In what order were the NT books written?

by GinnyTosken 18 Replies latest jw friends

  • JAVA


    I found the section above particularly interesting because a year or so ago Jason BeDuhn, then an assistant professor at Indiana University, was quoted in one of the WTS publications in praise of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation (KIT).

    Did you know BeDuhn? I called and e-mailed the Department of Religious Studies at IU. They said he just finished his doctoral work at IU, taught a few classes, but not employed beyond that. As you know, many graduate students (TAs) are used to teach lower level classes, and some graduates are used as adjuncts. They are not usually called assistant professors, and IU didn't list him as such when I checked a year or so ago.

    ...counting time at the Coffee Shop

  • GinnyTosken


    I apologize for my mistake. You are right--BeDuhn had just finished his doctoral work and was a teacher's assistant (TA), not an assistant professor.

    Like you, I e-mailed the Department of Religious Studies at IU. I e-mailed back and forth a bit with a professor there and later with BeDuhn himself. I didn't know of BeDuhn before then.


  • GinnyTosken

    “Aged wine is just fine.” (Luke 5:39)

    From my studies of the Bible as a JW, I knew that you didn’t sew an old patch on new cloth and that you didn’t pour new wine into old wineskins, but somehow I missed this little proverb. Here is a comparison of references to wineskins and patches, starting with what is probably the oldest reference to the latest.

    Thomas 47:3-5
    Nobody drinks aged wine and immediately wants to drink young wine. Young wine is not poured into old wineskins, or they might break, and aged wine is not poured into a new wineskin, or it might spoil. An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, since it would create a tear.

    Notice that the Thomas version is nonjudgmental; neither the aged nor the new is necessarily better; they are simply incompatible. It might take awhile for someone with a taste for aged wine to develop a taste for young wine. Interestingly, the patch is old, the garment is new.

    Mark 2:21-22
    Nobody sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, otherwise the new, unshrunk patch pulls away from the old and creates a worse tear. And nobody pours young wine into old wineskins, otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and destroy both the wine and the skins. Instead, young wine is for new wineskins.

    Now the garment is old and the patch is new. Emphasis is on the young wine; nothing is said about aged wine.

    Matthew 9:16-17
    Nobody puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, since the patch pulls away from the garment and creates a worse tear. Nor do they pour young wine into old wineskins, otherwise the wineskins burst, the wine gushes out, and the wineskins are destroyed. Instead, they put young wine in new wineskins and both are preserved.

    Matthew relies heavily on Mark, but dramatizes the fate of the wineskins, contrasting a violent destruction with preservation.

    Luke 5:36-39
    He then gave them a proverb: “Nobody tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old one, since the new one will tear and the piece from the new will not match the old. And nobody pours young wine into old wineskins, otherwise the young wine will burst the wineskins, it will gush out, and the wineskins will be destroyed. Instead, young wine must be put into new wineskins. Besides, nobody wants young wine after drinking aged wine. As they say, ‘Aged wine is just fine!’”

    Here are parts of the commentary following Luke 5:36-39 in The Five Gospels:

    Patches & wineskins. Aged wine. In the complex of sayings recorded by Mark and Thomas and copied and edited by Matthew and Luke, there are three sayings and a quoted proverb:

    1. “Nobody sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, otherwise the new, unshrunk patch pulls away from the old and creates a worse tear.” (Mark 2:21)
    2. “And nobody pours young wine into old wineskins, otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and destroy both the wine and the skins.” (Mark 2:22)
    3. “Nobody wants young wine after drinking aged wine.” (Luke 5:39a)
    4. “Aged wine is just fine.” (Luke 5:39b)

    Sayings 1 and 2 appear to have been linked at an early point in the tradition, since they are joined in both Mark and Thomas, although in a different order. Saying 3 is preserved only by Luke and Thomas (Luke 5:39a//Thom 47:3). Saying 4 is a secular proverb quoted as such by Luke alone (5:39b).

    Luke’s version of saying 1 about patches and garments has either become garbled or Luke is preserving a tradition different from his source, Mark. Some scholars hold the view that Luke’s trio of sayings is another, and probably later, version of three linked sayings preserved in Thom 47:3-5.

    There are two issues involved in the evaluation of these sayings:

    1. Are these sayings secular proverbs? If so, is it likely that Jesus quoted them?
    2. Have the sayings been modified by a Christian understanding of them?

    It is all but certain that all four sayings were once secular proverbs. Saying 4 is clearly a secular proverb, as Luke’s introduction indicates: “As they say, . . .” Many scholars are persuaded that the other three also belong to the common fund of proverbial lore.

    The original form of saying 1 must have contrasted an unshrunk patch with a shrunk garment; saying 2 must have contrasted young (or new) wine with old wineskins. The original point then had to do with the incompatibility of two things, the combination of which would produce disastrous results. Such results are specified in Thom 47:4-5: young wine will break old wineskins; aged wine will spoil in new wineskins; an old patch sewn onto an unshrunk garment will create a tear.

    The contrast in saying 2 between new and old was soon understood as the contrast between the Christian movement (the new) and Judean religion (the old). The new movement was taken to be superior to the old. The contrast between old and new asserted itself and eventually infiltrated into saying 1: the contrast between young and aged wine influenced the contrast between the unshrunk patch and the shrunk garment, so that the latter also became a contrast between the new and old. In neither of the proverbs in their original form was the new superior by definition to the old. Indeed, the saying in Luke 5:39a indicates that, according to one proverb, aged wine is superior to new or young wine. This is also the commonsense point of view. It appears that Luke 5:39 and Thom 47:3 have preserved the earlier, pre-Christian version of these sayings, when the old was still considered to be superior. Compare them with this proverb recorded in Sir 9:10:

    Do not desert old friends;
    New friends are not on a par with them.
    New friends are like new wine:
    Until it has matured, it does not bring pleasure.

    The other forms exhibit some evidences of modification in a Christian direction. The uncertainty about the meaning of saying 1, the patch and the garment, produced confusion in Luke 5:36: as it stands, Luke’s version does not make much sense.

    This comparison has left me pondering the relative merits of old and new. As a JW, I considered Christianity unquestionably superior to Judaism. I stereotyped Judaism as full of bureaucratic, legalistic, and hypocritical old fogeys. Only in later years have I begun to read some of the Jewish writings from that age. Much of it is beautiful, clever, and very wise.

    I also considered a new movement like the Jehovah’s Witnesses superior to the older religions in Christendom. Those religions, too, I stereotyped as bureaucratic and hypocritical. I have discovered since that there is a certain beauty in their tradition and history, even while it is mingled with much I find distasteful. The Japanese have a word for the type of beauty and patina only acquired with age--sabi. This is the sort of beauty that I appreciate in these old traditions.

    Perhaps someone who knows more about wines can comment about the differences between old wines and young ones. As I understand it, old wines aren’t necessarily better; some young wines are excellent. Every wine is different and may peak at a different time. Perhaps it is time to drop stereotypes based on age and just do some wine tasting. I can then let the character of each wine speak for itself.


  • uncle_onion

    Hi Ginny
    you posted

    "The scholarly consensus seems to be that Paul began writing first in the early 50s. 1 Thessalonians was written c. 50-51, Galatians from 52-54, and 1 Corinthians from 54-56. Acts was probably not written until 40-50 years later. The gospels probably came about 20 years after Paul began to write.

    Some of the books attributed to Paul may not have been written by him. Among those whose authorship are disputed are 2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Ephesians, Hebrews, Timothy, and Titus."

    What evidence is there for the above?



  • outnfree


    I am enjoying this thread and the excerpts VERY much. Thank you for sharing.

    The Jerusalem Bible Reader's Edition (which I like because it uses "Yahweh" rather than LORD in the OT and italicizes and footnotes OT scriptures found in the NT text) has these dates for the NT books:

    "About the year 50, the oral tradition of the gospel is put into written form: the Aramaic Matthew, and the complementary collection. The Letter of James (or about 58)

    "Winter of 50 to summer of 52, Paul in Corinth: the Letters to the Thessalonians'

    "After 56(?), Letter to the Philippians.

    "About Passover 57, 1 Corinthians. Then a quick visit [by Paul] to Corinth, 2 Co. 12:14. Return to Ephesus and Letter to the Galatians

    "End of 57 passes through Macedonia. 2 Corinthians

    "Winter 57-58, at Corinth. Ac. 20:3, cf. 1 Co. 16:6; Letter to the Romans

    "Summer 58, in Jerusalem. JAMESTHE BROTHER OF THE LORD
    heads the Judaeo-Christian community; his Letter to the Jews of the dispersion (or possibly before 49)

    "61-63, Paul in Rome under military guard. His apostolate, Letters to Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon (and to Philippians?)

    "About 64, 1 Peter and the Gospel of Mark

    "About 65, Paul at Ephesus, 1 Tm.1:3; in Crete, Tt 1:5; in Macedonia, whence he sends his 1st Letter to Timothy, 1 Tm. 1:3; and probably Titus

    "The Greek Gospel of Matthew; the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles: before 70? or about 80?

    "About 67, Letters to the Hebrews. Paul, a prisoner in Rome, writes 2 Timothy. A little later he is beheaded.

    "70-80 the Letter of Jude, then 2 Peter.

    "About 95, John exiled to Patmos. Final text of Revelation.

    "Gospel of John; then 1 John (3 John and 2 John are possibly earlier).

    I think it probably IS most enlightening to read the books in order, and I think I'll do just that. Then I'll see if a copy of The Five Gospels is at my library.

    I can't put my hands on my NIV Quest Study Bible at the moment ... I'll post later if a comparison between it and the JB above points up any major discrepancies.


    Thanks for the link!


  • outnfree


    40-50 AD....James
    50-51........1 Thessalonians
    51-52........2 Thessalonians
    54-55........1 Corinthians
    55.............2 Corinthians
    50-70........Mark (placed here because of the wide range)
    60-62........Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon
    60-64........1 Peter
    63-65........1 Timothy, Titus
    64-68........2 Peter
    66-67........2 Timothy
    85-95........1 John, 2 John, 3 John


  • GinnyTosken

    Uncle Onion,

    Please forgive my lag in replying. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but I work three 12-hour days, Friday through Sunday. My job is in a town about 90 miles from here, so I just stay over there for the weekend. Even if I had the energy to write after work, I generally don’t have access to a computer then.

    To gather my “scholarly consensus,” I compared five sources:

    The introduction to each New Testament book in The New Oxford Annotated Bible,
    The Oxford Companion to the Bible,
    The Five Gospels by Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover and The Jesus Seminar,
    Why Christianity Must Change or Die by John Shelby Spong,
    and searches on the internet.

    Sometimes these sources mention a date without elaborating on how they arrived at that date. This morning I have been nosing around online and in books to see what I could find. I quickly realized that I cannot present all of the arguments and evidence for and against various dates in one post. What I can do is share bits of the books I have on hand. If you want in-depth research regarding authors and dating, I’d suggest researching on your own, perhaps one NT book at a time. Although I’ve seen references to many books discussing the formation of the Biblical canon, I’ve yet to find one book that discusses the authors and dating of all the NT books.

    I could have condensed and paraphrased these explanations, especially in providing the reasons why the authorship of some books is questioned, but given our shared background with the Society, I thought it better to quote directly from the sources.

    Because there is so much information, I have separated it into two posts. The first contains the sources about dating; the second presents the sources for listing NT books which may not have been written by Paul.


    1 Thessalonians was written c. 50-51

    Although Paul had sent Timothy to Thessalonica from Athens (3.1-2), he was probably in Corinth when he wrote 1 Thessalonians, perhaps in the early 50s. This letter is probably the earliest of Paul’s extant correspondence and therefore the earliest of all New Testament writings.
    From The New Oxford Annotated Bible

    Paul and his companions spent a brief time here [Thessalonica] after leaving Philippi, but sufficiently long to gain a number of converts from Jewish and Greek attenders at the synagogue and so to establish a church. According to Luke [I assume by Luke, the writer means the person who wrote Acts], Jewish opposition forced the missionaries to leave precipitately. They moved into Achaia and worked briefly at Athens and then for a longer period at Corinth. It was during this period that Timothy paid the visit mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 3.1-6, and that Paul wrote the first letter, doubtless from Corinth.
    from The Oxford Companion to the Bible, material in brackets mine.

    Galatians from 52-54

    Written perhaps about A.D. 55 or slightly earlier during Paul’s third missionary journey, it gives many autobiographical details of the apostle’s earlier life and evangelistic activity.
    From The New Oxford Annotated Bible

    The date of the letter has been fixed at various points between 48 and 55 C.E. If it was sent to the churches of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, a date around 48 C.E. is possible, even probable; if it was sent to churches in ethnic Galatia, its date would be later. The affinity between Galatians and Romans has been thought to point to a date not long before the writing of Romans (early in 57 C.E.). The affinity should not be exaggerated, however; Paul’s assessment of the Law, for example, was considerably modified between Galatians and Romans.
    from The Oxford Companion to the Bible

    1 Corinthians from 54-56

    It is clear that he is writing this letter from Ephesus (16.8; compare Acts 19:1-40), just across the Aegean Sea from Corinth. The allusion to the “collection for the saints” (16.1; compare 2 Cor 9.1-2) shows that the letter must be dated earlier than Romans, but hardly more than two or three years earlier (see Introduction to Romans).

    [From Introduction to Romans] Written at the height of the apostle’s career (between A.D. 54 and 58), it conveys the full richness of his experience of Christ as well as the full maturity of his thought. . . .

    For several years—years of intense missionary activity in the northeastern Mediterranean area—Paul had been engaged in collecting contributions in his predominantly Gentile churches of Greece and Asia Minor for the needy Jerusalem church. It was his hope that these gifts would allay certain suspicions about him and his work and bring the two wings of the church, Jewish Christian and Gentile, closer together. The collection was now complete, and Paul, apparently in Corinth (15.25-27; compare 1 Cor 16:3-5 and Acts 20.2-3), was awaiting an opportunity to go to Jerusalem with it.
    From The New Oxford Annotated Bible

    Though edited as two separate letters, the canonical letters of 1 and 2 Corinthians most likely consist of several shorter letters or notes written by Paul to the church at Corinth in the early 50s C.E.
    from The Oxford Companion to the Bible

    Acts was probably not written until 40-50 years later. To be clear, I should have written, “Acts was probably not written until 40-50 years later than Paul began writing.”

    The date of the composition of Acts is disputed. Because there is no mention of the outcome of Paul’s arrest (the apostle is awaiting trial at the close of the book), some have thought that the book was published prior to Paul’s martyrdom under Nero, about A.D. 65-67. On the other hand, internal qualities that hint at the author’s considerable degree of historical maturity in assessing the significance of the first thirty years of the church’s history suggests a later date, perhaps in the 80s.
    From The New Oxford Annotated Bible

    The latest event to be recorded in Acts is Paul’s spending two years under house arrest in Rome (28.30). This period begins with his arrival in the city, probably in the early spring of 60 C.E. Most of the book deals with the twenty years preceding that date, and the book as a whole is true to its “dramatic” date, that is, it reflects the situation of the middle of the first century C.E., especially with regard to the administration of the Roman empire. But the date of writing is not the same as the “dramatic” date. Some scholars have argued that it was written very shortly after that event, possibly even before Paul’s appeal came up for hearing in the imperial court. Paul’s death is not recorded: would it not have been mentioned (it is asked) if in fact it had taken place?

    But the goal of Luke’s narrative is not the outcome of Paul’s appeal, whether favorable or otherwise, or the end of Paul’s life: it is Paul’s unmolested preaching of the gospel at the heart of the empire (Acts 28.30-31). In fact Paul’s death is alluded to, by implication, in his speech to the elders of the Ephesian church (Acts 20.24, 25), in a manner that suggests that Luke knew of it. And in general Luke appears to record the apostolic history from a perspective of one or two decades after the events. By the time he wrote, Paul, Peter, and James had all died; and the controversies in which they were involved, while important enough at the time (as Paul’s letters bear witness), had lost much of their relevance for Luke’s purpose, so he ignored them.

    The date of Acts cannot be considered in isolation from that of the gospel of Luke. A date later rather than earlier than 70 C.E. is probable for the gospel. If we date the composition of the twofold work toward the end of Vespasian’s rule (69-79 C.E.), most of evidence will be satisfied.
    from The Oxford Companion to the Bible

    The gospels probably came about 20 years after Paul began to write.


    The date of writing, though uncertain, was probably prior to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The persecution of Christians by Nero, following the disastrous fire that destroyed half the city of Rome during the summer of A.D. 64 may account for the addition of the phrase “with persecutions” in 10.30 (a phrase not found in the Matthean and Lucan parallels.)
    From The New Oxford Annotated Bible

    This gospel is usually dated between 65 and 75 C.E. The first of these dates is set by Irenaeus (late second century C.E.), who said that Mark wrote after Peter’s death. If we accept Marcan priority, then we must allow time between the composition of Mark and that of Matthew and Luke, which suggests a date before about 75 C.E. The only clue in the gospel itself is chap. 13, which predicts the destruction of the Temple; many commentators contrast the vague references to the fate of Jerusalem in Mark 13 with the clear reference to the siege of the city in Luke 21:20 and suggest that this indicates that Mark was written before 70 C.E. But Mark 13 is concerned to separate the disasters that are going to overwhelm Judea from the supernatural chaos at the end, and it is arguable that it was written in the period following the former to explain why the end was “still to come” (13.7). The gospel of Mark was probably written, therefore, either immediately before or immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.
    from The Oxford Companion to the Bible

    Some ten to fifteen years after Paul had written his epistle to the Romans [Spong dates Romans at around 58 C.E.], the Gospel of Mark came into existence. This represented the first time in Christian history that the biographical details of Jesus’ life had been chronicled in a written form.
    From Why Christianity Must Change or Die by John Shelby Spong

    60-80 C.E. Gospel of Mark: the first narrative gospel (first edition, about 70 C.E.)
    80-100 C.E. Gospel of Mark: canonical edition (about 100 C.E.)
    from Figure 9, “Stages in the Development of Early Christian Tradition,” in The Five Gospels


    This Gospel is anonymous. The unknown Christian teacher who prepared it during the last third of the first century may have used as one of his sources a collection of Jesus’ sayings that the apostle Matthew, according to second-century writers, is said to have drawn up.
    From The New Oxford Annotated Bible

    It is commonly held that Matthew was written about 85 or 90 CE by an unknown Christian who was at home in a church located in Antioch of Syria. A date toward the end of the first century seems probable because the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in 70 C.E., appears to be an event that was rapidly receding into the past (22.7).
    from The Oxford Companion to the Bible

    By the time Matthew wrote, some ten to twenty years after Mark, and perhaps fifty to fifty-five years after the time of Jesus, the story of Jesus’ divine origins had moved once again.
    From Why Christianity Must Change or Die by John Shelby Spong

    80-100 C.E. Gospel of Matthew, incorporating Mark and Q (about 85 C.E.)
    from Figure 9, “Stages in the Development of Early Christian Tradition,” in The Five Gospels


    The Gospel appears to have been written, perhaps at Antioch, during the last third of the first century, though the precise date is unknown.
    From The New Oxford Annotated Bible

    If the Marcan gospel is rightly included among the sources used by Luke in composing his gospel, then the latter is to be dated after Mark. The Marcan gospel is commonly dated ca. 65-70 C.E. How much later is the Lucan gospel? One cannot say for certain. Luke 1.1 refers to “many” others who had previously tried to write the Jesus story; even if Mark is included among the “many,” more time must be allowed for the others to whom Luke alludes. Again, since the Lucan Jesus refers to Jerusalem as an “abandoned” house (13.35), this and other references to Jerusalem (21.20, “surrounded by camps”; 19:43-44, with earthworks erected against it) would suggest a date for Luke after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. Some have sought to interpret these references as merely literary imitations of biblical descriptions of the fall of Jerusalem under Nebuchadrezzar, hence lacking in historical references to the Roman destruction. But this interpretation is not without its problems. In any case, it is widely held that the Lucan gospel was composed ca. 80-85 C.E., even though one cannot maintain this dating with certainty.
    from The Oxford Companion to the Bible

    Luke, writing five to ten years after Matthew, changed Matthew’s details around a bit and made his images more concrete and historical, but essentially he left the story line intact.
    From Why Christianity Must Change or Die by John Shelby Spong

    80-100 C.E. Gospel of Luke, incorporating Mark and Q (about 90 C.E.)
    from Figure 9, “Stages in the Development of Early Christian Tradition,” in The Five Gospels

    [Edited to fix quote tags.]

  • GinnyTosken

    Disputed author: 2 Thessalonians

    First Thessalonians assumes that Christ’s coming again is near (1 Thess 4.13-18), but also emphasizes that the appearance of Christ will be a surprise; we cannot know the time (1 Thess 5:1-11). The thrust of 2 Thessalonians is in the opposite direction—if we cannot know the exact time, nonetheless we can know that the day of the Lord will not come at once; a dire struggle with evil must take place first, and even this is to be delayed for a time. . . . The message of 2 Thessalonians prepares the church for a period of continued life in this world. . . .

    Most scholars have explained the contrast between the two Thessalonian letters by placing the second letter shortly after the first, perhaps even before Paul had heard how the church responded to his first letter. When he learned how disruptive the expectation of the imminent end was, he wrote, using the theme of apocalyptic signs (see 2.3-4n.), to explain that the end was not to come for a time, and to reinforce his teaching about the proper conduct of life.

    Other scholars find it difficult to think that Paul would shift the emphasis of his apocalyptic teaching so abruptly, and such scholars also stress stylistic features of the letter that point to a different author: the letter contains two thanksgivings (1.3-4; 2.13-15); only 1 Thessalonians among Paul’s letters has this feature, and some scholars hold that the second one is a later addition, . . . and the second letter draws from the first in a way that seems more likely to come from a later writer than from Paul himself. This interpretation sees the letter as pseudonymous, written in Paul’s name to clarify a dispute about eschatology among the followers of Paul at a somewhat later date.
    From The New Oxford Annotated Bible

    These comments on 2 Thessalonians have been made in terms of the ostensible historical context of the document as a genuine letter from Paul to the church in Thessalonica. In this view, we must assume that in the period after the writing of 1 Thessalonians a kind of apocalyptic fervor, whose origins can be detected in the earlier letter, developed in the church. Paul does not deal with it in terms of castigating a group of opponents, as in other letters; rather, he writes to believers who may have been misled by a misinterpretation of his teaching.

    Such a situation appears to be quite plausible. Yet it does not appear so to some commentators, for whom there is sharp contrast between the nearness of the parousia in 1 Thessalonians and its delay in 2 Thessalonians. This alerts them to other odd features in the latter, such as the lack of personal, concrete allusions, the peculiar repetition of phraseology from 1 Thessalonians, and some differences in language and thought. In the judgment of numerous scholars these differences are incompatible with the traditional understanding of the letter as authentically Pauline . . . . So it is argued that 2 Thessalonians is a later composition by another writer who wished to use Paul’s name to correct his teaching or false inferences from it, perhaps even to claim that his letter alone was authentic (cf. 3.17) and that 1 Thessalonians was to be rejected.
    from The Oxford Companion to the Bible

    Disputed author: Colossians

    The language of Colossians is similar to that of letters that are certainly Paul’s, but many terms that are central to Paul elsewhere do not appear, and Paul’s usual argumentative presentation of his thought is replaced by a more liturgical, celebrative style. The greatest contrast with letters that are surely Paul’s is the emphasis on the transformation of the present by faith, instead of the usual Pauline tension between the partly-fulfilled present and the future that is hoped for. Scholars are divided about how to interpret these differences. Some hold that they are strong enough to conclude that Colossians was not written by Paul, as it claims, but by a disciple of Paul shortly after his time, to give Paul’s authority to the continuing tradition of his teaching. Others think that the letter was written by Paul, while in prison (4.4, 18) presumably at Rome; the particular situation and, perhaps, changes in Paul’s thinking, account for the contrasts.
    From The New Oxford Annotated Bible

    The Pauline authorship of Colossians has often been challenged over the last hundred and fifty years. The grounds for this questioning concern the language and style of the letter; more recently it has been argued that there are major differences between Colossians and the theology of the main Pauline letters, particularly in relation to the person and cosmic work of Christ, the church as the body of Christ, and early Christian tradition.
    from The Oxford Companion to the Bible

    Disputed author: Ephesians

    There are, however, important contrasts between Ephesians and the letters that we can confidently ascribe to Paul. Many of the words in Ephesians do not appear elsewhere in the apostle’s correspondence, and some important terms have a different meaning here from their meaning in letters that are surely Paul’s. The style, also, with its loose collection of phrases and clauses in long sentences . . . is not characteristic of Paul’s letters.
    From The New Oxford Annotated Bible

    In 1792 the English divine Edward Evanson first questioned Pauline authorship. During the nineteenth century, German scholars gathered arguments in favor of pseudonymous origin, and today most researchers treat the letter as non-Pauline, dating it between 70 and 100 C.E., mainly in the 90s. . . .

    Ephesians has to a large extent a liturgical and/or hymnic style; it has a tendency to be heavy, baroque, if not bombastic (e.g., 1.18-19, 21; 3.5; 4.15-16, 30) Extremely long sentences frequently contain vocabulary not found in unquestioned Pauline letters; well-known words occur with a new meaning; favorite Pauline terms and phrases are missing. . . .

    Historical reasons are spearheaded by the observation that a mutual acquaintance between Paul and the readers is denied in 1.15; 3.23; 4.21. But Acts 18.17-20.1, 17 clearly speaks of short and lengthy periods of Pauline activity in Ephesus. The alternatives seems inescapable: either this is a genuine Pauline letter that was addressed not to Ephesus but to an unknown city that Paul never visited, or Ephesus is the correct address, as it were, but Paul is not the author.
    from The Oxford Companion to the Bible

    Disputed author: Hebrews

    By mid-second century Alexandrian exegetes had placed Hebrews among the letters of Paul, though they recognized that it was so different in language and style from the Pauline correspondence that some special account of its authorship was required. Thus Clement thought that Luke had translated a Pauline letter in Hebrew (though the presence of plays on words in Greek shows that it is not a translation), and Origen held that it was written by an unknown disciple of Paul’s. In any case, 2.3-4 suggests that the author comes from a generation after that of the apostles.
    From The New Oxford Annotated Bible

    The identity of the author of Hebrews is not known. Allusions in Clement of Rome’s letter to the Corinthians attest to the authoritative status of Hebrews before the end of the first century. Presumably Clement knew who the author was. Later on, however, questions regarding the authorship of the letter contributed to the general neglect it suffered in western or Latin Christianity. Jerome’s acceptance of the work as coming from the pen of Paul, and in particular the title “The Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews” in the Vulgate, was mainly responsible for the belief, unquestioned for more than a thousand years, it its Pauline authorship. But there are adequate reasons for rejecting Paul as its author. First, the writer’s style is different from Paul’s; second, the issue seems to be settled by his assertion that he (together, apparently, with his readers) received the gospel from those who heard the Lord (2.3).

    Of many conjectures that have been offered, there are but two that merit serious consideration. The author was clearly a person in a position of leadership in the apostolic church, intellectually distinguished, theologically mature, and with a profound knowledge of the Bible; two candidates mentioned in the New Testament who meet these criteria are Barnabas and Apollos, both of whom were Jewish Christians.
    from The Oxford Companion to the Bible

    Disputed author: Timothy and Titus

    The two letters to Timothy and the one to Titus, commonly called the Pastorals, are similar in character and in the problems they raise concerning authorship. It is difficult to ascribe them in their present form to the apostle Paul. The vocabulary and style of these letters differ widely from the acknowledged letters of Paul; some of his leading theological themes are entirely absent (e.g. the union of the believer with Christ, the power and witness of the Spirit, freedom from the law), and some of the expressions bear a different meaning from that in his customary usage (e.g. “the faith” as a synonym for the Christian religion rather than the believer’s relationship to Christ).

    A few scholars, attempting to maintain Pauline authorship, account for the differences by assuming changes in his environment as well as modifications of his vocabulary, style, and thought. But in view of the widespread custom in antiquity of pseudonymous authorship (that is, the use of a respected name to give authority to a writing actually written by someone else), it is easier to assume that a loyal disciple of Paul composed these letters. The purpose was to present Paul’s teaching as it was then understood in the church, using it as a bulwark against wrong teaching and practice. Some scholars believe that fragments of letters written by Paul are incorporated into these three letters, while others hold that the personal greetings are simply a framework that the author used to give Paul’s authority to the teachings of the letters.
    From The New Oxford Annotated Bible

    The authorship of these letters, called pastoral because they deal largely with pastoral or practical matters and grouped together because they address the same issues in a uniform style, is contested. While the Pastoral Letters have a noticeable Pauline character, there are five major areas in which they differ from the indisputedly genuine Pauline letters. First, the vocabulary (e.g., “the saying is sure” [1 Tim. 1.15; 3.1; 4.9; 2 Tim. 2.11; Titus 3.8]) and style vary greatly from those of the letters to the Romans and Corinthians and are closer to those of the apostolic fathers such as Polycarp. Second, the theological concepts (e.g., “the faith”) and the stress on public respectability differ markedly from emphases in the undisputed Pauline letters. Third, church order—bishops, elders, widows, deacons—does not correspond to that found in the genuine Pauline letters but is more like that in evidence toward the end of the first century C.E. Fourth, the author relies much more heavily on traditions, both creedal and hortatory, that the Paul of the authentic letters; unlike Paul in Galatians, for example, he rarely argues theologically with opponents but merely upbraids them. Finally, the Pastoral Letters do not fit into the career of Paul as detailed in Acts and Romans. The chronology of the Pastoral Letters presupposes that Paul was freed from his imprisonment in Rome, changed his plans to go to Spain, journeyed back to the East on another missionary enterprise, was imprisoned a second time, and was then martyred.
    from The Oxford Companion to the Bible
  • uncle_onion

    Thanks Ginny. I have printed it off and will study it over the next few days and come back to you.


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