally deserts the former for the latter (e.g. Heb 10:30; Heb 13:5); (comp. Davidson,
Introd. 3, 231). There is no ground, therefore, for this objection to the Pauline origin of this epistle.
(5.) The Epistle to the Hebrews contains some personal allusions on the part of the writer which strongly favor the supposition that he was Paul. These are the mention of his intention to pay those to whom he was writing a visit speedily, in: company with Timothy, whom he affectionately styles. "our brother," and whom he describes as having been set at liberty, and expected soon to-join the writer (Heb 13:23); the allusion to his being in a state of imprisonment at the time of writing, as well as of his having: partaken of their sympathy while formerly in a state of: bondage among them (Heb 13:19; Heb 10:34); and the transmission to them of a salutation, from the believers in Italy (Heb 13:24), all of which agree well with the supposition that Paul wrote this epistle while a prisoner at Rome.
2. Let us now glance at the main objections which from various sources have been urged against its Pauline origin.
(1.) It is unaccountable that Paul, had he written this epistle, should have withheld his name. But is it less unaccountable that Clement, or Apollos, or Luke, had any of them been the author should have withheld his name?
(2.) "This epistle is more calmly and logically written than it was possible for the energetic Paul to have written; all the analogies between Judaism and Christianity are calmly investigated and calmly adduced; the materials are arranged in the strictest order, and carefully wrought out according to this disposition, and conclusion follows conclusion with the greatest regularity; the language also is rotund and choice, and the representation unusually clear. All this is unlike Paul" (Eichhorn, Einleit. 3, 459). This is a singular assertion to make respecting the author of the Epistle to the Romans, a production characterized most eminently by these traits, excepting, perhaps, a less degree of calmness, which the special object of the present epistle may have more peculiarly called for.
(3.) "Whilst we occasionally meet Pauline termini, we find precisely in the leading ideas of the epistle a terminology different from that of Paul" (Tholuck, 1, 39, English transl.). The in-stances specified by Tholuck are the use of ἱερεύς, ποιμήν, and ἀπόστολος, as designations of Christ; of ὁμολογία, which he says is confined to this epistle; of ἐγγιζειν τῷ θεῷ; and of τελειοῦν, with its derivatives in the sense in which it is used, Heb 7:19. Now, with regard to this objection, it may be observed, 1st, That supposing all the instances adduced by Tholuck to be unimpeachable, and supposing no reason could be assigned why Paul should use such in writing to Hebrews, when he did not use them in writing to' others, still the objection cannot have much weight with any person accustomed to weigh evidence, because not only is the number of Pauline termini found in this epistle far greater than the number of termini which, according to Tholuck, are "foreign to the apostle to the Gentiles;" but it is always less likely that the peculiar phrases of a writer should be borrowed by another, than that a writer noted for the use of peculiar words and phrases should, in a composition of a character somewhat different from his other productions, use terms not found elsewhere in 'his writings. But, secondly, let us examine the instances adduced by Tholuck, and see whether they bear out his reasoning. "Paul nowhere calls Christ priest." True; but though Paul, in writing to churches composed more or less of Gentile converts, whose previous ideas of priests and priestly rites were anything but favorable to their receiving under sacerdotal terms right notions of Christ and his work, never calls Christ a priest, is that any reason for our concluding that in writing to Jews, who had amongst them a priesthood of divine organization, and writing for the express purpose of showing that that priesthood was typical of Christ, it is inconceivable that the apostle should have applied the term priest to Christ? To us the difficulty would rather seem to be to conceive how, in handling such a topic, he could avoid calling Christ a priest. Paul nowhere calls Christ a shepherd and an apostle, as the writer of this epistle does. But the whole weight of this objection to the Pauline origin of this epistle must rest on the assumption that Paul never uses figurative appellations of Christ in his writings; for if he does, why not here as well as elsewhere? Now it could only be the grossest unacquaintedness with the apostle's writings that could lead any to affirm this. The very opposite tendency is characteristic of them. Thus we find Christ termed τέλος νόμου (Ro 10:4), διάκονον περιτομῆς (15, 8), τὸπάσχα ἡμῶν (1Co 5:7), ἡ πέτρα (1 Corinthians 4), ἀπαρχή (1Co 15:23), εϊvς ἀνήρ (2Co 11:2), ἀκρογωνιῖος (Eph 2:20), etc. With these instances before us, why should it be deemed so utterly incredible that Paul could have called Christ ἀπόστολος and ποιμήν, that the occurrence of such terms in the epistle before us is to be held as a reason for adjudging it not to have been written by him? With regard to the use of ὁμολογία in the sense of religious profession, the reader may compare the passages in which it occurs in this epistle with Ro 10:9; 2Co 9:13; 1Ti 6:12, and judge for himself how far such a usage is foreign to the apostle. The phrase ἐγγίζειν τῷ θεῳ occurs once in this epistle (Heb 7:19), and once in Jas 4:8; Paul also once uses the verb actively (Php 2:30); and, on the other hand, the author of this epistle once uses it intransitively (Philippians 10:25). As there is thus a perfect analogy in the usage of the verb-between the two, why it should be supposed improbable that Paul should use it in reference to God, or why a phrase used by James should be deemed too Alexandrian to be used by Paul, we feel ourselves utterly at a loss to conceive. With regard to the use of τελειοῦν, Tholuck himself contends (Appendix, 2, 297) that it everywhere in this epistle retains the idea of completing; but he cannot understand how Paul could have contemplated the work of redemption under this term in this epistle, since in no other of his epistles is it so used. This difficulty of the learned professor may, we think, be very easily removed by remarking that it does not appear to have been Paul's design elsewhere, so fully at least as here, to represent the superiority of Christianity over Judaism, as that arises from the former being sufficient, whilst the latter was not sufficient to complete men in a religious point of view, i.e. to supply to them all they need, and advance them to all of which they are capable. That this is the theme of the writer, the passages in which the word in question occurs show; and we see no reason why such an idea might not have occurred to Paul as well as to any other man. Arguments drawn from such special terms, moreover, must always be precarious when urged as objections, because they are not only indefinite, but are mostly negative in their character. A minute examination shows that they are not of much force in the present case; for if the expressions referred to do not occur in the same form in Paul's other epistles, yet similar phrases undoubtedly prevail, and the variation here is sufficiently accounted for by the different character and object of this epistle. See this and all the other questions connected with this epistle amply reviewed by Dr. Davidson (Introd. to the N.T. 3, 163-295), who, however, inclines to the opinion that these peculiarities indicate the co-operation of some other hand with Paul in the composition of the epistle.
b. It yet remains that we should look at the external evidence bearing on this question. Passing by, as somewhat uncertain, the alleged testimony of Peter, who is supposed (2Pe 3:15-16) to refer to the Epistle to the Hebrews as the composition of Paul, and passing by also the testimonies of the apostolic fathers, which, though very decisive as to the antiquity and canonical authority of this epistle (see Forster's Inquiry, sec. 13), yet say nothing to guide us to the author, we come to consider the testimony of the Eastern and Western churches upon this subject. As respects the former, there are two facts of much importance. The one is; that of the Greek fathers not one positively ascribes this epistle to any but Paul; the other is, that it does not appear that in any part of the Eastern Church the Pauline origin of this epistle was ever doubted or suspected (compare Olshausen, Opusc. Theolog. p. 95).
In the Western Church this epistle did not, as we have seen, meet with the same early and universal reception. But of what value is the state of opinion in the early churches of the West in the question of evidence now before us? To judge of this, we must bear in mind that the sole amount of evidence arising from the testimony of the Latin churches is negative; all we can conclude from it, at the most, is that they had no sufficient evidence in favor of this epistle being Paul's; they do not seem to have had a shadow of historical evidence against its being his. The claims of Barnabas, Clement, and Luke rest upon mere individual conjecture, and have no historical support. Supposing, then, that the rejection of this epistle by the Latins cannot be accounted for by circumstances peculiar to them, still this fact cannot diminish the weight of evidence accruing from the unanimity of the Greeks and Asiatics. Had the Latins been as unanimous in favor of Apollos or Clement as the Eastern churches were in favor of Paul, the case would have been different. The value of Paul's claims would in that case have been equal to the difference between the value of the Eastern tradition and the value of the Western. This would have furnished a somewhat puzzling problem; though ever in that case the superiority of the Eastern witnesses to the Western would have materially advanced the claims of the apostle. As the case stands, all the positive external evidence extant is in favor of the Pauline authorship of this epistle; and the only thing against it is that in the Latin churches there appears to have been no commonly received tradition on the subject. Under such circumstances, the claims of the apostle are entitled to be regarded as fully substantiated by the external evidence.
The result of the previous inquiry may be thus stated.
1, There is no substantial evidence, external or internal, in favor of any claimant to the authorship of this epistle except Paul.
2. There is nothing incompatible with the supposition that Paul was the author of it.
3. The preponderance of the internal, and all the direct external evidence goes to show that it was written by Paul. (See the Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct. 1867.)
4. The apparent coincidences with Luke's phraseology merely go to show, if they indeed be anything more than casual, that he exercised more than usual liberty as an amanuensis or reporter of Paul.
III. Times and Place of Writing. — Assuming the Pauline authorship of the epistle, it is not difficult to determine when and where it was written. The allusions in Heb 13:19,21, point to the closing period of the apostle's two years' imprisonment at Rome as the season during "the serene hours" of which, as Hug describes them (Introd. p. 603), he composed this noblest production of his pen. Modern criticism has not destroyed, though it has weakened this conclusion, by substituting the reading πρός ῾Εβραίους, "the prisoners," for τοιῖς δεσμοῖςμον (A.V. "me in my bonds"), 10, 34; by proposing to interpret ἀπολελυμένον, 13, 23, as "sent away" rather than "set at liberty;" and by urging that the condition of the writer, as portrayed in Heb 13:18-19,23, is not necessarily that of a prisoner, and that there may possibly be no allusion to it in Heb 13:3. In this date, however, almost all who receive the epistle as Paul's concur; and even by those who do not so receive it nearly the same time is fixed upon, in consequence of the evidence furnished by the epistle itself of its having been written a good while after those to whom it is addressed had become Christians. The references to former teachers (Heb 13:7) and earlier instruction (Heb 5:12 and Heb 10:32) might suit any time after the first years of the Church; but the epistle was evidently written before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The whole argument, and especially the passages Heb 8:4 sq., 9:6 sq. (where the present tenses of the Greek are unaccountably changed into past in the English version), and Heb 13:10 sq., imply that the Temple was standing, and that its usual course of divine service was carried on without interruption. A Christian reader, keenly watching in the doomed city for the fulfillment of his Lord's prediction, would at once understand the ominous references to "that which beareth thorns and briers, and is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned;" "that which decayeth and waxeth old, and is ready to vanish away;" and the coming of the expected "Day," and the removing of those things that are shaken (6, 8; Heb 8:13; Heb 10:25,37; Heb 12:27). Yet these forebodings seem less distinct and circumstantial than they might have been if uttered immediately before the catastrophe. From the expression "they of (ἀπό) Italy" (13, 24), it has been inferred that the writer could not have been in Italy; at Winer (Grammatik, § 66, 6) denies that the preposition necessarily has that force. Alford (Comment. 4, Proleg. p. 68 sq.), after Holzmann (Stud. u. Krit. 1859, 2, 297 sq.), contends that it was addressed to the Judaico-Christian Church at Rome; but in that case, how could it have been needful to inform then of Timothy's release (as the author does in the same connection. Heb 13:23)?
IV. To whom addressed. — That the parties to whom this epistle was addressed were converted Jews the epistle itself plainly shows. Ancient tradition points out the church at Jerusalem, or the Christians in Palestine generally, as the recipients. Stuart contends for the church at Caesarea, not without some show of reason; but the preponderance of evidence is in favor of the ancient tradition. Two things make this clear, says Lange: the one is, that only the Christians in Jerusalem, or those in Palestine generally, formed a great Jewish-Christian Church in the proper sense; the other is, that for the loosening of these from their religious sense of the Temple- worship there was an immediate and pressing necessity (Apostol. Zeitalter, 1, 176). We know of no purely Jewish-Christian community, such as that addressed in this epistle, out of Palestine, while the whole tone of the epistle indicates that those for whom it was intended were in the vicinity of the Temple. The inscription of the epistle, προς ῾Εβραίους, which is of great antiquity, favors the same conclusion (Roberts, Discussions on the Gospels, p. 215 sq.). Ebrard limits the primary circle of readers even to a section of the Church at Jerusalem. Considering such passages as 5, 12; 6, 10; 10, 32, as probably inapplicable to the whole of that church, he conjectures that Paul wrote to some neophytes whose conversion, though not mentioned in the Acts, may have been partly due to the apostle's influence in the time of his last recorded sojourn in Jerusalem (Ac 21:22). This, however, is unnecessary.
V. In what Language was it written? — Like Matthew's Gospel, the Epistle to the Hebrews has afforded ground for much unimportant controversy respecting the language in which it was originally written. The earliest statement is that of Clement of Alexandria (preserved in Euseb. H. E. 6:14), to the effect that it was written by Paul in Hebrew, and translated by Luke into Greek; and hence, as Clement observes, arises the identity of the style of the epistle and that of the Acts. This statement is repeated, after a long interval, by Eusebius, Theodoret, Jerome, and several later fathers; but it is not noticed by the majority. Nothing is said to lead us to regard it as a tradition, rather than a conjecture suggested by the style of the epistle. No person is said to have used or seen a Hebrew original. The Aramaic copy, included in the Peshito, has never been regarded otherwise than as a translation. Among the few modern supporters of an Aramaic original, the most distinguished are Joseph Hallet, an English writer in 1727 (whose able essay is most easily accessible in a Latin translation in Wolf's Curae Philologicae, 4, 806-837). The same opinion has found in Michaelis a strenuous defender (Introd. 4, 221). The arguments he adduces, however, are more specious than sound; and it has been abundantly shown by Lardner, Hug, Eichhorn, and others, that this opinion is untenable. Bleek (1, 623) argues in support of a Greek original on the grounds of
(1) the purity and easy flow of the Greek;
(2) the use of Greek words, which could not be adequately expressed in Hebrew without long paraphrase;
(3) the use of paronomasia-under which head he disallows the inference against an Aramaic original which has been drawn from the double sense given to διαθήκη (ix, 15); and
(4) the use of the Sept. in quotations and references which do not correspond with the Hebrew text. Why Paul should have written in Greek to persons residing in Judaea is best answered by the reasons which Hug (Introd. p. 326 sq.) and Diodati (De Christo Graeca loquente exercitatio, etc., edited by O.T. Dobbin, LL.B., London, 1843, and republished in the Biblical Repository for Jan. 1844) have adduced to show that Greek was at that time well known to the mass of the Jews (compare Tholuck, 1, 78).
VI. Some have doubted whether this composition be justly termed an epistle, and have proposed to regard it rather as a treatise. The salutations, however, at the close seem rather to favor the common opinion, though it is of little moment which view we espouse.
VII. Condition of the Hebrews and Scope of the Epistle. — The numerous Christian churches scattered through out Judaea (Ac 9:31; Ga 1:22) were continually exposed to persecution from the Jews (1Th 2:14), which would become more searching and extensive as churches multiplied, and as the growing turbulence of the nation ripened into the insurrection of A.D. 66. Personal violence, spoliation of property, exclusion from the synagogue, and domestic strife were the universal forms of persecution. But in Jerusalem there was one additional weapon in the hands of the predominant oppressors of the Christians. Their magnificent national Temple, hallowed to every Jew by ancient historical and by gentler personal recollections, with its irresistible attractions, its soothing strains, and mysterious ceremonies, might be shut against the Hebrew Christian. And even if, amid the fierce factions and frequent oscillations of authority in Jerusalem, this affliction were not often laid upon him, yet there was a secret burden which every Hebrew Christian bore within him — the knowledge that the end of all the beauty and awfulness of Zion was rapidly approaching. Paralyzed, perhaps, by this consciousness, and enfeebled by their attachment to a lower form of Christianity, they became stationary in knowledge, weak in faith, void of energy, and even in danger of apostasy from Christ. For, as afflictions multiplied round them, and made them feel more keenly their dependence on God, and their need of near, and frequent, and associated approach to him, they seemed, in consequence of their Christianity, to be receding from the God of their fathers, and losing that means of communion with him which they used to enjoy. Angels, Moses, and the high-Priest-their intercessors in heaven, in the grave, and on earth-became of less importance in the creed of the Jewish Christian; their glory waned as he grew in Christian experience. Already he felt that the Lord's day was superseding the Sabbath, the New Covenant the Old. What could take the place of the Temple, and that which was behind the veil, and the Levitical sacrifices, and the holy city, when they should cease to exist? What compensation co-aid Christianity offer him for the loss which was pressing the Hebrew Christian more and more?
James, the bishop of Jerusalem, had just left his place vacant by a martyr's death. Neither to Cephas at Babylon, nor to John at Ephesus, the third pillar of the Apostolic Church, was it given to understand all the greatness of this want, and to speak the word in season. But there came from Rome the voice of one who had been the foremost in sounding the depth and breadth of that love of Christ which was all but incomprehensible to the Jew-one who, feeling more than any other apostle the weight of the care of all the churches, yet clung to his own people with a love ever ready to break out in impassioned words, and unsought and ill-requited deeds of kindness. He whom Jerusalem had sent away in chains to Rome again lifted up his voice in the hallowed city among his countrymen; but with words and arguments suited to their capacity, with a strange, borrowed accent, and a tone in which reigned no apostolic authority, and a face veiled in very love from wayward children who might refuse to hear divine and saving truth when it fell from the lips of Paul.
He meets the Hebrew Christians on their own ground. His answer is, "Your new faith gives you Christ, and in Christ all you seek, all your fathers sought. In Christ, the Son of God, you have an all-sufficient Mediator, nearer than angels to the Father, eminent above Moses as a benefactor, more sympathizing and more prevailing than the high-priest as an intercessor: his Sabbath awaits you in heaven; to his covenant the old was intended to be subservient; his atonement is the eternal reality of which sacrifices are but the passing shadow; his city heavenly, not made with hands. Having him, believe in him with all your heart with a faith in the unseen future strong as that of the saints of old, patient under present and prepared for coming woe, full of energy, and hope, and holiness, and love." Such was the teaching of the Epistle to the. Hebrews. We do not possess the means of tracing out step by step its effect upon them, but we know that the result at which it aimed was achieved. The Church at Jerusalem did not apostatize. It migrated to Pella (Eusebius, H. Eccl. 3, 5); and there, no longer dwarfed under the cold shadow of overhanging Judaism it followed the Hebrew Christians of the Dispersion in gradually entering on the possession of the full liberty which the law of Christ allows to all.
The primary design of this epistle, therefore, was to dissuade-those to whom it is written from relapsing into Judaism, and to exhort them to hold fast the truths of Christianity which they had received. For this purpose the apostle shows the superiority of the latter dispensation over the former, in that it was introduced by one far greater than angels, or than Moses, from whom: the Jews received their economy (1-3), and in that it affords a more secure and complete salvation to the sinner than the former (4-9). In demonstrating the latter position, the apostle shows that in point of dignity, perpetuity, sufficiency, and suitableness, the Jewish priesthood and sacrifices were far inferior to those of Christ, who was the substance and reality, while these were but the type and shadow. He shows, also, that by the appearance of the antitype the type is necessarily abolished; and adduces the important truth that now, through Christ, the privilege of personal access to God is free to all. On all this he founds an exhortation to, a life of faith and obedience, and shows that it has ever been only by a spiritual recognition and worship of God that good men have participated in his favor (11). The epistle concludes, as is usual with Paul, with a series of practical exhortations and pious wishes (12-13).
But this great epistle remains to after times a keystone binding together that succession of inspired men which spans over the ages between Moses and John. It teaches the Christian student the substantial identity of the revelation of God, whether given through the prophets or through the Son; for it shows that God's purposes are unchangeable, however diversely in different ages they have been "reflected in broken and fitful rays, glancing back from the troubled waters of the human soul." It is a source of inexhaustible comfort to every Christian sufferer in inward perplexity, or amid "reproaches and afflictions." It is a pattern to every Christian teacher of the method in which larger views should be imparted, gently, reverently, and seasonably, to feeble spirits prone to cling to ancient forms, and to rest in accustomed feelings.
VIII. Literature. —
1. Of general introductory treatises,. besides the formal Introductions of Michaelis, Eichhorn, De Wette, Davidson, Bleek, Home, etc., and the prolegomena in the regular commentaries of Stuart, Alford,. etc., the following express treatises in volume form may be especially named: Ziegler, Einleit. (Gött. 1791, 8vo); Bratt, De ar. qum. et auct. etc. (Gryph. 1806, 4to); Seyfarth, De Indole, etc. (Lips. 1821, 8vo); Winzer, De Sacerdotis officio, etc. (Lips. 1825, 4to); De Groot, Comparatio, etc. (Tr. ad Rh. 1826, 8vo); Bleek, Einleit. (Berl.. 1828, 8vo); Baumgarten-Crusius,
Conjecture, etc. (Jenae,. 1829, 4to); Gelpe, Vindicice, etc. (L. B. 1832, 8vo); Grossmann, De philos. Jud. etc. (Lips. 1834, 4to); Stenglin, Zeugnisse, etc. (Bamb. 1835, 8vo); Forster, Apostolical Authority, etc. (Lond. 1838, 8vo); Thiersch, De Ep. ad: Hebr. (Marburg, 1848, 8vo); Mole, De Christologia, etc. (Halle, 1854); Wieseler, Untersuchung, etc. (Kiel, 1861, 8vo); Riehm, Lehrbegr. etc. (1867, 8vo).
2. The following are special commentaries on the whole of the epistle alone, the most important of which are here designated by an asterisk (*) prefixed: Athanasius, Commentaria (in Opp. I, 2); Chrysostom, Homiliae (in Opp. 12, 1); Cyril, Commentaria (in Mai, Script. Vet. 8, 2, 147); Alcuin, Explanatio (in Opp. I, 2); Aquinas, Expositio (in Opp. 7); *Calvin, Commentarius (in Opp.; also in English, by Cotton, Lond. 1605, 4to; by a clergyman, London, 1841, 12mo; by Owen, Edilbi 1853, 8vo); Zuingle, Annotationes (in Opp. 4, 564); Ecolampadius, Explanationes (Argent. 1534, Basil, 1536, 8vo); Megander, Adnotationec (Tig. 1539, 8vo); GranAdis, Commentarius (Paris, 1546, 8vo); Bachmeister [ed. Streuensee], Disputatio (Rost. 1569, 8vo; also in Germ. Hal. 1755, 8vo); Brentz, Commentarius (Tub. 1571, 4to); Hyperius, Commentarii (Tig. 1585, fol.); Grynaeus, Explanatio (Basil. 1587, 8vo); Buccafoci, Commentarius [including John] (Rom. 1587, 4to); Hunn, Exegesis (F. ad M. 1589, 8vo); De Ribera [concluded by others], Commentarius (Salaen. 1598, Cologne, 1600, Turin, 1605, 8vo); Galenus, Commentarius (Duac. 1578, Lov. 1599, 8vo); — Dering, Lectures [on chap. 1-6] (in Works); Cameron, Responsiones (in. Opp. p. 366); Crell, Commentarius (in Opp. ii, 61); Rung, Analysis — (Vit. 1600, 8vo); Nahum, Commentarius [including Galatians and Ephes.] (Han. 1602, Svo); Rollock, Commentarius (Genesis 1605, 1610, 12mo; — also Analysis, Edinburgh, 1605, 8vo); Junius, Enarratio (Heidelberg, 1610, 8vo; also in Opp. 1, 1368); De Tena, — Commentarius (Toledo, 1611, 1617, fol.; with additions iby others, London, 1661, fol.; also in the Critici Sacri); Lyser, Commentarius (Vit. 1616, 4to); Capellus, Observationes (Sed. 1634, 8vo); Cocceius, In. Ep. ad H. (in Opp. 12, 315); Alting, Praelectiones [on chap. 1-10] (in 1Opp. 4); Scultetus, Ideae (Fracof. 1634, 8vo); Slichting, — Commentarius (Rac. 1634, 8vo); Jones, Commentary [includ. Philem.] (Lond. 1635, fol.); Dickson, Explanation (Aberd. 1635, 1649; Glasg. 1654; Lond. 1839, 8vo); Rapine, Expositio (Par. 1636, 8vo); Guillebert, Paraphrase ,[in French] (Paris, 1638, 8vo); Gerhard, Commentarius:(Jena, 1641, 1661, 4to); Vincent, Commentaria (Paris, 1644, fol.); Douname, Commentary
(London, 1646, fol.); — Lushington, Commentary [chiefly a translation of Crell and Slichting] (Lond. 1646, fol.); Godeau, Paraphrase fin French] (Paris, 1651, 12mo; in English, Lond. 1715, 12mo); Gouge, Commentary (London, 1655, fol.); Horne, Expositio (Bruns. 1655, 4to) Major, Commentaria (Jen. 1655, 1668, 4to); Wandalin, Paraphrasis (Havn. 1656, 4to); Caspar Streso, Commentarius (Hague, 1661, 4to); Lamson, Exposition (Lond. 1662, fol.); Owen, Exposition f Rabbinical illustrations] (London, 1668-74, 4 vols. fol.; Edinb. 1812-14,-7 vols. 8vo; London, 1840, 4 vols. 8vo; Edinb. 1854, 7 vols. 8vo; abridged, London, 1790, 1815, 4 vols. 8vo); *Seb. Schmid, Commentarius (Argent. 1680, Lips. 1698, 4to); Mains, Paraphrasis (Giess. 1687, 1700, 4to); Wittich, Investigatio (Amsterd. 1691, 4to); *Van Hoeke, Commentarius (Lugd. B. 1693, 4to; in German, Frankf. 1707, 4to); Groenwegen, Vytlegginge (Leyden, 1693, 1702, 4to); Nemeth, Explicatio (Franec. 1695,1702. 4to); De Marck, Commentarius [including min. proph.] (Tüb. 1696, 5 vols. 4to; 1734, 2 vols. fol.); Ackersloot, Vytlegginge (Hag. 1697, 4to; in German, Bremen, 1714, 4to); Creyghton, Verklaaring (Amst. 1699, 4to); Heidegger, Exegetica [including some other books of Scripture] (Tig. 1700, 1706, 1710, 4to); Schomer, Exegesis [includ. part of 1 Peter] (Rost. 1701, 4to); Braun, Commentarius (Amst. 1705, 4to); Olearius, Analysis (Lips. 1706, 4to); Brochmand, Commentarius (Havn. 1706, 4to); Starck, Notce (Lips. 1710, 4to); *D'Outrein, Verklaaring (Amst. 1711, 4to; in German, Frankf. 1713, 1718, 2 vols. 4to); Limborch, Commentarius [includ. Acts and Rom.] (Rotterd. 1711, fol.); Clement Streso, Meditatien (Amst. 1714, 4to); Dorsche, Commentarius (Frankfort et Lips. 1717, 4to); Vermaten, Ontleeding (Amsterd. 1722, 4to); IHulse, Verklaaring (Rotterd. 1725, 2 vols. 4to); Peirce [continued by Hallet], Paraphrase (London, 1727, 4to; also [with Colossians and Phil.] ib. 1733, 4to; in Latin, with additions, by J. D. Michaelis, Hal. 1747, 4to); Duncan, Exposition (Edinb. 1731, 8vo; 1844, 12mo); Cellarius, Auslegung (Ulm, 1731, 4to); *Rambach, Erklarung [ed. Neubaier] (Frankf. 1742, 4to); Carpzov, Exercitationes [comparison with Philo] (Helmst. 1750, 8vo; in Germ. lb. 1795, 8vo); Anon. Paraphrase (Lond. 1750, 8vo; in Latin, by Semler, Halle. 1779, 8vo); Sykes, Paraphrase Arian] (Lond. 1755, 4to); *Cramer, Erklarung (Copenh. 1757, 4to); Michaelis, Erklarung (Frankf. 1762-4, 1780V, 2 vols. 8vo); Streuensee, Erklarung (Flensb. 1763,4to); Baumgarten, Erklarung (Hal. 1763, 4to); C. F. Schmid, Observationes (Lipsiae, 1766, 8vo); Zacharia, Erklarung (Gött. 1771; ed. by Rosenmüller, ib. 1793, 8vo); Morus. Uebersetzung (Leipz. 1776, 1786, 8vo); Blasche, Commentar (Leipzig, 1781, 8vo); Abresch, Annotationes (L. B. 1786-7, 3 vols. 8vo); Delphinus, Commentarius [includ. John] (Rom. 1787, 8vo); Storr, Erläuterung (Tub. 1789, 1809, 8vo); *Ernesti, Lectiones [edit. Dindorf] (Lips. 1795, 8vo); Hezel, Versuch (Leipzig, 1795, 8vo); Valnecker, Scholce (in his selections, Amsterd. 1815, ii, 345600); Schulz, Anmerk. (Breslau, 1818, 8vo); Maclean, Commentary (London, 1819, 8vo); W. Jones, Lectures (Lond. 1821, 8vo); Boehme, Commentarius (Lips. 1825, 8vo); *Stuart, Commentary (Andover, 1827, 1833, 1851, 1860; Lond. 1837, 8vo); G. V. Sampson. Notes- (Lond. 1828, 8vo); *Bleek, Commentar (Berlin, 182841; Elberf. 1838, 1868, 8vo); *Kuinol, Commentarius (Lipsie, 1831, 8vo); Paulus, Erläuterung (Heidelb. 1833, 8vo); Klee, Commentar (Mainz, 1833, 8vo); Knox, Serm0ons (Lond. 1834, 8vo); Bishop Parry, Exposition (Lond. 1834, 8vo); Conder, Notes (Lond. 1834, 8vo); Duke of Manchester, Argumenet [of chap. 1-4, 11] (Lond. 1835, 8vo); *Tholuck, Commentar (Hamburg, 1836, 1840, 8vo; translated, London, 1842, 2 vols. 12mo); *Stier, Auslegung (Halle, 1842, 8vo; Brunswick, 1862, 2 vols. 8vo); Maurice, Lectures (London, 1846, 8vo); Stengel, Erklarung (Karlsruhe, 1849, 8vo); *Delitzsch, Commentar (Leipz. 1850, 8vo; translated, Edinburgh, 1868-70, 2 vols. 8vo); Miller, Notes (Lond. 1851, 12mo); *Turner, Commentary (N. Y. 1852, 8vo); Ellard, Commentary (Edinburgh, 1854, 8vo); Lineman, Erklarung (Götting. 1855, 8vo); Tait, Exposition (Lond. 1855, 2 vols. 12mo); Patterson, Commentary (Edinb. 1856, 8vo); F. S. Sampson, Commentary [ed. by Dabney] (New York, 1856, 8vo); Boultbee, Lectures (London, 1856,12mo); Anon. Comparison with Old Test. (Lond. 1857, 12mo); Am. Bib. Union, Trans. with Notes (N. Y. 1858, 4to); Haldane, Notes (Lond. 1860, 12mo); Knowles, Notes (Lond. 1862, 8vo); John Brown, Exposition (Lond. 1862, 2 vols. 8vo); Kluge, Erkilda'sun (Neu Rup. 1863, 8vo); Dale, Discourses (London, 1865, 8vo); Blech, Predigten (Danz. 1865, in pts. 8vo); Hartmann, Ausleg. (Berl. 1866, 8vo); Longking, Notes (N. Y. 1867, 12mo); Lindsay, Lectures (Edinb. 1867, 5 vols. 8vo); Kurtz, Erklar. (Mitau, 1869, 8vo); Ewald, Erklar. (Gött. 1870,8vo). SEE EPISTLE.