Priscilla's Letter: Finding the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews


by Ruth Hoppin  Photo by John Swanda


Have you ever wondered why Paul is given the credit for the beautiful letter called Hebrews in our bibles?  I have!  I have never been able to justify the crediting of the writing to Paul.  It just isn't Paul's style, not to mention Paul always included his name in the salutation of every letter he wrote and this letter has no writer's name on it.  The ideas expressed can be considered Paul's since they do not conflict with Paul's teaching, but was Paul actually present when it was written?  Why is there no writer's name on this letter?  Why is the style so different from the rest of the New Testament letters written by Paul.  There have been suggestions over the years that Hebrews was penned by either Apollos, first proposed by Martin Luther about 550 years ago, or Barnabas, first suggested by Tertullian around 200 A.D.  While these two men seem to be the leading contenders, there are very good historical reasons to rule them out, just as Paul should be ruled out as the writer.  Also, why do we automatically assume that the letter had to be written by a male?  In Priscilla's Letter, Ruth Hoppin takes on all of these questions.  She looks at the problems associated with each writer and proposes that a better answer to the question of who wrote Hebrews lies in a person that few have looked at because that person is a female.  Priscilla was one of Paul's closest friends, a very dedicated and willing helper, a female evangelist in a male controlled world, a woman who helped her husband make a living, and a teacher whom Paul recognizes as being the primary leader of the husband and wife team of Priscilla and Aquilla.  Ruth is not the first person to propose Priscilla as the author of Hebrews.  What Ruth has done is put together a scholarly discussion that is easily readable by the everyday reader that takes an in depth look at Priscilla as the author of Hebrews.  This book does not take on the gender problems the church faces today.  Instead, what it does is lay the foundation to the very real possibility that Hebrews was written by a woman, and because of that, her name was purged from the letter, which was our loss!  I read a commentator the other day that mentioned the idea that the proposal that Priscilla was the author of Hebrews was just another feminist based agenda.  I disagree with that assumption.  The honest and thorough review and study of historical data in regards to previously held views, especially when those views are questionable, is never an agenda of any type  When the day comes that we cannot review traditional beliefs in the light of new evidence, then in the famous words of an astronaut on his way to the moon: Houston, we have a problem!  If you are going to purchase just one book from this list of recommended books, this is the book I would recommend.



Man and Woman, One in Christ


An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul's Letters

By Philip B. Payne


This book is required reading for all who have a desire to understand what Paul wrote to Christians regarding women and their relevance for Christian relationships and ministry in today's world.  Philip Payne (PhD. Cambridge) has taught New Testament studies at Cambridge, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Gordon-Cornwell, Bethel, and Fuller Universities and is known for his studies on textual criticism, the parables of Jesus, and Paul's teachings on women.


I Suffer Not A Woman


 Rethinking 1 Tim 2:11-15 In Light of Ancient Evidence


            by Richard Clark Kroeger & Catherine Clark Kroeger



The study this book takes on is one of the most difficult in Scripture regarding gender and one of the most difficult for most churches in general. All of the restrictions placed on women in most Christian churches originate from just two places in the NT: 1 Cor 14:32-35 and 1 Tim 2:11-15. Those two sets of verses have resulted in a theological position over 1900 years that has restricted women to the point that in some "ultra-conservative churches" they cannot even read aloud from the Bible in a class room setting in the presence of men. Understanding the issues and problems along with a basic understanding of Greek word useage, the Roman/Greek customs and laws, and the outside influences on the Christian churches of the 1st Century is an absolute necessity in order to be 1st Century Christians in a 21st Century environment. It is a diffucult undertaking to say the least. The Kroeger's have done an excellent job in this book of researching the background of 1 Tim 2:11-15 and have shown that there are many misconceptions, misunderstandings, and a general lack of knowledge and historical perspective regarding the Greek language of 2000 years ago and how it changed over time, the customs of the Roman empire at the time the Apostle Paul wrote 1 Timothy, the problems that the church in Ephesus was facing with pagan religions and Gnosticism taking hold of the Christians at Ephesus, and why the women were more prone to be misled by Gnostic beliefs and then try to pass on those erroneous beliefs. Those women had to be silenced for a time to prevent the church in Ephesus from falling totally into the Gnostic beliefs that were prevelent in Ephesus at the time.

This book will also enlighten the reader in the history of the pagan beliefs in Ephesus, Gnosticism, and how Gnosticism grew out of these beliefs. That part of the study alone makes this book worth purchasing. Also, the study of the Greek word "authentien" makes this book an exceptional value for the money and a permanent addition to any library. "Authentien" is probably the key word in 1 Tim 2:11-15, and without a good understanding of all of its various useages and meanings and how its useage changed over time, one cannot come close to understanding the problems that have risen over the years regarding the proper translation of the sentence in which the Apostle Paul used the word, the only time it is used in the entire NT.

I highly recommend this book! It should be a must read for anyone who really wants to do in-depth study on 1 Tim 2:11-15 and it is especially valuable for anyone interested in studying gender issues in the modern church. It is very well written, very well researched, and very well documented. The Kroegers have published one of the best studies I have ever read on this subject.



Slaves, Women, & Homosexuals:

exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis

            by William J. Webb

This book is a "must read" for anyone interested in the hermeneutic principles of these particular issues.  Too many people just simply lump these three groups together and say they all use the same hermeneutic approach.  I have heard many men who are against women being "allowed" to do what they are gifted to do by God say "if you open the door to women in the church being equal to men, then you open the door to allowing and recognizing homosexuals in the church."  That just is not true and this book masterfully takes a deep look at the hermeneutics of these issues.  If you just want to read a book to reinforce your views that these three areas are the same hermeneutical principles, this is not the book to read, because you will be very disappointed.  If you wish to understand the hermeneutical principles and understand why the the homosexual issue cannot ever be lumped into the women's issue, then this is an excellent book.


Men and Women in the Church


        by Sarah Sumner, Ph.D.

Chair of the Department  of Ministry and Associate Professor of Ministry and Theology, Haggard School of Theology, Azusa Pacific.  Published by University Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill.  This is a very well written book.  Although she says she is neither an egalitarian nor a feminist, her views are solid and scriptural.  Some are somewhat unique but very well thought out.  This book is written for today's evangelicals.



Dethroning Male Headship


by Shirley Taylor


Shirley is a friend who owns bWe Baptist Women



Let My People Go: 

A Call to End the Oppression of Women in the Church


By Bob Edwards, MSW