Pauline Authorship

August 9, 2013

Pauline Authorship ChartThere’s an interesting post HERE discussing scholarly opinions about Pauline authorship of NT epistles. Looks like the “consensus” isn’t quite as strong as it’s sometimes made out to be. It also looks like they forgot to poll our friend Dave Black, otherwise there would have been one little green spot on Hebrews.

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2 Responses to “Pauline Authorship”

  1. dderight said

    I am always a bit concerned when people question the authorship of a Biblical book when the book itself claims that a certain person is the author. If we believe in inerrancy, how do we question something like that? If the claim of authorship is incorrect, why wouldn’t we expect other parts of the text to be incorrect as well? What criteria would we possibly use to determine if certain parts of the text are correct or not? Why would we believe that some other source of information that might be used to determine the validity of a Scripture passage is itself more reliable than the Scripture passage we are questioning? I am afraid that in too many cases people with advanced academic degrees think that their expert opinion should be considered of greater or at least equal value to the teachings of Scripture.
    This kind of thinking works its way into the analysis of Scripture in another way. Too often Biblical scholars insist that all of the teachings of Scripture should be able to be put together in a systematic theology that makes sense to them. As a physicist, I see that same kind of attitude among scientists when it comes to analyzing physical data. They insist that all of it must be put together in a theoretical system that makes sense to them. It seems to me that insisting that everything is reducible to human understanding, especially my understanding, is a rather egotistical notion. That doesn’t mean that we don’t try to put all of the Biblical or scientific data into a coherent system, but we should be willing to recognize the possibility that such efforts may fail. After all, Biblical truth and the physical creation were authored by an infinite Creator. As finite beings who are a part of that creation, we should be surprised if we can completely understand what He has done.
    As for other Biblical books that don’t make a clear claim concerning authorship, we can speculate all we like. But does it really matter? If God thought that it was important for us to have that information, wouldn’t He have made sure that it was included in the sacred text?
    Just some thoughts that I believe might be worth considering.

    • bowdenblog said

      You make some excellent points. I am often struck by how easily scholarly opinion can be formed and is then given some kind of infallible status. Woe to those who question the scholarly opinion.
      I also agree with your point about systematizing the information into a neat and orderly package. While this can be helpful, I think it tends to force certain aspects into its mold while neglecting other details. There are many parts of Scripture that I must humbly admit that I do not understand, and there are many theological points that I tend to go back and forth on. So, when I meet someone who holds a different position than I do, I do not dogmatically try to force my own, but rather try to listen and learn and interact with them to better understand the various points.
      About your question whether biblical authorship matters: I think it does very much. So, for example, if one does a study on, say, Paul’s use of a lexeme or grammatical device, it matters very much if one only looks at the unquestioned Pauline Epistle, or if one includes the pastorals and Hebrews. I think such studies are often faulty by ruling out Pauline authorship from the onset.

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