Thursday, June 8, 2017

Authorship of the Letter to the Hebrews

Decrees of the Pontifical Biblical Commission

June 24, 1914 (AAS 6 [1914] 417f; EB 429ff; Dz 2176ff)

I: Are the doubts about the divine inspiration and Pauline origin of the Epistle to the Hebrews which influenced certain minds in the West in the first centuries, chiefly because of its abuse by heretics, of such importance that, bearing in mind the unbroken, unanimous, and unwavering affirmation of the eastern Fathers supported after the fourth century by the entire assent of the whole western Church, due weight also being given to the acts of the Popes and sacred Councils, especially that of Trent, and to the constant usage of the universal Church, it is lawful to hesitate about reckoning it definitively not only among the canonical Epistles-which has been defined as a matter of faith -but also among the genuine Epistles of the Apostle Paul?

Answer: In the negative.

II: Can the arguments commonly based either on the unusual absence of Paul's name and the omission of the customary introduction and salutation in the Epistle to the Hebrews-or on the purity of its Greek, the elegance and perfection of its diction and style-or on the character of its quotations and arguments from the Old Testament-or on certain differences alleged to exist between the doctrine of this and the other Pauline Epistles, in any way invalidate its Pauline origin? Or rather do the perfect unanimity in teaching and thought, the resemblance of the admonitions and exhortations, and the agreement in phrase and even in words pointed out also by some non-Catholics, which are seen to exist between it and the other writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles, clearly indicate and confirm the same Pauline origin?

Answer: In the negative to the first part; in the affirmative to the second.

III: Should the Apostle Paul be considered the author of this Epistle after such manner that he must necessarily be said, not only to have conceived and expressed it all under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, but also to have given it the form that it actually has?

Answer: In the negative, saving the further judgement of the Church.

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