The Concept of "Authentic Pauline Epistles"

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Blood
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The Concept of "Authentic Pauline Epistles"

Post by Blood » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:42 am

When did the concept of "Authentic Pauline Epistles" originate, and with whom? Has a book been written on this question?

"Authentic Pauline Epistles" are invoked as axiomatic in the literature, i.e., "everyone" accepts seven as written by a historical Paul in the 50s/60s CE. This authenticity absolutely cannot be questioned by anyone, anywhere, who wishes to be published or taken seriously by the Bible guild.

I assume that the debate raged in the late 19th century, and into the early 20th century, and probably some of debate occurred in German and Dutch language books and articles that were never translated into English.

And when/how did the four "unassailable" letters expand to seven?

Or was this merely a clerical response to the "radical" criticism of W.C. Van Manen (1842-1905)?
W.C. Van Manen wrote:With respect to the canonical Pauline epistles, the later criticism here under consideration has learned to recognise that there are none of them by Paul: neither fourteen, nor thirteen, nor nine or ten, nor seven or eight, nor yet even the four so long universally regarded as unassailable. They are all, without distinction, pseudepigrapha (this, of course, not implying the least depreciation of their contents). The history of criticism, the breaking up of the group which began as early as 1520, already pointed in this direction. No distinction can any longer be allowed between "principal epistles" and minor or deutero-Pauline ones. "Paul: Later Criticism," in Encyclopaedia Biblica (New York: Macmillan, 4 Vols., 1899-1903), Vol. 4, 3620-3638.
https://depts.drew.edu/jhc/vanpaul.html
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Re: The Concept of "Authentic Pauline Epistles"

Post by Jax » Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:58 am

Thanks for bringing this up Blood. I would really like to understand this as well. :thumbup:

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Re: The Concept of "Authentic Pauline Epistles"

Post by Peter Kirby » Sun Jun 03, 2018 1:28 pm

Blood wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:42 am
When did the concept of "Authentic Pauline Epistles" originate, and with whom? Has a book been written on this question?
Not the oldest origin (e.g. Erasmus doubted the authenticity of some of the letters of Paul), but the general "awareness" of the intellectual public regarding biblical criticism blossomed in the 1830s, especially when David Strauss published his life of Jesus, filled with critical insights, many of which suggested that the miracles weren't historical.

At the same time that Strauss was right-sizing Jesus, F. C. Baur was letting go of many of the letters of Paul.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Christian_Baur
The theory is further developed in a later work (1835, the year in which David Strauss' Leben Jesu was published), Über die sogenannten Pastoralbriefe. In this Baur attempts to prove that the false teachers mentioned in the Second Epistle to Timothy and Epistle to Titus are the Gnostics, particularly the Marcionites, of the 2nd century, and consequently that the Pastoral Epistles were produced in the middle of the 2nd century in opposition to Gnosticism.

He next proceeded to investigate other Pauline epistles and the Acts of the Apostles in the same manner, publishing his results in 1845 under the title Paulus, der Apostel Jesu Christi, sein Leben und Wirken, seine Briefe und seine Lehre. In this he contends that only the Epistle to the Galatians, First and Second Epistle to the Corinthians and Epistle to the Romans are genuinely Pauline, and that the Paul of the Acts of the Apostles is a different person from the Paul of these genuine Epistles, the author being a Paulinist who, with an eye to the different parties in the Church, is at pains to represent Peter as far as possible as a Paulinist and Paul as far as possible as a Petrinist.
It is from this cultural moment in the 1830s and 1840s that intellectuals would refer back to the supposedly unassailable four (Hauptbriefe) in the Tubingen school, which came to be useful when deciding to ignore or put down the Dutch radical criticism of the late 19th century that would refuse all.
Blood wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:42 am
And when/how did the four "unassailable" letters expand to seven?
The figure of seven is achieved by subtraction of those for which there are (widely recognized) serious doubts, and it isn't clear to me when it became common to speak of a shared understanding of the number "seven," but it feels very lazy and more recent, perhaps only in the 20th century (maybe the late 19th).

The actual doubts regarding the three non-Pastorals (2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Ephesians) that are required to reach seven preceded Baur's 1845 work on Paul. For the most part critics didn't join Baur in cutting the epistles down to four, so, despite being endlessly referenced for his position regarding four authentic epistles, he had very few followers outside of the Tubingen school. Criticism generally followed along the lines already established of accepting 1 Thessalonians, Philippians, and Philemon as authentic, if not more as well.

You can get a basic outline of the German criticism of the 1820s to 1840s that is discernable from de Wette's historico-critical introduction to the canonical books of the New Testament, which went through five revisions from its first publication in 1826. The translation is of the fifth version.

https://archive.org/details/cu31924029301640

Each of the letters of Paul have a section on genuineness.

E. T. Mayerhoff in 1838 sustained the first extensive critical defense of the inauthenticity of Colossians. To the extent that this was the final subtraction necessary to get to the figure of seven authentic epistles of Paul, you could say that the idea traces its origins back to 1838 and to those who agreed with Mayerhoff in his conclusion (or, at least, the legitimacy of its doubts), in addition to already doubting 2 Thessalonians, Ephesians, and the Pastorals.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

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Re: The Concept of "Authentic Pauline Epistles"

Post by DCHindley » Sun Jun 03, 2018 1:43 pm

Blood wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:42 am
When did the concept of "Authentic Pauline Epistles" originate, and with whom? Has a book been written on this question?

"Authentic Pauline Epistles" are invoked as axiomatic in the literature, i.e., "everyone" accepts seven as written by a historical Paul in the 50s/60s CE. This authenticity absolutely cannot be questioned by anyone, anywhere, who wishes to be published or taken seriously by the Bible guild.

I assume that the debate raged in the late 19th century, and into the early 20th century, and probably some of debate occurred in German and Dutch language books and articles that were never translated into English.

And when/how did the four "unassailable" letters expand to seven?

Or was this merely a clerical response to the "radical" criticism of W.C. Van Manen (1842-1905)?
W.C. Van Manen wrote:With respect to the canonical Pauline epistles, the later criticism here under consideration has learned to recognise that there are none of them by Paul: neither fourteen, nor thirteen, nor nine or ten, nor seven or eight, nor yet even the four so long universally regarded as unassailable. They are all, without distinction, pseudepigrapha (this, of course, not implying the least depreciation of their contents). The history of criticism, the breaking up of the group which began as early as 1520, already pointed in this direction. No distinction can any longer be allowed between "principal epistles" and minor or deutero-Pauline ones. "Paul: Later Criticism," in Encyclopaedia Biblica (New York: Macmillan, 4 Vols., 1899-1903), Vol. 4, 3620-3638.
https://depts.drew.edu/jhc/vanpaul.html
Albert Schweitzer, in Paul and His Interpreters: A Critical History (the ET of his Geschichte Der Paulinischen Forschung, both published 1912) gives an overview of the critical attitude towards the Pauline books from about the 18th to the turn of the 20th century.

It was F C Baur who first concluded that only Romans, 1 & 2 Cortinthians & Galatians could be considered authentic, and believes he can discern the development of ideas as Paul's version of Christianity battled it out with those who followed Peter, the two parties being at odds over how to view Jesus' legacy.
"Compared with these four, all the others must be classed as 'anti-legomena,' 'which does not at all imply the assertion that they are not genuine, but only indicates the opposition to which their claim to genuineness is in some cases already exposed, in others, may be exposed in the future, since there is not a single one of the smaller Pauline epistles against which, if the four main epistles are taken as the standard, there cannot be raised some objection or other.' There are strong grounds for questioning the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians; those to the Thessalonians and Philippians are to be suspected because of the small amount of dogma they contain." [pg 14]
"
"Baur had distinguished three classes of Epistles. In the first he placed, as beyond doubt genuine, Galatians, [1 & 2] Corinthians, and Romans; Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, Thessalonians, and Philemon formed the second class, being considered uncertain; the Pastoral Epistles formed the third class, and were regarded as proved to be spurious." [pg 25]
"The views of the Tübingen master regarding the first class and the third were adopted by the majority of scholars of the next generation. No doubts were raised against the great Epistles; the Pastoral Epistles were rejected. Holtzmann, in his work on the Letters to Timothy and Titus, (025n1) supplied a detailed argument in favour of this conclusion.
[026]
Of the letters of the intermediate class, the first to the Thessalonians and that to the Philippians were by many rehabilitated as Pauline. The second to the Thessalonians was rejected with increasing confidence. A special problem was presented by the letters to the Colossians and Ephesians, both because of their evident mutual relationship and particularly in regard to certain parts of the Epistle to the Colossians which made a strong impression of genuineness. Holtzmann offered a solution which gave general satisfaction. He adopted the hypothesis that Colossians was based upon a genuine Pauline letter which had been worked over by a later hand. (026n1) The redactor he identified with the author of the Epistle to the Ephesians.

ISOLATION OF THE MAIN EPISTLES

While there was this general consensus in the critical camp, which was ratified in Holtzmann's "Introduction," (026n2) the most diverse opinions on special points are found. Some attempts were made to save the [027] genuineness of the second Epistle to the Thessalonians. For some, the Epistles to the Colossians and Ephesians are genuine throughout and represent a later phase of the Pauline theology. Nor were there lacking attempts of all kinds to rehabilitate the Pastoral Epistles. Those who did not venture to defend them as wholes make a point of retaining at least the "personal references."

The presentation of the Pauline teaching was, however, hardly affected by the literary divergences. Not even the most conservative of the critics had the boldness to place all the letters which have come down under the name of Paul on a footing of equality. Even those who regarded the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians as genuine did not fuse ideas of these Epistles with the system extracted from the four main Epistles [i.e., Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Romans -dch], but presented them separately; and any who were not converted to the rejection of the Pastorals at all events took the precaution to give a separate chapter to the Pauline theology of these writings. (027n1) If only the personal references might be saved, these Epistles were as completely excluded from the presentation of the Pauline system as if they had been pronounced wholly spurious." [pp. 25-27]
The problem that Schweitzer saw was that despite the division of the letters into these three classes, no amount of jiggering or fine tuning of what was genuine or spurious in class 2, seemed to help make sense of his theology.
"In these works the Apostle's statements are quoted one after another, and developed in his own words. The authors think they have discharged their task when they [037] have so arranged the course of the investigation that all important passages can be respectably housed.

The odd thing is that they write as if they understood what they were writing about. They do not feel compelled to admit that Paul's statements taken by themselves are unintelligible, consist of pure paradoxes, and that the point that calls for examination is how far they are thought of by their author as having a real meaning, and could be understood in this light by his readers. They never call attention to the fact that the Apostle always becomes unintelligible just at the moment when he begins to explain something; never give a hint that while we hear the sound of his words the tune of his logic escapes us." [pg 36-37]
"Baur's criticism was occupied with the Corpus Paulinum which remained after the exclusion of the Pastoral epistles. In the ten remaining Epistles, which show a large degree of inner homogeneity, he professed to discover differences on the basis of which some were to be assigned to the Apostle, others to the school which took its rise from him.

Once the rights of such a criticism are admitted, nothing can prevent it from working itself out to its limit, and seeking to explain all the Epistles as products of a school which went under Paul's name." [pg. 118]
"These theoretic considerations regarding the basis of the views of Baur and his successors are so obvious that they were bound to come up sooner or later. The fact was that in one particular point the Tübingen master had held back from unprejudiced criticism and had foisted upon critical science the traditional belief. In doing so he had obeyed an instinct of caution. Those who proceeded further along the path of questioning and investigation arrived, some with satisfaction and some with dismay, at the result of declaring all the epistles to be spurious." [pg. 120]
So, there you go.

DCH

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Re: The Concept of "Authentic Pauline Epistles"

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Jun 03, 2018 3:41 pm

There is no record of scholarly doubt concerning authorship until the 19th century [Peter Kirby's comment about Erasmus notwithstanding] when, around 1840, German scholar Ferdinand Christian Baur accepted only four of the letters bearing Paul's name as genuine, which he called the Hauptebriefe (Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Galatians).

Hilgenfeld (1875) and H. J. Holtzmann (1885) instead accepted.. seven letters .. adding Philemon, 1 Thessalonians, and Philippians. Few scholars have argued against this list of seven epistles, which all share common themes, emphasis, vocabulary and style. They also exhibit a uniformity of doctrine concerning the Mosaic Law, Christ, and faith.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorshi ... d_epistles
Previously, in the same sub-section, -
The name "undisputed" [or authentic] epistles represents the traditional scholarly consensus asserting that Paul authored each letter. However, even the least disputed of letters, such as Galatians, have found critics.[17] Moreover, the unity of the letters [has been] questioned by some scholars. First and Second Corinthians have garnered particular suspicion, with some scholars, among them Edgar J. Goodspeed [1871–1962] and Norman Perrin [1920-76], supposing one or both texts as we have them today are actually amalgamations of multiple individual letters.

There remains considerable discussion as to the presence of possible significant interpolations. However, such textual corruption is difficult to detect and even more so to verify*, leaving little agreement as to the extent of the epistles' integrity. See also Radical Criticism, which maintains that the external evidence for attributing any of the letters to Paul is so weak, that it should be considered that all the letters appearing in the Marcion canon were written in Paul's name by members of the Marcionite Church and were afterwards edited and adopted by the Catholic Church.

17 for example, F. R. McGuire, even though otherwise critical scholars like A. Q. Morton saw this text as the benchmark for [also] refuting Pauline authorship of most other epistles; see A. Q. Morton and J. McLeman, Paul, the Man and the Myth (1966). Additionally, Robert Price argues [or has argued] that Galatians was written by Marcion; see R. M. Price, The Pre-Nicene New Testament (2006).
.
* though I would say a few people on this forum have done a good job of highlighting issues, at least.

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Re: The Concept of "Authentic Pauline Epistles"

Post by Peter Kirby » Sun Jun 03, 2018 6:08 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 3:41 pm
There is no record of scholarly doubt concerning authorship until the 19th century [Peter Kirby's comment about Erasmus notwithstanding]
What I said:
Not the oldest origin (e.g. Erasmus doubted the authenticity of some of the letters of Paul), but the general "awareness" of the intellectual public regarding biblical criticism blossomed in the 1830s, especially when David Strauss published his life of Jesus, filled with critical insights, many of which suggested that the miracles weren't historical. At the same time that Strauss was right-sizing Jesus, F. C. Baur was letting go of many of the letters of Paul.
What that article says:
These seven letters are quoted or mentioned by the earliest of sources, and are included in every ancient canon, including that of Marcion (c.140).[18] There is no record of scholarly doubt concerning authorship until the 19th century when, around 1840, German scholar Ferdinand Christian Baur accepted only four of the letters bearing Paul's name as genuine, which he called the Hauptebriefe (Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Galatians).
Where the remark "no record of scholarly doubt concerning authorship" is speaking specifically about these "seven letters."

What the same Wikipedia article says:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorshi ... e_epistles
The authenticity of this letter [Ephesians] was first disputed by the Dutch Renaissance scholar Desiderius Erasmus, and in more recent times has drawn detailed criticism.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

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Re: The Concept of "Authentic Pauline Epistles"

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:18 am

.
One should perhaps also consider that there is a prehistory with the letter to the Hebrews. This is no longer a problem for us, but the scholars of the 18th and 19th century were often inspired by the discussions of the fathers. That was the very first questioning of Pauline authorship.

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Re: The Concept of "Authentic Pauline Epistles"

Post by Blood » Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:08 pm

Thanks for the responses.
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp

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