Mystery:Did Jesus Write the Epistle to the Hebrews?

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The Epistle to the Hebrews is at the highest intellectual level, and yet its authorship is a complete mystery. Not even modern, sophisticated analysis of authorship can suggest a plausible writer for this great work. Whoever wrote this apparently wrote virtually nothing else. Scholars agree that Paul certainly did not write this.

It was written after the Passion of Christ, as made clear by its references in the past tense to Jesus's work.

In contrast with all other epistles and letters in the New Testament, it is misnomer to call this the "Epistle" to the Hebrews. It is not a letter; there is no introduction, and it reads like a sermon rather than a letter.

Did Jesus write this, or give it as a sermon which a scribe wrote down, during the 40 days after the Resurrection and before the Ascension? Reasons to think so include:

  • the teaching is virtually identical in style and substance to the one made by Jesus on the road to Emmaus as described in the Gospel of Luke (Translated), which He likewise did while appearing to be someone else, and while speaking about Himself in the third person.
  • the writing has a "striking purity of language and elegance of Greek style," and "is a treasure-house of expressions characteristic of the individuality of the writer," using "168 terms ... which appear in no other part of the New Testament, among them ten words found neither in Biblical or classical Greek."[1] There is not a single grammatical flaw in the entire work, despite its complexity.
  • the substance of this work is a firsthand account of Jesus becoming man, subsequently crying out to God to save Jesus from real death, which God then did by intervening; only Jesus could have described this[2]
  • Jesus occasionally visited the Apostles during this time, but spent most of this time doing something else - perhaps writing this Epistle?
  • the Epistle was directed at the Hebrew population, which was Jesus's first priority in His ministry.
  • Jesus was surely capable of writing a great work, and there is no other known written work by Him.
  • It is fitting that Jesus would make one last attempt -- post-Resurrection -- to persuade the Hebrew people for whom His ministry was originally intended.
  • In light of the rejection of Jesus by some Hebrew leaders, it makes sense that Jesus would write a post-Resurrection letter to the Hebrew people anonymously.
  • The Epistle to the Hebrews is unique in its attempt to explain the concept of faith -- something that Jesus emphasized in His ministry, and perhaps only He could explain as this Epistle does.
  • Jesus spent 40 days on Earth between the Resurrection and the Ascension, and it is implausible that He did not continue His ministry in an effective way. Writing (or distributing) an Epistle is most plausible activity, given what had transpired.
  • Many have attributed the Epistle of James to a brother of Jesus, and if His brother wrote a letter, then why wouldn't Jesus?
  • Hebrews 5:5 quotes something that God said directly to Jesus, which no one else would know.
  • the sermon/writing was likely intended for an audience in Jerusalem,[1] which is where Jesus was most focused.
  • Hebrews 13:19 apparently refers to the return of Jesus in the first person: "But I beseech you, please do this, that I may be restored to you more quickly."
  • Unlike most other writings in the New Testament after the Gospels, there is no reference to post-Ascension events.
  • ancient manuscripts refer in Hebrews 13:21 to God working among "you", not "us", which is what Jesus (rather than a disciple) would say.
  • "Amen" was typically added later at the end of New Testament letters (and the Book of Revelation), which means that the ending following Hebrews 13:21 is almost certainly not part of the original. Someone probably thought this letter was by Paul (since disproven) and copied the the endings from his letters (see, e.g., Titus).
  • the father-son analogy to explain the nature of God (Hebrews 7:4) was a personal favorite of Jesus in explaining life.

(add to list)

Objections -- and Rebuttals to the Objections

But of course there are many reasons which shed doubt on such an idea:

  • Jesus didn't leave any writings while he walked the earth. Therefore a note from the grave would have been doubly surprising for his pupils.
But this rebuttal is circular, assuming what it attempts to prove.
No, it just stresses the point how surprising this idea of Jesus's authorship is.
No, it would be more surprising if Jesus, as intelligent as He was, never ever ever wrote anything.
Pythagoras never ever ever wrote anything.
But scripts were plentiful in Jesus's time, and the importance of writing was widely recognized. The Old Testament relied on it.
  • Traditionally we expect God's word to be carved in stone, not scribbled on parchment...
But humor is no substitute for logical argument ...
Humor comes into place when there isn't any logical argument in the first place: your reasons are at best circumstantial, and the question "what did Jesus do during the forty days" is amusing - perhaps he had 39 days of a writer's block, and then started scribbling?
  • In light of the rejection of Jesus by some Hebrew leaders, it makes sense that Jesus would write a post-Resurrection letter to the Hebrew people not anonymously, as this would persuade them more easily.
No, it's clear that people who rejected Jesus when He was alive would not be persuaded by something attributed to him after the Passion for Christ.
So, why writing then at all?
Because Jesus would not have simply given up.
  • The idea of the authorship Jesu doesn't fit the first verses of the letter, where the author takes the position of one to whom God spoke in his Son:
But in these the Last Days He has spoken to us through His Son, whom He determined to be the inheritor of everthing, the Son, by whom He made the worlds,

Hebrews 1:2

  • The idea that this letter was written before the Ascension is ridiculous and stems from ignorance: the last verses include greetings from "those in Italy"...
The last verses could have been added later. By Martians. I mean, if youe're going to make wild suppositions and treat them as serious claims, why hedge your bets?
See the explanation above. The final verses that mention Italy were added after the final "Amen", which itself was an addition to several letters and the Book of Revelation, signifying "The End."--Andy Schlafly 12:24, 5 November 2012 (EST)
  • There is zero archeological or documentary evidence to support such a claim.
No such evidence would be expected for a one-time sermon or epistle.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Catholic Encyclopedia
  2. Jesus "offered up prayers and heartfelt stirrings with loud cries and tears to Him having the power to save Him from death, and He was heard, for he feared God."