THE LETTER TO THE HEBREWS: INTRODUCTION

 

Almighty God and Father,

Bless us Lord as we come together to study the New Testament letter written to the first century Jews called into the New Covenant sanctified by the blood of Your Son and our Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. Open our hearts and minds that we might discern the truth and the wisdom You imparted to the inspired writer of The Letter to the Hebrews and help us in our study to fall more deeply in love with Christ our High Priest in the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

+ + +

 

Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea in Palestine citing St. Clement of Alexandria [150-211/216AD] on the identity of the inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews: He says that the Epistle to the Hebrews is the work of Paul, and that it was written to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language; but that Luke translated it carefully and published it for the Greeks, and hence the same style of expression is found in this epistle and in the Acts. 4th century Bishop Eusebius, Church History, Book V, Chapter XIV.1-7.

 

Bishop Eusebius quoting Biblical scholar Origen, the head of the Catechistical School of Alexandria Egypt: But as for myself, if I were to state my own opinion, I should say that the thoughts are the apostle's [St. Paul] but that the style and composition belong to one who called to mind the apostle's teachings and, as it were, made short notes of what his master said. If any church, therefore, holds this epistle as Paul's, let it be commended for this also. For not without reason have the men of old time handed it down as Paul's. But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. Eusebius, Church History, Book 6, Chapter XXV.13-14 quoting Origen [c. 185-253/4AD]

 

Severian of Gabala: The heretics say that this epistle is not Paul's, and they offer as their first proof of this that his name is not subscribed as in the other epistles. Second, his vocabulary is different, that is, it is foreign to Paul's customary word choice and usage. One must know, however, that Paul was hated by the Jews on the grounds that he was teaching apostasy from the law...[...]. Therefore, writing something useful to the Hebrews, he does not append his name, so that they might not lose any advantage they could have derived from the letter because of their hatred against him. And he writes to them in the tongue of the Hebrews, which was also translated by one of his disciples... Severian of Gabala [4th century], Fragments on the Epistle to the Hebrews (prologue).

 

 

The purpose of Agape Bible study is not only to provide an in-depth guide to those who desire to study the Bible but to present a practical method that can be applied to the study Sacred Scripture. If you haven't read "About Agape Bible Study" listed in the main menu, or read the document "How to Study Sacred Scripture" please do so before you continue with this lesson. Reading one of those documents will give you "one step up" on the ladder of the art of discerning the message of sacred Scripture as the inspired writer meant to convey the words of God written in human terms that we might understand.

 

Over thirty years ago as I prepared to progress from someone who loved to read Scripture to someone who decided to seriously study Scripture, in my innocence I asked myself, "How hard can it be? All I have to do is read the passage and find the answer: 'What is the meaning of this text and what does it mean to me?'" However, I soon discovered that there is a vast difference between reading the Bible and studying the Bible. The Catechism of the Catholic Church urges readers of Sacred Scripture to be aware that, In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words. CCC# 109.

 

Reading the text is indeed the first step, but to study any verse in Scripture it is necessary to look for the expanded meaning of the text in order to find the intended message given to the inspired writer which God meant to reveal to us. It is therefore necessary to:

 

Be especially attentive to the content and unity of the whole Scripture. Different as the books which comprise it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God's plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart... Catechism of the Catholic Church # 112

 

Such an understanding of sacred Scripture does not come by simply answering the question "What does the passage mean to me?" Taken out of context a Scripture passage can be twisted to mean anything one wants it to mean, even the Devil can quote Scripture and use it to his own advantage, just as the ancient deceiver quoted Old Testament Scripture from Deuteronomy and the Psalms to Jesus as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13. Instead, the first question one must ask is "What truth did the inspired writer mean to convey to the faithful in his time and down through the centuries?" To arrive at the answer to this question, the Bible student must first seek the answer to three very necessary questions:

  1. Who was the inspired writer?
  2. To whom was he writing?
  3. When was the text written and from what location?

 

In the case of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews, these three questions are not easily answered. Unlike most of the other "books" in the New Testament, with the exception of the Gospels, the inspired writer identifies himself'St. Paul in his letters to seven faith communities and to friends and disciples and the other New Testament letters written by Sts. James, Jude, John, and Peter. But this Holy Spirit inspired text does not bear the name of its inspired writer. The question of who wrote this deeply Christological [Christ-centered] letter has been the subject of debate since the early years of the 2nd century of the universal Church. Initially the Church in the Apostolic Age [the age of the Twelve Apostles and their disciples, the first Bishops of the universal Church] accepted St. Paul as the inspired writer, as attested to by the great early Church Father, Origen: For not without reason have the men of old time handed it down as Paul's. But debate over who wrote the Letter to the Hebrews began to grow in the 2nd century AD as Bible scholars looked more critically at the individual Bible texts. Christians in the Eastern churches assigned authorship to St. Paul [with a few reservations] while Biblical scholars in the West for the most part rejected Pauline authorship. It cannot be denied that the Letter to the Hebrews is very unlike the other letters of St. Paul and is in fact uniquely different from all other New Testament documents:

 

The Letter to the Hebrews is indeed unique in its subject matter and themes. It is the only New Testament document which identifies Jesus in His divinely appointed role as the High Priest of the New Covenantal order. The letter is distinctive in its literary composition, having no greeting or formal outline like other letters written during the first century. Compare the opening of the Letter to the Hebrews with Paul's letter to the Romans, for example. It is also written in very good Greek, unlike all other New Testament documents with the exception of the letters of Sts. James and Jude which are also written in good Greek. The vocabulary of the document is unlike the other New Testament letters, using a vocabulary which focuses on the liturgical and sacrificial significance of the Old Covenant as compared to the New Covenant, and other topics not addressed in the other documents of the New Testament. Finally, the Letter to the Hebrews is unusual in its specific use and application of Old Testament Scripture which is used in the letter to illustrate the completion of the Old Covenant which is fulfilled by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah, the divine Son who stands before the throne of God as both perfect sacrificial victim and divine High Priest of the New Covenantal order. These themes are expressed no where else in sacred Scripture with such depth and clarity.

 

Who was the inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews?

 

There is no agreement among scholars, ancient or modern, as to the identity of the inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews. In the earliest years of the Church the letter was considered to be included among the works of St. Paul, apostle to the Gentiles but beginning in the 2nd century AD Biblical scholars began to address problems with assigning the letter to Paul:

  1. Unlike Paul's other letters there is no greeting at the beginning of the letter identifying the inspired writer.
  2. The style and vocabulary of the Letter to the Hebrews is more elegant than Paul's other letters
  3. The subject matter and major themes are different from Paul's other letters

 

Most scholars agree the letter had to be written by a Jew who was formally trained in the doctrine and theology of Old Covenant liturgical worship; therefore, some scholars, like the 2nd century Roman lawyer turned Christian apologist Tertullian, have suggested the Levitical priest Joseph Barnabas as the inspired writer of The Letter to the Hebrews. Tertullian did not consider the Letter to the Hebrews to be canonical.

Question: Who was Joseph Barnabas? Hint: see Acts 4:36; 9:27; 11:22-30; 12:25; 13:1-3; 13:43-50; 14:12-20; 15:2-39, 37; 1 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 2:1-13; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11.

Answer: Joseph Barnabas was a Jew from the island of Cyprus who sold his land and donated the proceeds to the fledgling New Covenant faith community in Jerusalem. St. Luke identifies him as a Levitical priest and Paul identifies him as cousin of St. Mark, writer of the Gospel which bears his name. After St. Paul's conversion it was Joseph Barnabas who believed Paul's conversion experience and championed his admittance into the New Covenant Church. At this time Joseph Barnabas was sent by the Apostles from Jerusalem to share the truth of the Gospel with the newly formed Christian community in Antioch, Syria. St. Barnabas served this community as a prophet and as a teacher. Some Church historians have suggested it was probably the success and gentle style of his preaching that prompted the Apostles to give him the surname "Bar Nabas", which means "son of exhortation" or "son of consolation". When St. Barnabas saw the need for more teachers for the Church at Antioch, he brought in St. Paul from his home in Tarsus [in modern Turkey] to help serve the thriving Christian community. This is the community that funded Barnabas' and Paul's missionary journey to establish faith communities in Cyprus and Asia Minor, the first of 3 such journeys Paul would make funded by this evangelical faith community. Barnabas and Paul were also selected by the church in Antioch to be their representatives at the Council of Jerusalem circa 49/50AD. The friendship between Barnabas and Paul was later strained over Barnabas' young cousin Mark's decision to abandon the missionary team to return to his family in Jerusalem, but the rupture in their relationship was evidently healed several years later. In 1 Corinthians 9:6 Paul praises Barnabas as a faithful apostle and 2 Timothy 4:11 St. Mark had rejoined Paul's missionary team, evidently having restored himself in Paul's eyes since Paul calls him a fellow worker (Philemon 24), and in the letter to the Colossians, which Paul writes from prison in Rome, Paul records that Mark is with him and may be sent as his representative to the Church at Colossus in 4:10. According to Catholic tradition, St. Joseph Barnabas was martyred by stoning at Salamis, having served faithfully as the first Christian Bishop of Cyprus. Some early Christian non-canonical works including the Epistle of Barnabas are attributed to this apostle. St. Clement of Alexandria identifies Barnabas as one of the original 70 disciples of Jesus [Luke 10:1] and credits him as the author of the Epistle of Barnabas [Stomata 2:20], however, none of these documents resemble the Letter to the Hebrews. According to the document The Recognitions of Clement, Barnabas introduced St. Clement of Rome to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to St. Peter [Recognitions 1.l7-13].

 

Question: Do the doctrinal and theological themes of the Letter to the Hebrews eliminate Paul as a possible writer? Would St. Paul have had the knowledge and education to write such a document? Hint: see Acts 22:3; 23:6-9; Philippians 3:5-6.

Answer: Paul describes himself in Acts 23:6 and in Philippians 3:5 as belonging to the party of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were what we might call religious conservatives. They were in alliance with the scribes, the teachers and interpreters of the Old Covenant Church Law of Moses, we would equate this group with our theologians. Paul was also the student of the great 1st century teacher of the Law of Moses known as the Rabban Gamaliel; rabban is an honorific title of great respect [see Acts 22:3]. Paul probably studied under Gamaliel for the usual three to four years. He was also appointed an officer of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Law court [Acts 7:58-8:3; 9:1-2], perhaps through Gamaliel's influence. Gamaliel was an influential elder of the Sanhedrin [see Acts 5:34-39]. Since only the best students studied with the great rabbis, it cannot be doubted that Paul was completely qualified to write such a theological letter.

 

Another Christian from the Apostolic era suggested as the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews is a contemporary of St. Paul's, a gifted preacher named Apollos who is mentioned in Acts 18:24-19:1; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:4-11, 22; 4:6 and Titus 3:13. Martin Luther suggested that Apollos was the writer of Hebrews. Apollos is described by Paul as an educated Jew from Alexandria well versed in sacred Scripture. However, these few passages are the only mention of Apollos in Sacred Scripture. Other suggestions for the inspired writer of Hebrews have included Clement of Rome, Jude, and even Priscilla the wife of Aquila, both trusted friends of Paul.

 

In the Eastern Christian churches Pauline authorship and the canonicity of Hebrews was never seriously challenged. St. Clement of Alexandria [150-211/16AD], head of the famous Christian catechetical school in Alexandria, Egypt in the 2nd century and a pioneer in Biblical scholarship affirmed St. Paul as the inspired writer of the letter. In his history of the early Church, Bishop Eusebius cites St. Clement concerning Pauline authorship of The Letter to the Hebrews: Church History, Bishop Eusebius, 4th century AD referring to St. Clement of Alexandria's book the Hypotyposes, "To sum up briefly, he has given in the Hypotyposes abridged accounts of all canonical Scripture..... [..]. He says that the Epistle to the Hebrews is the work of Paul, and that it was written to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language; but that Luke translated it carefully and published it for the Greeks, and hence the same style of expression is found in this epistle and in the Acts. [Bishop Eusebius, Church History, Book V, Chapter XIV.1-7 [Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers volume 1, page 261]

 

However, the Biblical scholar Origen [185-253/54AD], Clement's successor as leader of the school in Alexandria, admitted he could not identify the writer of The Letter to the Hebrews with certainty. From Origen's lost Homilies on Hebrews Bishop Eusebius quoted this passage: But as for myself, if I were to state my own opinion, I should say that the thoughts are the apostle's but that the style and composition belong to one who called to mind the apostle's teachings and, as it were, made short notes of what his master said. If any church, therefore, holds this epistle as Paul's, let it be commended for this also. For not without reason have the men of old time handed it down as Paul's. But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. Eusebius*, Church History, Book 6, Chapter XXV.13-14. Origen's theories concerning the Letter to the Hebrews have been cited and indirectly supported by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in its June 1914 response to the question of the authorship of the Letter to the Hebrews. [*Eusebius was the Bishop of Caesarea (c. 260-340). Using the magnificent collection of early Christian writings collected in the library at Caesarea in Palestine, he copied the early accounts which concerned the growth of the early Church into a book of Church History in the 4th century AD. Most of the early histories only survive in Eusebius' collection of documents from the early Church].

 

The debate over canonicity and authorship continues

 

The requirement for any document to be accepted into the canon of Sacred Scripture is that it must be Holy Spirit inspired. God must be the author and a human being the subordinate writer with God, writing down not more and not less that divine revelation is intended to reveal but doing so in harmony with that person's nature and temperament. The Catholic Church teaches that the supernatural act of the creation of inspired Scripture takes place when: by supernatural power, God so moved and impelled them to write, He was so present to them that the things which he ordered and those only they first rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth. [Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus].

Question: Who has the authority to decide what is Sacred Scripture and can be accepted into the canon of the Bible?

Answer: It is the Church established by Jesus Christ and ruled by the successor of Saint Peter and the Apostles, the Pope and the Bishops of the universal Magisterium, who, as God's instrument to bring men and women to salvation, has the sole authority in deciding what is Sacred Scripture and what is not.

Question: When did divine revelation end?

Answer: With the death of the last Apostle, St. John Zebedee. However, the Church's understanding of divine revelation continues to evolve as the Holy Spirit continues to teach the Church.

 

The Letter to the Hebrews was accepted as part of the canon, as Holy Spirit inspired Scripture'by the Eastern Church from the earliest years of the Church. In the early 100s Pantaenus of Alexandria, Egypt attributed the letter to St. Paul and accepted it as decidedly canonical. Clement of Alexandria, president the Christian school of theology in Alexandria and his successor the great Biblical scholar Origen believed the vocabulary differences occurred because Paul had written the letter in Hebrew which was later translated by someone else into Greek but Origen went even further. He suggested the ideas were Paul's but that the letter was written by a disciple of Paul and then finally admitted only God could identify the inspired writer. Both Christian scholars, however, accepted the text as Holy Spirit inspired. The earliest surviving Greek manuscript of the Eastern Church containing St. Paul's 14 letters is a papyrus document which dates to 200AD. In that collection the Letter to the Hebrews follows Paul's Letter to the Romans, which indicates the letters perceived importance and authority in the East. However, in the earliest surviving list of canonical New Testament books in the West, a document known as the Muratorian canon [circa 155AD], the Letter to the Hebrews is missing from the list of this Latin document of the early Church.

 

Other influential Eastern Church Fathers who believed the letter to be canonical and that St. Paul was the inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews were Bishop Dionysius the Great of Alexandria [248-265], and Bishop Theodore of Mopsuestia. Dionysius was the gifted pupil of the great Biblical scholar and theologian Origen who followed in the footsteps of his great teacher by becoming the head of the catechetical school in Alexandria, and later was elevated to become the Bishop of Alexandria from 248 until his death in 265AD. Theodore Bishop of Mopsuestia [ordained a priest in 392] was a scholar from the school of Biblical theology at Antioch, Syria [the two greatest schools of Christian theology in the early years of the Church were in Alexandria and Antioch]. Theodore was well acquainted with the life and works of St. Paul. The Christian church in Antioch had been St. Paul's faith community for over 20 years and traditions of his leadership in that faith community had been safeguarded and passed down by each generation of Christians to the next. Bishop Theodore believed St. Paul had a good reason for not attaching his name to this letter: What then is the reason for Paul not appending his name? It is evident and very clear. Both Barnabas and Paul divided the preaching task with the disciples of the blessed Peter. [This was] not so that the former could teach some doctrines and the latter others, for there is one goal, but so that Paul and Barnabas might lead to faith some from the Gentiles while Peter and his disciples would lead some from the Jews to faith, deeming this division more expedient because at that time there was still a powerful rivalry due to the custom of the Jews (based on their law) who did not permit themselves to consort with Gentiles. Then some of the apostles had dealings with the Gentiles, while others with the circumcised. But those who had come to faith in all probability deemed the teachers and apostles to be shared by both communities. Thus, when Paul wrote to the Gentiles, he in all likelihood commands them as their apostle, but when he writes to the Hebrews, he does not. Bishop Mopsuestia [c. 350-428], Fragments on the Epistle to the Hebrews

 

Severian of Gabala, a contemporary of Bishop Theodore who served as a highly regarded homilist at the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in Constantinople during the time St. John Chrysostom was Bishop, vigorously defended Pauline authorship of the letter: The heretics say that this epistle is not Paul's, and they offer as their first proof of this that his name is not subscribed as in the other epistles. Second, his vocabulary is different, that is, it is foreign to Paul's customary word choice and usage. One must know, however, that Paul was hated by the Jews on the grounds that he was teaching apostasy from the law, and having been endangered for this reason in Jerusalem and having scarcely escaped, he was sent to Rome. Therefore, writing something useful to the Hebrews, he does not append his name, so that they might not lose any advantage they could have derived from the letter because of their hatred against him. And he writes to them in the tongue of the Hebrews, which was also translated by one of his disciples, by Luke or more likely by Clement who also is mentioned. For this reason the vocabulary is different. And this has been investigated by previous generations, and Eusebius of Pamphilia*, a historian of those things in preceding and contemporary generations, made mention of the investigation, and it still seeded to our fathers, the predecessors of the bishops, that the epistle was Paul's. Severian , Fragments on the Epistle to the Hebrews (prologue). *Eusebius Pamphilus [born c. 263] was made the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine c. 313AD, the Roman provincial seat of government for the province of Judea during the earliest years of Christianity and the city where St. Paul was imprisoned in Acts chapters 24-26. He is known as the father of ecclesial history and his writings are quoted in the Church History of his successor who bore his name, Eusebius of Caesarea.'

 

Although the Letter to the Hebrews was not universally accepted as canonical in the West before 350AD, there is evidence that some western scholars and theologians viewed Hebrews as canonical. The earliest evident of the acceptance of Hebrews in the western Church is found in 1st Clement, a letter of St. Clement, the 4th Bishop of Rome, written circa 96AD [Clement is the 3rd Bishop of Rome after St. Peter or the 4th if you count St. Peter as the first Bishop of Rome]. In this letter Pope St. Clement draws elements from several themes of Hebrews with the wording often following the exact text of The Letter to the Hebrews. Clement uses material from Hebrews in a plea for discipline within the universal Church and a comparison of the Old Covenant Levitical priestly service with the orders of ministry that the Apostles established when they appointed the hierarchy of Bishops and deacons. The Letter to the Hebrews was not only known and quoted by St. Clement of Rome, but it was also quoted in the surviving second century homilies by the much beloved Roman pastor known as the Shepherd of Hermas, the brother of Pope St. Pius I, Bishop of Rome [140-155], in the letters and homilies of St. Hippolytus of Rome [martyred 235/6], and by the Roman lawyer turned Christian apologist Tertullian [150/55-240/50] who did not consider the letter to be canonical nor written by Paul.

 

Many western Church leaders like Tertullian continued to dispute Pauline authorship of Hebrews as well as its authoritative status. Scholars and theologians in the West debated Pauline authorship and canonicity for several centuries. In the early 3rd century the Roman priest Gaius rejected Paul as the writer of Hebrews [Eusebius, Church History 6.20.2]. St. Hippolytus apparently accepted the letters canonicity but rejected that it was written by St. Paul [however, we only have the testimony of Photius in the 9th century]; St. Irenaeus Bishop of Lyons [martyred c. 200] did not take a stand one way or the other, and St. Gregory Bishop of Elvira [d. c. 392], who was highly praised by the great Biblical scholar St. Jerome, defended Hebrews canonicity and ascribed the letter to St. Paul. In the 4th century the question of the status of Hebrews as inspired Scripture was addressed at two gatherings of the universal Church: at the Council of Nicaea in 325 and at the Third Council of Carthage in 397. The councils declared the Letter to the Hebrews to be the work of the Holy Spirit. The Council of Nicaea included it as one of Paul's 14 letters and the Third Council of Carthage in 397 published a canonical list that referred to the 13 Epistles of the Apostle Paul and of the same [author] one [Epistle] to the Hebrew, accepting Paul as the inspired writer of Hebrews.

 

In the 5th century the defense of Paul as the inspired writer of Hebrews seems to have gained favor among the scholars and theologians of the Western Church. St. Ambrose Bishop of Milan [333-397] and scholar Tyrannius Rufinus [345-410] wrote of Paul's 14 letters. Scholars of the 5th century were perhaps most influenced by two of the Church's great Biblical scholars, St. Jerome [347-419/20] and St. Augustine [354-430] and their opinions concerning the authorship of Hebrews. St. Augustine earliest writings identified Paul as the inspired writer although later he was less definite. St. Jerome noted the disputes concerning authorship in the West and yet he wrote: We must admit that the epistle written to the Hebrews is regarded as Paul's, not only by the churches of the east, but by all church writers who have from the beginning written in Greek." Greek was the first language of the universal Christian Church in the East and in the West. It was the language of the original New Testament inspired texts.

 

The universal Council of the Catholic Church at Florence in 1442 again affirmed the canonicity of the Letter to the Hebrews but the controversy over authorship and canonicity resurfaced again in the 16th century in the era of the Protestant Reformation with Protestant scholars resurrecting the issues concerning the Letter to the Hebrews that had not been seriously debated since the 400's AD. As a Catholic priest Martin Luther supported Pauline authorship in his early writings and university lectures but his view changed after his break from the Roman Catholic Church. Luther and his followers rejected the Catholic traditions which correlated Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross and His role as divine High Priest with the Catholic Church's ministerial priesthood and the sacrifice of the Mass. Both of these doctrines were reaffirmed by the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent in the 16th century. In the documents of the Council of Trent in which the doctrines of the ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ and the Mass as a true offering of the on-going sacrifice of Jesus Christ as High Priest and sacrificial victim were reaffirmed, the Bishops frequently quoted from the text of The Letter to the Hebrews, once again affirming the letters status as inspired Scripture [Session IV, 1546].

 

For doctrinal reasons the Lutheran scholars would have liked to have stricken Hebrews, along with the Letters of St. James, St. Jude and the Book of Revelation from the Protestant canon and for years debated the issue. Early editions of the Luther Bible numbered 23 books of the New Testament [there are 27 accepted canonical books], excluding the 4 disputed books of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation. Later these books were readmitted to the Protestant canon and today their New Testament numbers 27 books just as the Catholic Bibles [however, the Protestants dropped 7 Old Testament books].

 

The oldest surviving and most theologically complete commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews is that which is composed by the great 4th century Bishop of Constantinople, the brilliant St. John Chrysostom [circa 347-407AD], whose commentary is one of three ancient commentaries we are using in this study. St. John was born into one of the oldest Christian communities outside of Jerusalem, the Christian church at Antioch, Syria where Saints Paul and Barnabas had served the faith community as teachers and missionaries. This Christian church has the distinction of being the first community to call themselves Christians [Acts 11:19-26]. In his youth St. John became a student of the pagan scholar Libanius, the most famed orator of his age. St. John also was discovered to have a gift for oratory, a gift which later earned him the name "chrysostom" which in Greek means "golden-mouth" because of the eloquence of his sermons. As a young man St. John felt the call to withdraw to the mountains to live as an anchorite, submitting himself to prayer and privation but several years later returned to Antioch and was ordained to the priesthood. In 398AD he was elevated to the See of Constantinople and became one of the greatest homilists and defenders of the Christian faith of his age.

 

St. John Chrysostom composed his collection of homilies on The Letter to the Hebrews at the end of his very productive life. The homilies on The Letter to the Hebrews were preached from his pulpit at his cathedral in the capital of the eastern Roman Empire at Constantinople, what is today modern Istanbul, Turkey. Not only is John Chrysostom's commentary the oldest surviving complete commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews, but Biblical scholars who were his contemporaries and those of the next generations in comparing his commentary to those of the other Church Fathers held Chrysostom's in the highest regard in both the East and in the West. Cassiodorus [circa 485-540AD], the Christian scholar and founder of the monastery of Vivarium, Calabria where monks transcribed both sacred and secular texts, wrote that St. John Chrysostom's homilies on Hebrews were already translated into Latin and were in circulation in throughout the churches in the West by the early 500s. It is St. John Chrysostom's On the Epistle to the Hebrews which laid the foundation for the Catholic Church's commentary tradition of this unique New Testament letter.

 

In his opening homily St. John Chrysostom vigorously defends St. Paul as the inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews, citing as his chief argument the same evidence given by other earlier Church Fathers who supported Pauline authorship which is that the inspired writer refers to St. Timothy in Hebrews 13:23. St. Timothy was a trusted disciple and companion of St. Paul. Timothy joined Paul on his 2nd missionary journey [Acts chapter 17], was sent by Paul to Macedonia with Erastus before Paul's 3rd missionary journey [Acts 19:22] and was among the missionary team which returned with Paul from his 3rd journey [Acts 20:4]. Timothy is mentioned in the initial salutations of 2nd Corinthians; Philippians, Colossians; 1 & 2 Thessalonians; Philemon, and in the final salutation in Paul's Letter to the Romans in 16:21. Timothy was also sent on several special assignments as Paul representative. Paul planned to send him to Philippi [mentioned in Philippians 2:19], and he was sent by Paul to Thessalonica to investigate and report back to Paul [see 1 Thessalonians 3:2, 6]. In Paul's two letters to Timothy he refers to him as a true child of mine in the faith [1 Timothy 1:2] and as a dear son of mine [2 Timothy 1:2]. There was no other person in early Church history with whom Timothy is closely associated except with the apostle St. Paul.

 

Three of the Church's greatest Biblical scholars supported the identification of St. Paul as the inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews. The first is St. John Chrysostom, the second is St. Jerome and the third Catholic scholar is considered to be the greatest scholar the Catholic Church has produced, St. Thomas Aquinas, whose commentary on The Letter to the Hebrews is also one of the major sources for this study. Despite the issues that resurfaced over the canonicity and authorship of the Letter to the Hebrews during the Reformation, a series of lectures given a little over 250 years earlier by the great Biblical scholar and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas between 1265-1268 during his stay in Rome had settled the issues of authorship and canonicity for the majority of Catholic scholars. During this time the canonicity of Hebrews had been accepted in the West but the identity of the inspired writer was still debated. Addressing the issue of Pauline authorship St. Thomas in his first lecture declared: ...it must be known that before the Council of Nicaea some doubted whether this epistle was really by the Apostle Paul. They proved this by two arguments. The first is that it is not written in the same way as the other epistles, for he did not write a greeting, nor did he given his name. The other is that this epistle does not savor of the style of the other epistles; rather, it has a more elegant style, nor is there another writing which proceeds in this order of words and arguments as this does. Hence they said it was written by Luke the Evangelist, or Barnabas, or Pope Clement, for he wrote to the Athenians much in this style. But older doctors, chiefly Dionysius and some others take the words of the epistle as testimony for Pauline authorship. And Jerome receives it among the other epistles of Paul.

 

To the first argument against Paul's authorship it must be said that there is a threefold reason why he did not give his name. The first is that he was not the Apostle of the Jews but of the Gentiles, as it says in Galatians 2:8, "For He who wrought in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, wrought in me also among the Gentiles", etc. And therefore he does not make mention of his apostleship in the beginning of this epistle, since he did not want to assume the duty of the apostolate, except to the Gentiles. The second is that his name was odious to the Jews since he said that the observances of the Law were not to be kept, as is clear from Acts 15:2ff. So he remains silent about his name, least the most salvific doctrine of this epistle be rejected. The third is that he was a Jew. 2 Corinthians 11:22: "They are Hebrews: so am I." And the members of one's household do not suffer well the excellence of one of their own. There is no prophet without honor, except in his own country and in his own house, as is said in Matthew 13:57.

 

To the second argument it must be said that it is more elegant in style because, even if he knew every language'I Corinthians 14:18: "I speak with all your tongues"'nevertheless he knew Hebrew better, as it was more connatural to him, and he wrote this epistle in Hebrew. Thus, he could speak more ornately in his own native tongue than in another. Hence he says in II Corinthians 11:6, "For although I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge." And Luke, who was a great speaker, translated this ornateness from Hebrew into Greek. [Prologue, Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, pages 6-7].

 

One other piece of evidence which may support Paul as the inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews is that without this letter, Paul's canonical writings only number 13 letters. The significance of the symbolic meaning of numbers was important to first century Christians and Jews. This importance is evident in St. Matthew's genealogy of Jesus in the first chapter of his Gospel where he manipulates the list of Jesus' ancestors:

 

In the late 3rd century, St. Victorinus Bishop of Pettau commented on the significance of numbers in the letters of St. Paul when he wrote: In the whole world Paul taught that all the churches are arranged by sevens, that they are called seven, and that the Catholic Church is one. And first of all, indeed, that he himself also might maintain the type of seven churches, he did not exceed that number. But he wrote to the Romans, to the Corinthians, to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Thessalonians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians; afterward he wrote to individual persons, so as not to exceed the number of seven churches. [Bishop Victorinus, martyred AD 304, from the Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John].

 

St. Victorinus' point is that Paul wanted his letters to Christian communities to be addressed to only 7 churches, highlighting a number which in the Jewish tradition indicates fullness and perfection, especially spiritual perfection. He wanted this number to be reflected in his letters, his letters to 7 Christian communities representing symbolically letters to all the Christian communities of the universal Church. If this is indeed the case, why would Paul then write only 6 other letters [if Hebrews was excluded]. Wouldn't have Paul completed his work with 7 other letters for a total of 14, or perhaps wouldn't the Apostolic Fathers have included in his collection of inspired writing 14 letters to reflect the spiritual perfection of the Holy Spirit inspired writings of St. Paul? In the canon of the New Testament there are, in addition to the Gospels and Acts, which yield 5 books just as the Old Testament begins with 5 books, the 14 letters of St. Paul [assuming Paul wrote Hebrews], followed by 7 "catholic" or universal letters written by James, Jude, St. John (3), and St. Peter (2). Finally there is the Book of Revelation which brings the total to 27 books. In the Hebrew understanding of the symbolic meaning of numbers, 5 is grace and 7 is spiritual perfection or fullness and completion. The total number of New Testament books is 27; for the early Church Fathers with their ties to the significance of numbers in the Jewish tradition, this number would represent the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ (2), and the number of spiritual perfection, also the number of the Holy Spirit (7) who is the author of sacred Scripture. It is also interesting that Catholic scholars have divided the books of the Old and New Testaments in such a way as to yield 73 books, dividing the Book of Samuel and the Book of Kings and Chronicles. Seven is the number of spiritual perfection [or 70 the number for abundant spiritual perfection] while 3 is the number for fullness or completion as well as for Christians the number which represents the mystery of the Trinity. [For more information on this subject see the document The Significance of Numbers in Scripture in the Documents and Resources section.

 

In the 20th century the vast majority of Biblical scholars do not believe St. Paul is the inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews, but this view has begun to change. Many Protestant scholars are still troubled by this unique New Testament document. Having lost an understanding of the significance and necessity of sacrifice in the worship of the Triune God they find the themes of sacrifice and priesthood in Hebrews disturbing and alien. However, many Catholic scholars are now returning to the belief that the apostle of the Gentiles wrote this amazing letter; among them Father James Swetnam. Father James Swetnam, S.J., whose area of specialization is the Letter to the Hebrews, is the vice rector and dean of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. Father Swetnam holds degrees in classical languages, philosophy theology and Scripture, and his doctoral degree is from the University of Oxford, England. After a lifetime of study, Father Swetnam has come to the conclusion that Paul is the inspired writer of The Letter to the Hebrews, the letter representing Paul's "suma", in which Paul pours out, through the work of the Holy Spirit, the sum of his intellect and understanding. Father Swetnam's paper "A Liturgical Approach to Hebrews 13" is one of the resources used in this study.

 

To whom was The Letter to the Hebrews written?

 

The title "The Letter (or Epistle, "letter" in Latin) to the Hebrews" is the title the Church has given to this document from the time of the Apostolic Age in the first century of the Church. If St. Paul did indeed write this letter, it is ironic that the apostle to the Gentiles would write a letter to the Jews/Hebrews, many of whom regarded Paul as a traitor. On Paul's last recorded visit to Jerusalem in The Acts of Apostles, St. James Bishop of Jerusalem warns Paul of his less than stellar reputation among Jewish-Christians: You see, brother, how thousands of Jews have now become believers, all of them staunch upholders of the Law, and what they have heard about you is that you instruct all Jews living among the Gentiles to break away from Moses, authorizing them not to circumcise their children or to follow the customary practices. (Acts 21:20-21). But who among the early Church leaders could better understand the significance of the Old Covenant transformed and fulfilled in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ than a gifted student of the great teacher Gamaliel? A few Bible scholars believe that this letter was intended for Jewish and Gentile Christians but the majority of scholars are convinced by the content of the letter itself that it was intended for Jews who had converted to the New Covenant faith. Indeed, the Letter to the Hebrews doesn't have any of the characteristics of a 1st century letter. Instead it reads like a homily or treatise to which a postscript was added so that it could be distributed among the Jewish-Christian communities. The Letter to the Hebrews and 1 John are the only epistles that have no introductory greeting. Since Hebrews does have a postscript it has been suggested that the greeting was lost from the original document but in all the copies of ancient hand written manuscripts that survive from ancient times there is no example in which only the greeting was lost or damaged.

 

The Letter to the Hebrews reads more like a treatise or a homily than a letter. It would seem unusual that this document would have been meant for Gentile Christians. The Old Testament themes of the letter and the emphasis on the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant would have had very little meaning to most Gentile Christians but to Jews this letter lays the framework for what was promised by Yahweh through the Prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31-34'a promised New Covenant in which the sins of the faithful will be forgiven and remembered no more. The New Testament writers were careful to tailor their message to their audience, Luke's Gospel to the Gentiles rarely mentions Jewish traditions while Matthew's Gospel to the Jews is full of references to Jewish traditions. The "letter" not only reads like a homily but with its emphasis on the priesthood of Christ it reads like a homily intended for Jewish priests who had converted to Christianity and who were perhaps being ordained to serve as New Covenant priests. In Acts 6:7 St. Luke records: The word of the Lord continued to spread: the number of disciples in Jerusalem was greatly increased, and a large group of priests made their submission to the faith. And it is possible that in addressing this audience of Jewish Christians that Paul addressed them in their ancient language which was still the language of the liturgy of the Old Covenant in Hebrew. Perhaps in giving this address we call the Letter to the Hebrews Paul was addressing an audience he knew could appreciate the depth of his theology, fellow Jews, and perhaps addressing them in their own ancient language as he did the crowd of Jerusalem in Acts 21:39-40, I am a Jew and a citizen of the well-known city of Tarsus in Cilicia. Please give me permission to speak to the people. The man gave his consent and Paul, standing at the top of the steps, raised his hand to the people for silence. A profound silence followed, and he started speaking to them in Hebrew. Why a profound silence, because Paul spoke not in the common tongue of Aramaic, nor in the international language of the Greek, but in the Hebrew of the ancient Fathers of the Old Covenant people of God.

 

What location was the origin and date of the letter?

 

It is difficult to say where the letter or homily originated. There are no definitive internal clues as to time or location. Most of the Church Fathers and early commentators believed the letter originated in Rome because of the reference to Roman Christians in Hebrews 13:24: Greetings to all your leaders and to all God's holy people. God's holy people in Italy send you greetings. However, there may have been Christians from the Roman faith community in Paul's entourage. The man named Clement mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:3 as a fellow worker in the service of the Lord may be the Roman Christian disciple of St. Peter who became the 4th Pope. In Pope St. Clement's letter to the Corinthians he writes with familiar and affectionate knowledge of St. Paul. It is also possible that the reference in Hebrews 13:24 could indicate that the letter/homily was being copied in another location where Roman Christians were part of Paul's missionary team and the letter was being sent out to other faith communities. There is one ancient copy of Hebrews that gives Athens, Greece as its place of origin'the origin of the copy not necessarily the original document.

 

Another possible location is Jerusalem. There are repeated references in the text to difficult times for the Jews. The Roman occupation of Judea was continually on the verge of rebellion but the uneasy peace began to erode with the arrival of a vicious new Roman governor, Gessius Florus (Prefect 64-66AD), an uneasy peace which exploded into an outright revolt in the year 66AD. Hebrews 10:25, 32-39; 12:26ff; and 13:13-16 mention the increased tension, suffering and persecution. In Hebrews 10:37-38 Paul quotes the prophets Isaiah [Isaiah 26:20] and Habakkuk 2:3-4 from the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, both passages which address the necessity of faith and perseverance when visited by persecution and suffering. In Hebrews 13:13 there is a reference to "outside the camp"'the holy city of Jerusalem was considered to be the "camp" of God: Let us go to him, then, outside the camp and bear his humiliation. There is no permanent city for us here... New Covenant worship was no longer confined to the Temple in Jerusalem. The Church is no longer ethnic, it is international, the Church is no longer confined to one land or people, the Church is Universal, it is Catholic.

 

There are also references to the Temple in Jerusalem in the letter/homily and multiple references to the cultic practices of Old Covenant worship which would point to Jerusalem as the origin of the text [see Hebrews 8:4; 9:7, 13, 25]. In Hebrews 9:8 the inspired writer prophesizes: By this, the Holy Spirit means us to see that as long as the old tent stands, the way into the Holy Place is not opened up; it is a symbol for this present time.

Question: What is meant by the "old tent" or "old tabernacle"? What is the Holy Place and what is only symbol for this age in which the letter/homily was delivered?

Answer: The "old tent" refers to the Temple in Jerusalem, its prototype being the desert Tabernacle constructed by Moses. As long as the Temple, the symbol of the Old Covenant, is still standing and Old Covenant sacrifices are still taking place, the New Covenant is not fully implemented, the way into the "Holy Place" which was the most sacred space in the Temple where God presided over His Covenant people, is not fully opened with unrestricted access to the Most Holy Trinity by the New Covenant faithful so long as the Temple stood in Jerusalem. The Old Temple, which was good for its time was now a barrier to the Jews who wished to cling to the Old which was good and not to embrace the New which was the best. Clearly the Temple in Jerusalem was still standing when this letter/homily was presented to its audience which means the date has to be prior to 70AD when the Temple in Jerusalem was burned to the ground and destroyed by the Romans. This was an event prophesied by Jesus in Matthew 24:1-3 when He said that the Temple would be destroyed and not one stone would be left upon another: Jesus left the Temple, and as he was going away his disciples came up to draw his attention to the Temple buildings. He said to them in reply, 'You see all these? In truth I tell you, not a single stone here will be left on another: everything will be pulled down.' And while he was sitting on the Mount of Olives the disciples came and asked him when they were by themselves. 'Tell us, when is this going to happen, and what sign will there be of your coming and of the end of the world?' The end came for the Jews of the Old Covenant in 70AD with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple just as Jesus had prophesized in 30AD when He told the disciples in Matthew 24:34: In truth I tell you, before this generations has passed away, all these things will have taken place. Forty years later, the span of a generation, the destruction came, it was indeed the end of the world for the Jews, over a million perished and many of the survivors were sold into slavery. The plunder from Jerusalem and Judea built the famous Roman Coliseum.

 

However, if Paul is the inspired writer, the date has to be prior to his martyrdom in Rome which took place sometime between 64 and 67AD. I wonder if Paul delivered a homily to newly ordained priests on his last visit to the holy city of Jerusalem. The last visit to Jerusalem recorded in Scripture took place in the spring of 58AD; a visit which is recorded in Acts 21 when James, Bishop of Jerusalem, invited Paul to show solidarity with the Jewish Christians by sponsoring the purification of 4 men who had taken a Nazarite vow [Acts 21:21-26]. Did St. James also invite this controversial apostle to address an ordination of Jewish Christian priests or was there another visit after Paul was released from house arrest in Rome circa 63AD? Before his imprisonment in Rome in his letter to the Roman faith community written from Corinth, Greece, St. Paul discussed his desire to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the far West, in Spain. In his letter to the church in Corinth c. 94-96AD Pope St. Clement summed up St. Paul's extraordinary life: Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the East and West, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the West, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. [The Epistles of Clement, Chapter V; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, volume 9, pages 230-231].

 

Next week we will begin chapter one of The Letter to the Hebrews. The letter/homily opens with a series of powerful verses which comprise an introduction to the body of the text. The introduction reflects upon the climax of God's revelation to man in the divine Person of God the Son, introducing the central theme of the letter'that the Old Covenant prepared the way for the New. But the purpose of the letter is broader than the comparison between covenants, the purpose is to establish the dignity and identity of Jesus Christ as the new Melechizedek, the High Priest of the New Covenantal order, the universal [in Greek katholikos] Catholic Church.

 

SUMMARY OF THE LETTER TO THE HEBREWS

Biblical Period

The Universal Church / The Final Age of Man

Covenant

The New Covenant in Christ

Focus of Message

The enthronement of Jesus Christ as High Priest of the New Covenantal order

Scripture

1:1----------------2:5----------------------2:10------------------------------12:28--------------13:22--25

Division of Text

Exordium

Proposition

Arguments

Summary

Postscript

Topic

God spoke &

Son exalted

God's plan for humanity realized in the Son

Glory through sacrifice & suffering

Jesus as High Priest

Christian service & sacrifice

Personal remarks & greetings

Location & Author

Unknown / St. Paul ?

Time

Sometime prior to 64-67AD if Paul is the inspired writer or

sometime prior to 70AD and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem if another is the inspired writer

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2007 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

THE LIFE OF SAINT PAUL: Apostle to the Goyim (Gentiles)

MAJOR EVENTS IN PAUL'S LIFE

YEAR AD

(all dates are approximate)

Born at Tarsus (in modern Turkey) of Jewish parents who trace their ancestry to the tribe of Benjamin and who are Roman citizens, a status also given Saul/Paul (Romans 11:1; Philippians 3:5)

10?

Arrival in Jerusalem to study with the scholar Gamaliel (Acts 22:3)

Becomes a Pharisees (Acts 23:6; 1 Co 15:9; Gal 1:13; Phil 3:6)

30?

Sent as an officer of the Sanhedrin to arrest Christians in Damascus

Encounter with Christ and conversion on the road to Damascus

34

3 year sojourn in Arabia and mission to Damascus (Galatians 1:17)

34-36

Visit to Jerusalem to meet with the Apostles (Galatians 1:18)

36

Return to home in Tarsus (Acts 9:30)

?

Barnabas brings Saul to the church in Antioch, Syria (Acts 11:25)

43-45

1st Missionary journey to Cyprus and Asia Minor

Changes his Hebrew name to the Latin name "Paulus" (Acts 13-14)

45-49

A delegate to Jerusalem for the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15)

49/50AD

2nd Missionary journey (Acts 15:36-18:21)

-speaks at Athens & Corinth in Greece. Meets the Roman Gallion

-writes the letters 1 & 2 Thessalonians

50-52

50?52

51-52

3rd Missionary journey (Acts 18:23-21:14)

-mission to Phrygia & Galatia

-mission to Ephesus and stays two years

-wrote first letter to the Corinthians from Ephesus

-mission to northern Greece (Macedonia)

-wrote letter to the Galatians while at Ephesus or Macedonia

-wrote second letter to the Corinthians written from Macedonia

-mission to Corinth (Greece)

-wrote letter to the Roman Christians from Corinth

53-58

53

54-57

54

54

57

57

57?58

Winter 58

Return to Jerusalem with offering from the Gentile Christian churches

(Acts 21:15-23:22). Attacked by the Jew and rescued by Romans

Spring 58

Imprisoned by the Romans in Caesarea for two years (Acts 24-27)

-Preaches the Gospel to Roman governor Felix and his wife

-Preaches the Gospel to Roman governor Festus & King Agrippa II

Spring 58

58

60

As a Roman citizen he appeals to the tribunal in Rome. Sent to Rome

-Ship wrecked off Malta (Acts 27) ; arrives in Rome the following spring (Acts 28:11-14)

60-61

Under Roman "house arrest" for two years and preaches to all visitors

-writes letters to Christian churches in Colossus, Ephesus, Philippi and to the Christian Philemon (Acts 28:30-31)

61-63

Released by the Romans and probably makes 2 missionary journeys: one to the East and another to the West (Romans 15:24, 28)

-wrote or gave as an address the letter to the Hebrews (?)

63-67

Arrested upon his return to Rome. Martyrdom by beheading

67

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2002, revised 2007 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

+Paul's life can be related to four dates fixed by external historical sources:

1.      The death of King Herod Agrippa I in 44AD

2.      The administration of the Roman governor Gallio at Corinth in 50/51 or 51/52AD)

3.      The administration of the Roman governor Felix in Judea in 58-60AD

4.      The administration of the Roman governor Festus in Judea in 60-61AD

 

Paul recorded that three years passed from the time of his conversion until his first journey to Jerusalem (Galatians 1:17-18) and that there was a 14 year span (Galatians 2:1) between his first and his second visit to Jerusalem to consult with the Apostles at the Council of Jerusalem (the ancients counted without the concept of 0 as a place value so the first number or day or year in any series would count as #1). If the Council of Jerusalem was in 49AD then Paul's first visit to Jerusalem was in 36AD.

 

*For the period of Paul's life not covered by Biblical sources, I referred to the writings of Clement, Bishop of Rome (martyred circa 96/100AD). Clement who was baptized and later ordained by St. Peter, served as Peter's assistant and became a friend of Paul's when he was imprisoned in Rome in 61AD. He may be the Clement mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:3. In his letter to the Church at Corinth St. Clement recorded that Paul had suffered imprisonment seven times preaching both in the East and in the West, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the West, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Clement's reference to "the West" may be a reference to the journey to Spain to spread the Gospel, a plan Paul outlines in his letter to the Romans (Romans 15:24, 28). St. Clement is the 4th Bishop of Rome after St. Peter, counting Peter as the 1st Bishop of Rome. See The Epistles of Clement, Chapter V; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, volume 9, pages 230-231.

 

For more information on the study of Sacred Scripture:

  1. Agape Bible Study: "How to Study Sacred Scripture"
  2. Catechism of the Catholic Church # 101-133
  3. Vatican Council II,
  4. Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church.

 

Resources used in this lesson:

  1. The Navarre Bible: Hebrews, Four Courts Press, 1991.
  2. Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine's Press, South Bend, Indiana 2006
  3. Hebrews, St. John Chrysostom, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, first series, Hendrickson Publishers, 1995.
  4. Kinship by Covenant: A Biblical Theological Study of Covenant Types and Texts in the Old and New Testaments, Dr. Scott Hahn, UMI Dissertation Services, 1995
  5. The Anchor Bible Commentary: To the Hebrews, George Wesley Buchanan, Doubleday, New York, 1972.
  6. The Anchor Bible Commentary: Hebrews, Craig R. Koester, Doubleday, New York, 2001.
  7. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Hebrews, InterVarsity Press, 2005
  8. The Faith of the Early Fathers, William Judgens, volumes I III, Liturgical Press, 1970.
  9. Church History, Father Laux, Tan Books & Publishers, reprinted 1989
  10. Dictionary of the Bible, John l. McKenzie, S.J., Simon & Schuster, 1965.
  11. One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, Kenneth D. Whitehead, Liturgical Press, 2000.
  12. Christianity and the Roman Empire: Background Texts, Ralph M. Novak, Trinity Press, 2001.
  13. The Teachings of the Church Fathers, Ignatius Press, 2002.
  14. The Epistles of Clement, Ante-Nicene Fathers, volume 9, Hendrickson Publishers, 1995.
  15. Dogmatic Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent and Vatican I, Tan Books, 1977.

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2008 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.