Notes on the Authorship of Hebrews

This post is a compilation of various notes on the authorship of the book of Hebrews.  They are not in any particular order.

Regarding the sources cited here, in some cases more information may be found for them at Annotated Bibliography on New Testament Text and Canon.


A Modern Scholar Makes Case for Paul as Author

Black, David Alan.  The Authorship of Hebrews: The Case for Paul.  Energion Publications, 2013.


Hebrews as a Speech of Paul’s Documented by Luke

Pitts, Andrew W. and Joshua F. Walker. “The Authorship of Hebrews: A Further Development in the Luke-Paul Relationship.” In Paul and His Social Relations. Edited by Stanley E. Porter and Christopher D. Land. Leiden: Brill, 2013.

Pitts and Walker argue that “…Hebrews likely represents a Pauline speech, probably originally delivered in a Diaspora synagogue, which Luke documented in some way during their travels together and which Luke later published as an independent speech to be circulated among house churches in the Jewish-Christian Diaspora.”


Bart Ehrman Thinks Hebrews Implies It Is from Paul

In Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (2011), Bart Ehrman declares that:

…Paul did not write Hebrews…  (p. 33)

Ehrman also makes clear that in this regard he is speaking on behalf of modern scholarship:

The anonymous book of Hebrews was assigned to Paul, even though numbers of early Christian scholars realized that Paul did not write it, as scholars today agree.  (p. 221)

Yet he suggests that the writer of Hebrews wanted readers to think that he was Paul – in other words, that ancient scholars were for this reason duped:

The book of Hebrews was particularly debated ; the book does not explicitly claim to be written by Paul, but there are hints at the end that the author wants readers to think that he’s Paul (see Hebrews 13:22– 25). For centuries its Pauline authorship was a matter of dispute. The book was finally admitted into the canon only when nearly everyone came to think Paul must have written it. (p. 22)

Also anonymous are the book of Acts and the letters known as 1, 2, and 3 John . Technically speaking, the same is true of the book of Hebrews; the author never mentions his name, even if he wants you to assume he’s Paul. 12  (p. 23)

12. This has recently been argued in Clare Rothschild, Hebrews as Pseudepigraphon: The History and Significance of the Pauline Attribution of Hebrews (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009).  (p. 268)

Scholars are highly unified in thinking that Paul did not write the book of Hebrews, even though it was included in the canon of the New Testament by church fathers who thought that it was. 9  (p. 228)

9. For an argument that the author intends to make his readers think he was Paul, see Clare Rothschild, Hebrews as Pseudepigraphon (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009).  (p. 288)

Here is Amazon’s description of the Rothschild book:

The history of scholarship on Hebrews attests a tension between the originality and Pauline character of its epistolary postscript (Hebrews 13:20-25). Generally speaking, scholars accepting the postscript’s originality reject its Pauline character, while those rejecting its originality accept its reliance on Paul’s letters. The Pauline character of the postscript is especially problematic for implying Paul’s authorship of the book – a thesis that is all but dispensed with today. Clare K. Rothschild argues that if Hebrews’ postscript is both original and imitative of Paul’s letters, and if this imitation on the part of the author of Hebrews deliberately identifies the author as Paul, the entire book of Hebrews merits consideration as a pseudepigraphon. Examining Hebrews from this perspective, Rothschild makes the case that neither the postscript nor the rest of Hebrews was composed de novo. Rather, it deliberately adopts words and phrases – including citations from the Jewish Scriptures – from a collection of Pauline materials, in order to imply Paul’s authorship of a message that stands in continuity with esteemed Pauline traditions. Furthermore, the longstanding tradition of Hebrews’ Pauline attribution suggests that it never circulated independently of other works attributed to Paul but was composed to amplify an early corpus Paulinum. This is the first ever monograph to examine the history of Hebrews’ Pauline attribution and the significance of this attribution for our understanding of the book and its author’s indebtedness to Pauline traditions.  [emphasis mine]

Thus Ehrman and Rothschild are agreeing that anyone – ancient or modern – who thinks that Paul wrote Hebrews is thinking what the writer intended its readers to think.  Ehrman is thus saying that the “anonymity” of Hebrews is a technicality (see his words from p. 23 of his book above).  That Ehrman thinks the writer was lying about this is a separate issue.  The point is that Ehrman thinks Hebrews claims to be written by Paul.


A 19th-Century Author on Origen’s Oft-Quoted Statement

Tregelles, Samuel P. (1813-1875). A Lecture on the Historic Evidence of the Authorship and Transmission of the Books of the New Testament. Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1852.

Origen (184-254) famously wrote, “Men of old have handed it down as Paul’s, but who wrote the Epistle God only knows.”  Samuel P. Tregelles makes clear in the section of his book titled “Epistle to the Hebrews” (p. 52-54) that Origen attributed Hebrews to Paul and was only referring in his statement to the question of who used the pen.

In the early centuries it was but little known in the West, and thus, in the Canon in Muratori, it is not mentioned. In the East, however, it was well known and received, and there it was ascribed to the Apostle Paul.  (p. 52)

The difficulty connected with its authorship being directly ascribed to St. Paul, is principally found in the omission of his name at the beginning, and the difference of style throughout.  Thus, some of those who ascribed it in a general sense to St. Paul, thought that the ideas were his, but that the language was that of another; in fact, that it bore the same relation to St. Paul, as St. Luke’s Gospel does to him, and St. Mark’s to St. Peter.  Thus Origen, who quotes this Epistle as St. Paul’s, says, that of the actual writer ‘God only knoweth.”  [emphasis his]  (p. 54)

Others through the ages have made this point as well, perhaps most notably David Alan Black in The Authorship of Hebrews: The Case for Paul in which he gives many other quotes of Origen demonstrating just this point, but, alas, it’s a point that continues to be lost in all the superficial observations made about the authorship of Hebrews in our time.


Jerome and Augustine Attributed Hebrews to Paul

Alexander, Archibald (1772-1851). The Canon of the Old and New Testaments Ascertained; or, The Bible, Complete, without the Apocrypha and Unwritten Traditions. Presbyterian Board of Education, 1851.


Jerome, in speaking of the writings of Paul, gives the following very full and satisfactory testimony: “He wrote,” says he, “nine epistles to seven churches. To the Romans, one; to the Corinthians, two; to the Galatians, one; to the Philippians, one; to the Colossians, one; to the Thessalonians, two; to the Ephesians, one; to Timothy, two; to Titus, one; to Philemon, one. But the epistle called to the Hebrews is not thought to be his, because of the difference
of argument and style; but rather Barnabas’s, as Tertullian thought; or Luke’s, according to some others; or Clement’s, who was afterwards bishop of Rome; who being much with Paul, clothed and adorned Paul’s sense in his own language. Or if it be Paul’s, he might decline putting his name to it in the inscription, for fear of offending the Jews. Moreover, he wrote as a Hebrew to the Hebrews, it being his own language; whence it came to pass, that being translated, it has more elegance in the Greek than his other epistles. This they say is the reason of its differing from Paul’s other writings. There is also an epistle to the Laodiceans, but it is rejected by every body.” Jerome commonly quotes the epistle to the Hebrews as the apostle Paul’s; and, as we have seen before, this was his prevailing opinion, which is not contradicted in the long passage just cited.  (p. 129)


 Augustine received fourteen epistles of Paul, the last of which, in his catalogue, is the epistle to the Hebrews; he was aware, however, that some in his time thought it of doubtful authority. “However,” says he, “I am inclined to follow the opinion of the churches of the east, who receive it among the canonical Scriptures.”  (p. 130)

Alexander discusses other ancient opinions, including that of Eusebius, in the same section of this book.


Notes on Forgery and Pseudepigraphy

This post is about forgeries and pseudepigrapha in ancient times – whether merely alleged or actually proven, and whether alleged by ancient scholars or modern ones.


What the Ancients Thought About Forgeries

This is found in Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (2011) by Bart D. Ehrman.

Most church leaders did not appreciate fabricated documents.  But there were plenty to go around.  (p. 18)

In short, there were long, protracted, and often heated debates in the early church over forged documents. Early Christians realized that there were numerous forgeries in circulation, and they wanted to know which books were written by their alleged authors and which were not.  (p. 22)


Where Bart Ehrman and J. I. Packer Agree

Chapter 2 of Forged (titled “Alternatives to Lies and Deception”), Bart Ehrman writes (on p. 115):

Scripture says that it is inspired or breathed out by God. God does not and cannot lie. Therefore Scripture does not and cannot contain lies. Forgery, on the other hand, involves lying. For that reason there can be no forgeries in the Bible.  This conservative evangelical view is still very much held by some scholars today, at least by conservative evangelical scholars. But I should emphasize it is a view that is built on theological premises of what has to be true , not on the grounds of what actually is true.

Ehrman marks an endnote right after “true” which reads (on p. 280):

A partial exception may be the view of evangelical scholar Donald Guthrie, who tries to argue on historical, rather than dogmatic, grounds that there can be no forgeries in the New Testament; see his “The Development of the Idea of Canonical Pseudipigrapha in New Testament Criticism,” Vox Evangelica 1 (1962): 43– 59.

Guthrie’s article can be found online here.   In the article, Guthrie quotes J. I. Packer in this section:

Among those who during the period since the rise of criticism have maintained the rejection of canonical pseudepigrapha two different approaches may be discerned, the dogmatic and the historical. The former approach is well represented by a recent writer, J. I. Packer, who makes the following assertion, “We may lay down as a general principle that, when biblical books specify their own authorship, the affirmation of their canonicity involves a denial of their pseudonymity. Pseudonymity and canonicity are mutually exclusive.” [49] He goes on to assert that since the New Testament books were received into the canon, that must ipso facto rule out the possibility of pseudonymous authorship for any New Testament writing. “As we have seen, if a New Testament book is not authentically apostolic, and if it makes false assertions (as on this hypothesis these books do), then it has not the nature of Scripture, and has no place in the New Testament canon. But the fact is that these books established their place in the canon of the early Church, and have been studied and expounded in the Church for centuries without anything unworthy of their apparent authors, or inconsistent with the rest of Scripture, either in teaching or in tone, being found in them.” [50]

The footnotes are to Packer’s Fundamentalism and the Word of God (1958), pages 184 and 185, respectively.  Guthrie goes on to say:

Packer argues strongly for the description of pseudonymous works as “forgeries”. He defines it as follows. “The dictionary definition of ‘forgery’ is fraudulent imitation, as such, irrespective of its aim, the point of the fraud being simply to get one’s own product accepted as somebody else’s”. [51] Moreover, in answer to those who postulate the highest motives, Packer maintains, “frauds are still fraudulent, even when perpetrated from noble motives”.[52] The difficulty which arises here is that different minds have different notions of what is meant by “forgery”.

The footnotes are, again, to Packer’s book, this time pages 183 and 184, respectively.

Parenthetically, regarding Packer’s view let me add what I myself found in his book because it defines his position in the most pithy way:

Pseudonymity and canonicity are mutually exclusive.  (p. 184)

…to deny authenticity is to deny canonicity also.  (p. 186)

 Having given Packer as his example of the “dogmatic” approach, Guthrie then goes on to give examples of the “historical” approach, which I’ll not reproduce here.  Suffice it to say that while Guthrie may respect Packer’s theological justification for rejecting pseudonymous works, he considers historical justification “more enlightened.”

The primary point for our purposes is that while Ehrman emphatically rejects Packer’s theological views, the two men are in full agreement about the definition of forgery and that any pseudonymous work deserves that label whether it is in the New Testament canon or not.  Thus Ehrman insists that the New Testament contains forgeries and Packer insists that it does not – both men fully agreeing on what constitutes a forgery.


Where Bruce Metzger Disagrees with Ehrman and Packer

Bruce Metzger wrote “Literary Forgeries and Canonical Pseudepigrapha” in Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 91, No. 1 (Mar., 1972), pp. 3-24.

The idea of pseudepigrapha being in the New Testament does not bother Metzger as it bothers Packer.  Metzger begins his concluding paragraph with:

The recognized custom of antiquity allowed historians great freedom in representing the sentiments of those about whom they wrote by means of imaginary speeches, founded more or less on what was actually said. If, indeed, an entire book should appear to have been composed in order to present vividly the thoughts and feelings of an important person, there would not seem to be in this circumstance any reason to say that it could not be divinely inspired. Why, then, should inspiration be denied if, as in the case of 2 Peter (which most scholars believe was written about A.D. 125-140), the author appears to have drawn up the treatise in the name of Simon Peter (1:1) and with details lending a high degree of verisimilitude (e.g., the reference to having been present at the Transfiguration, 1:17-18) in order to recall second and third generation Christians back to the orthodox teaching and practice held to have been inculcated by Peter himself?

Metzger then concludes his essay with this sentence:

In short, since the use of the literary form of pseudepigraphy need not be regarded as necessarily involving fraudulent intent, it cannot be argued that the character of inspiration excludes the possibility of pseudepigraphy among the canonical writings.

While Packer would say that 2 Peter must have been written by Peter or else it wouldn’t be part of the New Testament canon, Metzger says it could still be canonical even if Peter didn’t write it, and Ehrman says that irrespective of its canonicity or lack thereof it was not written by Peter.  Thus modern scholars argue amonst themselves while ancient scholars settled the matter long ago – in favor of Peter’s authorship.


Miscellaneous Notes on Bart Ehrman

In short, there were long, protracted, and often heated debates in the early church over forged documents. Early Christians realized that there were numerous forgeries in circulation, and they wanted to know which books were written by their alleged authors and which were not.

This is found on p. 22 of Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (2011) by Bart D. Ehrman.  Oddly, Ehrman does not go on to explain in this book why he thinks the ancients’ vetting process failed, nor what makes his vetting process superior to theirs.



The Canon of Trent

The Council of Trent – an official gathering of Roman Catholic Church leaders – was held from 1545 to 1563.  In its fourth session (April 4th,  1546), it affirmed the New Testament canon that had already been in place and uncontroversial since ancient times.

Of the New Testament: the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke the Evangelist; fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle, (one) to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, (one) to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, (one) to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two of Peter the apostle, three of John the apostle [ 1, 2, 3 ], one of the apostle James, one of Jude the apostle, and the Apocalypse of John the apostle.

This is the first, and only, ecumenical church council convened for the purpose, even in part, of resolving disagreements about the biblical canon..and even it, because it was Roman Catholic, did not involve Protestant or Eastern Orthodox Christianity.  While there is a dispute among these three main branches of Christianity about whether the Apocrypha should be included with the Old Testament, there is no such dispute about the contents New Testament.

Source:  Wikipedia article on Canon of Trent

How Geographic Separation Affirms the Reliability of the New Testament | J. Warner Wallace

(4-minute read; 904 words)

Source: How Geographic Separation Affirms the Reliability of the New Testament | Cold Case Christianity

HT: Greg West at The Poached Egg of Ratio Christi

Why These 66 Books? – Nathan Busenitz


We believe in the 39 books of the Old Testament, because the Lord Jesus Christ affirmed the Old Testament. And we believe in the 27 books of the New Testament, because the Lord Jesus Christ authorized His apostles to write the New Testament.

The doctrine of canonicity ultimately comes back to the lordship of Jesus Christ. If we believe in Him and submit to His authority, then we will simultaneously believe in and submit to His Word. Because He affirmed the Old Testament canon, we also affirm it. Because He authorized His apostles to write the New Testament, we likewise embrace it as well.

It was not the Catholic church that determined the canon. Constantine did not determine the canon. Joseph Smith certainly did not determine the canon. No, it is the authority of Christ Himself, the Lord of the church and the incarnate Son of God, on which the canon of Scripture rests.

(6 min read; 1,569 words)

Source: Why These 66 Books? – The Master’s Seminary
(HT: Greg West at The Poached Egg by Ratio Christi)

Why These 66 Books?

The money quote:

The doctrine of canonicity ultimately comes back to the lordship of Jesus Christ. If we believe in Him and submit to His authority, then we will simultaneously believe in and submit to His Word. Because He affirmed the Old Testament canon, we also affirm it. Because He authorized His apostles to write the New Testament, we likewise embrace it as well.

(6 min read; 1,570 words)

Source: The Master’s Seminary Why These 66 Books?

The Ancient Church Did Not Decide to Create the New Testament

It is also a subsidiary post of Obstacles in the Study of New Testament Formation.

The ancient did not begin the process of forming the New Testament with the end in mind. There are no instructions in the New Testament writings which direct a process of forming a New Testament. Thus the New Testament was created through the church of the first through the fifth centuries, but it was not a process directed by that church.  This is the reason that ancient scholars left such a scant account of how they formed the New Testament.

Gamble, Harry Y.  “The New Testament Canon: Recent Research and the Status Quaestionis” in The Canon Debate, 2002, edited by McDonald and Sanders (bibliography).  At Kindle location 5855, Gamble writes:

This conception, which had in a measure been anticipated by B. F. Westcott, carried for [Theodor] Zahn an important corollary, namely that the New Testament was not self-consciously created by the church, either as a response to external stimuli or as a means to some end, but arose naturally and spontaneously from the inner life of early Christianity, above all in the contexts of worship and instruction.

And at Kindle location 5949, he writes:

Moreover, just as [Adolph von] Harnack once imagined the various sorts of “New Testaments” that could conceivably have arisen, [Franz] Stuhlhofer has helpfully pointed out the hazard of teleological presuppositions in the study of the canon, noting that the history of the canon is usually viewed too much in the light of its known outcome, and hence on the presumptions of purpose and linear progress through stages to a preconceived result. His is an important reminder that this is an unhistorical approach which too readily forecloses the vagaries and contingencies of an open-ended process.



The Difficulty of Studying New Testament Canon Formation

This is a subsidiary post of The Formation of the New Testament…from Beginning to End.

The difficulty of studying the history of the New Testament’s formation is acknowledged by those who have studied it.  This difficulty is best navigated by seeking to identify the obstacles in its way.

Abraham, William J. (1947-).  Canon and Criterion in Christian Theology: From the Fathers to Feminism.  Oxford University Press, 1998, 520 pages.  At Kindle location 205, Abraham writes:

As we shall see, the story of canonization of the Bible is very complex, for the reasons behind the process of canonization are multiple.

And as to the paucity of reporting on the process as it took place, he writes (at Kindle location 5810):

The very category, Old Testament, is a Christian invention, required by the way in which the New Testament is construed.  One would dearly love to know how this quiet conceptual revolution took place.

Balla, Peter (1962-).  “Evidence for an Early Christian Canon (Second and Third Century)” in The Canon Debate, edited by Lee M. McDonald and James A. Sanders, 2002 (bibliography).  In the very first words of this essay (Kindle location 8323), Balla writes:

Due to the scarcity of evidence, one cannot firmly conclude when exactly and as a result of what development the early church came to possess a twenty-seven-book collection called the New Testament and a two-part collection that comprises our Bible of Old and New Testaments.

Gamble, Harry Y.  “The New Testament Canon: Recent Research and the Status Quaestionis” in The Canon Debate, 2002, edited by McDonald and Sanders (bibliography).  Here’s how he begins his report on modern academia’s “state of investigation” of NT canon formation (Kindle location 5840):

Hans Lietzmann once remarked that the history of the canon is “one of the most complicated aspects of the study of church history.”  Few who have broached this subject would disagree.

And here’s how he ends it (Kindle location 6430):

The history of the New Testament canon will not be adequately grasped until all of its dimensions have been comprehended. I have sought to suggest that these dimensions are far more numerous than is customarily thought. They include the social history of the early church, the history of theology and doctrine, the liturgical life of early Christian communities, the history of interpretation, the bibliographical practices of the church, and the textual history of particular documents and collections of documents. It is a daunting task.

Metzger, Bruce M.  The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance.  Oxford University Press, 1987.  On p. 1, Metzger says:

The recognition of the canonical status of the several books of the New Testament was the result of a long and gradual process, in the course of which certain writings, regarded as authoritative, were separated from a much larger body of early Christian literature. Although this was one of the most important developments in the thought and practice of the early Church, history is virtually silent as to how, when, and by whom it was brought about. Nothing is more amazing in the annals of the Christian Church than the absence of detailed accounts of so significant a process. In view of the lack of specific information, it is not surprising that many questions and problems confront the investigation of the canonization of the New Testament.


The Ancient Church Saw the New Testament as the Apostolic Writings

This is a subsidiary post of Apostolicity and the New Testament.

This post is designed to accumulate the evidence that the ancient church, in producing the New Testament, was distinguishing genuine apostolic writings from all other Christian writings.  Though many modern scholars also believe that the New Testament is the apostolic testimony, I am not trying to document that here.  In this post I want to focus exclusively on what the ancient church thought.

I include both liberal and conservative scholars in this list to demonstrate that the ancient church’s view about the apostolicity of the New Testament is acknowledge from one end of the academic spectrum to the other.  Interestingly, liberal scholars demonstrate even more willingness to admit that the ancient church considered the New Testament to be the extant apostolic corpus than conservative scholars do.  This is, of course, because liberal scholars are quite comfortable criticizing the ancient church’s views on authorship while conservative scholars are not.

Ehrman, Bart D.  Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are.  HarperCollins, 2011.  Read again the second half of Ehrman’s sub-title to this book.  Who does Ehrman think we think the authors of the Bible are?  Obviously, those whom the Bible ascribes them to be.  In some cases, the authors are named in the text itself (as in Romans 1:1 or 1 Corinthians 1:1), and in other cases they are named only in the title assigned to the book (as in Matthew or Mark).  In all cases, the authors Ehrman wants us to reject are those claimed by the ancient church to be the authors.  Speaking of the ancient church’s interest in making sure it had genuine apostolic teaching, he writes (at Kindle location 133):

One could know what the apostles taught through the writings they left behind. These authoritative authors produced authoritative teachings. So the authoritative truth could be found in the apostolic writings.

And again (at Kindle location 164), he writes:

The crucial question is this: Is it possible that any of the early Christian forgeries made it into the New Testament? That some of the books of the New Testament were not written by the apostles whose names are attached to them?

Funk, Robert W.  “The Once and Future New Testament” in The Canon Debate, 2002, edited by McDonald and Sanders, bibliography.  In this statement (Kindle location 12229), Funk is, of course, siding with modern liberal scholars who think that the ancients were wrong about the sources for the New Testament writings, but in doing so he makes clear for us that he knows where the ancients stood.

The early fathers of the church argued that the canonical writings were produced by the ‘apostles,’ who were presumed to be either among the first followers of the historical Jesus or amanuenses (secretaries) to those followers.  We now know that most if not all of those claims are inaccurate.”

Gamble, Harry Y.  The New Testament Canon: Its Making and Meaning, Augsburg Fortress Publishing, 1985.  Gamble is here (p. 83) making the point that the ancient church was wrong in ascribing apostolicity to the New Testament canon; but, in so doing, he affirms that apostolicity was the ancient church’s central criterion for inclusion in that collection.

[H]istorical criticism has shown that the ancient church was most often mistaken in its claim that the canonical writings were written by apostles.

__________.  “Canonical Formation of the New Testament” in The Dictionary of New Testament Background, ed. by Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter, p. 183-195.  InterVarsity, 2000.  On p. 193, Gamble writes:

From an early time Christians considered their Scriptures to be apostolic.

And on p. 194, he writes:

The ancient church assumed that whatever was apostolic, even in the broadest sense, was also catholic and orthodox.

McDonald, Lee M.  The Origin of the Bible: A Guide for the Perplexed.  T & T Clark, 2011.  At Kindle location 1561:

Christians added the literature that they believed stemmed from the apostolic communities and at roughly the same time that the Jewish community added their codified oral traditions (the Mishnah) to their sacred written collections.”

McDonald, Lee M. and James A. Sanders.  The Canon Debate.  Baker Academic, 2002.  From the Introduction, Kindle location 228:

There is little doubt among canon scholars that authorship by an apostle was the most important factor considered by the church leaders of the fourth and following centuries. If it was believed that an apostle produced a particular writing, that writing was accepted and treated as scripture. This also helps to explain the large collection of literature pseudonymously attributed to the apostles, the so-called apocryphal New Testament writings. There is no doubt that several books of the New Testament were placed in the canon of scripture because the majority of the church fathers believed that they were written by members of the apostolic community if not by apostles themselves.