Onesimus and Onesiphorus

Steve Black sblack at
Sat Sep 7 02:27:47 EDT 2002

>Steve Black wrote:
>>  One has to start with the fact that writing in the name of an another
>>  was a *very* common practice in the ancient world. I haven't done
>>  actually any number crunching - but it seems as one surveys the
>>  available literature from this time that we have more
>>  pseudepigraphical material than we do "authentic".
>I don't want to sound 'picky', but just how do we know this?  In other
>words, do we have a large number of people admitting that they did this,
>or people stating that they knew someone who did, or is there some other
>actual evidence?  Alternatively, are we in the position when many genuine
>document are declared pseudepigrahic just because they are 'different' in
>some way?

There's a pretty good chance, for example, that Enoch did not 
actually write the books assigned to him:-)

  Are you suggesting that every text that claims to be written by 
"person-X" must therefore be written by "person-X"? (whoever person-X 
might be - whether it is Moses, Paul, Barnabas, James, Thomas, the 
twelve, or whoever). This would certainly simplify things. It would 
be great if a judge could simply ask the defendant if they were 
guilty or not. (they would lie, would they?!?) If we are to judge 
authenticity - where would you suggest we start if "differences" are 
not to be considered? Similarities?

>>  This means that
>>  the norms regarding intellectual ownership and the modern morals
>>  regarding the use of the name of another are not the same. So
>>  although I agree that the pastoral are attempting to "deceive", this
>>  deception cannot be measured using modern standards if one wants to
>  > understand the phenomenon of pseudepigrapha correctly.
>>  I believe that the clear distinction because writing "fact" and
>>  writing "fiction"  was not very clear - or certainly not as clear as
>>  it is to us. Much (all?) of what they wrote as "history" we would
>>  probably feel more comfortable calling "historical fiction". What
>>  serious historian would write a scholarly piece in the narrative
>>  style of the gospels?
>Isn't this irrelevant?  Who ever said any of the gospel writers ever
>intended to produce a historical record?

OK - so if it isn't history but creative fiction - why would we be at 
all surprised that this same form of fiction is also in the 
pastorals? Why do will call it "forgery" there - but not in the 
equally fictive gospel accounts?

>>  were it
>>  not also for the fact that the language is also very different from
>>  Paul- then add also the social / political situation reflected in
>>  these letters which is also very different - and THAN ALSO add the
>>  stage of ecclesiastical development which is also very different -
>>  any of these by themselves would make me deeply suspicious that Paul
>>  was not the author - but put together the matter is clinched for me.
>This is faulty reasoning.  These points should not be connected like this.
>  For example, the theology issue is independent of the language issue.  In
>fact *all* the issues stand and fall on their own, and *cannot* be 'added
>up' in the way you appear to be doing.  If there is a satisfactory Pauline
>explanation for each issue then it doesn't matter how many issues there
>are, the answer is still Pauline.  This is why juries aren't allowed to
>know defendants criminal records - so that each case is treated on it's

Cumulative evidence is significant when each individual piece can 
really stand on its own. When the explanations needed to sustain a 
belief in Pauline authorship need to be piled one upon another upon 
another - for me the credibility for such a model is seriously 
eroded. When with one simple change in paradigm - considering the 
different theology, and the different language, and the different 
church structure and the different social situation - when all these 
require a great deal of extra-textual theories piled upon each other 
to sustain Pauline authorship - when this model is compared to a 
pseudepigraphical model and suddenly each and everyone of these 
elements "simply makes simply sense" - with one very simple move - it 
requires more intellectual *effort* than *integrity* for me to 
continue to hold onto the older model. Add to this the fact the the 
practise of pseudepigrapha was very common.

No this is not final and absolute proof - such things are rarely 
obtained. I probably will not change your thinking. I can say for my 
self that I used to hold to the authenticity of the pastorals - for 
me when I changed my thinking it is an issue of personal intellectual 

Steve Black
Vancouver School of Theology
Vancouver, BC

Once in a while you can get shown the light
in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

-Robert Hunter From SCARLET BEGONIAS

More information about the Corpus-Paul mailing list