Honors Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



McVicker, G. 2023. A Morpho-Syntactic Analysis of the Authorship of Hebrews. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Graham McVicker 2023.


This study applied computerized morpho-syntactic analysis to the problem of the Epistle to the Hebrews’ authorship. The issue of the text’s authorship dates back nearly to its origins in the first century. The book does not have an author ascribed in the text, which is unusual for biblical letters. Early Christian scholars thought the text was written by the Apostle Paul. During the Reformation, the Protestant reformers started to doubt this assertion heavily. The majority of modern scholars support the view of the Reformers, but there is still debate over the matter. Studies conducted by Robert and Vanessa Gorman have shown that morpho-syntactic analysis can be a tool used to aid in identifying a text’s author. A digital repository of ancient Greek New Testament texts known as PROIEL was used to conduct this analysis. This repository was adapted to be used in the RStudio application. The words in the text were parsed out so the lexical data for each word could be used as variables. Combinations of variables were also created with two or three components. The result of this was a data frame of 11,000 variables and 140,000 words which was used for comparing the texts. Different distance measures were applied to the data to see if the data was usable before creating a consensus network. That network represented an accurate depiction of how similar the texts in the study were to each other. The reasons for the similarity in the texts could be found easier after establishing which texts were similar. Through this process, this study found a Pauline connection to the Epistle to the Hebrews.