The identity of the unnamed author of Hebrews has been discussed for centuries. In discussions like these, it can be helpful (as long as it’s not overdone) to identify likely characteristics of the author based on writing, context, theology, intercanonical connections, and other legitimate categories. Long-time New Testament professor Robert Thomas provided these eleven “facts” on a handout in my New Testament Introduction course in seminary (NTI had the infamous and accurate reputation as the hardest course in the M.Div. program). Whether you agree with the points or with his semi-conclusion (#11), these observations get the juices flowing for those interested in revisiting the issue.
Characteristics of the Author of Hebrews (by Robert Thomas)
- He was a second-generation Christian (Heb 2:3).
- He had a good rapport with Jewish Christians (Heb 13:24).
- He was well-known and trusted by the original recipients (Heb 5:11-12).
- His educational background was of the Alexandrian type (Heb 4:1 ff.).
- He had a background in classical Greek (the whole book of Hebrews).
- He was very familiar with the OT (Heb 7:1 ff.).
- He was on a par with James the Just as a respected leader of Jewish Christians (Heb 10:6 ff.).
- He was aware of Pauline doctrine (Heb 1:4 with Phil 2:9).
- He was an associate of the Pauline team, including Timothy (Heb 13:23).
- He was in Rome in the late 60’s (Heb 13:24).
- He is unnamed in the NT, otherwise his name would not have been lost.