The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.
The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his role as mediator between God and humanity.
No author is internally named. Since the earliest days of the Church, the authorship has been debated. In the 4th century, Jerome and Augustine of Hippo supported Paul's authorship: the Church largely agreed to include Hebrews as the fourteenth letter of Paul, and affirmed this authorship until the Reformation. However, it is now generally rejected, and the real author is still unknown. A fuller discussion is in the article Authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and this summary is not elaborated below.
The epistle opens with an exaltation of Jesus as "the radiance of God's glory, the express image of his being, and upholding all things by his powerful word."[1:3] The epistle presents Jesus with the titles "pioneer" or "forerunner," "Son" and "Son of God," "priest" and "high priest." It has been described as an "intricate" New Testament book.
The epistle casts Jesus as both exalted Son and high priest, a unique dual Christology. Scholars argue over where Hebrews fits in the 1st century world. Despite numerous publications on this epistle, scholarly discussion has failed to yield a definitive consensus on most issues. One author says conclusions on most questions, including the one concerning authorship, should be avoided.
The text is internally anonymous. It is not related to the lost apocryphal Gospel of the Hebrews.
New Testament and Second Temple Judaism scholar Eric Mason argues that the conceptual background of the priestly Christology of the Epistle to the Hebrews closely parallels presentations of the messianic priest and Melchizedek in the Qumran. While not enough is known about Hebrews or its background, its dependence on any early Jewish tradition cannot be proved. In both Hebrews and Qumran a priestly figure is discussed in the context of a Davidic figure; in both cases a divine decree appoints the priests to their eschatological duty; both priestly figures offer an eschatological sacrifice of atonement. Although the author of Hebrews was not directly influenced by Qumran's "Messiah of Aaron," these and other conceptions did provide "a precedent... to conceive Jesus similarly as a priest making atonement and eternal intercession in the heavenly sanctuary.":p.199
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