Saint Paul - Writings - Authorship

Authorship

Main article: Authorship of the Pauline Epistles

Seven of the 13 books that are attributed to Paul – Romans, 1st Corinthians, 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1st Thessalonians and Philemon – are almost universally accepted as being entirely authentic (dictated by Paul himself). They are considered the best source of information on Paul's life and especially his thought.

Four of the letters (Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) are widely considered pseudepigraphical, while the authorship of the other two is subject to debate. Colossians, and 2nd Thessalonians are thought by some to be "Deutero-Pauline" meaning they may have been written by Paul's followers after his death. Similarly, 1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy, and Titus may be "Trito-Pauline" meaning they may have been written by members of the Pauline school a generation after his death. According to their theories, these disputed letters may have come from followers writing in Paul's name, often using material from his surviving letters. These scribes also may have had access to letters written by Paul that no longer survive.

Paul's letters were largely written to churches which he had visited; he was a great traveler, visiting Cyprus, Asia Minor (modern Turkey), mainland Greece, Crete, and Rome. His letters are full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should live. His most explicit references to the life of Jesus are of the Last Supper and the crucifixion and resurrection.

He provides few references to Jesus' teachings, leading some theologians to question how consistent was his account of the faith with that of the four canonical Gospels, the Book of Acts, and the Epistle of James.

The authenticity of Colossians has been questioned on the grounds that it contains an otherwise unparalleled description (among his writings) of Jesus as "the image of the invisible God", a Christology found elsewhere only in John's gospel. However, the personal notes in the letter connect it to Philemon, unquestionably the work of Paul. Internal evidence shows close connection with Philippians.

Ephesians is a letter that is very similar to Colossians, but is almost entirely lacking in personal reminiscences. Its style is unique. It lacks the emphasis on the cross to be found in other Pauline writings, reference to the Second Coming is missing, and Christian marriage is exalted in a way which contrasts with the reference in 1 Cor. 7:8-9. Finally, according to R.E. Brown, it exalts the Church in a way suggestive of a second generation of Christians, 'built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets' now past. The defenders of its Pauline authorship argue that it was intended to be read by a number of different churches and that it marks the final stage of the development of Paul's thinking. It has to be noted, too, that the moral portion of the Epistle, consisting of the last two chapters, has the closest affinity with similar portions of other Epistles, while the whole admirably fits in with the known details of Paul's life, and throws considerable light upon them.

Three main reasons have been advanced by those who question Paul's authorship of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus—also known as the Pastoral Epistles.

  • First, they claim there is a difference in these letters' vocabulary, style, and theology from Paul's acknowledged writings. Defenders of the authenticity note that they were probably written in the name and with the authority of the Apostle by one of his companions, to whom he distinctly explained what had to be written, or to whom he gave a written summary of the points to be developed, and that when the letters were finished, Paul read them through, approved them, and signed them.
  • Second, some believe there is a difficulty in fitting them into Paul's biography as we have it. They, like Colossians and Ephesians, were written from prison but suppose Paul's release and travel thereafter.
  • Third, 2 Thessalonians, like Colossians, is questioned by some on stylistic grounds, with some noting, among other peculiarities, a dependence on 1 Thessalonians—yet a distinctiveness in language from the Pauline corpus. This, again, is explainable by the possibility that Paul requested one of his companions to write the letter for him under his dictation.

Read more about this topic:  Saint Paul, Writings

Other articles related to "authorship":

A New Wonder, A Woman Never Vexed
... Its authorship was traditionally attributed to William Rowley, though modern scholarship has questioned Rowley's sole authorship Thomas Heywood and George Wilkins have been proposed as ... The play's date of authorship is uncertain it is often assigned to the 1610–14 period ...
The Assembly Of Gods - Authorship and Date
... The authorship and the exact date and of the poem are unknown though both questions have enjoyed considerable speculation ... Triggs argued for Lydgate’s authorship in his introduction, but scholars since that time have challenged the attribution so convincingly that the poem is no longer considered part of the ...
The Insatiate Countess - Publication
... The title page attributes the play's authorship to Marston ... Marston left dramatic authorship after 1608, and apparently tried to minimize public acknowledgement of his earlier playwriting phase his name was removed even from the 1633 collected edition ...

Famous quotes containing the word authorship:

    The Bible is good enough for me, just the old book under which I was brought up. I do not want notes or criticisms, or explanations about authorship or origins, or even cross- references. I do not need, or understand them, and they confuse me.
    Grover Cleveland (1837–1908)