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Priscilla's Letter: Finding the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews [Paperback]

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Item Number 104120  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   207
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.41" Width: 5.57" Height: 0.51"
Weight:   0.66 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 10, 2000
Publisher   Lost Coast Press
ISBN  1882897501  
EAN  9781882897506  

Availability  6 units.
Availability accurate as of Dec 16, 2017 09:59.
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Item Description...
The mystery of the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews has been the subject of endless debate. The only comprehensive book on the subject, Priscilla's Letter is a scholarly examination of this puzzling New Testament question. Ruth Hoppin presents a meticulously researched case in support of the theory that Priscilla -- a woman who was a leader in the early church and an associate of Paul -- is ultimately the only "suspect" who meets all the qualifications for the authorship. Originally published in 1997, Priscilla's Letter disappeared from the market after only five months of promotion and general availability. The author became convinced that her publisher deliberately suppressed the book, presumably under pressure from religious extremists who regard the concept of female authorship of any part of the Bible subversive and intolerable.

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More About Ruth Hoppin

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! RUTH HOPPIN lives in Daly City, a suburb of San Francisco, where she and her husband, Stuart, raised a family. Under the auspices of the DC History, Art, and Science Commission, Ruth coordinated a poetry and short story contest, which provided a forum for poets and writers who gathered to read their work at the annual awards ceremony. The Hoppins are parishioners at Holy Child & St. Martin Episcopal Church, where Ruth leads a science and faith seminar and Bible discussion groups. She is author of Priscilla's Letter: Finding the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, a book in the field of New Testament studies that has been translated into Spanish, and she speaks and writes on this subject. Her interests include travel, studying French, and playing the recorder.

Ruth Hoppin currently resides in Daly City, in the state of California. Ruth Hoppin was born in 1928.

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1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity   [2832  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Extremely well researched - vital reading for any serious Bible scholar  Feb 9, 2008
It amazes me that anyone thinks Paul wrote Hebrews! The ascended Christ audibly confronted Paul outside Damascus (Acts 9:3-7). Galatians 1:12 affirms that Paul did not receive the gospel from any human source, nor was he taught it - as was the author of Hebrews (Heb 2:3). The notion that Paul wrote Hebrews can be strangled at birth. Besides, male authors of NT letters tend to open with their own name, followed by some variant of "Apostolos Xristou Ihsou" (an apostle of Christ Jesus). Hebrews opens "Polumerws kai polutropws palai o qeos lalhsas tois patrasin" (In many ways and at many times long ago God spoke to our ancestors). A female authorship would account for the otherwise inexplicable omission of the author's name. Priscilla's gender embodies a reason for suppression of the author's identity. Paul's gender doesn't!

In this excellent publication, Ruth Hoppin builds a profile of the anonymous author of Hebrews, mainly using internal evidence from the letter itself; (we'll call the person "AAH" to save space). Luke & Paul document Priscilla's career in Acts 18:1-3, 18-19, 26, Romans 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:19 and 2 Timothy 4:19. If Priscilla didn't write the theological and literary masterpiece known as "The Epistle to the Hebrews", she and its author share MUCH in common. In fact, their careers and priorities are eerily similar! Seven examples will suffice to illustrate the point...

1. Priscilla flees Rome in a climate of religious persecution; AAH flees [somewhere] to a place of hope (6:18)

2. Priscilla ministers to those with an incomplete knowledge of the Scriptures; AAH aspires to impart to his/her readers a deeper understanding of the faith (5:11-14)

3. Priscilla risks her life for Paul; AAH honours those who suffer for their faith (13:3), especially martyrs (11:37 & 12:4)

4. Priscilla accommodates Paul in her house; AAH instructs his/her readers to practise hospitality (13:2)

5. Priscilla repatriates to Rome and is foremost of the 26 named individuals greeted in Paul's Epistle; The Epistle to the Hebrews was almost certainly written in Rome (13:24)

6. Priscilla and Timothy, close friends of Paul, are both prominent in the Ephesian church; AAH informs readers of Timothy's release and of his/her own plans to travel with him to the destination city (13:23)

7. Priscilla spends months on the open seas, sailing at least 3,500km during her ministry; AAH describes faith as the "soul's anchor" (6:19) and cautions his/her readers not to "drift away" (2:1)

The list of similarities goes on. If you've made up your mind that Hebrews' author was male, don't bother buying this book. However, if you're genuinely interested in exploring Biblical history with an open mind, then Priscilla's Letter is a 'must read'.

PS - this reviewer is male.
Wishful Agenda Driven Thinking -   Jun 12, 2007
A product of the Lost Coast Press, Priscilla's Letter is a 5" x 8" soft cover volume of 208 pages. In it the author, Ruth Hoppin, presents arguments that Priscilla (or Prisca), who is mentioned by name in the Acts of the Apostles and certain of the Epistles or letters of Paul, is the author of the Letter to the Hebrews.

The cover blurb enticingly states that Priscilla's Letter is once again available after having been "secretly" taken off the market only a few months after it first became available in 1997. It suggests that the book was "deliberately suppressed" due to the influence of "religious extremists" (their words) who find the concept of "female authorship of the epistle intolerable." While this sort of cover material makes for a good selling point to the casual observer, after perusing the content I find the scholarship to support the assertion lacking.

Sharing the back cover with the foregoing teaser are two laudatory comments by individuals, one of whom is a professor of New Testament Studies who authored a book called "Beyond Sex Roles" and the other a woman who is a reverend in a California diocese. I wondered if the inclusion of comments only from individuals who could hardly be called conservative religious scholars was unintentional or if it was to further a personal agenda. It would seem to me that a serious religious treatise would look for acceptance among some well-recognized authorities - a balanced audience for peer review, if you will.

In the Preface, the author states she spent time in the mid-1960's "researching mistranslations of scripture pertaining to the status of women." In the publisher's materials supplied with the book it is noted that Ruth Hoppin "lectures on inspirational topics and scripture pertaining to the status of women." Ms. Hoppin is also a member of several organizations including Christians for Biblical Equality.

In Priscilla's Letter, Ruth Hoppin notes that she learned an author named Harnack around 1900 advanced a theory that Priscilla had written the letter to the Hebrews. This idea fascinated Hoppin to the extent that she wrote a book about the subject, the predecessor of this volume. She lectured on Priscilla's authorship of Hebrews throughout the 1970s.

In the text of the book, Hoppin notes that the author of Hebrews' name became lost early, possibly as early as AD 96-98. While this presents a mystery to some, it was no mystery to the Apostle Peter, whom you will remember was the "Apostle to the Circumcision" as Paul was "Apostle to the Gentiles" (Gal. 2: 7-9). By their mutual agreement, Paul did not formally proselytize the circumcised (Jews or Hebrews) to gain converts just as Peter left conversion of the Gentiles (other than Jews) to Paul. While there are cases cited in the Bible of each of the two Apostles converting individuals of the other group, they respected each others ministry and did not try to evangelize from the other's group.

Peter wrote two letters to his converts, the exiles of the dispersion - Jews who had left the traditional promised land, then known as the Roman province of Judea. In II Peter 3:14-16 he mentions the letter that Paul wrote to Peter's flock and acknowledges all Paul's epistles as scripture.

According to Peter's letters, the Bible has retained all of Paul's letters. Which one, then, is Paul's letter to Peter's flock? The thirteen letters that are unequivocally attributed to Paul are to flocks Paul established, or to ministers Paul ordained, so none of those can be the letter to Peter's flock. That leaves "Hebrews," the sole unattributed letter of the New Testament - written to Jews by the minister who could not approach Jews as a people directly, per agreement with Peter. That would certainly provide a compelling reason for anonymity on Paul's part. Hoppin fails to acknowledge or address this biblical reference to a letter from Paul to the diaspora that is very inconvenient to the premise that the authorship of Hebrews is unknown.

The Letter to the Hebrews discusses the revelation of Jesus Christ from a Jewish perspective - things that would be lost on a Gentile raised on Greek mythology (Paul's usual audience) but perfectly intelligible to a Hebrew. Things that the highly educated Paul, born and raised a Pharisee (the strictest, most orthodox sect of the Jews), would relish sharing with his people.

Back to Priscilla's Letter; Rather than using scriptural evidence to tie the letter to Priscilla, Hoppin uses conjecture and supports the guesswork using apocryphal sources such as Sirach and Judith and Bible commentaries and other materials. As evidence she cites things like the verbal construction "this we will do if God permits" as sounding more like coming from a feminine than a masculine author. (?) She also uses archaeological finds including ancient tombstones from the Roman catacombs and legendary tales from various sources. She considers the author's use of the reference to Melchizedek to place the author as a Roman because the Roman Catholic church uses the reference from Hebrews in its liturgy(!) failing to note that the Roman liturgy is not traceable earlier than several hundred years after the writing of Hebrews.

Hoppin seems to overlook or be unaware of the fact that the authors of the Biblical books dictated the works to secretaries. This is evident in Paul's letters where amanuensis (secretary) Tertius pens his greeting to the brothers along with Paul (Rom. 16:22). In another place Paul says he signs his name in large letters on every letter as a mark of authenticity, again showing that he did not put the pen to paper himself but dictated. The secretaries would undoubtedly have some say in how the final letter read. Perhaps Priscilla wrote the letter to Hebrews at Paul's dictation?

But there is more to link Hebrews to Paul's authorship. There is a message in Paul's letters that underlies the text. One of his favorite themes comes from Habakkuk 2:4, "The just shall live by faith." Hebrews 10:38 quotes this very verse. Paul uses three of his letters to expound upon the theme of Habakkuk 2:4. "The just" are described by Romans; "shall live" is described by Ephesians; "by faith" is covered by Hebrews. With any of the three letters missing the tripartite underlying theme is incomplete. This is internal evidence that the letter fits in with Paul's teachings despite the inability of many biblical scholars to see it.

I am certainly not against new discoveries in regard to the Bible but would like to see some internal evidence to support claims like Hoppin makes. "Priscilla's Letter" is more an exercise in wishful thinking, or perhaps a mystery novel, than a scholarly examination of the question of "Who wrote the Letter to the Hebrews?"

Priscilla's Letter  Jan 31, 2007
From the very beginning man has attempted to undermine God's purpose and his pronouncements through his written word. To give credit other then Paul for Hebrews is ridiculous. This book, obviously lends no credence whatsoever in this attempt. "God is not the author of confusion", man is! (1 Cor. 14:33)
The following is very apropos to this situation:
"Let no one be seducing himself: If anyone among you thinks his is wise in this system of things, let him become a fool, that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; for it is written: "He catches the wise in their own cunning". (1Cor. 3:18-19). Save your money folks...
Learning About Priscilla  Jun 19, 2003
A generation or so ago, when we all read the King James Bible, we accepted that the Letter to the Hebrews was written by the apostle Paul. Today, with so much scholarly research and archaeological findings available to us, not to mention numerous modern Biblical translations that reflect these discoveries, no serious scholar believes that anymore.

Indeed, the authorship of Hebrews has been a question from the early days of the Church. It is strikingly different from any other book/epistle in the New Testament. And, as any Greek student can tell you, its sophisticated style and vocabulary make it the most difficult of all the books in the New Testament to translate.

Ruth Hoppin in "Priscilla's Letter" systematically walks the reader through the arguments for and against possible authors of Hebrews, examining not only Paul but also Clement, Barnabas, Apollos, and Aristion, along with Priscilla, who, with her husband Aquila, was co-worker and co-traveler with Paul (and thus heavily influenced by him).

She presents Priscilla as a logical candidate, considering her church leadership, family background, personal history, and the very fact of her own femininity. In fact, even for those who remain vehemently opposed to the thought of a woman writing Scripture, this book will be useful as a biography of an important Biblical character and as a history lesson about the status of women in the Jewish and Roman cultures of the early church.

Hoppin quotes from historical resources (as well as Scripture) and takes readers on a tour of the archaeological discoveries that relate to Priscilla and her time. She analyzes different verses in Hebrews that illustrate her contention, and she persuasively debates verses that would seem to argue against it.

Her argument for a woman, especially this woman, being the author of a document that became part of Holy Scripture, is methodically, convincingly presented. Along the way, readers will learn more about the theological arguments within Hebrews and about the Christian Church at the time Hebrews was written.

Thus, this is an important book for anyone interested in the history of the Christian Church. Readers may also find Hoppin's detailed argument most persuasive, and they may be surprised to find themselves joining her in her belief that one of the authors of the books of our Bible was indeed a woman.

God only knows who wrote the book of Hebrews  Jun 11, 2003
Ruth Hoppin has a point to make. She wants to promote her ideas about the role and status of women in the church, and this book focuses upon that goal. The book's thesis is unprovable, and the back cover reveals why Hoppin would even try to prove it: she desires to "advance the social and religious status of all women." I do not deny her the opportunity to attempt this, but positing Priscilla as the author of Hebrews will not do what the Bible has already done. The Bible gives a high social and religious status to women, though defining their role just as it defines man's role. Origen said of the author of Hebrews, "God only knows." Ruth Hoppin has not figured it out. If she wants to improve the status of women I would encourage her to focus on what the Bible actually says.

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