A welcome challenge to accepted thought regarding the author of Hebrews. Hoppin proposes the thesis that Priscilla was a student of St. Peter in Rome and wrote Hebrews under his tutelage. She backs this up with literary criticism, circumstantial evidence and archeological finds. Her argument is both scholarly and persuasive. The book would appeal to feminists and anyone researching the early Christian church. I loved it!
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It amazes me that anyone thinks Paul wrote Hebrews! The ascended Christ audibly confronted Paul outside Damascus (Acts 9:3-7). Galatians 1:12 affirms that Paul did not receive the gospel from any human source, nor was he taught it - as was the author of Hebrews (Heb 2:3). The notion that Paul wrote Hebrews can be strangled at birth. Besides, male authors of NT letters tend to open with their own name, followed by some variant of "Apostolos Xristou Ihsou" (an apostle of Christ Jesus). Hebrews opens "Polumerws kai polutropws palai o qeos lalhsas tois patrasin" (In many ways and at many times long ago God spoke to our ancestors). A female authorship would account for the otherwise inexplicable omission of the author's name. Priscilla's gender embodies a reason for suppression of the author's identity. Paul's gender doesn't!
In this excellent publication, Ruth Hoppin builds a profile of the anonymous author of Hebrews, mainly using internal evidence from the letter itself; (we'll call the person "AAH" to save space). Luke & Paul document Priscilla's career in Acts 18:1-3, 18-19, 26, Romans 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:19 and 2 Timothy 4:19. If Priscilla didn't write the theological and literary masterpiece known as "The Epistle to the Hebrews", she and its author share MUCH in common. In fact, their careers and priorities are eerily similar! Seven examples will suffice to illustrate the point...
1. Priscilla flees Rome in a climate of religious persecution; AAH flees [somewhere] to a place of hope (6:18)
2. Priscilla ministers to those with an incomplete knowledge of the Scriptures; AAH aspires to impart to his/her readers a deeper understanding of the faith (5:11-14)
3. Priscilla risks her life for Paul; AAH honours those who suffer for their faith (13:3), especially martyrs (11:37 & 12:4)
4. Priscilla accommodates Paul in her house; AAH instructs his/her readers to practise hospitality (13:2)
5. Priscilla repatriates to Rome and is foremost of the 26 named individuals greeted in Paul's Epistle; The Epistle to the Hebrews was almost certainly written in Rome (13:24)
6. Priscilla and Timothy, close friends of Paul, are both prominent in the Ephesian church; AAH informs readers of Timothy's release and of his/her own plans to travel with him to the destination city (13:23)
7. Priscilla spends months on the open seas, sailing at least 3,500km during her ministry; AAH describes faith as the soul's "anchor" (6:19) and cautions his/her readers not to "drift away" (2:1)
The list of similarities goes on. If you've made up your mind that Hebrews' author was male, don't bother buying this book. However, if you're genuinely interested in exploring Biblical history with an open mind, then Priscilla's Letter is a 'must read'.
PS - this reviewer is male.
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