The letter to the Hebrews is anonymous. So, all theories of authorship are conjectures. However, this fact has not stopped scholars from trying their hands at discovering a possible author. There are three favorites: (1) Apollos, (2) Barnabas, and (3) Paul. There is some merit to each of these theories, but also problems. For instance, Apollo in Acts 18:24 is described as: Jewish, from Alexandria, educated and knowledgeable. All of these elements fit in well with what one would imagine the author of Hebrews to be, but in the end, there is no evidence that Apollos wrote it. One must bear in mind that plausibility alone does not prove anything, since almost anything is plausible! Barnabas as a candidate is a bit stronger, because there is, at least, one ancient author who attribute this book to him (Tertullian), but in the end one cannot be again certain. Tertullian is only one voice, albeit an ancient one, in a sea of uncertainly. When it comes to Paul, there is again plausibility, but nothing more. Why did not Paul sign it as he does his other letters? Why is the language and style of Hebrews so different from what one would expect from Paul? Origen, an early church father, probably stated it best when he wrote that only God knew for sure who wrote the epistle of Hebrews.
This state should not trouble the modern reader. The church has benefited for thousands of years without knowing who the author was or wrongly attributing authorship to someone (since not all opinions can be correct) with enormous benefit. The reason for this is simple – knowledge of the author is not essential to derive benefit from a text. More importantly, irrespective of the author, Christians believe that God speaks through the Bible, or as the author of Hebrew says, “in the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophet at many times and various ways, but in these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son, whom he appointed heirs of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” Therefore, the most important point to keep in mind is that Bible speaks, because God has revealed himself.
Notwithstanding the above points, a few comments can be made about the author. First, the author was a second generation Christian. This much is implied in Hebrews 2:1-4. Second, he was probably Jewish. The massive amount of quotations, allusions and echoes from the Old Testament shows at least this; his thought world was embedded in the Old Testament and how Christ fulfills it. Third, he was very educated and knowledgeable. These points come out in the quality of his Greek (arguably the best in the New Testament, and certainly the most difficult to read) and his hermeneutical sophistication. Finally, judging from his many exhortations to the Hebrews, he possessed the rare combination of a scholarly mind and a pastoral heart. Therefore, in conclusion, to give ear to and work through this letter would pay great spiritual dividends.
As with authorship, the date cannot be pinned down with precision. The only certainty that one possesses is that it was written before the book of 1 Clement (terminus ad quem), which is dated to around 96 A.D. Beyond this, there are only educated guesses. However, it is reasonable to assume that the temple is still in existence in the light of the book’s mention of the sacrificial system and the lack of a mention of the destruction of the temple by the Flavians in 70 A.D. A reasonable date for the book of Hebrew is sometime in the 60s.
c. Historical Context:
The historical context can be reconstructed from a reading of the letter. Hebrews 10:32-34 sets the basic framework.
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
From these verses, one is able to see that this community was under a certain amount persecution and some were about to fall away from their faith. This is why the author at many critical junctures exhorts people to hold on, encourage one another, and not fall back into Judaism. In fact, the whole letter can be seen from this perspective. To use the imagery of Hebrews the church is in the wilderness, just like the Israelites, and the church is called to live a life of faith and perseverance in times of hardships. Moreover, the author of Hebrews says that the church will be able to do this when it realizes who Christ is, what he has done through the cross, and what he will do when he returns. Fixing one’s eyes on Christ offers the necessary perspective from which to view all of life both for the ancient hearers and the modern ones.
d. How should one read Hebrews?
As soon as one begins to read the book of Hebrews, one will find a world that not only is different than one’s own, but even different from the rest of the New Testament. The author builds his arguments from Old Testament institutions, experiences and stories. In a word, the book of Hebrews is saturated in the Old Testament. This fact makes studying the book challenging, because one needs to refresh one’s mind of these stories or learn them for the first time. This step will be time consuming, but essential. Here is a suggested way of proceeding:
1. If there is a direction quotation of the Old Testament in the book of Hebrews, look it up and summarize what it mean in the Old Testament context and think about how the author of Hebrews is employing it in his letter. One should not be surprised if the author of Hebrews makes some very innovative theological and literary moves, since he believes that the age of fulfillment has dawn in the advent of Christ. Hence, he interprets the Old Testament from a Christian perspective. It might be important to bear in mind that exegetical method is subservient to the goal.
2. Within small group (since more brains are better than one), consider if there are any Old Testament allusions or echoes that the author is employing. Allusions and echoes are not direct quotations, but references to another context. Some are pretty clear, such as when the author of Hebrews uses the language of wilderness wandering to describe what the community is experiencing. Others are fainter, such as when the author mentions the word of God as a double-edged sword alluding to the sword of Genesis 3:24 and Joshua 5:13-15. Consider what these allusions and echoes add to the message of Hebrews.
3. Finally, with this preliminary groundwork done, consider how the author’s view of Christ fits in with the context. A good rule of thumb for interpretation is to keep in mind that all stories in the bible ultimately find their fulfillment in Christ. So, to consider how this is done, will make any interpretation richer.
These extra steps will seem daunting at first, but with practice, the process will become more natural. More importantly, one will begin to trace and see the culmination of God’s work in his son. May his grace abound in your life and may he bless this study in view of the work of his son.
 Tertullian. De Pudicitia, 20.
 Eusebius. Ecclesiastical History. 6.25.14.
 Hebrews 1:1-2
 To assume that the author was male is not to be gender exclusive, but to acknowledge ancient society.
 A pious letter written by Clement to the church of Rome.
 Hebrews 2:1, 3:6, 4:11, 6:1, 10:24, 25,13:22, etc.
 Hebrews 3-4.Tags: background, Bible, christianity, Commentary, Hebrews, Theology