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“Jeopardy!” Bible Question Sparks Outrage Among Fans

“Jeopardy!” Bible Question Sparks Outrage Among Fans

A contentious Final Jeopardy clue sparked debate during a “Tournament of Champions” episode of “Jeopardy!” The game featured former champions Andrew He, Amy Schneider, and Sam Buttrey. The challenge was simple: be the first to win three rounds to clinch the championship. In a pivotal moment, host Ken Jennings presented the clue: “Paul’s letter to them is the New Testament epistle with the most Old Testament quotations.” Andrew He, possibly thinking of Philippians, incorrectly answered “Philipiaes,” while Sam Buttrey’s guess of “Romans” was also marked wrong. Amy Schneider, however, correctly identified “Who are the Hebrews?” as the answer, according to Jennings. This led to He’s victory in the round, edging him closer to the championship.

The controversy erupted shortly after, fueled by a theologian’s critique on Twitter stating that while Hebrews contains the most Old Testament quotations of any New Testament letter, its Pauline authorship is widely disputed based on its internal evidence (suggesting “Romans” would be correct if Paul did not write Hebrews). This point of contention might have altered the outcome, favoring fan-favorite Buttrey over He. The debate expanded as other historians and theologians echoed this perspective on social media, citing various scholarly sources.

The authorship of Hebrews has long been a subject of scholarly debate. Traditionally attributed to Paul, many Bible scholars now believe it was penned by another due to several distinctive features. For instance, the author of Hebrews implies receiving the Gospel secondhand through an apostle, contrasting with Paul’s claims in letters like 1 Corinthians and Galatians of direct revelation from Jesus. Moreover, Hebrews predominantly cites the Septuagint—the Greek Old Testament—unlike other Pauline epistles, which quote from the Masoretic Text or paraphrase it. Additionally, the absence of a typical Pauline greeting further complicates its attribution.

Historical opinions vary: Clement of Alexandria suggested that Paul authored the original text, which Luke translated for Greek-speaking audiences, aligning its style with Luke’s other works like the Acts. Others propose a different author, such as Barnabas, aligning with the content’s emphasis on the Levitical priesthood.

The definitive authorship of Hebrews remains unresolved. Thomas Shreiner reflects a common scholarly sentiment, emphasizing that while numerous theories exist—ranging from compelling to plausible—the true authorship of Hebrews may forever be unknown, echoing Origen’s ancient assertion: “God only knows.”


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