"It is time for me to lay my cards on the table for all to see. In this article I will be presenting issues and evidence about the paradigm churchmen have adopted through the ages to understand and explain the book of Hebrews. This will probably make some brethren uncomfortable. I apologize for the discomfort in advance. Some may applaud and try to exploit what I will share. My argument is measured and not an open assault on the Bible. I am praying that the Holy Spirit will lead us all in the path of truth and understanding. That path is guarded by love and wisdom."
...The paradigm that has been embraced is that the book of Hebrews is inspired and without error. It's in the Holy Bible! It must be right. It has to be right. Or so the paradigm goes that has been taught by churchmen. But is the paradigm the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
The Refiner's Fire Response:
Yes, let's definitely allow the Holy Spirit to "lead us all in the path of truth and understanding" - starting with the following explanation:
Hebrews 1: 1 In many ways and many forms, Elohim anciently conversed with our fathers by the prophets:
Compare this introduction with the very brief segue Rav Shaul gives in Romans 1:1, from saying his name to jumping right into the main discussion. When detractors of Hebrews try to deny its authority, one of the things they like to point out is that the name of the writer is not given in familiar epistolary form. The idea is that everywhere else Rav Shaul gives his name but here it may be that the introductory sections (paragraphs? chapters?) are missing. However, even if this is true, it is more likely given the way Rav Shaul writes in the other thirteen letters that only a few words or perhaps half a sentence is missing in our manuscript copies of Hebrews.
Perhaps there is another solution. The distinguishing mark that Rav Shaul references elsewhere that is on all his letters could be a seal on this one as well (2 Thessalonians 3:17), perhaps containing the words Maran atha. If the autograph copy of Hebrews had this seal on its scroll carrier (2 Timothy 4:13), then the manuscript could have survived to be copied minus its original container, and once the container was lost, so was the ultimate proof that Rav Shaul wrote it.
What can be safely said is that Rav Shaul's methodology was far from fixed in this regard. Sometimes he writes with the help of others like Silas and Timothy (1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:1) whereas on other occasions the scribe only gets to quickly mention himself at the end (Romans 16:22). On still other occasions the letter is just totally from him altogether. At still other times he brags about writing a phrase in his own hand or the opposite of this in Galatians 6:11 - "see what large letters I make!"
Excerpt from Andrew Gabriel Roth's AENT appendix: "Epistle to the Hebrews":
The author of the Hebrews Epistle was none other than Rav Shaul (Apostle Paul). But if there is confusion about this, don't be surprised; even Origen stated that "only G-d knows who wrote this." However, in the Middle East, there has never been any doubt about it. The earliest Aramaic manuscripts of this Epistle state:
End of the Letter to the Hebrews; which was written from Italy of Rome; and was sent by the hands of Timothy.
Timothy was known to deliver manuscripts for Rav Shaul alone. Plus, the timing of Hebrews fits very well with Rav Shaul being imprisoned in Rome, from which he wrote a number of other letters according to reliable Eastern and Western sources. Timothy would not be acting as a courier for either Barnabbas or Luke; therefore, the only other possibility would be Peter, who was also imprisoned in Rome at about this same time. However, if Peter had written Hebrews, especially since Galatians 2:8 calls him the Apostle to Jews, there would be ancient testimony to support this. But there is none.
Instead, Peter's letters, unlike his in-person ministry which we know was centered east of Jerusalem (Galatians 2:8, 1 Peter 5:12), are focused on Gentile populations (1 Peter 1:1-2; 2 Peter 3:1 ). Furthermore, Timothy is only mentioned as being imprisoned along with Rav Shaul in Rome and released before his master to deliver his letters (Romans 16:21, Philippians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:16; Philemon 1:10, 13).
For these reasons and many others, the Eastern traditions supporting Pauline authorship are extremely strong. As a result, other early Aramaic sources such as the Marganitha have no problem, whatsoever, in proclaiming on page 124 "Fourteen epistles of the Great Apostle Paul...." specifically including Hebrews.
Monte Judah, if it's in the Bible, you can bet it's "the whole truth and nothing but the truth"! It's been tested and tried by many people with varied backgrounds, including atheists, Satanists, and Muslims, to mention just a few. The entire Bible fits together like perfect puzzle pieces - and just because you've had some weird "epiphany" Messianic believers are supposed to chuck the Book of Hebrews?
The book of Hebrews is primarily theological and instructive. It primarily presents an argument for why Yeshua the Messiah is superior to a variety of things ranging from angels, past patriarchs, to the priesthood. (I completely agree with the writer's objective and purpose.) However, it is not like the Gospels, recounting the days of Yeshua. It is written in a letter form (to the Hebrews), but the author does not identify himself. In fact, the author is unknown despite the speculation of some Bible teachers. There is uncertainty as to exactly when it was written.
The Refiner's Fire Response:
You "completely agree with the writer's objective and purpose" - yet because Hebrews "primarily presents an argument FOR Yeshua, you feel it should be de-canonized? What you are saying, in essence, is that you are picking and choosing as to what you want to believe! Perhaps the reading audience should believe only the parts YOU believe, and cross out the rest?
....The paradigm, the model created for better understanding, does not change the fact that the book of Hebrews apparently says things differing from other Scriptures. These apparent differences are not limited to translation issues of Hebrew to Greek to English. More specifically, the description of important historical events seem to be retold differently and quotations from the previous writings are misquoted leading to specific theological concepts that are very different. Within the paradigm, most Christians believe that everything written in Hebrews, particularly about the Law, is fully accurate and correct. They accept the conclusions and pronouncements of the writer about the Messiah based on the writer's representations of the Law, despite these misrepresentations. Because most Christians agree with the ultimate conclusions that the writer makes about Yeshua as the Messiah, they tend to overlook the differences and the faulty premises. Therefore the door is open for both those in the faith to advance an errant teaching and, worse yet, for those outside the faith to discredit Yeshua and our brethren in the faith using the paradigm of the letter to the Hebrews as the basis for their challenge.
The book is really an epistle (a letter) entitled to the Hebrews, but as you will soon see, the writing and logic is Greek. It was written in Greek, quoting from Greek copies of the Scriptures, and using Greek definitions to explain and teach Hebraic things. It is my judgment that the writer was Greek but very familiar with the teaching of the Apostles Paul and John. I did not begin with that opinion. Like most everyone else; I began believing it was someone like Paul or Luke. I was pushed into my current opinion, verse by verse, item by item as found in the book of Hebrews. Given that the early Greek-speaking believers in Alexandra and Asia Minor endorsed the book first, despite the author stating, "Those from Italy greet you." (Heb 13:24), their acceptance culturally supports my conclusion. The Latin Church (Italy) endorsed it later.
The first paradigm about the book of Hebrews that needs to be explored is its Greek influence in thought. The paradigm most have of Hebrews is that it was written by a Hebrew (probably the Apostle Paul) to other Hebrews. So it is natural to think that it is solidly Hebrew in thought, because it quotes extensively from the "Old Testament." However, as you are about to discover, the definitions and teachings lifted from the Old Testament are Greek in thought.???
The Refiner's Fire Response:
You're right, Monte: It is not known for absolute certain who wrote the book of Hebrews, but we would draw your attention to the YELLOW BOX above entitled: Excerpt from Andrew Gabriel Roth's AENT appendix: "Epistle to the Hebrews"! Authorship has been proposed for Paul, Barnabas (Acts 4:36), Apollos (Acts 18:24), etc. The only geographical area mentioned is Italy (Heb. 13:24). The latest possible date for the writing of Hebrews is A.D. 95 but could have been written as early as A.D. 67. And the book of Hebrews speaks of the sacrifice by the High Priest in the present tense (Heb. 5:1-3; Heb. 7:27) possibly signifying that the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 A.D. had not yet happened.
Please read the following, borrowed from an appendix in the Aramaic English New Testament:
The Netzarim Faith is considered as a sect of Judaism in the First Century because it was originally sponsored only by Jews. The popularity of Mashiyach Y'shua was the impetus for the original Faith to be morphed into pseudo-Christian pagan religions. Polycarp and Clement were the only two post-apostolic writers who had met or known and original Apostle (Yochanan). Polycarp was extremely anti-Marcion, referring to him as the firstborn of the devil, he rejected the introduction of Easter into the church and taught that Christians must return to the Torah based Pesach (Passover). Clement stated that the book of Hebrews was originally penned by Paul in the Hebrew language and then translated into Greek by Luke. Both Polycarp and Clement voiced ideas that are quite contrary to what churchianity believes today, therefore there teachings were not so popular. The rest of the post-apostolic Gentile church founders never met the original Apostles and knew very little or nothing of the original Hebrew and Aramaic-based Netzari Faith. There is no mention of "the Netzarim" among the church founders yet they bother to mention the Ebionite faction that broke away from the Netzarim community.
The million dollar question, Monte, is: How do you know, and can you prove that the author WASN'T a Torah-observant Jew, using a "Hebrew mindset"? According to some of your allegations in your article, you don't seem to understand that some of the words you are dissecting can have more than one meaning, and that use of "other meanings" doesn't necessarily render the Epistle incorrect, off-the-mark or void.
The writer of Hebrews makes a number of profound statements about Moses while drawing comparisons to the Messiah. He rightfully describes the superior role of the Messiah. He continues this comparison including the examples of His priesthood, His sacrifice, and the Messiah's station in heaven. The teaching of this book about the superiority of Yeshua our Messiah has shaped all of us and directed all believers (not just Hebrews) throughout history to this day. The writer's approach and methodology, however, are disturbing to me as a Messianic believer.
In particular, the unknown writer seems to conclude that there must have been changes in the Laws of God when Yeshua died. He lumps all of the previous covenants together as one covenant that is replaced while not addressing the qualities of "forever" or "everlasting" that describe those covenants. He presented only two covenants, the lump-sum of the prior ones called "Old" and the other "New." Even more troubling to Messianic believers, he encouraged his readers to leave the "forever" and "everlasting" "Old Covenant" along with the essential teaching, the principles and practices established by God for all time.
Is the author of the book of Hebrews "pro-Torah?" The overwhelming consensus of Christian commentators says "No" and is summarized by the commentary excerpt on the cover of this article. "It is a masterful defense for the superiority of Jesus Christ over Judaism." Judaism is defined by such commentators as everything in the Old Covenant.
The Refiner's Fire Response:
Who is this "overwhelming consensus of Christian commentators" who said, "No"? At this point, Monte, actual SURVEY RESULTS would have come in handy. Nobody ever asked us at The Refiner's Fire (nor anyone at the Messianic synagogue we attend) what WE thought of the Book of Hebrews....
The above represents just a small part of Judah's claim as to why the Book of Hebrews should be de-canonized and tossed out of the Bible. (If interested you can view the entire article in the Lion and Lamb's November 2005 issue of Yavoh.)
Is he correct in his assertion, or is this just another one of his false "prophecies"? The Bible tells us that we can tell a true prophet by the fact that one hundred percent of his prophecies come true. Deuteronomy 18:20 tells us that, if a prophet ever spoke a single word for the Lord that didn't come true - to the letter - all his writings were destroyed and the prophet was killed.
So, before we decide to believe Monte Judah, we must remember that he has, over and over again, proven himself to be a false prophet.
Judah's claims can easily be refuted. Boaz Michael of First Fruits of Zion at one point authored an in-depth response to Judah's assertions, entitled: "Answering the Questions Regarding the Epistle of Hebrews: A Response to Monte Judah's Questions of Canonicity. "The Epistle of Hebrews is indeed an accurate text that is trustworthy as the entire canon is indeed inerrant, infallible, and the Word of God" Michael said. "We may need to be diligent to research the underlying original languages beyond our English translations, but any passages which are seemingly difficult can in fact be decoded and understand through research and study."
NOTE: Michael who, to his credit does have many wonderful teachings, recently joined the throngs of other Messianic teachers who have decided to employ carnal methods to understand HOLY scriptures. Michael did "an about face", and began insisting that Gentiles do not need to be Torah observant - a stance which is totally unbiblical and renders useless what YHWH said FOUR times in Numbers 15:13-16!
First Fruits of Zion is now teaching that Gentiles are not obligated to bother with "certain ceremonial aspects of the Torah in the same manner as Jewish people: namely the circumcision, the Sabbath, the festivals, and the Levitical dietary laws." Teachers like Michael are part of the reason we created The Refiner's Fire, as our greatest desire is to caution people to verify against the Scriptures everything they see, read and hear, and to never "just blindly" follow anyone....
Furthermore, the Bible tells us not to add or take away from God's Word:
Deuteronomy 4: 2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Since "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16 ), The Refiner's Fire wonders why Monte Judah thinks he can presume himself to be a judge over it.
While the B'rit Chadasha (New Testament) writers might have been biased in their excitement to proclaim the Good News, their bias was towards honesty and truth, not deceit. Their intention was to accurately record and testify to the events that they had seen. Remember, the disciples were followers of Yeshua who taught them to love, to be kind, faithful, and honest. Since we don't really know who the writer of Hebrews was - but that he clearly showed a love for both Yeshua AND Torah - we cannot arbitrarily decide that his CANONIZED work should be ignored.
There is no clearer evidence of Yeshua's being YHWH-Come-in-the-Flesh in any book of the bible than in the Book of Hebrews. The writer of Hebrews had a superior understanding of Judaism and the functions of the tabernacle, sacrifices and their prophetic significance. The writer used the three most important subjects to the Jews: the angels, the priesthood, and the sacrifices - and we find the Son is compared to them all, is called superior.
In the opinion of the webmaster of The Refiner's Fire, Monte Judah has once more heeded someone other than God....We pray that he realizes this and will ultimately repent.