The religious text at the center of this argument is an anonymous early Christian text that has come to be known as 'the Letter to the Hebrews'. For some New Testa ment (NT) scholars and historians of Early Christianity, Hebrews presents something of a riddle. As such, it provides a particularly useful case study of the contemporary methods used for situating ancient religious texts in their original setting. Isaak clarifies a basic methodological problem in the use of early Christian literature as evidence for the history of early Christianity. For what can the historian assume these texts to be evidence? What, if anything, do they represent beyond the views of the author? Can these texts give the historian access to the beliefs and practices of early Christian communities? If so, this would provide welcome new information about the history of earliest Christianity. Not surprisingly, it has become common to assume that early Christian texts do reflect the beliefs and practices of specific communities of believers. Is this assumption justified? The issue is particularly urgent in the case of the anonymous Letter to the Hebrews.
Scholars have long puzzled over why the peculiar views of Hebrews do not fit the ideology of any known community or group in early Christianity. Isaak rightly argues that if the expectation of "community-fit" for an early Christian text is unwarranted, or at best exceptional and bearing the burden of proof, then the perceived riddle of Hebrews dissolves. He makes his case by showing that there are no good reasons to place early Christian texts in a special category of writings that reflect the peculiar beliefs of a community. Instead, writings like Hebrews should be treated in the same way as early patristic texts, where the peculiarities are attributed to the creativity of the author.