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« Dawkins Is Silly | Main | Links Mentioned on the Show »

July 13, 2012


I trust that we won't see any follow-up post uncritically presenting the evidence that Paul did not write the Pastorals.

Good input, Malebranche.


I don't think it's controversial that Polycarp knew 1 and 2 Tim. So it's a little odd that this Ken Berding fellow is presenting the evidence as some kind of remarkable discovery on his part.

Indeed the evidence from Polycarp is important for dating the Pastorals to before his death, which apparently occurred about 155 CE. I would be wary of dating them much earlier than that though. And anyway, this isn't going to get us Pauline authorship. For that, we need to weigh the evidence pro and con.

On the pro side are the majority of ancient witnesses like Polycarp who either apparently or explicitly accepted the Pastorals as authentic. (On the other hand, ancient Christians were often mistaken regarding issues of authorship, and writings which disagreed with the orthodox position tended not to survive as often.) Also we have the internal evidence that the author claimed to be Paul, and made mundane observations which are uncharacteristic of forgery. (On the other hand, it's not as if forgers made zero effort to trick their readers.)

On the con side are other ancient witnesses like Marcion and Tatian who rejected their authenticity. (Though these are in a minority, and again, ancient Christians were often mistaken about authorship issues.) Moreover, forgery in general was rife in the ancient Christian world, more the rule rather than the exception. In modern times, scholars have found the vocabulary and style of the Pastorals to differ from the other Pauline epistles (though this is perhaps mitigated by Paul's use of amanuenses in his other works). Furthermore, Paul's language in the Pastorals seems to paint a picture of a more well-developed Church hierarchy than we find in the undispited epistles, thereby suggesting a later date. (On the other hand, it might just be a coincidence that Paul failed to allude to the Church hierarchy in his other epistles, and even if not, Paul may simply have written the Pastorals later in his life.)

For my own part, I find the majority ancient witnesses compelling, and I'm not terribly impressed by the linguistic arguments against authenticity. I'm not ruling out forgery by any means---it was very common in ancient Christian circles, after all---but given the weight of the evidence I think the Pastorals are probably authentic to Paul.

Biblical scholars tend to disagree with me. So what do I know?

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