Before spring break, we studied the book of Hebrews in the Bible. As I was introducing the book, I mentioned that no one knows who wrote Hebrews, and I continued explaining the various themes. The children though became focused on the author; they eagerly asked who wrote the book and asked for any information I could give them. I explained that people had theories but that no one really knew.
“Can we try to figure it out?” they asked with anticipation.
I paused for a second before I nodded. The class went up in cheers. That day, they finished their assignments quickly so they could rush to the computer lab and begin researching who may have written Hebrews.
Completely on their own, they thought about when the book was written and when many of the potential authors died. They concluded that Paul could not have been the writer because he had died the same year that it was written.
They read through Hebrews to find clues–the ending is like Paul’s but not the beginning. The writer mentions that the Christians in Italy send greeting. Why Italy?
Soon, we had a list of all the potential people that it could possibly be. Each person researched one person and wrote down his or her discoveries. At the end of the second week, we presented our findings to the rest of the class.
Then, each child wrote a paragraph explaining who they thought had written Hebrews.
One child in particular was convinced he knew who had written Hebrews. He researched Pricilla, and he discovered that her husband had moved to Corinth from Italy, which would explain why the people in Italy send greetings. They knew Paul, which would explain why it sounds similar Paul’s other letters. And Pricilla had the perfect excuse for why it would be anonymous: she was a woman.
I took the side of Paul. I explained that tradition has Paul writing Hebrews, so why should we go against it. People believe that he died in June, which would have given him six months to write this letter. The book has some of the same themes that Paul promotes even though it is written in better Greek than his usual letters. And if he did not write it, it is possible that this was one of his sermons that was written down by Luke.
Even within our class, there was no definitive winner. Some said Paul wrote it, some Pricilla, some Barnabas, some Luke, which truly shows that no one knows exactly who wrote Hebrews. As we discussed, we will never know the real answer until we get to Heaven. However, we can continue to study to teachings of faith to learn how we can sustain our own faith through our lives.