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Epistle to the Hebrews

The Epistle to the Hebrews is a book in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

This letter consists of two parts: (a) doctrinal (1 - 10:18), (b) and practical (10:19 - 13). There are found in it many references to portions of the Old Testament. It has been regarded as a treatise supplementary to the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, and as a kind of commentary on the book of Leviticus and Temple worship in general. Its numerous references to Temple worship in the present tense has been used to date the epistle before the destruction of the Temple (AD 70), but the evidence is not conclusive.


A considerable variety of opinions on this subject has been advanced from the earliest times. From around AD 400 to 1600, the author was traditionally considered to be Paul. However, the epistle makes no internal claim of authorship, which is inconsistent with the rest of Paul's epistles. Also, while many of the letter's ideas are Pauline, the writing style is substantially different than that of Paul's epistles.

In addition to Paul, some have suggested Paul's companion Silas, Pope Clement I, Luke, or some unknown Alexandrian Christian. Two leading candidates are Barnabas, first suggested around AD 300; and Apollos, first suggested by Martin Luther. Modern scholarship has reached no strong consensus. The letter has, however, always been accepted as part of the New Testament canon.


The author's intent was to show the true end and meaning of the Mosaic system, and its symbolical and transient character. He explains that the Levitical priesthood was a foreshadowing of the mission of Jesus Christ, and that the legal sacrifices prefigured the Crucifixion. Therefore the gospel was designed, not to modify the law of Moses, but to supersede and abolish it. This was written to check a tendency of Jewish Christians -- who at the time if not the majority of Christians were an important group -- to revert from Christianity to Judaism.

This entry uses text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897 -- Please update as needed