Even more intriguing is the theory that Priscilla herself is the author of Hebrews (A. Harnack. A. S. Peake, O. Michel, R. Hoppin, among others).
It is not inconceivable that Priscilla had been commissioned by church leaders to address the issue of the relation of the two covenants. As a Jewish leader who had been associated with the now-deceased apostle Paule during his teaching ministry, she would be uniquely qualified to write authoritatively on an issue that they had confronted together repeatedly in their ministries to Jewish-Gentile churches. Because of the antifemale bias of the Judeo-Christian congregations, she may have been requested to write anonymously, with her identity known only by the local leaders who had given her the assignment. In this manner she would be able to address the issue from her expertise as a scholar of Jewish background, under the cover of apostolic authority derived from her close association with the apostle Paul and other worthies of the apostolic church.
In so doing, she may also have set a precedent for nonapostles such as Mark, James, and Jude, but especially for Luke, as he wrote the third Gospel and the book of Acts, both anonymous in the text but authoritative for the church on the strength of Luke's association with Paul. This device of semi-anonymity would enable her to direct her exhortations to Christians wavering between the two covenants without her gender being an obstacle for the acceptance of her message by the tradition-bound Judaizing belivers. This theory would help explain a number of baffling features of the epistle.
a. It could account for the absence of an authorial superscription and the conspiracy of anonymity that surrounded its authorship in the ancient church. The lack of any firm data concerning the identity of the author in the extant writings of the church suggests a deliberate suppression more than a case of collective memory loss....
g. .... The same Priscilla who taught Apollos when he was already an eloquent man--well versed in Scripture, instructed in the way of the Lord, fervent in spirit, speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus (Acts 18:24-26)--could be the one who continues to nurture the life and thought of the church through this ageless portion of Scripture.
-- The above is an excerpt from a footnote from pages 248-250 of a book by Gilbert Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman's Place in Church and Family. The bold font above is my emphasis.
The multiple links within the excerpt above are to the same blogpost, , "Woman is a misbegotten male", the title of which, of course, is a quotation of Thomas Aquinas, who, of course, is quoting "the philosopher," who, of course, is Aristotle. The first link I've made above is on Martin Luther, whom Marszalek quotes as saying, "Eve originally was more equally a partner with Adam, but because of sin the present woman is a far inferior creature. Because she is responsible for the Fall, woman is in a state of subjugation. The man rules the home and the world, wages war and tills the soil. The woman is like a nail driven into the wall, she sits at home." We can only guess what Luther might have made of Apollos's apprenticeship under Priscilla.
I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am, nonetheless, especially during women's history month, wondering how it is that so much of our histories foreground men and suppress and silence women in the shadows. I thought it might be worth reconsidering the absence of a named author for the Jewish-Christian book, "Hebrews."
I'm prompted to keep the theory of Priscilla as a possible author in the foreground when, today, Michael F. Bird posts that "There has been interesting proposals on this topic [of 'The Authorship of Hebrews'] of late." But Bird, in his subsequent and extensive interview with proposer Andrew Pitts, allows Pitts to gloss over the proposed possibility of the female author:
3. Could you summarize what it is about Hebrews that indicates that it is Pauline and what suggests that there is a Lucan hand involved?
We also find it difficult to imagine another person in early Christianity with the background necessary to produce such a composition. We don’t have enough information to make solid judgments regarding the abilities of many proposed authors (Barnabas, Pricilla, Apollos, etc.).So, if you read what Pitts is saying today, in contrast with what Bilezikian is proposing, then once again none of the silence in history is really addressed. Thus, it might again be time to look carefully at the text of Hebrews itself. More than a year ago now, Wayne Leman got several looking at and discussing the question of Priscilla as an author, quoting blogger EricW's question: "So, how strong or good is the argument that the masculine participle in Hebrews 11:32 by which the author refers to himself rules out female authorship?" (Note in the comments thread how author Ruth Hoppin answers: "You asked if the participle in Heb. 11:32 rules out female authorship. Although this claim is often asserted, the answer is no, it doesn’t.").
Can the question of collective memory loss or deliberate suppression ever go away?
I can guarantee you that had "the participle" been feminine, no one would try and claim on that basis alone that the author had been female. Just sayin'. ;-)
Ad did she have to pretend to be a man - that is, pretend to be Paul - to gain authority in the Church?
Google language tools come in handy in times like these...
"Person who earned the whole world and loses his own soul, what are the benefits of"
... but of course the long string of links shown only as dots leads to a bunch of garbage. Such nice people, quoting scripture (sorta).
Paula, You offer a wonderfully insightful suggestion that how lopsided the arguments of male-author apologists can be (even when looking at "the text.")
Deane, Thank you for your helpful question.
To everyone: I had to delete the comment post that Paula refers to in her second comment above. It was a spammer using the name 黃色 and posting this 人若賺得全世界,賠上自己的靈魂,有什麼益處？- which Paula helps us translate via google. But the "bunch of garbage" spam was links to female (and therefore societal) demeaning pornography.
Please do be patient if you post here, as I've turned on moderate comments again. I will always post your comments if you're not spamming and porning.
Tanx J.K. :-)
It's an interesting psychological experiment to watch how people can be so unable to see their own commission of the very faults they assign to others. It crosses all the lines: conservative/liberal, theist/non-theist, comp/egal, etc. I've seen many cases where both the comp and the egal used identical tactics and arguments, such that one could switch sides merely by changing the names.
And this is why we all have so much trouble communicating, much less convincing, when we try and grapple with these issues. It's also a good illustration of the need for open, free debate between two strong antagonists, rather than the current fad of constricting each side so as not to offend the other. Only by a free and open exchange can the observer (never the combatants!) make a wise choice, since only then can they see all the strengths and weaknesses of the two positions.
Or to quote Han Solo, "I prefer a straight fight to all this sneakin' around!" ;-)
Hi JK. I think the Priscilla as author would be wonderful. I wrote about her a year and a half back Priscila, A female leader which is as best as I could a collection of points regarding her importance. For example A few more pieces of evidence are archeological. In Rome to this day there is still a street named after her (but not [Aquila]) in the aventine Via de Santa Prisca. There is a large church built in her honor, that goes back to the 4th century and possibly earlier, which legend says was the location of her house. Incidentally under the church was a mithric temple, so it may have been that Prisca's "house church" was really quite nice, a converted temple, it also contains Christian catacombs from no later than the 2nd century. Her grave still has veneration.
Anyway good luck on this debate.
Hi CD-Host, Thank you very much for the encouragement and even more for the evidence you give. I look forward to having time to thorough see all that you've uncovered and compiled!
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