no adequate, no satisfactory evidence, that it belongs to him ?
This is the very question before us. I grant that similarity, or even
sameness of sentiment, in different pieces, does not certainly prove iden-
tity of authorship ; for the friends, or imitators, or disciples of any
distinguished man, may imbibe the same sentiments which he inculcates,
146 24. INTERNAL EVIDENCE.
and exhibit them in similar words and phrases. I grant that the primi-
tive teachers of Christianity were agreed, and must have been agreed,
(supposing that they were under divine guidance,) as to the fundamental
doctrines of the gospel. But in respect to the mode of representing
them ; in regard to the style, and diction, and urgency with which
particular views of doctrine are insisted on ; what can be more various
and diverse than the epistles of Paul, and James, and Peter, and John ?
The reply to this, by critics who entertain sentiments different from
those which I have espoused, is, that " the writer of the epistle to the
Hebrews was an intimate friend, or a studious imitator, of Paul ; a man
of talents, who, with unqualified admiration of the apostle's sentiments,
mode of reasoning, and even choice of words, closely imitated him in
all these particulars. Hence the similarity between the writings of Paul
and the epistle to the Hebrews."
The possibility of this cannot be denied. Designed imitation has, in
a few instances, been so successful as to deceive, at least for a while, the
most sharp-sighted critics. Witness the imitation of Shakspeare which
a few years ago was palmed upon the English public, as the work of that
distinguished poet himself. Witness also the well-known and long con-
troverted fact, in respect to the pieces ascribed to Ossian, which are now
known to be a forgery. But, after all, such attempts have very seldom
been successful, even where the most strenuous efforts have been made
at close imitation ; and these, with all the advantages which a modern
education could afford. How few, for example, of the multitudes, who
have aimed at copying the style of Addison or Johnson with the greatest
degree of exactness, have succeeded even in any tolerable measure ; and
none in such a way, that they are not easily distinguished from the
models which they designed to imitate.
Just so it was, in the primitive age of the church. The Christian
world was filled with gospels and epistles, ascribed to Paul, and Peter,
und other apostles and disciples. Yet no one of these succeeded in
gaining any considerable credit among the churches ; and what little
was ever gained by any of them, proved to be temporary, and of very
small influence. This was not owing to want of exertion ; for strenuous
efforts were made by writers to imitate the apostolic manner of writing,
so as to gain credit for their supposititious pieces. But all of them
failed. Indeed, nothing can be more egregious, or striking, than the
failure. A comparison of any of the apocryphal writings of the New
Testament, with the genuine writings of the same, shows a difference
24. INTERNAL EVIDENCE. 147
heaven-wide between them, which the most undistinguishing intellect can
hardly fail to discern.
If, then, the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews was an imitator, a
designed and close imitator, of the apostle Paul, he has succeeded, in
such a way as no other writer of those times, or any succeeding ones,
ever did. He has produced a composition, the sentiments of which, in
their shade, and colouring, and proportion, (so far as his subjects are
common with those in the acknowledged epistles of Paul,) are altogether
Pauline. Nay, he has preserved not only the order of writing which
Paul adopts ; but his mode of reasoning, his phraseology, and even his
choice of peculiar words, or words used in a sense peculiar to the
apostle. The imitation goes so far, it extends to so many particulars,
important and unimportant, that, if our epistle was not written by
Paul, it must have been an imitation of him which was the effect
of settled design, and was accomplished only by the most strenuous
But here, while I acknowledge the possibility of such an imitation, 1
must, from thorough conviction, say, that the probability of it does seem
to be very small. With Origen, I must, after often -repeated study of
this epistle, say, The sentiments are wonderful, and in no way behind
those of the acknowledged writings of the apostles : ra vofjpara r7e
7rt t roX)7c da.vjjia.ffia. i~i, KO.I ov c)vrpa TWV cnro^oXtKwv ojjLoXoyovjjievwv
ypttju^arwy, Euseb. Hist. Ecc. vi. 25. I cannot find any higher intensity
of mind ; any more exalted conceptions of the true nature of Christianity,
as a spiritual religion ; any higher views of God and Christ, or of the
Christian's privileges and his obligations to believe in, love, and obey
the Saviour ; any more noble excitements to pursue the Christian course,
unawed by the threats and unallured by the temptations of the world ;
or any so awful representations of the fearful consequences of unbelief,
and of defection from Christianity. The man who wrote this epistle,
has no marks of a plagiarist, or of an imitator, about him. Nothing can
be more free and original than his thoughts, reasonings, and mode of
expressing them. It is most evident, that they flow directly and warm
from the heart. They are " thoughts that breathe, and words that
jurn." Where, in all the ancient world, did ever a plagiarist, or an
imitator, write in this manner ? A man who could form such conceptions
jn his mind, who could reason, and exhort, in such an impressive and
awful manner ; has he any need of imitating even Paul himself? No ;
it may be said of him, (what Paul, on another occasion, said of himself
148 24. INTERNAL EVIDENCE.
in comparison with his brethren,) that " he was not a whit behind the
very chiefest of the apostles."
Then, how could such a man be concealed, in the first ages of the
church, when the memory of those who were very distinguished has been
preserved so distinct, and with so much care and reverence, by ecclesi-
astical tradition? Men, who can write in this manner, cannot remain
concealed any where. And the writer of such an epistle, it would seem,
must have acted a part not less conspicuous than that of the great
apostle of , the Gentiles himself.
But antiquity, we are told, has attributed this epistle to distinguished
men in the early church; to Clement of Rome, to Luke, or to Barnabas;
each of whom is known to have been the warm friend and admirer
I know this has been often alleged. But, fortunately, there are
extant writings of each of these persons, with which our epistle may be
compared ; and which serve to show how little foundation there is for
such an opinion. But of this, more hereafter. I merely say, at present,
that the great body of critics, for some time past, have agreed in reject-
ing the opinion, which ascribes our epistle to either of the authors just
Who, then, did write it, if Paul did not ? And what is to be gained,
by endeavouring to show the possibility that some other person wrote
it, when so many circumstances unite in favour of the general voice
of the primitive ages, that this apostle was the author? That the
church, during the first century after the apostolic age, ascribed it to
some one of the apostles, is clear from the fact, that it was inserted
among the canonical books of the churches in the East and the West ;
that it was comprised in the Peshito ; in the old Latin version ; and
was certainly admitted by the Alexandrine and Palestine churches.
Now, what apostle did write it, if Paul did not ? Surely neither John,
nor Peter, nor James, nor Jude. The difference of style is too striking,
between their letters and this, to admit of such a supposition. But
what other apostle, except Paul, was ever distinguished in the ancient
church as a writer ? None ; and the conclusion, therefore-, seems to be
altogether a probable one, that he was the writer. Why should all the
circumstances which speak for him, be construed as relating to some
unknown writer ? Are the sentiments unworthy of him ? Are they
opposed to what he has inculcated ? Do they differ from what he has
taught ? Neither. Why not, then, admit the probability that he was
25. OBJECTIONS. 149
the author ? Nay, why not admit that the probability is as great as the
nature of the case (the epistle being anonymous) could be expected to
afford ? Why should there be any more objection to Paul as the author
of this epistle, than to any other man ?
My own conviction, if I may be permitted to express it, is as clear in
respect to this point, as from its nature I could expect it to be. I began
the examination of the subject unbiassed, if I was ever unbiassed in the
examination of any question ; and the evidence before me has led me to
such a result.
But the arguments, which are urged against the opinion that I have
now endeavoured to defend remain to be examined. They must not be
passed over in silence, nor any of them be kept out of sight, to which
importance can reasonably be attached.
The objections made to the opinion, that Paul was the author of our
epistle, are numerous. All the hints which ancient writers have given,
by way of objection, have been brought forward, of late, and urged with
great zeal and ability. Arguments internal and external, of every kind,
have been insisted on. Indeed, the attack upon the Pauline origin of
our epistle has been so warmly and powerfully made, by the last and
present generation of critics on the continent of Europe, that most who
are engaged in the study of sacred literature, seem inclined to think that
the contest is over, and that victory has been won. So much, at least,
must be conceded, viz. that those who admit the Pauline origin of this
epistle, must make more strenuous efforts than they have yet made, in
order to defend their opinion, and to satisfy objectors. To do this> is
indeed a most laborious, 5nd in many cases exceedingly repulsive task ;
for of such a nature are many of the objections, thrown out at random,
and asserted with confidence, that an attack which cost but a few
moments' effort on the part of the assailant, costs days and weeks of
labour, on the part of him who makes the defence.
The question, however, is too important to be slightly treated, ' Nor
will it suffice for those who defend the Pauline origin of our epistle^
merely to select a few specimens of argument on the part of their oppo-
nents, and, showing the insufficiency or inaccuracy of these, mae their
appeal to the reader's sympathies, assuring him, that the rest of the
arguments employed by their opponents are of a similar nature. There
are readers, (and such are the men whose opinion on subjects of this
153 26. OBJECTIONS BY BERTHOLDT.
nature is most to be valued,) who will not be satisfied with cursory, hasty,
half-performed examination ; and who, when you show them that one or
more of an opponent's arguments is unsound, will not believe it to follow,
of course, that all of them must be so. Above all, one must expect, that
many doubters of the genuineness of our epistle, will not be satisfied
with having only one side of the question presented. It is reasonable
that they should not ; and if the objections, which have weight in their
minds, cannot be as satisfactorily answered, as from the nature of the
case might be justly expected, then let them have so much weight as is
properly due to them.
It is but fair to warn the reader, that in entering on this part of our
subject, his patience will be tried, by the length and minuteness of the
examination. Perhaps those only, who fully know the present state of
critical effort and opinion with respect to the literature of our epistle,
will be able to find an adequate apology for such particularity as the
sequel exhibits. But such probably will feel, that the time has come,
when objections must either be fully and fairly met, or those who
defend the Pauline origin of our epistle must consent to give up their
opinion, if they would preserve the character of candour. The present
leaning of criticism is strongly against this origin ; and it is high time
that the subject should receive an ample discussion.
Whether the question at issue has been deeply, fundamentally, and
patiently examined, by the principal writers who have given a tone to
the present voice of critics, I will not venture either to affirm or to deny.
I shall leave it to the reader, when he shall have gone through with an
examination of these writers, to speak his own feelings.
26. Objections by Bertholdt considered.
Bertholdt has collected and embodied all the objections made by pre-
vious writers, which are worthy of particular consideration, in his Intro-
duction to the books of the Old and New Testament. To these he has
added some, which apparently were originated by himself. I shall
briefly state his objections; subjoining to each, as I proceed, such
remarks as the nature of the case may seem to demand.
(1.) " It is a suspicious circumstance, and against the opinion that
Paul wrote the epistle to the Hebrews, that he has not subscribed his
name; since he says, in 2 Thess. iii. 17, that it was his practice to do
this in order to show that letters, purporting to be his, might thus be
certainly known as being genuine."
26. OBJECTIONS BY BERTHOLDT. 151
The reply to this is obvious. After Paul had written his first epistle
to the Thessalonian church, in which he had mentioned the second coming
of Christ, it appears that some one had written another letter, counter-
feiting his name, in which the day of the Lord had been represented as
very near. On this account, Paul says, in his second letter to the same
church, " Be not agitated by any message, or by any epistle as from me,
in respect to the day of the Lord, as being already at hand," ii. 2. And
then, to avoid the effects of any misrepresentation of this nature, for the
future, he says, at the close of the letter, iii. 17, " This salutation from
me, Paul, by my own hand. This is the proof [viz. of the genuineness of
my letter] in every epistle [i. e. to your church;] so I write."
Let it now be noted, that the epistles to the Thessalonians were the
first, in regard to time, which Paul wrote to any church; at least, the
first that are now extant. Under circumstances like these, when letters
to the Thessalonians had been forged in his name, can the assurance that
he subscribes all his letters to them with his own hand, be taken as a
proof, that, in all his future life, he should never address an anonymous
letter to any church, in any circumstances ?
(2.) " No good reason can be given why Paul should conceal his
name. Does he not intimate, at the close of the letter, that he is yet in
prison, but expects soon to be set at liberty ? Does he not ask their
prayers that he may be speedily restored ? And does he not promise
them a visit, in company with Timothy, if his return be speedy ? Why
should Paul attempt to conceal himself, when he has developed circum-
stances which evidently imply that he was not concealed, and that he did
riot desire to be so ?"
But if this objection be of any validity, it is just as valid in respect to
any other person, as to the writer of this letter. Why should any other
writer attempt to conceal himself, when most clearly the tenor of the
letter implies, that he must be known to those whom he immediately
addresses ? If there be any incongruity here, it applies just as much to
any other writer, as to Paul.
But is there no good reason imaginable, why Paul should have with-
held his name ? If he designed the epistle to be a circular among the
Jews generally, (which from the nature of the discussion, comprising-
topics so interesting to them all, I am altogether inclined to believe was
the case,) then might he not, as a measure of prudence, omit prefixing or
subscribing his name directly, lest the prejudices of those Christians whtf
were zealots for the law might be excited, on theirs* inspection of hi*
152 ^ 26. OBJECTIONS BY BERTHOLDT.
epistle ? Ultimately, he might be, and must be known, if the letter was
traced back to the church to whom it was first sent, and the inquiries
jnade respecting it, which the circumstances mentioned at the close of it
would naturally suggest. To this the writer would probably feel no
objection; trusting that the arguments suggested in it might disarm pre-
judiced readers, before they came to the certain knowledge of the author.
Is it an unknown, unheard-of case, that men should write letters, anony-
mously at first, but afterwards avow them ? Or that they should write
letters, anonymous, but so circumstanced, and designedly so circum-
stanced, that inquiry might ultimately lead to a knowledge of the
Granting, however, that neither the reason of Clement of Alexandria,
nor of Eusebius, nor of Jerome, nor the reason now given, for the
apostle's withholding his name, is satisfactory; still is there no possibility
that adequate reason may have existed for the letter being sent without
the subscription of the writer's name, of which reason we are ignorant ?
Let it be whoever it may, that wrote the letter, does not the same
difficulty, in every case, attend the explanation of its being anonymous '(
I can see no difference ; unless we assume the position, that the writer
meant it should be attributed to an apostle, and therefore concealed his
own name. Such a writer, we cannot with any probability suppose the
author of our epistle to have been. All all is sincerity, fervent bene-
volence, ingenuous and open-hearted dealing, throughout the whole.
Besides, is the case in hand one that has no parallel ? Certainly not.
The first epistle of John is altogether destitute of the author's name, or ot
any internal marks that will lead us to know him, except what are con-
tained in the style itself. Why should it be more wonderful, that Paul
should write an anonymous letter, than that John should do it ?
(3.) " The Jews of Palestine had a great antipathy to Paul, and
always persecuted him, when he came among them. How can it be
supposed, that he should have addressed to them a letter, with the
expectation that it would be read and regarded by them ?"
That some of the zealots for the law, in Judea, were strongly opposed
to Paul, is sufficiently evident from the history of his visits to Jerusalem.
But, that the apostles and teachers there were his warm and decided
friends, is equally evident from the same source. Moreover, that there
were private Christians there, who cherished a very friendly feeling toward
him, is evident from Acts xxi. 17, where, on his last visit there, the
brethren (ot aeJeX^ot) are said to have received him gladly. The perse-
26. OBJECTIONS BY BERTHOLDT. 153
eution, which ensued at this time, was first excited, as the historian
expressly states, by Jews from Asia Minor, xxi. 27. But it is unneces-
sary to dwell on this. At Ptolemais, xxi. 7, and at Cesarea, xxi. 8 seq.,
he had warm friends ; and at the latter place, he abode two whole years
as a prisoner, before his removal to Rome. Were there no friends of
his, then, in Palestine, among whom he could hope to find a listening
ear ? no Christians, on whom he could hope that his arguments would
make an impression ? And after all, did he ever cease to speak to the
Jews, to admonish them, to dispute with them, in order to vindicate the
religion which he had embraced, because they were prejudiced against him ?
How unlike himself, then, does the objection which we are considering
represent Paul to be ! He did not confer with flesh and blood ; he
believed that the armour in which he was clad, was " mighty, through
God, to the pulling down of strong holds."
(4.) " But there is internal evidence, from the style of the epistle to
the Hebrews, and from circumstances mentioned in it, which render it
impossible to believe that Paul was the author of it."
This objection is a very ancient one. It was felt, as we have seen, by
Clement of Alexandria ; deeper still, by Origen ; and adverted to by
Eusebius, and other fathers of the church. It would seem, that there
must be some real foundation for an objection, so long, so often, and
confidently urged. Late critics have attributed an irresistible power to
it. Eichhorn and Bertholdt maintain, that it lies so upon the very face
of the whole epistle, that every reader must be impressed with it. So
strong, indeed, are their impressions with respect to it, that they seem to
require no other argument, in order to satisfy them that Paul could not
have written the epistle to the Hebrews.
That there are cases, where the general character of the style of one
piece, is so plainly different from another, as to leave no doubt on the
mind of a discerning reader that both did not, nay even could not, come
from the same pen, certainly cannot be called in question. Who could
ever attribute the epistles of John, to Paul, or to Peter, or to James ?
But, that there are other cases, where the characteristic marks are not
so discernible, and about which there may be a great difference of feeling
in respect to the style, is well known. For example ; the book oi
Deuteronomy is ascribed by one set of critics, of high acquisitions and
refined taste, of great acuteness and discriminating judgment, to Moses
as the author, because it betrays every where, as they think, the most
s>dubitable marks of his style and spirit. Another class of critics,
154 26. OBJECTIONS BY BERTHOLDT.
equally eminent for literary acquisition and discrimination, confidently
draw the conclusion, that Moses could not have been the author, from
the feeling which they have, on reading it, that it is composed in a manner
totally diverse from the style and spirit of Moses.
Just such is the case, in regard to the speech of Elihu, in the book
of Job. One party reject it as spurious, because their critical taste
leads them to do so; and another holds it to be genuine, for the
Isaiah, too, has met with the same fate. The last 26 chapters are now
familiarly called Pseudo-Isaiah, by one party of critics ; while another
strive to vindicate the whole book as genuine.
Each party is equally confident, and equally satisfied of the validity
of their arguments. But what is the humble inquirer to do, in the midst
of all these contests of taste and of opinion ? How can he trust his
feelings to decide, with confidence, in a case where the most acute and
distinguishing critics differ in respect to the judgment that a critical
tact should give ? He cannot do it with safety. In what way, then,
shall one who examines for himself, be able to arrive at any satisfactory
conclusion? My answer, in all such cases, would be, MAKE THE
ACTUAL COMPARISON ; collate sentiment with sentiment, phrase with
phrase, words with words. This is the kind of proof that is palpable,
and is not left to the uncertain tenor of feeling, excited by mere insulated
perusal ; a feeling which, in cases where the composition read is in
a foreign language, must be a very uncertain guide ; and which, even in
our own vernacular language, not unfrequently misleads us.
Origen, as he avers, found, in the epistle to the Hebrews, the thoughts
of Paul ; but the words, he thinks, are better Greek (IXXr/j/t^wrfpa) than
the apostle wrote. He, therefore, resorts to the supposition, that a
translator had given to it its present Greek costume, who had received
the sentiments from the mouth of Paul. But Eichhorn does not limit
the difference, between the style of this epistle and those of Paul, to the
quality of the Greek. " The manner of it," says he, " is more tranquil
and logical than that in which Paul with his strong feelings could
write. Every thing is arranged in the most exact order. The expression
is well rounded, choice, and very clear in the representation which it
makes. Paul is altogether different; he is unperiodical, involved,
obscure, writes poor Greek, is given to rhapsody and aphorism," Einl.
260. Bertholdt has repeated the same sentiment, in almost the same
words, in his Introduction to this epistle, 646.
26. OBJECTIONS BY BERTHOLDT. 155
If I might be allowed to express my own feelings, after having, for
many years, annually devoted myself to the explanation of this epistle,
translated it with all the care which I could bestow upon it, and minutely
weighed every expression and word in it, I should say, that nothing could
be more unfortunately chosen, than the epithet, " ruhig," equable, tran-
quil, void of excitement, which these distinguished critics have applied