Tag Archives: Hebrews

Introducing Old Testament Quotations and the Authorship of Hebrews

(From Dave Black Online, Monday, March 5, 2018. Used by permission.)

5:18 PM So here’s another blog post that is guaranteed to bore you to death or at least put you to sleep. (So what’s new, eh?) This afternoon I was sitting in my home library reading Ephesians 4 when I “just happened” (= divine providence no doubt) to come upon a literary device that Paul uses in verse 8. Friend, if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know this is how my mind works. I try to fill in the blanks, sometimes even where no blanks exist. Anyhow, this is what I was reading:

In verse 8 you can see that Paul introduces an OT quote with the words “he says,” meaning “God says.” We’re going to look closely at this for just a few minutes. You see, one of the main arguments against the Pauline authorship of Hebrews is said to be the way the author of Hebrews introduces his OT quotations. Here’s a screen shot of an article I found online:

Certainly this distorts things a bit, don’t you think? It’s an overgeneralization, and an inexact one at that. How do I know? Because I once took the time to compare Hebrews with the 13 authentic Paulines and even wrote a little book on the subject called The Authorship of Hebrews: The Case for Paul. So I grabbed my book off the shelf and, lo and behold, I was reminded that I had actually discussed this matter, to wit:

So then I grabbed my favorite commentary on Ephesians (written by my former Basel prof Markus Barth) and discovered that he, too, agreed that the words “he says” are Pauline. Here are his exact words (pp. 430-431):

Therefore he says. The quotation formula “he says” is found in several Pauline or other NT writings, and introduces a citation from the Bible of Isreal.

Oh my. Barth goes on to cite Paul’s use of the same (or a very similar) introductory formula in Eph. 5:14, Gal. 3:16, 1 Cor. 6:16, 2 Cor. 6:2, and Rom. 15:10. In other words, he cites the same examples I cite in my book, and even added one I didn’t include (Rom. 15:10). The point Barth’s trying to make is that, by using this method of quoting the OT, Paul is making it clear to his audience that he’s not quoting “a hymn or perhaps a Targum, rather than a Scripture text” (p. 431).

Again, the evidence seems plain: Paul does indeed use “he says” to introduce quotes from the OT. The facts are obvious. Consequently the argument that Paul introduced OT quotes in one way and the author of Hebrews did so in a completely different way is an argument that fails the smell test. So evidently, we have to throw out that argument. And I haven’t even discussed the other internal arguments against the Pauline authorship of Hebrews, because honestly?

Listen, this is a one finger pointed at you and three fingers pointing back at me scenario. I haven’t always been right. If fact, I’ve been wrong about a good many things in my 42-year teaching career. This is why the body of Christ is so essential. To keep us thinking. And honest with the data. And true to our (better) selves. I am determined to address my failings, my faux pas (that can be a plural in French too, right?), my eisegesis. And yes, I realize this is a third-tier issue. God gave us a spectacular writing called Hebrews, and we all value it, whatever our position on authorship is.

But if Paul were the author ….

Introducing Scripture Quotes in Hebrews

[12/26/2016] 1:05 PM Man … I still can’t believe I just read this today. A commentator repeats an age-old argument against the Pauline authorship of Hebrews by noting how Paul quotes the Old Testament: “Scripture says” or “It is written.” Then he goes on to state, “The letter [of Hebrews] never uses these expressions but usually puts a simple “It says,” without giving the subject (cf. Heb 1:6, 7; 5:6; 8:8, 13; 10:5; 12:26).”

Hmm. I wrote a big ol’ book (38 pages) about this subject and guess what? The “It says/He says” method of introducing Old Testament quotations in Hebrews is paralleled in — are you ready? — 1 Cor 6:16; 15:27; 2 Cor 6:2; Gal 3:16; Eph 4:8 and 5:14. You can find all of this on p. 5 of my book The Authorship of Hebrews: The Case for Paul. Look up these verses for yourself if you like. On the same page of my book, in footnote 12, you will also find this quote from volume 4 of Nigel Turner’s A Grammar of New Testament Greek: “This impersonal use of ‘he says’ is quite rabbinical and also Pauline ….”

My only suggestion is that you, as a reader, need to examine carefully everything you read, regardless of who the author is. The includes, of course, anything I write. Follow the evidence wherever it leads. And as for us authors, let’s try our best to set aside bogus appeals to data meant to shut down debate. I promise to work harder at this myself.

(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission. David Alan Black is the author of The Authorship of Hebrews: The Case for Paul.)