Since beginning this blog I have had the unexpected benefits of my learned readers contacting me to express their ideas and to point me to additional resources.
This past week Ruth Hoppin, the author of Priscilla's Letter: Finding the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, contacted me in response to some of my previous postings on the authorship of Hebrews. We have had a cordial (but spirited) email conversation over the possibility that Priscilla is the author of Hebrews. Mrs. Hoppin's photo is pictured here (photo by John Swanda).
While I have not been entirely persuaded by Mrs. Hoppin's argument for the authorship of Hebrews, I thought I would allow her to "respond" by way of posting her "Ten-point Summary of the Case for Priscilla's Authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews." This is essentially a summary of the case she builds for Priscilla's authorship in her book. This is reproduced by her permission. Let me know what you think:
TEN-POINT SUMMARY OF THE CASE FOR PRISCILLA’S
AUTHORSHIP OF THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS*
1. Priscilla, as a colleague of Paul, was a colleague of Timothy, with whom the author coordinates travel plans (Heb. 13:23).
2. She was a well-educated Roman aristocrat whose knowledge of literature, philosophy, and rhetoric qualified her for authorship. Her pre-eminence in the church and higher social standing are denoted by the appearance of her name first, four of the six times Priscilla and Aquila are named in the New Testament. Chrysostom (fourth-century Bishop of Constantinople) named her the sole tutor of Apollos.
3. a) Apollos, knowing only the baptism of John (Acts 18:25,26), needed instruction on baptisms- a topic covered by the teacher/catechist author of Hebrews (Heb. 6:1,2).
b) After receiving instruction from Priscilla, Apollos preached on the theme that Jesus was the Messiah foretold in Old Testament scripture- a main theme of Hebrews.
4. The conversion story in Heb. 2:1-3 checks out for Priscilla, but not for Barnabas, Apollos, or Paul.
5. Philo’s influence in Hebrews has been noted; Priscilla knew Philo in Rome and had access to his writings in Roman libraries.
6. The letter was written to Hebrew Christians in Ephesus, the locale of Priscilla’s ministry.
7. Priscilla had strong family and church connections at Rome, the city of origin.
8. The naming of two women as role models of faith in the eleventh chapter- with direct and indirect allusions to many others- was a break with precedent.
9. The early, inexplicable loss of the author’s name, with no consistent pseudonym being provided, is explained if a woman wrote the epistle.
10. No other candidate matches the profile of the author, as outlined.
*Ruth Hoppin, Priscilla’s Letter: Finding the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Fort Bragg, CA: Lost Coast Press), 2000.
And now to point you to some online resources:
A brief biography and photo can be found on God's Word to Women website.
A brief video of Hoppin promoting her book can be found on the Lost Coast Press website.
Two online articles are available:
"Advocates for Priscilla" on the E-Quality website.
"The Book of Hebrews Revisited: Implicationsof the Theology of Hebrews for Gender Equality" on the Womenpriests.org website.