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» Ship of Fools   » Ship's Locker   » Limbo   » Kerygmania: Does it matter if Paul wasn't the author? (Page 2)

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Source: (consider it) Thread: Kerygmania: Does it matter if Paul wasn't the author?
goperryrevs
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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by Wood:
But that's "Peter", writing about Paul. Did Paul consider himself Scripture?

Don't know.

I think the way he bangs on (and on and on and on) about his Apostolic authority makes it likely though.

Most of the times he bangs on about his apostolic authority is when he's talking to churches that he either started or invested a lot of time in, and who have gone a bit astray.

When he's writing to people he doesn't know (Romans) he's not that heavy on the apostle stuff, but more interested in trying to persuade them with an argument.

When he's writing to people who seem to be doing ok (Philippians) he doesn't even mention it.

When he's writing to people who have royally screwed up (Galatians), he rams it down their throats.

He changes his language in other ways too, calling the Galatians 'children' and the Philippians 'brothers' or 'friends'.

So you could say that the way Paul saw himself as having apostolic authority was very dependent on context - that he saw his authority in the context of his ministry to the Gentiles, and to those churches where he spent a lot of time in particular. So maybe he saw his letters as 'scripture' to those congregations, but wasn't really interested on whether it was scripture for anyone else (including us).

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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by goperryrevs:
So maybe he saw his letters as 'scripture' to those congregations, but wasn't really interested on whether it was scripture for anyone else (including us).

I don't think that works.

The OT prophets saw their messages very much as God's Word for a specific people and time, and yet the Jews (incl. Jesus) saw their words as 'scripture'.

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goperryrevs
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Ah, but that's not equivalent. I was talking about how Paul saw his writings, not how later generations see them. Just as Jesus saw the prophets' writings as scripture, we now see Paul's writings as scripture. But that doesn't say anything about how Paul saw his own writings.

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Og: Thread Killer
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Its pretty clear he saw his writings as authoritative to the community, in an instructional way. Whether that meant they were seen to be as important to decision making as the prophets isn't clear.

But given the move towards a different interpretation of the law and of grace, I'm not sure Paul saw the prophets as important as the working out of faith within the Christ following communities he was corresponding with.

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hatless

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I don't think anyone in NT times had a concept of scripture quite like any you can find today. The question is not a binary one - did Paul regard his writings as scripture or not? - but has to enquire exactly how he regarded his writings, how he expected them to be used, by whom, for how long, and so on.

One thing that has often struck me about Paul is that he endlessly explains. He doesn't usually just pronounce, but appeals to people's judgement, and offers reasons and arguments of many different sorts. He is a great persuader.

If he felt his conclusions needed such careful support, that suggests he didn't have a very strong view of the authority of his writings.

On the other hand, he makes quite a big deal about himself, his status as an apostle, and the various experiences he has gone through. The letters read to me like continuations of the discussions he would have had face to face, and in the flesh and on papyrus I think he believes that his personal authority is significant.

That suggests to me that Paul would think authorship was a significant question. It matters to him that he has been beaten for the gospel, shipwrecked, and that he had the encounter on the Damascus road.

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Wood
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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
That suggests to me that Paul would think authorship was a significant question. It matters to him that he has been beaten for the gospel, shipwrecked, and that he had the encounter on the Damascus road.

Yes. This.

And of course, that's why someone who wasn't Paul would put his name on a writing, and why it matters; the question of authority doesn't just extend to the signature, it's about the assumption of the individual and unique apostolic authority assigned to Paul himself in the text, isn't it?

It's not like you can take the name off it and it'll be the same — the letters are written in character, so to speak.

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goperryrevs
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So if we had conclusive proof (or pretty indisputable proof) that one if the letters doubted at present wasn't written by Paul, should it be removed from the canon?

Conversly, if the letter to laodicea was found (or the one in existence proved genuine), should it be added to the canon?

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Jessie Phillips
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quote:
Originally posted by goperryrevs:
So if we had conclusive proof (or pretty indisputable proof) that one if the letters doubted at present wasn't written by Paul, should it be removed from the canon?

Conversly, if the letter to laodicea was found (or the one in existence proved genuine), should it be added to the canon?

No on both counts, in my opinion. Just because a letter is thought to have apostolic authority, it doesn't automatically follow that everything else written by the same person must also have apostolic authority.

But being written by Paul isn't the only way that a letter may have come to have apostolic authority in the first place either.

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Gamaliel
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At an Orthodox study weekend, I once asked Bishop Kallistos Ware whether we would have to accept Paul's letter to the Laodicean's as canonical should an archaelogist ever find it and it be proven to be the genuine article.

His answer was that, whilst it was obviously a hypothetical question, if it could be established that the letter was genuine and if the Church as a whole (by which he meant the Orthodox Church of course) and wider Christendom were involved too - RC and Protestant scholars etc - then we would conceivably accept it into the canon.

I don't think any of us knew what the answer would be if the letter did turn up and it flatly contradicted some of the things we've traditionally taken from the Pauline corpus as a whole.

Now that would be interesting ...

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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by goperryrevs:
So if we had conclusive proof (or pretty indisputable proof) that one if the letters doubted at present wasn't written by Paul, should it be removed from the canon?

What Jessie said.

Plus what would actually constitute pretty indisputable proof?

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Wood
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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by goperryrevs:
So if we had conclusive proof (or pretty indisputable proof) that one if the letters doubted at present wasn't written by Paul, should it be removed from the canon?

What Jessie said.

Plus what would actually constitute pretty indisputable proof?

Quite. There's no such thing, really, in any field of ancient lit crit; when faith comes into the equation, proof becomes completely redundant.

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goperryrevs
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Fair do's, it was a hypothetical question to get at the principles behind. So that in mind:

quote:
Originally posted by Jessie Phillips:

But being written by Paul isn't the only way that a letter may have come to have apostolic authority in the first place either.

What are some of those reasons?

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Jessie Phillips
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quote:
Originally posted by goperryrevs:
Fair do's, it was a hypothetical question to get at the principles behind. So that in mind:

quote:
Originally posted by Jessie Phillips:

But being written by Paul isn't the only way that a letter may have come to have apostolic authority in the first place either.

What are some of those reasons?
I think that's best explained by re-iterating something Johnny S said further up:
quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
Likewise it is one thing to say that Paul didn't write Hebrews (which almost certainly he didn't) and quite another to say that it was written by a plumber in the 5th century called Nigel.

The point at which I differ from Johnny S is that I think this applies to the whole of the New Testament; not just Hebrews.

Okay, I grant that a lot of letters do seem to say that they were written by "Paul". But so what? All that does is it raises questions about who we think Paul was. How do we know there was only one Paul? And how do we know that some letters aren't actually composites of two or more pre-existing writings, in much the way that Isaiah and Daniel are commonly thought to be? Even if Paul was the one who brought the letter together into its final form, how do we know that he hasn't liberally quoted from another source that was actually written by someone else, but which is now lost to us? Would it matter if he had?

We have a modern notion of authorship which is partly shaped by copyright laws, and the plagiarism policies of universities and research journals. As a result, whenever someone claims to have written something themselves, but which is actually quoted extensively from another source without attributing it or clearing it for permission first, we tend to think of it as a kind of fraud.

However, I don't think we can safely assume that authorship was seen in the same way at the time the New Testament books were written.

Indeed - perhaps people aren't that fussed about authorship nowadays either. How many people would dispute the claim of Eugene H Peterson to be the author of "The Message", on the grounds that The Message is a little bit similar to a pre-existing book known as "The Bible"?

My point is, authorship claims do have a context. Simply saying that Paul was the author of a particular epistle does not necessarily mean that the content of the epistle was entirely original.

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Bullfrog.

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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by Wood:
how many of the writers of the NT actually knew they were writing Scripture?

Even First Timothy, which has of course that bit everyone likes to quote about inspiration (3:16) doesn't actually consider itself scripture.

Oh, oh, I know this one.

quote:
15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
2 Peter 3: 16

[Eek!] Another 2 3 16 - The Scripture Code

IIRC, 2 Peter, because of its huge reliance on Jude, and because of its very late date of authorship and acceptance, is the most obvious case of pseudepigraphy in the entire NT.

Just sayin'... [Biased]

[ 11. March 2011, 21:45: Message edited by: Bullfrog. ]

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Others say God's a drunkard for pain
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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Jessie Phillips:
Okay, I grant that a lot of letters do seem to say that they were written by "Paul". But so what?

I think it is reasonable to accept that a letter was written by Paul if:

1. It says so.
2. There is no reasonable evidence to suggest otherwise.

I agree there are plenty of fundamentalists who want to fight tooth and nail over every single letter for Pauline authorship. However, I don't find them any less credible than those who reject authorship simply because "it's a cool theory" and "I get a PhD out of it."

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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:
Just sayin'... [Biased]

Just saying - what?

I quoted it as evidence that the early church viewed Paul's letters as scripture, no more, no less.

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Jessie Phillips
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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by Jessie Phillips:
Okay, I grant that a lot of letters do seem to say that they were written by "Paul". But so what?

I think it is reasonable to accept that a letter was written by Paul if:

1. It says so.
2. There is no reasonable evidence to suggest otherwise.

I agree there are plenty of fundamentalists who want to fight tooth and nail over every single letter for Pauline authorship. However, I don't find them any less credible than those who reject authorship simply because "it's a cool theory" and "I get a PhD out of it."

I agree with you. However, just because we can't always be sure who wrote what and when, doesn't mean there's mileage to be had in re-crafting the canon.

Just because the church has traditionally always thought proposition X to be true, but that scholars have recently cast doubt on proposition X, does not mean that alternative proposition Y absolutely must have been true all along, and that we have only just now re-discovered it.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by Jessie Phillips:
Okay, I grant that a lot of letters do seem to say that they were written by "Paul". But so what?

I think it is reasonable to accept that a letter was written by Paul if:

1. It says so.

No, because it was common for writers to use the name of their teacher when writing books.

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Bullfrog.

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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:
Just sayin'... [Biased]

Just saying - what?

I quoted it as evidence that the early church viewed Paul's letters as scripture, no more, no less.

Early church, but pretty well after Paul. I'm not sure if we're arguing about the church's view or Paul's here. I wouldn't assume the two are always consistent, especially since Paul wasn't always particularly consistent with himself, especially if you take the pastorals as Pauline.

As I observed in a paper that hinted at some of the flaws in the "non-Pauline authorship" arguments, they don't really get rid of the problem for inspiration that Paul seemed to have changed his mind on certain things, especially to a viewpoint that likes to quote a few verses as a "just so!" argument.

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Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
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Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
No, because it was common for writers to use the name of their teacher when writing books.

[Paranoid] How is that not covered in my second point?
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Ricardus
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Backing up a bit ...
quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
That one issue of 'writings' could go each way, but this is the same word used in the proof-text of all proof texts (2 Timothy 3: 16).

Paul thought 'scripture' was inspired by God. If he meant all writings then this would be strange since the context of 2 Tim 3 is a warning against being deceived by false teaching.

I was looking at this passage this morning in the NRSV, which has:
quote:
All scripture is inspired by God and is* useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
But if you [uncheck "omit footnotes" and] put your mouse over the asterisk, you get an alternative reading:
quote:
Every scripture inspired by God is also [useful for teaching ...]
Is anyone with a better knowledge of the Greek able to comment?

FWIW, the version in the footnote seems a bit tautologous to me, but I don't know anything about the Greek.

[ 13. March 2011, 13:51: Message edited by: Ricardus ]

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
No, because it was common for writers to use the name of their teacher when writing books.

[Paranoid] How is that not covered in my second point?
I do not see the relevance of your second point.

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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
FWIW, the version in the footnote seems a bit tautologous to me, but I don't know anything about the Greek.

It doesn't look good to me.

I presume the confusion arises because the verb 'to be' needs to be supplied. Literally verse 16 begins, "All scripture inspired...' Therefore I suppose the discussion is between "All scripture is inspired" or "All of the scripture which is inspired"

However, the former is almost certainly correct since it literally continues "... and useful." i.e. "All scripture inspired and useful..."

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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
No, because it was common for writers to use the name of their teacher when writing books.

[Paranoid] How is that not covered in my second point?
I do not see the relevance of your second point.
The fact that pseudepigraphy did occur is no help at all in determining authorship. It merely tells us that it is a possibility. Questions of authorship must turn on evidence.

I repeat, if a letter says it was written by Paul it is perfectly sensible to assume it was written by Paul without clear evidence to the contrary.

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hatless

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If I pick up a violin in a charity shop and see that there's a label inside that says Stradivarius, I don't therefore conclude that it really is a Strad. That isn't a reasonable assumption to make, because of the number of copies that have been made (and I don't suppose the real Stradivarius put little paper labels inside his violins). I have no direct evidence about this violin to counter the claim on the label, but I still won't believe it.

I don't know how common pseudepigraphy was, but my judgement about that will affect my judgement about the authorship of, say, Colossians.

But going back to 2 Timothy, what understanding of inspiration is there here? Inspired scripture, it says, is

useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness

It doesn't say infallible, morally binding, above question, absolute in authority, or to be whole-heartedly accepted, obeyed, believed and trusted. It says useful. A modest view of inspiration.

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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
If I pick up a violin in a charity shop and see that there's a label inside that says Stradivarius, I don't therefore conclude that it really is a Strad. That isn't a reasonable assumption to make, because of the number of copies that have been made (and I don't suppose the real Stradivarius put little paper labels inside his violins). I have no direct evidence about this violin to counter the claim on the label, but I still won't believe it.

Come on Hatless, you don't really think that is a fair comparison do you?

If you came across a Strad labelled violin you'd want to check whether it was real (i.e. made by the Stradivarius family business) or a fake. I find it very hard to believe that you wouldn't care.

quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
I don't know how common pseudepigraphy was, but my judgement about that will affect my judgement about the authorship of, say, Colossians.

That is a pretty big thing to admit considering your comments above about Stradivarius. Your argument rests on the assumption that it was as common as Stradivarius imitations.

quote:
Originally posted by hatless:

But going back to 2 Timothy, what understanding of inspiration is there here? Inspired scripture, it says, is

useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness

It doesn't say infallible, morally binding, above question, absolute in authority, or to be whole-heartedly accepted, obeyed, believed and trusted. It says useful. A modest view of inspiration.

True, you'd have to look elsewhere to discuss those other things.

Although you've truncated the sentence - "so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" - is how it continues. From that I think it is legitimate to conclude the doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture. [Big Grin]

[ 14. March 2011, 04:48: Message edited by: Johnny S ]

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hatless

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The point I was making, and I may have misread you, is that our judgement of the likelihood of false attribution does affect how we assess the claimed attribution. You seem to be saying that only hard evidence pointing in the other direction should make us question the claimed attribution.

Actually, my own opinion that the Pastorals are not by Paul, is based on the content of the letters. The thought is just not Pauline, in my opinion. Similarly with Colossians, though style also plays a part there. Philippians I think is, probably, by Paul, because I think I detect his personality behind the words, especially in the lovely awkwardness with which he deals with the personal matters at the end of the letter. Philemon I'm in two minds about, but the style just swings it in favour of authenticity.

But taking the Pastorals, Ephesians and Colossians as later works makes the letters as a whole make more sense to me. I can see the development (decay?) of the gospel in them.

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Wood
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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
I don't know how common pseudepigraphy was,

Really, really common.

And not just for apostles. And often it was very successful.

For example. A work called the Homilies AKA Recognitions was attributed to Clement of Rome, the reputed companion of the Apostle Peter and his successor as Bishop of Rome. Although a late 2nd/early 3rd-century piece of Ebionite* propaganda, the Homilies still ended up getting a semi-official translation by Rufinus of Aquileia, who wrote a preface saying "some of this stuff says things about God that a small brain like me can't understand... so I cut them out." Which is code for "this is clearly heretical, but everyone believes Clement wrote this, so I've taken on some damage limitation."

But there's a metric crapload** of pseudepigrapha out there, some of it blatantly, obviously not real (Pseudo-Matthew, for instance; the Acts of Andrew AKA The Acts of Andrew and Matthias in the City of the Cannibals and so on), and some of it much less obvious (most people think the Gospel of Barnabas to be late-written nonsense, but no one who cares thinks it's boring).

And some stuff wasn't popular, but might actually not be spurious — Thomas, for instance (honestly, though, although Thomas has a couple of nice bits, I am glad it's not canonical, because it's got some horrible misogyny and the craziest parable ever***).

__________
* Early Judaist heresy. The Homilies has lengthy sermons that say unorthodox stuff and slurs on Paul, whom the Ebionites hated. You can tell when it was written because it has a bunch of obvious anachronisms, esp. about buildings in Rome that weren't built and stuff like that.

** 2.2 Imperial or American craploads.

*** "The Kingdom of Heaven is like an assassin in training." Uh-huh.

--------------------
Narcissism.

Posts: 7842 | From: Wood Towers | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Wood
The Milkman of Human Kindness
# 7

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
Actually, my own opinion that the Pastorals are not by Paul, is based on the content of the letters. The thought is just not Pauline, in my opinion. Similarly with Colossians, though style also plays a part there. Philippians I think is, probably, by Paul, because I think I detect his personality behind the words, especially in the lovely awkwardness with which he deals with the personal matters at the end of the letter. Philemon I'm in two minds about, but the style just swings it in favour of authenticity.

But taking the Pastorals, Ephesians and Colossians as later works makes the letters as a whole make more sense to me. I can see the development (decay?) of the gospel in them.

And you're not alone in this. This argument was prominent in the early church, and has been in currency in the modern age for a long, long time.

--------------------
Narcissism.

Posts: 7842 | From: Wood Towers | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
MSHB
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# 9228

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One little thought which strikes me about discussions of authorship: in many contexts today we actually do not care about authorship, nor consider a work to be lying if it wasn't written by its purported "author".

I have long worked in the public sector. Letters are commonly signed by the head of the department, but written by underlings. If you examined the (purported) writings of the one department head, you would find many different styles and conceptual frameworks. The point is, no one cares about the "authenticity" of a business letter the way that they care about the authenticity of a work of art.

If you have a painting alleged to be by Picasso, then you want all the brush strokes on that painting to have been put there by the actual hand of Picasso, and not the whole thing done by a student, family member or friend honouring him by painting in his style. You want an "authentic" Picasso.

But if you have enquired of a government department whether you are entitled to a benefit, you don't care whether the head of the department composed a single word in the letter of reply, you just care whether the department will stand behind the reply. You want "authority", not "authenticity".

Did the early churches want a "genuine Pauline" epistle in the "work of art" sense? Or did they want something that Paul would have stood behind and supported? If the latter, then "who cared" back then if the letter was actually composed by a Silas or a Timothy? It was all from "the Department of Saint Paul".

In other words, "authentic authorship" depends on genre, and on cultural expectations. We don't expect it or value it in some genres, but we do care aboout it in works of art. But in former ages many great works of art were anonymous (eg Beowulf) which today would have brought their author great celebrity. Knowing the author is more important today than it was in the early Middle Ages.

Maybe it is something about the modern emphasis on individuality.

--------------------
MSHB: Member of the Shire Hobbit Brigade

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Wood
The Milkman of Human Kindness
# 7

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quote:
Originally posted by MSHB:
But if you have enquired of a government department whether you are entitled to a benefit, you don't care whether the head of the department composed a single word in the letter of reply, you just care whether the department will stand behind the reply. You want "authority", not "authenticity".

I was all ready to disagree strenuously with you but by the end of the post, I thought, wait, this is a really good point.

--------------------
Narcissism.

Posts: 7842 | From: Wood Towers | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
goperryrevs
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# 13504

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quote:
Originally posted by Wood:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
Actually, my own opinion that the Pastorals are not by Paul, is based on the content of the letters. The thought is just not Pauline, in my opinion. Similarly with Colossians, though style also plays a part there. Philippians I think is, probably, by Paul, because I think I detect his personality behind the words, especially in the lovely awkwardness with which he deals with the personal matters at the end of the letter. Philemon I'm in two minds about, but the style just swings it in favour of authenticity.

But taking the Pastorals, Ephesians and Colossians as later works makes the letters as a whole make more sense to me. I can see the development (decay?) of the gospel in them.

And you're not alone in this. This argument was prominent in the early church, and has been in currency in the modern age for a long, long time.
Have you got any references for this? I thought it was a more modern line of thinking.

If that view was prominent in the early church, did it have any effect on the formation of the canon?

--------------------
"Keep your eye on the donut, not on the hole." - David Lynch

Posts: 2098 | From: Midlands | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged
Wood
The Milkman of Human Kindness
# 7

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quote:
Originally posted by goperryrevs:
Have you got any references for this? I thought it was a more modern line of thinking.

If that view was prominent in the early church, did it have any effect on the formation of the canon?

Sadly, I am at work (shh don't tell anyone) and I do not have my library to hand.

(Oh, Library, I miss you. Do you miss me? Wait for me, my love...)

Ahem.

Anyway. It did have a formation on the canon, inasmuch as it took 400 years or so to get some sort of agreement and there were still a few people arguing about it well into the 500s AD.

--------------------
Narcissism.

Posts: 7842 | From: Wood Towers | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Johnny S
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# 12581

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
The point I was making, and I may have misread you, is that our judgement of the likelihood of false attribution does affect how we assess the claimed attribution. You seem to be saying that only hard evidence pointing in the other direction should make us question the claimed attribution.

That last sentence seems rather circular to me. I probably would soften it a bit from 'hard' but I'm equally puzzled by what else you would use to question the claim than evidence? (And then it comes down to how good the evidence is.)

quote:
Originally posted by hatless:

Actually, my own opinion that the Pastorals are not by Paul, is based on the content of the letters. The thought is just not Pauline, in my opinion. Similarly with Colossians, though style also plays a part there. Philippians I think is, probably, by Paul, because I think I detect his personality behind the words, especially in the lovely awkwardness with which he deals with the personal matters at the end of the letter. Philemon I'm in two minds about, but the style just swings it in favour of authenticity.

But taking the Pastorals, Ephesians and Colossians as later works makes the letters as a whole make more sense to me. I can see the development (decay?) of the gospel in them.

Again, I don't have a problem with this approach per se but it seems very circular to me. Presumably you build up the personality of Paul first of all from the letters you are confident of authorship and move on from there? That's hardly an exact science is it?
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hatless

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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
The point I was making, and I may have misread you, is that our judgement of the likelihood of false attribution does affect how we assess the claimed attribution. You seem to be saying that only hard evidence pointing in the other direction should make us question the claimed attribution.

That last sentence seems rather circular to me. I probably would soften it a bit from 'hard' but I'm equally puzzled by what else you would use to question the claim than evidence? (And then it comes down to how good the evidence is.)

I'm still confused, I'm afraid! Do you mean that we should accept that a letter that says it is by Paul really is by Paul unless we have some other, contrary evidence about this letter? Because if so, I'm disagreeing on the grounds that the practice of pseudepigraphy, whilst it isn't evidence about any particular letter, does count against the assumption of Pauline authorship, and might tip the judgement when added to other factors such as style and content.

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:

Actually, my own opinion that the Pastorals are not by Paul, is based on the content of the letters. The thought is just not Pauline, in my opinion. Similarly with Colossians, though style also plays a part there. Philippians I think is, probably, by Paul, because I think I detect his personality behind the words, especially in the lovely awkwardness with which he deals with the personal matters at the end of the letter. Philemon I'm in two minds about, but the style just swings it in favour of authenticity.

But taking the Pastorals, Ephesians and Colossians as later works makes the letters as a whole make more sense to me. I can see the development (decay?) of the gospel in them.

Again, I don't have a problem with this approach per se but it seems very circular to me. Presumably you build up the personality of Paul first of all from the letters you are confident of authorship and move on from there? That's hardly an exact science is it?
No exact sciences here! 1 Corinthians, Romans and Galatians seem to me to be sufficiently similar in style and theology to read them as the work of one person. Despite great differences in the three letters, there is still coherence of thought, and a personality emerges: combative, prickly, rhetorical, warm, honest, with a sure grasp of the deep implications of the gospel he is bearing.

Other letters contribute to, or fit with that theology and personality more or less well. Some really don't. Is that circular? You could start the other way round, I suppose, and then you might decide that Paul wrote only 1 and 2 Timothy and 2 Thessalonians, and that all the others are by some other guy with the same name.

I have to say, though, that if I was an officer in the ancient Roman CIA I wouldn't be in the least worried about whoever wrote to Timothy, but the author of 1 Corinthians would wake me with a start in the small hours.

--------------------
My crazy theology in novel form

Posts: 4531 | From: Stinkers | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
Johnny S
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# 12581

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quote:
Originally posted by MSHB:


But if you have enquired of a government department whether you are entitled to a benefit, you don't care whether the head of the department composed a single word in the letter of reply, you just care whether the department will stand behind the reply. You want "authority", not "authenticity".

Did the early churches want a "genuine Pauline" epistle in the "work of art" sense? Or did they want something that Paul would have stood behind and supported? If the latter, then "who cared" back then if the letter was actually composed by a Silas or a Timothy? It was all from "the Department of Saint Paul".

I agree. One of the criteria used for the canon was Catholicity - was the letter generally accepted across all the churches as being 'from the department of St Paul'.

Which of course raises questions about the methodology which looks for a change in Paul's thinking. Even if the Pastoral Epistles were written later the church at the time either didn't see a big change in thinking or saw any changes as in keeping with the gospel.

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Johnny S
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# 12581

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
Because if so, I'm disagreeing on the grounds that the practice of pseudepigraphy, whilst it isn't evidence about any particular letter, does count against the assumption of Pauline authorship, and might tip the judgement when added to other factors such as style and content.

I don't think we are disagreeing about the process at all.

I'm just quibbling over words like 'might'. I'm not suggesting that you are doing this Hatless, but I frequently come across the lazy argument that might means should.

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Bullfrog.

Prophetic Amphibian
# 11014

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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by MSHB:


But if you have enquired of a government department whether you are entitled to a benefit, you don't care whether the head of the department composed a single word in the letter of reply, you just care whether the department will stand behind the reply. You want "authority", not "authenticity".

Did the early churches want a "genuine Pauline" epistle in the "work of art" sense? Or did they want something that Paul would have stood behind and supported? If the latter, then "who cared" back then if the letter was actually composed by a Silas or a Timothy? It was all from "the Department of Saint Paul".

I agree. One of the criteria used for the canon was Catholicity - was the letter generally accepted across all the churches as being 'from the department of St Paul'.

Which of course raises questions about the methodology which looks for a change in Paul's thinking. Even if the Pastoral Epistles were written later the church at the time either didn't see a big change in thinking or saw any changes as in keeping with the gospel.

To speak of "the church" as a united body with one mind at that point in history is rather anachronistic.

--------------------
Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

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Johnny S
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# 12581

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quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:
To speak of "the church" as a united body with one mind at that point in history is rather anachronistic.

At what point in history?

I was talking about when the canon was formed. A while after the pastorals were written, that is true, but still over 1600 years closer than we are.

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Bullfrog.

Prophetic Amphibian
# 11014

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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:
To speak of "the church" as a united body with one mind at that point in history is rather anachronistic.

At what point in history?

I was talking about when the canon was formed. A while after the pastorals were written, that is true, but still over 1600 years closer than we are.

They were closer, but they were also at least as fractious. Even Paul seemed to be dealing with conflicts almost constantly.

The formation of the canon wasn't a single event, but a process spanning several centuries.

--------------------
Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

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Johnny S
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# 12581

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quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:
They were closer, but they were also at least as fractious. Even Paul seemed to be dealing with conflicts almost constantly.

I'm confused, as I said was talking about the 4th century onwards - you don't think Paul wrote Corinthians then do you? [Big Grin]

quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:

The formation of the canon wasn't a single event, but a process spanning several centuries.

Agreed. But it was a process that had a conclusion (apart from some parts of Orthodoxy) and that end point is still a whole lot closer to the original events than we are.

[ 20. March 2011, 05:02: Message edited by: Johnny S ]

Posts: 6834 | From: London | Registered: Apr 2007  |  IP: Logged
Bullfrog.

Prophetic Amphibian
# 11014

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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:
They were closer, but they were also at least as fractious. Even Paul seemed to be dealing with conflicts almost constantly.

I'm confused, as I said was talking about the 4th century onwards - you don't think Paul wrote Corinthians then do you? [Big Grin]

quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:

The formation of the canon wasn't a single event, but a process spanning several centuries.

Agreed. But it was a process that had a conclusion (apart from some parts of Orthodoxy) and that end point is still a whole lot closer to the original events than we are.

And the church that was closer to the original events wasn't of one mind with itself. Every gospel writer, even, has its own take on things. Peter and Paul were almost enemies at some points. I'm not sure where this "one mind" was.

And as written, Paul couldn't even agree with himself on matters such as eschatology. Is it imminent? Or do we have to dig in and settle down for a while? Hmm...

--------------------
Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

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Wood
The Milkman of Human Kindness
# 7

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quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:
Peter and Paul were almost enemies at some points.

And even if they themselves weren't, their partisans (according to some documents) certainly were for a time.

--------------------
Narcissism.

Posts: 7842 | From: Wood Towers | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Johnny S
Shipmate
# 12581

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quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:
And the church that was closer to the original events wasn't of one mind with itself. Every gospel writer, even, has its own take on things. Peter and Paul were almost enemies at some points. I'm not sure where this "one mind" was.

We're going in circles here. Who said they were of 'one mind'? All I said that 2 Peter recognised Paul's writing as scripture. The book of Acts is pretty candid about disagreements in the church.

I don't see what point you are making.

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