Were There Any Women Bible Writers?
There seems to be much emphasis these days on the role of women in ministry. I like that because when I was young women definitely took a back seat in church affairs. Recently, I’ve began wondering if any of the books of the Bible were written by women.
The Bible contains a variety of 66 books written by approximately 45 different writers over a span of about 1200 years. The fascinating thing is that the Holy Spirit carefully inspired all the authors so that their books dovetail together with the same main theme. The first 12 chapters of Genesis tell us that mankind is in trouble because of Sin and the Fall. The rest of the Bible, from Genesis 12 to Revelation 22, describes how God will fix the problem and eventually restore man to the glorious place and existence that he had before the Fall. A red thread (signifying the shed blood of Jesus to forgive sins) runs through every book in the Bible. A 1,200 year-unified-stream of salvation is nothing less than remarkable!
All the Bible books were definitely written by men—with one possible exception. I’ll say more about that exception in a moment.
Some books have disputed authorship. The first five books of the Bible were written by Moses. Even Jesus says so (Mark 12:26; Luke 24:27; et. all.). However, that does not keep from some questioning whether or not Moses was the author. You may read some day of the “JEPD” theory which postulates different compilers (redactors) who wove together the different sections of these books. “J” stands for the author who brought into the mix the Hebrew passages which refer to God as “Jehovah” (YHWH). “E” stands for the author who wove in the Hebrew passages which refer to God as “Elohim.” “P” stands for some unidentified priests who added in their own material. Finally, “D” is the author who wrote the entire book of Deuteronomy. “JEPD” is intriguing food for thought; however, it pales to significance in contrast to the stamp of approval that Jesus placed upon Moses as the author. I will side with Jesus.
We really don’t know any of the authors of the historical books in the Old Testament like Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Nehemiah or Esther. They were all written in the third person.
The authors of the Poetical books are fairly well known—except for the book of Job. Again, writing in the third person, the author tells Job’s story. It is not the author’s story.
David wrote about seventy-five of the 150 Psalms. Asaph wrote some. The Sons of Korah wrote others and even Moses wrote one.
Proverbs was written by King Solomon except for Proverb thirty-one which was composed by King Lemuel—whoever that was.
Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon were both composed by Solomon.
The last seventeen books of the Old Testament are known as the Prophets—major and minor. The author of each book is the man for whom the book is named—like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. By the way, Lamentations was written by Jeremiah as he grieved over the absolute destruction of Jerusalem around 598 B.C. There are two exceptions to prophetical authorship. Parts of the book of Daniel are written in the first person thus automatically identifying Daniel as the author of these sections. The other exception is quite a surprise The pagan Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar wrote Daniel chapter four.
The New Testament is rather straightforward. The gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. John also wrote three epistles and the book of Revelation. Dr. Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles. Paul wrote the books from Romans all the way to Philemon. James wrote James. Peter wrote his two epistles. Jude wrote Jude.
The only book I have yet to mention is Hebrews. The authorship of this book is very much in doubt. Hebrews is a dissertation presenting Jesus as better than the creation, the angels, and all the Old Testament laws and priesthood—both Aaronic and Mosaic. He is the High Priest who made one final sacrifice for sin when He died on the cross. He then entered Heaven with an offering of His own precious blood and sat down at the right hand of God. He is the final sacrifice; there is no need for another. By the way, just a few short years after Hebrews was written the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and there has not been a sacrifice there since.
The book of Hebrews is often called the “fifth” gospel. One thing is certain about the person who wrote Hebrews, he or she certainly did love Jesus. Love for Christ flows forth from every page.
Now, let’s consider who wrote the book. No one has any sort of definitive answer whatsoever as to authorship. I have always thought it hilarious that the King James Bible, translated in 1611, prefixes Hebrews with the identifying moniker, “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.” Then the translators closed the book with a footnote that says, “Written to the Hebrews from Italy by Timothy.” They would have done well to leave well enough alone. I would imagine that the translators voted as to who was the author. Since there was no clear consensus, they wrote in the two top contenders—one at the beginning and one at the end. They just guessed.
One of my assignments at Baylor was to translate and parse the entire book of Hebrews. One thing I noticed was that the Greek grammatical constructions, phrases and vocabulary were different from those used in Paul’s epistles. Hebrews just doesn’t sound like Paul’s writing.
One strong contender for authorship is a man named Apollos (Acts 18:24-26) who was a well-educated Jew who powerfully preached Christ. What intrigues me is that a married couple named Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and gave him deeper insight and instruction regarding the glory and nature of Christ Jesus. In Greek culture and writing the man was always mentioned before the female. However, Dr. Luke was careful to consistently reverse the order (Acts 18:18-19) so that Priscilla’s name always precedes her husband’s. Priscilla was quite significant in the early church as a Bible teacher, church leader and preacher—as evidenced by, among things—that Paul left her and her husband to lead the church in Ephesus.
Throughout history, especially in recent history, Priscilla has been suggested as the one who authored the Book of Hebrews. If so, she is the only woman who authored a book of the Bible. I suppose that in this life, we will never know for certain the real name of the author. But this we do know, whoever wrote this book about Jesus, certainly loved Jesus.