In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Hebrews

  • Introduction
  • Annotated Study Bibles
  • Dictionary Treatments
  • New Testament Introductions
  • Bibliographies
  • Surveys
  • Essay Collections
  • Questions of Authorship, Audience, and Dating
  • Genre
  • Literary Structure
  • Cultural, Intellectual, and Religious Context
  • Sociological and Anthropological Approaches
  • Theology
  • Cult
  • Use of the Scriptures of Israel

Biblical Studies Hebrews
Ellen B. Aitken
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 January 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 13 September 2010
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0050


The New Testament writing known as the Epistle (or “Letter”) to the Hebrews poses many challenges to its interpreters, due to the mysteries that continue to surround fundamental issues relating to the text’s historical background. Although the attribution of Hebrews to Paul dates to early in the history of its transmission, doubts concerning its authorship are equally old. In the 21st century, scholars are in near-complete agreement in rejecting Pauline authorship of the Epistle, and there is increasing acceptance of the thesis that Hebrews’ author will remain anonymous. The title conferred upon Hebrews provides further difficulties, both because the epistolary nature of the text is typically rejected in favor of the view that Hebrews bears resemblance to a sermon and because there is a lack of consensus concerning the location and identity of the work’s addressees. Hebrews is thus often referred to as a “riddle,” but the work also occupies a special place among New Testament writings because of its highly developed rhetorical style, intricate relationship with the scriptures of Israel, and rich theological vision. Hebrews has been somewhat neglected in the history of New Testament scholarship, but the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st have witnessed a marked increase in the number of publications devoted to its analysis, and this fresh intensity of interest in Hebrews shows no sign of abating.

Text and Translations of Hebrews

The standard Greek text of Hebrews, with textual variants, is available in the Nestle-Aland 27th edition (Nestle, et al. 2001) and the United Bible Society 4th edition (United Bible Society 1993), both cited under The Greek New Testament. The Greek text of Hebrews (Nestle-Aland 26th edition) and several modern language translations can also be accessed online. The well-maintained websites of the Oremus Bible Browser, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the International Bible Society (now Biblica) offer reliable access to the English translations of the New Revised Standard Version, New American Bible, and New International Version, respectively.

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