By Bill Warren, Professor of New Testament and Greek at NOBTS
Question: How do we know the names of those who wrote the New Testament books where authors are not mentioned?
Bill Warren responds: The Gospels, Acts, and Hebrews comprise the NT books without named authors, so let’s look at these. The title pages of Gospel manuscripts (dating from the second century forward) name the authors as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, with no alternative names ever given. The Church Fathers refer to the Gospels by the names Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and ascribe Acts to Luke, with no discussion of other possible authors. We also have canon lists and prologues (introductions) to the Gospels and Acts from the late second century forward with these same authorship identifications. So all the evidence from the early church is unanimous about the authors of the Gospels and Acts.
Hebrews was a different case since Paul was not named as the author. The early church debated the identity of the author, with some ascribing it to Paul, and others connecting it to a coworker of Paul (Hebrews 13:23 mentions Timothy, thus connecting the book to the Pauline circle). Around 200, Tertullian wrote that Barnabas was the author. Perhaps the wisest view even today is that of Origen who said that only God knew who wrote it.