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Priscilla's Letter: Finding the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews Paperback – September 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 207 pages
  • Publisher: Lost Coast Press (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1882897501
  • ISBN-13: 978-1882897506
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #527,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Ruth Hoppin provides a compelling and convincing case that Priscilla is the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is an engaging read. She presents the evidence as an attorney would in front of a jury, the readers functioning as the jury.

Ruth brings in evidence from within the letter, from related writings in the Bible, from other literature of the time, archaeology (in particular the Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran, and the Essene sect), politics, sociology, history, anthropology, psychology, religious practices, literary analysis, and early church traditions. She argues persuasively, discussing and then countering arguments that might be made against Priscilla as the author.

When all the evidence is laid out, the only author that fits the profile is Priscilla.

Why was the identity of the author "lost"? The author was "lost accidentally on purpose."

We don't have to go far in Christian history to understand why it was better, for the sake of broad acceptance of the letter, to hide the identity of the author.

I truly enjoyed reading this book. I happen to accept Ms. Hoppin's arguments, but even if you ultimately do not, there is much in here in regards to the society and history around the latter half of the first century AD that I did not know before and should prove useful in reading and interpreting other New Testament texts. --Rev. Mark Kubo, Petersburg, Alaska

A welcome challenge to accepted thought regarding the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Hoppin proposes that Priscilla wrote Hebrews. She supports her thesis with literary criticism, circumstantial evidence, and archeological finds. Her argument is both scholarly and persuasive. The book would appeal to feminists and to anyone researching the early church. I loved it! --Christine Winter, reviewer, amazon.co.uk

Is it possible that a particular identifiable woman wrote one of the epistles of the Christian scriptures? Ruth Hoppin demonstrates that it is not only possible but entirely probable that Priscilla, a prominent leader and teacher in the Pauline communities, wrote the letter to the Hebrews. With painstaking care Hoppin sifts through the details of the case, working through early Christian history and literature, linguistic puzzles, biblical scholarship, and psychological profile to unwind the mystery behind the authorship of Hebrews. One is drawn through the layers of her thought in a well-constructed discussion of the evidence that supports her hypothesis that Priscilla authored Hebrews.

Hoppin lays the groundwork by establishing the slate of possible authors, the psychology and gender identity of the author, details of the language disputed over the course of centuries, details about the community and times for which the letter was written, evidence of the author's relationship to Paul and other New Testament figures, and a detailed life history of her proposed author, Priscilla. Hoppin weaves the theology and literary sophistication of the letter throughout her analysis, and masterfully demonstrates how these aspects of the letter match well to Priscilla.

Hoppin's sleuthing begins with an analysis of the author's femininity and identification with women. The author's writing demonstrates aspects of traditional feminine expectations emblematic of the times. Hoppin finds that diplomacy is a hallmark of the epistle. The author remains deferent to the particularities of the community throughout. She or he manages smooth transitions between theological discourse and the personal expression of nurturing and concern for the community. It is also clear that the author identifies with women in a way that a male author would not. Hoppin notes the list of Israelite heroes, naming two women and implying several others who, she hypothesizes, would be invisible to a male writer.

Thus establishing the high possibility that the author was feminine, Hoppin goes on to eliminate the other candidates that have accumulated over centuries of scholarship. None, according to Hoppin's detailed and well-documented analysis is revealed to be as qualified as Priscilla. Finally Hoppin introduces us to Priscilla herself, a woman related to a noble family and highly educated as would befit her standing; a woman who was clearly a friend to Paul and possessed a deep understanding of his theology. Hoppin demonstrates Priscilla's proximity historically and geographically to the time and place where Hebrews, per the scholarship of many others, was written.

If Priscilla indeed did write Hebrews, this opens a window into the high level of women's involvement in the early church and strengthens the position of many that women were equitably involved on all levels of leadership and development. As the church struggles for its identity in modern times, scholars reach back to its origins seeking the authentic tradition to which the church seeks to trace its roots. Priscilla s authorship of Hebrews, clearly validated by Hoppin's exquisite scholarship, and made accessible as a result of her cogent writing, provides a clear rebuttal to those traditionalists who assert that women were, from the Church's inception, relegated to subordinate positions.

An accessible and engaging read, Pricilla s Letter is the book to purchase if one wants to round out his/her library of Christian scripture scholarship. It is available in Spanish under the title La carta de Priscilla: encontrando el autor de la epístola a los hebreos. Anyone seeking truth about women's original role in the Church, academic and lay leader alike, should read this book. --Christine Fahrenbach, Deacon, Roman Catholic Womenpriests for Feminstas Unidas newsletter, spring 2014

More About the Author

I write general interest articles as well, but my main field of research is New Testament studies, in particular the question of authorship of the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews. My book on this topic is "Priscilla's Letter: Finding the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews" (Lost Coast Press). A Spanish edition was published in 2009 ("La Carta de Priscila" tr., Rev. Paul Benjamin Alfaro).I am a contributor to the IVP Women's Bible Commentary and A Feminist Companion to the Catholic Epistle and Hebrews (T&T Clark Intl). You can find several of my published articles on Priscilla on www.wherethespiritleads.org.

My latest book is a volume of poems, mostly on science and faith, "Spinning the Arrow of Time."

My interests include travel, studying French, and playing soprano recorder.

Customer Reviews

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Her discussion is very illuminating.
John Butcher
She presents Priscilla as a logical candidate, considering her church leadership, family background, personal history, and the very fact of her own femininity.
Suzette Pruit
I totally disagree with that assumption!
Wiley Clarkson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Irish Critic on February 9, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It amazes me that anyone thinks Paul wrote Hebrews! The ascended Christ audibly confronted Paul outside Damascus (Acts 9:3-7). Galatians 1:12 affirms that Paul did not receive the gospel from any human source, nor was he taught it - as was the author of Hebrews (Heb 2:3). The notion that Paul wrote Hebrews can be strangled at birth. Besides, male authors of NT letters tend to open with their own name, followed by some variant of "Apostolos Xristou Ihsou" (an apostle of Christ Jesus). Hebrews opens "Polumerws kai polutropws palai o qeos lalhsas tois patrasin" (In many ways and at many times long ago God spoke to our ancestors). A female authorship would account for the otherwise inexplicable omission of the author's name. Priscilla's gender embodies a reason for suppression of the author's identity. Paul's gender doesn't!

In this excellent publication, Ruth Hoppin builds a profile of the anonymous author of Hebrews, mainly using internal evidence from the letter itself; (we'll call the person "AAH" to save space). Luke & Paul document Priscilla's career in Acts 18:1-3, 18-19, 26, Romans 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:19 and 2 Timothy 4:19. If Priscilla didn't write the theological and literary masterpiece known as "The Epistle to the Hebrews", she and its author share MUCH in common. In fact, their careers and priorities are eerily similar! Seven examples will suffice to illustrate the point...

1. Priscilla flees Rome in a climate of religious persecution; AAH flees [somewhere] to a place of hope (6:18)

2. Priscilla ministers to those with an incomplete knowledge of the Scriptures; AAH aspires to impart to his/her readers a deeper understanding of the faith (5:11-14)

3.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Suzette Pruit on June 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
A generation or so ago, when we all read the King James Bible, we accepted that the Letter to the Hebrews was written by the apostle Paul. Today, with so much scholarly research and archaeological findings available to us, not to mention numerous modern Biblical translations that reflect these discoveries, no serious scholar believes that anymore.
Indeed, the authorship of Hebrews has been a question from the early days of the Church. It is strikingly different from any other book/epistle in the New Testament. And, as any Greek student can tell you, its sophisticated style and vocabulary make it the most difficult of all the books in the New Testament to translate.
Ruth Hoppin in "Priscilla's Letter" systematically walks the reader through the arguments for and against possible authors of Hebrews, examining not only Paul but also Clement, Barnabas, Apollos, and Aristion, along with Priscilla, who, with her husband Aquila, was co-worker and co-traveler with Paul (and thus heavily influenced by him).
She presents Priscilla as a logical candidate, considering her church leadership, family background, personal history, and the very fact of her own femininity. In fact, even for those who remain vehemently opposed to the thought of a woman writing Scripture, this book will be useful as a biography of an important Biblical character and as a history lesson about the status of women in the Jewish and Roman cultures of the early church.
Hoppin quotes from historical resources (as well as Scripture) and takes readers on a tour of the archaeological discoveries that relate to Priscilla and her time. She analyzes different verses in Hebrews that illustrate her contention, and she persuasively debates verses that would seem to argue against it.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By F. Daniels on January 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
The groundwork for Priscilla's Letter was laid by famed scholar Adolph von Harnack, who first conjectured that Paul's colleague Priscilla may have written that book of the Bible known as "Hebrews." Ruth Hoppin has taken a giant step toward demonstrating Harnack's hypothesis, unearthing archaeological data and testimony to show clearly that Priscillan authorship is a viable suggestion that needs to be seriously considered. Hoppin also points out flaws in certain other popular theories about the authorship of Hebrews, rounding out her thorough analysis by pointing to the possible location of writing and destination of the letter. If you are interested in examining the roles of women in New Testament times, buy this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Kubo on October 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ruth Hoppin provides a compelling and convincing case that Priscilla is the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is an engaging read. She presents the evidence as an attorney would in front of a jury, the readers functioning as the jury.

Ruth brings in evidence from within the letter, from related writings in the Bible, from other literature of the time, archaeology (in particular the Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran, and the Essene sect), politics, sociology, history, anthropology, psychology, religious practices, literary analysis, and early church traditions. She argues persuasively, discussing and then countering arguments that might be made against Priscilla as the author.

When all the evidence is laid out, the only author that fits the profile is Priscilla.

Why was the identity of the author "lost?" The author was "lost accidentally on purpose." We don't have to go far in Christian history to understand why it was better, for the sake of broad acceptance of the letter, to hide the true identity of the author.

I truly enjoyed reading this book. I happen to accept Ms. Hoppin's arguments, but even if you ultimately do not, there is much in here in regards to the society and history around the latter half of the first century AD that I did not know before and should prove useful in reading and interpreting other New Testament texts.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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