Epistle to the Hebrews

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Epistle to the Hebrews

Papyrus 12 - Front - Epistles to the Hebrews.jpg

A copy of Hebrews 1:1, circa 250 CE.

Author Anonymous
Type Ancient writing
Genre Epistle
Themes Religion
Age Group Adult

The Epistle to the Hebrews, often named simply, Hebrews, is the nineteenth book of the New Testament. It is a letter written in ancient Greek around 80-90 CE. Church tradition says the letter was written to a Hebrew audience and ascribes the letter to Paul the Apostle, but historians doubt it. The letter is mostly a critique of the Tanakh. This letter is in the public domain.


Own?Several translations.
Read?NIV translation.

I read this book to better familiarize myself with the New Testament.

Authorship and Dating

While many Christian churches believe the author is Paul the Apostle, most New Testament scholars disagree and consider the author unknown; their reasons are numerous:

  • Paul is estimated to have died around 64-67 CE, but the letter is estimated to have been written around 80–90 CE.
  • In the letters believed to be the genuine work of Paul (or even the fraudulent ones), Paul always identifies himself at the beginning of the letter. In this epistle, the author does not identify himself.
  • The topics of the letter, grammar, and word usage is markedly different from all of Paul's other genuine letters.
  • Even first century historians called the authorship of Hebrews into question, writing that they had no idea who wrote the letter.

There are no known original manuscripts. The oldest fragment is Papyrus 46 dated to around 175-225 CE.





  • There's a useful definition of faith: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (11:1 KJV). Of course, this negates those apologists who use faith to mean a demonstrated belief.
  • Church tradition says this letter was written for a Hebrew audience, but it reads more like a critique of the Torah. In the Torah, Yahweh demands animal sacrifice to annul your sins and loves the sweet smell of burning offal, in this letter Yahweh doesn't like the smell, doesn't want sacrifice, and it doesn't annul your sins anyway, only a human sacrifice can do that (chapter 9). The author says ceremonial foods have no value (13:9-10) even though Yahweh demands them all throughout the Torah. While I prefer these revisions, in order for them to be true, it means that the Torah is wrong, and that people were believing a false doctrine for centuries.


  • I found the letter to be pretty dull over all, especially the beginning which is just mindless praise.
  • The author warns against people who are sexually immoral and godless and cites Esau as an example (12:16). However, Esau was neither of these things, he was just a starving man who was conned out of his magical inheritance by his brother Isaac (Genesis 25, 27).


  • Much of the letter reads like a personal commentary on the Tanakh presented as fact. The author is basically saying, "these passages definitely mean what I know they mean," however, just like modern day believers, the author gives no demonstrable reason for how they know their interpretation is correct, and, in many cases, the author's interpretation is very different from a forthright interpretation.
  • The letter ends with every dictator's dream passage, "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority!" (13:17)


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