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Books of the Bible that Paul wrote vs. Books mistakenly attributed to Him Research Paper

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Updated: Dec 15th, 2019

Introduction

There is a debate on whether or not Paul the apostle authored the highest number of books in the Bible. Bible fanatics view 80% of the New Testament as Paul’s work. While there is a degree of truth behind their assertions, based on the content of the books, there too stand some significant clashes concerning Paul’s work and that of other authors.

The book of Hebrews in the Bible forms the basis of this ancient argument, with some people declaring it as Paul’s and others refuting the claim to the level of campaigning for its removal from the Bible. However, the latter lot might not win in their demands based on what the adherents hold concerning the content and the authorship of the book.

Despite the unknown author, the adherents have gone further to declare it a canon. As the paper unveils, although the Bible has several books attributed to Paul, scholars claim that some of them, though treated as Paul’s were not really written by him based on their wording and content but despite the claims, churches found them worth including in the Bible as their content concurred with the overall theme of the Bible.

One might ask, ‘What makes the books mistaken for Paul’s?’

Similarities

In answering the afore-posed question, once something or somebody is mistaken for another, the two must feature outstanding similarities as so are those books in the bible, whose authorship is mistaken for Paul. Taking the book of Hebrews as an epitome of the argued books, “…there is still much evidence that Paul wrote the letter” (Allen 2003, Para. 8) arousing the need to find out why this might turn true.

The readers of the Bible need to realize the synonymous use of the words Hebrews and Jews. With such a light, they will concur with Peter’s words that Paul actually wrote the book of Hebrews. Addressing the Jews and therefore the Hebrews, Peter says, “…just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him” (2Pet. 3:15 NIV).

He therefore credits Paul as the author of the book. In addition, as evidenced in several works of one author, the themes of most of his/her works are more or less the same regardless of the title of the publication. Building on this awareness, Paul’s books, Philippians and Ephesians for instance, address the theme of salvation by faith. Paul says, “You were saved by faith in God…” (Eph. 2:8).

The same theme dominates the book of Hebrews thus passing Paul for its authorship. The verses 6:12, 4:2, 10:22 and 38, and the entire chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews address the theme of salvation by faith. Therefore, based on these revealed relationships, the reader can mistake Paul for the authorship. In fact, Allen confirms this when he declares the book “the grand finale of Paul’s letters” (Allen 2003, Para.4).

Therefore, the book features several connections with other Paul’s writings and hence the mistaken authorship. However, other people still refute the claim declaring Paul not the author, based on the evident differences and errors manifested in the book in relation to the true letters of Paul.

Differences

Paul’s patterns of writing, as evident in his letters, differ significantly from the patterns presented in the book of Hebrews. Taking Paul’s letter to the Ephesians as an illustration of the patterns, Paul asserts, “A husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head and savior of the church, which is his own body” (Eph. 5:23).

The same message revolves around the verses 1Cor. 12:12-27 and Col. 1:18 among others featuring Christ as the head of the church. However, the pattern has, not even a single share in the book of Hebrews, which in turn restricts Christ’s priesthood to the Israelites only, as evident in Heb. 2:17 and Heb. 9:11-12 among others.

In addition, while Paul’s books point out the everlasting union between Christ and his people, the book of Hebrews presents the possibility of the breaking of the union and thus not eternal as Paul puts it.

The difference stands out well in 1Cor. 5:5 and Heb. 6: 4-6. Another striking difference comes in when Paul’s letters address much on the equality of both Jews and Gentiles while the book of Hebrews specifies the Israelites as better than the rest.

Further, based on the wording, the word ‘World’ appears more than 40 times in Paul’s writings, stressing on the redeeming power of Christ Jesus to the world whereas it appears not even once in the book of Hebrews. The exposition arouses the reader’s insinuation that Paul cannot pass for the writer of the book of Hebrews, who does not recognize Jesus’ redeeming capability as Paul does.

Moreover, while Paul points out the fall of the people of Israel in virtually all his books, the author of Hebrews addresses the issue differently with the same Israelites assuming the ‘Promised Land’. Despite the differences in opinions concerning the authorship of some of the books presumed to be of Paul, churches have further canonized them.

Canonization

The content, style, logic and beliefs among others, but not the author, determine the worthiness of a book such as that of Hebrews. In understanding the reason behind the inclusion of the book in the New Testament (NT) canon, the reader needs to understand the bottom line theme of the NT as well as the Bible at large. The church council cannot accept any book that does not address the central biblical message.

Therefore, the book of Hebrews must pass through the test prior to its canonization. Irrespective of the author, Lyoid observes, “The author of Hebrews presents strong arguments that we all need Christ, including: He is more wonderful than angels, for they worship Him. He is superior to Moses, for He created him.

His sacrifice is once for all time, whereas…” (Lyoid 2009, Para.8) Therefore, the central message in the book, Christ as above all, concurs with what other NT books claim concerning the same and therefore fit in the canon.

In addition, despite the difference in style between the book of Hebrews and the rest, he further questions, “can one really claim that Hebrews does not empower, inspire, humble the ego, and elevate the spirit in the same way that all other scripture does?” (Lyoid 2009, Para.3) showing how the book fits in the canon based on its contents and influence to the reader.

Books Disqualified

However, some books such as Tobit, Sirach, Maccabees, and Baruch, did not fit in the Bible based on the qualifications that a book has to meet before its canonization. Most of them did not concur with the Torah. In addition, their contents conflicted with the moral lessons of the Bible.

For instance, the Bible presents Jesus as the son of God and God too as evidenced in Jn. 1:1-3, the rejected books on the other hand contain contradicting issues concerning the same, further addressing Jesus as a man who had a wife. Therefore, the church council could not canonize such books as they did for the book of Hebrews, despite its unidentified author.

Reference List

Allen, David L. “Who Wrote the Book of Hebrews? Who was the Author of Hebrews?” Accessed from

Lyoid, Bob S. “The Canonicity of the Book of Hebrews.” Accessed from

The New International Version Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments with Apocrypha. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009.

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"Books of the Bible that Paul wrote vs. Books mistakenly attributed to Him." IvyPanda, 15 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/books-of-the-bible-that-paul-wrote-vs-books-mistakenly-attributed-to-him-research-paper/.

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IvyPanda. "Books of the Bible that Paul wrote vs. Books mistakenly attributed to Him." December 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/books-of-the-bible-that-paul-wrote-vs-books-mistakenly-attributed-to-him-research-paper/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Books of the Bible that Paul wrote vs. Books mistakenly attributed to Him." December 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/books-of-the-bible-that-paul-wrote-vs-books-mistakenly-attributed-to-him-research-paper/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Books of the Bible that Paul wrote vs. Books mistakenly attributed to Him'. 15 December.

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