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A Conspiracy of Breath–the Writing of Hebrews?

I recently savored my friend Latayne Scott’s new novel A Conspiracy of Breath.

It provides an interesting answer to the question, “Who wrote the New Testament‘s Book of Hebrews?”

Scott believes it may have been a woman named Priscilla–the wife of a man named Aquila.

She makes a compelling argument in a beautifully written work of literary fictionA Conspiracy of Breath, Latayne C. Scott, Priscilla and Aquila, literary fiction, who wrote the New Testament Book of Hebrews? Priscilla's Letters.

Whether you accept her reasoning or not, is your own decision.

Here’s an interview I recently conducted with Dr. Latayne Scott (PhD in Biblical Studies).

When did you first encounter the theory Priscilla might have written the book of Hebrews?

“When I was a baby Christian . . . I bought a set of William Barclay’s commentaries on the New Testament. In the section on Hebrews, he said that some people thought a woman may have written that epistle, and I never forgot that idea.”

How did you react to the idea?

“I thought, “Well, cool.”

“And it stayed in my mind for years until someone alerted me to a research book, Priscilla’s Letter, by Ruth Hoppin. She laid out the whole case for the authorship of Hebrews by Priscilla, wife of Aquila, both of whom we read about in the book of Acts and elsewhere.

“In the six times the couple is mentioned in the Bible, four times Priscilla’s name is listed before her husband’s—a very unusual thing in the ancient world.”

Scott went right to work in 2008, researching Priscilla and Aquila and how Christians functioned under persecution. She mentioned The Bone Gatherers by Nicola Denzey, as an “unforgettable book. That, and Hoppin’s book, were most important to me.”

A Conspiracy of Breath, Latayne C. Scott, Priscilla and Aquila, literary fiction, who wrote the New Testament Book of Hebrews? Priscilla's LettersIn A Conspiracy of Breath, Prisca, (Priscilla is a nickname), grew up in a wealthy Roman household. She encounters the Apostle Paul and learns about Jesus, killed several years before in Jerusalem.

An articulate woman with a keen mind, Prisca wants to learn more and through the course of the story meets and marries Aquila. But once she commits her life to following the Messiah and applies her education to the task, something happens.

“The Breath,” seems to speak through her and soon people are writing down what “The Breath,” says.

It’s the Holy Spirit providing the words found in the Book of Hebrews.

Where did the concept of “the Breath” originate?

“One of the best gifts I gave myself was to learn Koine, or biblical, Greek. In that language, it’s the same word for spirit and for breath. So speaking of the Holy Breath is very biblical.”

From that beginning in 2008, Scott saw A Conspiracy of Breath as “the opus of my life. Truly, I don’t think I will ever be able to write anything of its caliber again.”

Her language use fascinates–Latinate words, vocabulary sufficed with Greek. Her word choices enthralled.

I loved Scott’s depictions of Rome, Corinth and Jerusalem. The difficulties Priscilla and believers found  in the early years of the Christian Church crackled with life and immediacy.

What I appreciated most about this story was the descriptions of early Christian life—the throbbing sense of danger, persecution and the insight into how people turned against each other, particularly the reaction of the Jews. How/where did you do that research?

“The book of Acts is full of such stories. The Jews were always dividing up to try to railroad Paul for something; the pagans rioted over him; Paul and Mark squabbled.  They were humans just like us.”

Scott hopes readers will understand the paradox Priscilla felt at the time.

“She lived among the most favored generation of all time – who had seen and known the Savior of the world–and yet most of His close followers lived their lives on the run and died violent deaths.

“Another paradox:  There were extravagant, miraculous healings; yet Paul, Timothy, and the sweet Cordelia of my novel suffered illnesses for which there was no healing. And yet for all of them, the point wasn’t survival. The point was the maintenance of faith in a resurrected Man.”

I saw her point as I read, and asked myself, “How did people know what writings to trust? What people told the truth? What a complicated time the first century must have been for members of that new group, The Way.

I came away with a greater appreciation for the Saints who have gone before and the challenges they faced in following Jesus Christ.

She lived among the most favored generation of all time – who had seen and known the Savior of the world--and yet most of His close followers lived their lives on the run and died violent deaths. Another paradox: There were extravagant, miraculous healings; yet Paul, Timothy, and the sweet Cordelia of my novel suffered illnesses for which there was no healing. And yet for all of them, the point wasn’t survival. The point was the maintenance of faith in a resurrected Man.

Latayne Scott

Scott is a fabulous writer, an award winning author of two dozen books published by many major Christian publishers, along with hundreds of magazine articles.

A Conspiracy of Breath provides an opportunity to glimpse what life might have been like at the beginning of Christianity.

I finished it encouraged, curious and so very grateful I live in the 21st century.

It’s a lot easier to live on this side of the cross and history.

 Tweetables

Who wrote the Book of Hebrews? A Woman? Click to Tweet

A Conspiracy of Breath, the Holy Spirit & the Bible. Click to Tweet

The beginnings of Christian faith in A Conspiracy of Breath. Click to Tweet

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1 Comment

  1. latayne

     /  September 5, 2017

    Thank you, Michelle, for sharing my book, and your enthusiasm about it, here!

    Reply

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