Home Christian News Controversial ‘Jeopardy!’ Question Stokes Debate About the Author of Hebrews

Controversial ‘Jeopardy!’ Question Stokes Debate About the Author of Hebrews

jeopardy new testament
Photo from WABC

Writers of the popular game show “Jeopardy,” a trivia contest that provides contestants with clues to which they must respond in the form of a question, are coming under fire for a contested fact about the Bible that may have led to one contestant losing the game. 

The controversial question came during Jeopardy’s “Tournament of Champions,” a weeks-long competition in which contestants compete in multiple rounds of the game until one champion is crowned. 

The clue, which came from “The New Testament” category, was “Paul’s letter to them is the New Testament epistle with the most Old Testament quotations.” One contestant, Amy Schneider, answered, “Who are The Hebrews,” while another contestant, Sam Buttrey, answered, “Who are The Romans?”

Schneider’s answer was deemed correct and Buttrey’s incorrect, eventually leading to Buttrey’s inability to win the evening. 

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However, the question of who authored the letter to the Hebrews has long been debated among New Testament scholars, as the text itself does not disclose who wrote it. While the theory that the apostle Paul wrote the letter has perhaps been the most popular view, it is certainly not accepted in broader academic circles as transparently correct. 

This means that most biblical scholars would argue that Buttrey’s answer was the correct one, a fact that has led to criticism from fans, viewers, and Christian exegetes who believe that Buttrey was robbed of victory. 

“Wow, honestly STUNNED by the poorly researched Final @Jeopardy question today,” one viewer tweeted. “The ‘correct’ answer here was supposedly Hebrews, even though Paul’s authorship of Hebrews is HIGHLY contested at best. And during Tournament of Champions!! Totally changes the outcome. So bummed.”

Others took the opportunity to express their belief in a minority view that has gained more traction in recent years and posits that Hebrews was penned by Priscilla, missionary partner of the apostle Paul and wife to Aquila. 

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Bible professor Dru Johnson tweeted an image of the clue with annotations. Circling Paul’s name, he wrote “Nope.” Circling the term epistle, he quibbled, “Not really.” Circling “Old Testament,” he corrected, “LXX,” which is an abbreviation for the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible from which the author of Hebrews quoted. Finally, circling “quotations,” he wrote, “Depends on what you count as ‘quotation,’” highlighting the fact that the letter contains both direct quotes and paraphrases of statements from the Hebrew Bible.