Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Who wrote the Federalist Papers and the Letter to the Hebrews? New findings on debated authorship

Date:
February 21, 2013
Source:
University of Adelaide
Summary:
Researchers in Australia have provided new evidence on the long-debated authorship of two famous texts -- the US Federalist Papers and the Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament.

University of Adelaide researchers have provided new evidence on the long-debated authorship of two famous texts -- the US Federalist Papers and the Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament.

The results of a 10-year project led by Professor Derek Abbott, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, was published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

The team has developed an automatic authorship detection system, using advanced software techniques to analyse author style based on commonly used words.

"We applied our new authorship detection technique to two hotly debated texts, the Federalist Papers and the Letter to the Hebrews," says Professor Abbott.

The Federalist Papers are a collection of 85 influential political essays written in the late 1700s in the lead up to the US Constitution. Their authorship was originally a guarded secret but scholars now accept that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay are the authors. Hamilton and Madison eventually provided a list of what they wrote, but 12 of the essays were claimed by both as sole authorship. Some studies have suggested a 13th essay, normally attributed to Jay, is written by Madison.

"We've shown that one of the disputed texts, Essay 62, is indeed written by James Madison with a high degree of certainty," says Professor Abbott. "But the other 12 essays cannot be allocated to any of the three authors with a similarly strong likelihood. We believe they are probably the result of a certain degree of collaboration between the authors, which would also explain why there hasn't been scholarly consensus to date."

The researchers turned their attention to the Letter to the Hebrews, traditionally attributed to Saint Paul, but debated since the third century AD with scholars suggesting Barnabas, Luke and Clement of Rome as alternatives.

Testing was done, using the original Koine Greek texts, with these four possible authors, plus the three other gospel authors, Matthew, Mark and John and another possible author, Ignatius of Antioch.

"What we found is that the Letter to the Hebrews is indeed closest to Paul than to any of these other authors," Professor Abbott says. "But the sting in the tail is that this positive result had only a weak likelihood weighting. There are two possibilities: Luke was the second closest match so there may have been some collaboration between the two, for example if Paul wrote the letter in Aramaic (the Hebrew language) and then Luke translated it into Greek. Or it may simply mean we have yet to find the true author! If the Vatican were to agree to supply us with more extra-canonical texts that we haven't tried, we would be happy to do more exhaustive tests."

The new detection system was originally tested against short stories by seven undisputed authors in English including Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, with greater than 90% accuracy. This system, which uses multidimensional analysis of the frequencies of commonly used words, can be adapted for other languages.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Adelaide. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Maryam Ebrahimpour, Tālis J. Putniņš, Matthew J. Berryman, Andrew Allison, Brian W.-H. Ng, Derek Abbott. Automated Authorship Attribution Using Advanced Signal Classification Techniques. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (2): e54998 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054998

Cite This Page:

University of Adelaide. "Who wrote the Federalist Papers and the Letter to the Hebrews? New findings on debated authorship." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221104150.htm>.
University of Adelaide. (2013, February 21). Who wrote the Federalist Papers and the Letter to the Hebrews? New findings on debated authorship. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221104150.htm
University of Adelaide. "Who wrote the Federalist Papers and the Letter to the Hebrews? New findings on debated authorship." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221104150.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Japan Looks To Faster Future As Bullet Train Turns 50

Japan Looks To Faster Future As Bullet Train Turns 50

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) Japan's bullet train turns 50 Wednesday. Here's a look at how it's changed over half a century — and the changes it's inspired globally. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US Police Put Body Cameras to the Test

US Police Put Body Cameras to the Test

AFP (Oct. 1, 2014) Police body cameras are gradually being rolled out across the US, with interest surging after the fatal police shooting in August of an unarmed black teenager. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Cases Keep Coming for Monrovia's Island Hospital

Ebola Cases Keep Coming for Monrovia's Island Hospital

AFP (Oct. 1, 2014) A look inside Monrovia's Island Hospital, a key treatment centre in the fight against Ebola in Liberia's capital city. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Puts Stress on Liberian Health Workers

Ebola Puts Stress on Liberian Health Workers

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) The Ebola outbreak is putting stress on first responders in Liberia. Ambulance drivers say they are struggling with chronic shortages of safety equipment and patients who don't want to go to the hospital. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins