The epistle to the hebrews


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Tradition is silent as to the place from which the Epistle was written. No independent authority can be given to the subscription which is found in A ejgravfh ajpo; JPwvmh". This, as in the case of similar subscriptions to the other Epistles, appears to have been a deduction from words in the Epistle itself (13:23 f.). And so it is given in the words of the text and enlarged in later MSS.: e.g., P2, ejgravfh ajpo; jItaliva". K2, ejgravfh ajpo; jItaliva" dia; Timoqevou. H3, Pauvlou ajpostovlou ejpistolh; pro;" JEbraivou" ejgravfh ajpo; jItaliva" dia; Timoqevou. Nor again is there anything in the Epistle itself which leads to a definite conclusion. No argument can be drawn from the mention of the release of Timothy (13:23), for nothing is known of the event to which reference is made; and the phrase ajspavzontai uJma'" oiJ ajpo; th'" jItaliva" (13:24), which seems at first sight to promise more, gives no certain result. For the words admit grammatically of two opposite renderings. They may describe Italian Christians in their own country, or Italian Christians in a foreign land. The first sense is given by the translation (which is certainly possible), ‘those in Italy send salutations from Italy,’ where the preposition is conformed to the idea of the verb (comp. Luke 11:13 oJ path;r oJ ejx oujranou' dwvsei. Math. 24:17 a\rai ta; ejk th'" oijkiva". Col. 4:16 th;n ejk Laodikeiva" [ejpistolhvn] with Bp Lightfoot's note); and more simply by the translation ‘those who belong to Italy,’ the Italian Christians (comp. Acts 10:23 tw'n ajpo; th'" jIovpph". 12:1 tw'n ajpo; th'" ejkklhsiva". 17:13 oiJ ajpo; th'" Qessalonivkh" jIoudai'oi); and in this sense a close parallel has been pointed out in Pseud.-Ign. ad Her. 8 ajspavzontaiv se oiJ ejpivskopoi...kai; pavnte" oiJ ajpo; Filivppwn ejn Cristw'/ o{qen kai; ejpevsteilav soi. But it is difficult to understand how any one could give the salutations of the Italian Christians generally (as distinguished from oiJ ajpo; JRwvmh", or the like); so that it appears on the whole to be more natural to adopt the second rendering (‘the Christians from Italy’), and to suppose that the writer is speaking of a small group of friends from Italy, who were with him at the time. So far the words seem to favour a place of writing in Asia, Syria, or Egypt. In any case, however, it is impossible to lay stress upon a clause which evidently had a particular and special sense for those to whom the message was sent.

The place of writing must then be left in complete uncertainty. Plausible conjectures unsupported by evidence cannot remove our ignorance even if they satisfy our curiosity.

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