Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Hebrews Whodunnit

I wonder who wrote the Biblical book of Hebrews? Some say the apostle Paul, but I disagree, because there are significant differences in style and format between this book and the other epistles by Paul, all of which have a recognizable literary flavour. Others think perhaps Barnabas.
My personal hope is that it was written by Priscilla, wife of Aquila and tentmaker friend of Paul.

Priscilla was no slouch when it came to declaring and defending the gospel.  With Aquila, she had left Rome when the Emperor Claudius had banished the Jews, and settled in Corinth. They welcomed Paul into their household and no doubt as the couple plied their trade of tentmaking alongside Paul, they discussed much of the things of God. When Paul left on his missionary journey to Syria, they travelled with him to Ephesus and remained there. They are mentioned several times throughout Paul's writings, always as a couple in ministry together.

In Acts chapter 18 we read the account of Apollos, who visits Ephesus and preaches in the synagogue. He is described as "a learned man with a thorough knowledge of the scriptures." However, Priscilla and Aquila recognize that there is a deficit in Apollos' knowledge in relation to some areas. They invite him to their home so that they can share the gospel more fully. It seems that this couple were not only knowledgeable, but also respectful and tactful, as well as hospitable. 

Paul describes Priscilla and Aquila as "fellow workers in Christ" and tells how they opened their home as a church house and  how they risked their lives for him. There was obviously great friendship between this couple and the apostle.

Perhaps it is drawing a long bow to imagine that the book of Hebrews was written by Priscilla. From what little we know of her from the New Testament, however, we are given the example of a Christian woman, a teacher and apologist, who was knowledgeable and unafraid to contribute and defend what she believed in.