Hebrews is basically a sermon with a brief letter attached. It describes temple sacrifices and persecution, possibly at the hands of Nero. The sermon writer’s name was not included and neither was it given by early Christian historians. Over the years, many different authors have been proposed, from Paul to Luke to Barnabas to Apollos. But none of those have been fully convincing. Some feminist scholars even wondered whether the author was Priscilla, a learned woman described in other books. But since the author clearly refers to himself as a man in parts, the authorship had remained a mystery.
Until now, that is.
The news broke in both today’s New York Times and in a widely circulating Associated Press piece. The news is buried in their articles about George Whitman, the Paris bookseller and cultural beacon.
Here’s the Times:
He welcomed visitors with large-print messages on the walls. “Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise,” was one, quoting Yeats. Next to a wishing well at the center of the store, a sign said: “Give what you can, take what you need. George.” By his own estimate, he lodged some 40,000 people.
Here’s the Associated Press as published by NPR.com:
Shakespeare and Company was also a haven for every author or would-be writer passing through the City of Light.
For them, Whitman reserved a welcome that turned Yeats’ famous verse — “Be not inhospitable to strangers / Lest they be angels in disguise” — into deed: He took in aspiring writers as boarders in exchange for a helping hand in the store.
There you have it. William Butler Yeats wrote Hebrews! I’ll admit it. I’m a bit surprised by this news.
Hebrews 13:2 (KJV):
2Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
And I had high regard for Yeats before this news!
(h/t Eric Metaxas)