Evidently, the early church fathers had no knowledge of who wrote the book, yet it was added to the current canon because of its rich theology and depth of explanation on the Son, Jesus Christ.
Many have thought the Apostle Paul wrote this theological treatise, and there are a few points which could support this theory.
First, there is similar vocabulary in Hebrews as compared to the other Pauline books. Second, much of the theology in this book compares to other books written by Paul. Also, only a minority of early church fathers attributed this book to the last Apostle.
Even though we could pull a few more comparisons, the differences are much more apparent and plentiful.To begin with, Paul’s name does not appear anywhere within the letter.
Each of the other 13 books begins with the salutation, “I, Paul write this book.” And most of them end with something similar like “Grace and Peace be with you,” but nowhere in Hebrews is such a thing found.
Stylistically, Hebrews is divergent from the other 13 letters. Frederic Godet said, “It is strange indeed that Paul should have written in polished Greek to the Hebrews, while all his life he had been writing to the Hellenes in a style abounding with rugged and barbarous Hebraisms.” That’s late-nineteenth-century speak for “Paul doesn’t sound like himself.”
Yes, people change their style for a specific audience or over years they begin to write differently. But to suggest that Paul was simply writing in a different style, as if preaching in a synagogue, is a desperate attempt to hold on to Pauline authorship.
Paul’s letters never focus theologically on Jesus as a High Priest whereas, Hebrews the authors determinedly returns to that reality. Paul places much attention on the method of Christ’s sacrifice in his other letters, but Hebrews narrows in on the result.
Many theologians would find it difficult to conceive of Paul writing 2:17 because his theology of the cross eliminated the need for a High Priest, the temple, and the Day of Atonement.
The writer of Hebrews seems to identify with the second generation Christians as seen in 2:3; something Paul would have had trouble doing.
There is also an unusual apology about the length of the letter in 13:22 that does not fit well with the 13 books attributed to Paul. Finally, Paul’s treatment of Old Testament passages is very different those in Hebrews
Many dissertations and books have been written on these and other points in the book of Hebrews. Suffice it to say, it is difficult to attribute one of the deepest theological books of the New Testament to Paul.
Next time, we will discuss another Apostle named Luke and see if he more closely matches with the concepts and writing of Hebrews.