The blog Bible X directed my attention to David Allen's lecture/sermon on the Lukan authorship of Hebrews. His talk was quite engaging and so he models the kind of expository preaching that I am sure he teaches his students to practice. Let me give some of my thoughts on his talk.
Allen elicited a number of new, intriguing ideas (at least to me). First, he argues that Luke was a Hellenistic Jew (not a Gentile, as is generally supposed) and that he was possibly a priest. Second, he argues that Luke was writing his two-volume work Luke-Acts to Theophilus, a former high priest (ca. 37-41) who was deposed by Herod Agrippa (hence Luke's discussion on Agrippa's death in Acts 12 would have been of great interest to his reader). Allen believes that Hebrews was similarly written (from Rome in ca. 67-69) to a group of former Jerusalem temple priests who had embraced Christianity and had migrated to Syrian Antioch.
Another intriguing idea is that Allen argues that the Greek word machaira in Hebrews 4:12, which is normally translated "sword," may be translated as "scalpel," and that this translation is more in line with the traditional belief that Luke was a physician.
Now, Allen lays out his argument for Lukan authorship in at least three articles that I know of, and a fuller discussion of his argument will be set forth in his upcoming monograph entitled The Authorship of Hebrews: The Case for Luke, which will be published by Broadman & Holman sometime in the Fall of this year. He probably also lays out his argument in his commentary, also by Broadman & Holman, but I have yet to see a copy of this commentary as it was not available at the SBL Conference this past November. So, I will look forward to reading his argument and the evidence he adduces, when these works become available. Allen may be right about the authorship of Hebrews, but I will suspend my judgment until I can read his works in full.
There is, however, one dimension of his argument that I take issue with, and that is his linguistic argument. Allen states that there are 53 terms which are unique to Luke-Acts and Hebrews in the NT. Moreover, there are a number of syntactical features that are unique to both of these works in the NT. The problem I have is his restricting his analysis to NT Greek. Most of the writers of the NT were not especially skilled in the Greek language. It is likely that Greek was a secondary language for many of the writers of the NT. The most skilled writers of the NT are the authors of Luke-Acts and of Hebrews. Could it be that the terminology and syntactical features that are so unique among the writings of the NT, are not so unique when compared to the writings of the larger Hellenistic world? Allen's argument would become far more convincing if he could demonstrate that these grammatical features were unique to Luke-Acts and Hebrews in light of the larger body of Hellenistic literature.
By the way, this is a problem I have with a large number of linguistic arguments that are often made by NT scholars who only restrict their analyses to the Greek of the NT (Wallace's Greek Grammar, for instance). The NT was not "holy Greek" or some specialized form of Greek that differed substantially from the rest of the Hellenistic world. The NT is a relatively small body of literature from which to base one's linguistic arguments. Scholars would do well to base their linguistic arguments on the larger database of Greek documents that are extant from that time.
The second part of Allen's talk focused on Hebrews as creative expository preaching. I essentially have no qualms with this part of his talk. I agree that Hebrews is primarily a sermon. It alternates between exposition and exhortation throughout the work and it evinces a high level of rhetorical skill employing alliteration, rhythm, paronomasia, inclusio, chiasms, and anaphora. The question I have is: how does this demonstrate Lukan authorship? After going to great lengths to demonstrate Lukan authorship in the first part of his talk, he completely ignores the issue in the second part of his talk. His talk seems to be making two completely different points unrelated to one another.
Despite these points, Dr. Allen seems like he would be a great teacher to take a class from. He is teaching a class on Preaching from Hebrews in the Spring at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. It would be a class I would very much be interested in taking, but for me to drive two hours each way to Fort Worth and back is quite prohibitive for me at this time in my life. Perhaps I will invite Dr. Allen to respond to my post here.
Update: Dr. Allen did respond to my post via email and basically acknowledged that I was correct in my point that he fails to interact with literature outside the NT. He hopes to remedy this before his book on the authorship of Luke comes out, which he informs me is scheduled for the Spring of 2010.