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Issues of Canonicity II:

Aramaic, Enoch, KJV, and the Pastorals

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Question #1:   I read your response regarding the chronological order of the bible and found it very helpful, thank you. I am in search of a bible that not only puts the books of the bible in chronological order, but the individual books themselves. I read an interesting article about the temple in Ezekiel and the author put the book in chronological order; it helped put a clearer picture on some questions I had.  Do you know if there is a bible that is offered in that format?  Thank you. God Bless.

Response #1:   Good to make your acquaintance, and glad to be of assistance. I don't know of any Bible which does this and there a couple of obvious reasons why that is no doubt the case: 1) the number of people who would be interested in such an offering is likely to be much smaller than the number of people who would be very upset by any changes in the tradition with which they are familiar (and book publishing, even Christian book publishing, is mostly a mass-market driven industry); 2) there is a good deal of doubt about the specifics of the chronology when it comes to about a quarter of the books of the Bible; that's enough virtually to guarantee that no two such editors would use precisely the same order. You have my comments from the previous response you cite but there are other potential problems. For one thing, the Jewish order of OT books in the Hebrew is different from that with which most English Bible readers are familiar (for example, Daniel does not occur with the prophets in the Hebrew order). And the scholarship on this issue is far from perfect in my view. For example, the book of James is almost universally considered to be earlier than it actually is (although editors ought to realize from James' citing of Galatians at James 4:5 that for this reason alone James has to post-date Galatians), which false presupposition means that James is likely to end up in the wrong place even in a hypothetical edition which organizes the books on chronological lines.

When it comes to reorganizing individual books like Ezekiel or Isaiah which contain so much prophetic information, attempting an overall chronology would be virtually impossible if for no other reason than the Old Testament prophets' frequent use of "the Day of the Lord" paradigm (see the link: in CT 1, section IV.1.b). This device has the effect of moving prophecy from contemporary to imminent to eschatological references and back again in very quick succession, sometimes several times within the same chapter. Even in areas where all exegetes would agree with the interpretation (and these are few, especially given that many passages have double application), a strictly chronological dissection of such books would create a jumble difficult to comprehend. The books were written as they are written and written in that way for a reason. That is to say, how the material is arranged is important for our reception and understanding of it (although of course it is indeed the role of proper exegesis to explain and expound all such matters). How the books are arranged is another matter, and a Bible which did in fact do a creditable job of arranging them chronologically would to my mind be a benefit, especially if it spent a good deal of time in the introductory matter of each book explaining the placement and the historical background. However, for the reasons given above, I don't expect to see such a thing any time soon.

I am, however, happy to answer your questions along these lines as best as I can.  There are now actually two postings on this subject:

Chronological order of the books of the Bible.

Chronological Order of the Books of the Bible II.

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

Question #2:  

I was glancing over the definition and overview of the tribulation and noticed what seem to be several errors. I don’t know which counterfeit bible version you quote from but my King James reads differently. Revelation 10:10 filled [past capacity]. King James reads bitter pikraino [to embitter:-be (make) bitter]. Also John 16:21 tribulation [thlipsis]. King James reads sorrows [lupe] two different meanings. The King James HOLY BIBLE is the 100% infallible word of GOD. All other English versions are counterfeits that satan uses to deceive. One day we will stand before GOD, and I believe we will be held accountable for how we treated His precious WORD.

Response #2: 

Dear Friend,

The Bible is indeed the 100% infallible Word of God . . . in the correct text of the original language. The KJV is a translation of the Bible, not the Bible itself. The teams of scholars who translated the King James version were no more divinely inspired than any other translators before or since. They did a creditable job; they were not perfect. They did not have access to the best manuscripts of the New Testament (which only came to light in the 19th century), and they made their share of interpretive mistakes as well. It is very easy to take the position that the KJV is perfect. However, that is certainly not the case, and even the men who translated were not of that opinion.

As a Bible teacher, I answer to a higher authority than the KJV, a translation done by fallible human beings who were not in possession of all the best evidence for the original text of the actual Word of God. If I were to stick with the KJV only, I would indeed be accountable for failing to bring out the truth in places where the KJV does not do so.

The differences in translation you notice at Ichthys, where these are not attributed to a particular version, are my own, and I take full responsibility for them. If you have any questions about how I arrived at any of them (although these are often explained in the studies themselves), please do feel free to ask. However, a position that any variance from the KJV is ipso facto wrong does not leave much room for discussion.

For more information on the King James and related issues, please see the following links:

Who wrote the King James version?

Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations I

Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations II

Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations III

King James only?

The Greek Text of the New Testament and some Issues of Textual Criticism.

Read your Bible

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #3:  

Hi Doc!

I was wondering why Jude quoted from the book of Enoch (Jude 14,15) if some bible scholars believe it's pseudepigraphic? That seems odd that Jude's writings that was inspired by the Holy Ghost would quote a book that didn't make it to biblical canon. Thanks in advance!

Response #3: 

You are absolutely correct. In fact, Jude wasn't quoting the so-called "book of Enoch" at all! That false work was penned long after Jude was dead. The author who pretends to be Enoch took the verse from Jude and built a phony work around it, using the verse from the Bible as his foundation so that it might seem to the gullible that the book was legitimate. Jude was a prophet and had the quote from God the Holy Spirit, but the rest of the "book of Enoch" is a sham. I have written up the details to this in the following link:

Issues of Canonicity: Apocrypha, Enoch, and Inspiration.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

Good Morning Sir / Mam,

I was in your site and it is so beautiful with a lot of Spiritual information. I would like to know more about Enoch, So hereby humbly requesting to help me to find his books in which site or send me some links.

I really appreciate your co-operation.

With thanks and regards,

Response #4: 

Good to make your acquaintance. There are two postings about Enoch and the so-called "book of Enoch" available at Ichthys; please see the links:

Enoch's Walk with God

Issues of Canonicity: Apocrypha, Enoch, and Inspiration.

On the issue of Enoch's translation/transmutation to heaven without experiencing physical death, please see the link: Transmutation, Resuscitation, and Resurrection.

Thank you for your encouraging words!

In Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bob Luginbill

Question #5:  

This link about trying to reconstruct the original Aramaic of the New Testament seems plausible on it’s face. I’d be interested in your feedback on it.


Endeavor to persevere,

Response #5: 

Dear Friend,

After several attempts, I was unable to access this file (it seems to have a bug, maybe a virus). However, I am familiar with this group and their line of argument, so I can make a few general statements which may be helpful:

1) The New Testament was written in Greek. It was not written in Aramaic. The Syriac version is 5th century at the earliest, and the flimsy claim that Matthew wrote his gospel originally in Aramaic is based on a mere rumor reported (and not endorsed) by Eusebius. All the evidence is to the contrary. We have massive amounts of manuscript, papyri, and other textual evidence for the originality of the Greek. There is not a shred of textual evidence for an Aramaic text ever existing. Jesus and the disciples spoke Greek as well as Hebrew and Aramaic, not an unusual situation for those living at a crossroads of civilization where all these languages were useful or necessary (compare the Swiss who all speak at least German, French and Italian). Greek was the common lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean world outside of Palestine and the logical choice for works meant for a wide audience. Whether one looks at the internal evidence of scripture (e.g., Paul and company do not need translators in Athens et al.), the exhaustive witness of the manuscripts compared to the non-existent evidence for Aramaic, or the logical reason for Greek to have been preferred (Aramaic would have shut out 99% of the target audience, even among Jews not living in Palestine), all things point to Greek, not Aramaic.

2) The idea, then, that "re"-producing a New Testament in Aramaic would be helpful on any level is absurd. Since the apostles spoke and wrote to their mixed audiences in Greek, to their converts in Jerusalem and its environs in Hebrew, and would only have used Aramaic in private conversation or to purely Galilean audiences (of which none are reported in Acts), there was doubtless never a case of them putting their words down in Aramaic. So there is nothing to "re"-produce. The only way such a version could be of use would be if there had been an original Aramaic exemplar, which there most certainly was not. Had there been, we would certainly have at least some fragment of it, given that the New Testament is the best attested document from the ancient world by far, with literally thousands of manuscripts and tens of thousands of fragments still in existence.

3) Even if there had been an Aramaic original, how could one possibly come up with anything like that original by working backward from another version in a different language? If all we had of Shakespeare was a modern Spanish version, how likely is it that a person could translate back into English and come anywhere close to what the bard actually penned? No doubt a Spanish translation would exist in its own contemporary idiom, and the possibility that any of the Elizabethan diction could be reproduced via that method is laughable. In fact, the situation we are considering is even worse, because a) Shakespeare is in meter which would at least give us a framework with which to proceed; b) we have plenty of other examples of Elizabethan English so that at least we would have some idea of the language as it was spoken (whereas there is almost no contemporary Aramaic in existence – outside of the snippets in the NT!); c) in that hypothetical case we would be dealing with only one filter; but these folks seem to be dealing primarily with English versions of the Bible, not the original Greek! At the very least, from what I can see of their credentials, they do not inspire confidence in their linguistic abilities.

4) The most outrageous part of this project is the implicit claim that the fanciful "re"-production is superior to the Greek original we actually possess! Even if the Greek were a translation, at least it would be a contemporary one, and that would give it an incontestable advantage over anything done today without access to the apostles and the idiom of the day. These people don't know what Aramaic was like in Palestine of the 1st century. They are basing their ideas on the Talmud and other Jewish writings, all of which are many centuries later than the Greek NT. But while suggesting that a 21st century "imagined" reproduction is superior to a contemporary document (which just happens actually to be the original, by the way) is bad enough; having the arrogance to claim that a modern fictitious product is somehow also authoritative is off-the-charts chutzpah. And that is just what this group does (that is what the link you supplied is pointing to, and I have had these discussions before). We might applaud the industry of someone who wants to render the New Testament into ancient Hittite or some other dead language, but we would certainly rebel if they then wanted to tell us that by then re-translating from their Hittite version into English they were "unlocking the mysteries" of the NT, and that their doubly derivative production was somehow better than what they had started with! All translations are imperfect. A translation of a translation done two millennia later via questionable methodology and by questionable "scholars" will most certainly not be better than the Greek NT we currently possess (this is the sort of thinking that has people searching for "Bigfoot" and pouring over Nostradamus).

Early in the 20th century Franz Delitzsch translated the New Testament into Hebrew – not as a way to inform NT scholarship but as an evangelical tool for his Jewish brethren. It does inform one's thinking about the Greek to some degree because it brings to the fore comparable idioms and vocabulary that may have been in the background for the choices some of the NT authors made. However, since they were actually thinking in Greek when they wrote, that doesn't take us as far as actually considering first the Greek they really wrote, and I know of few instances where even this insightful rendering – provided by a true scholar – has much bearing on how we understand the Greek text. There has long been in academia a subset of scholarship working on the same principle of an Aramaic exemplar (one thinks of the work of Matthew Black, for example), but the claims these scholars make are infinitesimally less profound than those of the group we are considering – and even then they are highly over-rated.

I am always amazed at lengths people will go to get attention and build a cult following – but I suppose I shouldn't be. That is really what is at the base of this exercise. If I am the only one who knows what is "really in the Bible", and if only I can be trusted to glean from my own translation what is "really there", being the only one who is really even capable of using my "re"-translation to good effect, then I am pope, and the rest of you just need to listen. As is clear from their website, this group has a whole host of "modifications" they wish to impose upon commonly understood biblical principles. That is their true agenda, and that is why they need to turn the Bible into a sort of second "Book of Mormon" in order defuse obvious scriptural objections to their legalistic teachings. I have recently written quite a bit about that too. Here are a few links you might find helpful.

The Dangers of Messianic Legalism.

The Dangers of Messianic Legalism II

The Dangers of Messianic Legalism III

What language did Jesus speak?

Aramaic Original?

The Peshitta version

Why was the New Testament written in Greek?

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #6:  

Dear Dr. Luginbill--Hope you had a nice Christmas and weren't snowed in too much!

Would you please take a look at what someone on CARM wrote about 1 Timothy:

"No one is saying it does not belong in scripture. The ancients knew it was probably written by a student of Paul, but not by Paul. This has been known for a long time and is nothing new. They knew that many letters were not written by the author claimed. Eusebius wrote about this circumstance in his History of the Church in the fourth century, before the canon was formally authorized. In fact of all the letters in the New Testament scholars are sure only of Pauls seven letters that they were written by the claimed author. Pseudo-names were common. It was considered honoring the person whose name was used. As I explained, those who set the canon, were very aware of the practice."

Now, I was wondering if you could address what this guy wrote about the "student" part. That is a new one on ME. I have commentaries on 1 Timothy, that mention that in the 19th century, the idea came about that it and I think, along with 2 Tim. and Titus, were later "forgeries."

Also, is what he wrote about Eusebius correct? We have his book on Church history, though I haven't read it all, but I thought he mentioned later, 2nd and 3rd century works as having been given the names of known NT bible people, to lend authority and credence to the works; hence the "Protoevangelion of James", "Gospel of Thomas," "Gospel of Peter," etc.

Also, it seems to me, that if a student of Paul's wrote 1 Tim, and attached Paul's name to it, it would be dishonest--unless Paul dictated the letter to a student, in which case, there would be no problem. I am not sure if that is what my correspondent means, but I don't think so. I know that Paul dictated a few of his letters, but the writers weren't exactly students, were they? But fellow believers in the faith.

Anyway, please let me know what you think. Oh, and who is "Zahn"? Have you ever heard of him? A Dr. L.C.H. Lenski, a now deceased Lutheran scholar, wrote commentaries on the entire NT. He addressed this forgery idea, saying this:

"The fact that these claims are indefensible has been proved at length so often that we need not again go over this ground. Those interested may consult Zahn, "Introduction II, 85," etc. the extensive chapter of the genuineness, in fact, the whole of II, 1-133. Add the fact that Timothy and also Titus lived for many years after Paul wrote these letters to them and thus for years attested their genuineness with the result that they were placed into the canon. Here is what Harpers Bible Dictionary says about the Pastoral Letters:

Harpers Bible Dictionary 1&2 Timothy, Titus Origin and Authorship:

"The writers concern for the various ministries of the church seems to reflect a need to clarify their respective functions, a situation similar to that disclosed in early second-century texts, such as the Didache and the letters of Ignatius. These and other considerations support the widely held opinion that the pastoral letters belong to the postapostolic age and are addressed to the concerns of second-generation Christianity."

I've never heard of this dictionary. But I find this reasoning ludicrous. So what if the Didache and Ignatius seem to resemble the Pastoral letters of Paul? Maybe the Didache and Iggy got the idea FIRST from the Paul and his pastoral letters!

Also, there seems to be some opinion out there that the church wasn't that well organized in the first century, so Paul couldn't possibly have written the pastoral letters, as the church supposedly wasn't organized enough back then for someone to give all the instructions to them, the way Paul did in those letters. But the early church was organized enough to have the council of Jerusalem and for its decision to be binding. And Paul mentions all kinds of church workers in 1 Cor. 12:27-30--including "administrations."

Here my correspondent posted this; I have never heard of this guy, but maybe you have:

"Here is Gary Wills on the issue for your consideration. You might want to ask your professor what he thinks about this.

Garry Wills, Professor of History Emeritus, Northwestern U., Pulitzer Prize Winner wrote the following in his Best Seller WHAT Paul MEANT page 15

The Pauline Writings: Thirteen letters are attributed to Paul in the New Testament, and for centuries they were all accepted as his. But modern scholarship has reached a consensus that some were definitely not written by him and others are of dubious authenticity. Only seven are now accepted as certainly by him. The seven in their probable order of composition are:

1 Thess Letter to the Thessalonians

Gal Letter to the Galatians

Phil Letter to the Philippians

1 Cor First Letter to the Corinthians

2 Cor Second Letter to the Corinthians

Rom Letter to the Romans

Two letters seem to be written by followers of Paul who had a profound understanding of what could be made of his teaching Col Letter to the Collossians Eph Letter to the Ephesians. One letter seems a clumsy restatement of a genuine one: 2 Thessalonians.

Three later letters are written in circumstances and from standpoints clearly not Paul's.


1 Tim First Letter to Timothy

2 Tim Second Letter to Timothy

For understanding what Paul meant, one must rely on the letters accepted by almost all scholors as authentic. This book will use only those seven letters."

I would like to know why the circumstances in which Paul wrote his letters had to be the same in each letter. I would like to know why his standpoints had to be the same, in each letter. Some of his letters were written to correct errors. Others were written to give encouragement. These pastoral letters were written to give instructions and encouragement to two leaders in the church--Timothy and Titus. Why on earth should that mean that Paul couldn't have written them?

And what is so "clumsy" about 2nd Thessalonians?

If any letter should NOT have been written by Paul, I should think it would be Philemon, since the circumstances and standpoint of that letter were entirely different from all the others!!! Yet, this guy and the dictionary seem to think it is authentically Paul's.

Anyway, have you heard of either of these things? I know what you think of what they say, and I think they are absurd.

Thanks; take care and God bless you.

Response #6: 

I quite agree with your analysis. There are all manner of secondary sources out there in pagan academia which are only too happy to develop secular theories of the origin of the Bible, whatever book we may be discussing. A large number of "scholars" have made their careers on this sort of hogwash with the result that the discipline of "source criticism" has developed a life of its own (along with "form criticism", "redaction criticism", et al.). Trust me when I say that politics has a lot more to do with what gets published, read and touted in academia than "truth" does (I know full well of what I speak from much personal experience). That is especially the case in areas of study where everything is hypothetical and there is no possible empirical control (amazingly, it is even rife in areas where there are means of testing and verifying data; cf. Watson and Crick getting all the credit for DNA when Rosalind Franklin actually did the important theorizing and collected the data – ever hear of her?).

Put simply, the devices modern criticism has used to determine these matters (actually, have used to prop up unsound theories that preceded the use of the techniques) are entirely speculative and wholly unconvincing. I say that not only as a Bible-believing Christian but also as a hard-nosed Classicist. The "evidence" from literary comparison used to make these determinations would never pass muster in the cold, analytical world of the analysis of Classical texts, a discipline which is much older, better pedigreed, and admits of far less nonsense (at least traditionally). The only reason that these "scholars" can get away with claims such as are made in the extract you supply from Harper's Bible Dictionary is the overwhelming prejudice against the supernatural content in scripture that holds sway in the academy. Were the pastoral epistles not Christian, then of course the claimed authorship which was never seriously challenged until relatively recent times would be accepted as the status quo unless and until some real evidence could be brought to bear that suggested otherwise.

The above is a somewhat long-winded way of saying that we may dismiss the dictionary's claim that the epistles are derivative simply because of asserted similarities. Oranges and grapefruit are "somewhat similar"; that does not mean one came from the other or that one predates the other. "Similarities" is also something which exists in the perception of the beholder. Having read the Didache and the letters of Ignatius, it seems to me that the differences are much more important. Didache is legalistic, doctrinally confused, and very clearly of a much inferior quality to anything in the New Testament. And why not? It is not inspired. Ignatius letters are prolix, anemic and somewhat confused (in my view). Reading either one, no true Christian would be likely to mistake them for the Bible. And both of these sources do get into proscriptive and prescriptive advice for church organization which is far beyond anything Paul even suggests. What has always struck me about the pastoral epistles, the general epistles, the Petrine epistles and the epistles of John is just how much latitude the apostles gave to the new churches. One might imagine before reading them for the first time that therein would be found the details of "how to organize a church and the Church". In fact, there is so little about practical polity beyond some very basic essentials that we are all still able to argue might and main today that "our denomination's system of polity is truly biblical and yours isn't". Even setting aside what I feel to be the obvious truth that polity is insignificant compared to the true purpose of assembly (teaching the truth), the conclusion that any fair-minded secular scholar would draw from this is that the Apostolic Fathers must indeed all be later than the canonical epistles since the issues of polity are much more a matter of concern in the former than in the latter.

As to Mr. Garry Wills' opinions, well, it is a free country. But, again, Classical scholarship would take a document that not only purports to be written by X, but is internally consistent with being written by X and traditionally considered to genuinely be really by X and accept that it was written by X – unless real evidence is brought to bear to refute the claim. Here we need to distinguish between an argument and a good argument; between real evidence and manufactured evidence. Any "consensus of modern scholarship" is meaningless without the basis for that consensus being given. This is particularly true when we are talking about the Bible for the reasons mentioned above. As Christians, we know that the evil one will do anything in his power to chip away at our faith in scripture – because it is our only source of the truth (beyond general, natural revelation). In practical terms, scholars who attack Christianity and the Bible tend to be honored in academia because these are "favorite targets" of those who have devoted their lives to the mind-set that the supernatural does not exist. That is to say, there is a strong academic prejudice against even considering that the Bible might be in any way "true", and that is so to such a very great degree that the Bible is not even afforded the courtesy of the traditional canons of literary interpretation that a secular work of antiquity would automatically enjoy. Simply put, because of the overwhelming prejudice in academia (including, sadly, many seminaries) against accepting anything biblical at face value, any scholarly "consensus" is automatically devoid of any authority per se, at least where believers are concerned. Any scholarly position, therefore, must be advanced and supported on its own merits when the conversation is one of believers with other believers. Simply appealing to the authority of a community of atheistically inclined "scholars" whose underlying purpose (functionally if not consciously) is to destroy the authority of the Bible is a huge mistake.

I see no argumentation in Wills' methodological disclosure quoted in your email which would cause him to pass a freshman level essay exam (if asked to support his conclusions with evidence). I suspect that is because he has none. Case in point is the claim that 2nd Thessalonians is a "clumsy restatement" of 1st Thessalonians! One wonders if he has bothered to read these letters at all. 1st Thessalonians, of course, is a letter of encouragement which ends, following a pericope warning against sexual immorality, with a discussion of the resurrection through which Paul sets his listeners' sights on what is to come; 2nd Thessalonians is one of our prime sources for information about the Tribulation (the 2nd Advent in c.1; the beast and the Tribulation in c.2), and concludes with a warning against being idle. Thus 2nd Thessalonians is natural complement and follow-on to the first letter, and is eminently understandable as a part of continuing communication of the apostle with that church for their edification. If this is the quality of "evidence" Mr. Wills has employed throughout – subjective impressions that no relation to the actual text – we are certainly within our rights to consider his opinions worthless.

The circumstances of Paul's writing of each of the epistles is not an easy thing to describe in its entirety. If I live long enough, I plan in future to do a series on Paul which would track his life by means of the epistles (and the information in Acts). The dating and the circumstances and the occasions for each letter, along with how they fit into his life such as we know it from Acts and internal evidence, is a matter of great debate, even within the community of those who genuinely accept the authority of scripture. I do have a very brief listing of what in my opinion was the order of writing of his letters (see the link: the Chronology of the Books of the Bible), but much of the rest of this subject will have to wait for a later date.

On the question of Eusebius and forgeries, to take the latter first, no indeed. You are exactly right. It was very common, especially in biblical literature (aka pseudepigrapha) to attach a new work to the name of an otherwise famous biblical personality in order to "get it out there". Were I to be willing to do anything and everything to advance a particular doctrinal point of view, what better way to do so than to find a "new" letter from Peter or Paul which said exactly what I was claiming? A forgery was a forgery; writers wishing to honor previous writers would quote them or reference them or construct an "homage" of one sort or another to them, but always under their own name. If this was the case for unbelievers, how much more so for believers who understood the difference between inspired and non-inspired works!

There are plenty of cases of forgeries dating from early times, and in Classical studies these have proved easy to ferret out. There is also the phenomenon of collections of letters which served the purpose of historical novels. We do have, for example, letters of Plato not by Plato, and letters of Themistocles, not by Themistocles. But, as I say, these are very clearly not by their titled authors, generally surfacing many centuries after the historical individuals perished, and they generally do not have theological "axes to grind" as the pseudepigrapha inevitably do. Such of course is not the case with Pauline epistles. For example, we do not know precisely when Paul died, but it couldn't have been much before the 60's; during that same decade, Polycarp was born, and he quotes from 1st and 2nd Timothy throughout his letter to the Philippians. That may not prove that Paul wrote the letters; but it does prove that the letters existed in close proximity to Paul's life – and certainly were too early for them to have been influenced by the Didache (late 1st cent. at the earliest) or the letters of Ignatius (same general time frame).

On Eusebius, I have never heard the point this fellow alludes to. Here is what Eusebius actually says on the subject of the Pauline epistles in his Ecclesiastical History:

"Paul's fourteen epistles are well known and undisputed (3.3.5)."

Finally, Zahn probably = Theodor Zahn, a famous 19th cent. biblical scholar; I would bet that the work cited is his New Testament Introduction.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7:  

Dear Doctor--Thank you so much for your in-depth discussion on 1 Timothy.

Gary Willis has a doctorate, I believe, and is also a Pulizer Prize winner, though in what, I don't know. That doesn't prove anything, of course. But I do know there are liberal scholars out there, who have an agenda. Part Two, of New Testament Survey, Pastoral letters of Paul, pp. 293-294)

Here is stuff from the first one:

by Dr. Robert G. Gromacki, Th.D of Grace Theological Seminary and now a professor emeritus. In his book, New Testament Survery, published in 1974, he has a whole chapter on 1 Timothy and the first section concerns its authorship. Any typos will be mine.

From p. 291-293 of the book, on the authorship of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus:

"Of all the thirteen Pauline Epistles, the authorship of these three has been questioned most severely by modern critics. This has been done in spite of the strong testimony of the church fathers. These accepted the book as as canonical and as written by Paul: Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Irenaeus. They were also listed in the Pauline section of the Muratorian Canon. The Fathers' decisions reflect the internal witness of the books. All three books begin with the claim that the writer was Paul the apostle... The author's analysis of his spirutual past agrees with the Book of Acts...His identification of Timothy and Titus as his "sons" in the faith is definitely a Pauline designation...

...Actually, pseudonymous writings were rejected by the early church, NOT accepted. Although it may have been an acceptable literary style of the pagan world, it did not meet the standard of honesty and authenticity required of canonical books. Paul warned against such forgeries carrying his name (II Thess. 2:3). Authorship by an aposle or by an authoritative associate of an apostle was deemed necessary as the basis of acceptance by the church.

The arguments set forth against Pauline authorship are many. First, the rejection of these books by some second-century church fathers (Basilides, Tatian, and Marcion) has caused some to doubt. However, these men were Gnostic heretics who disagreed with some of the content of these letters. When Paul stated taht the law was good (1 Tim. 6:20), he mentioned concepts contrary to the philosophy of Marcion. It is no wonder that they rejected them.

Second, critics believe that there are some discrepancies between the historical data in the Pastorals and that recorded in Acts and found in the recognized Pauline writings. However, this charge is based upon the assumption that Paul experienced only one Roman imprisonment. Paul's release from his first internment in Rome, a subsequent ministry of two or three years, and a second imprisonment at Rome can easily account for the difference in historical data. Paul did expect to be released from his first imprisonment (Phi. 1:25; Phil. 22), and he apparently was released. Some church fathers (Clement of Rome, Eusebius) mentioned a Pauline ministry in the West, possibly as far as Spain (cf. Rom. 15:24). This could have been accomplished in the interval between the two imprisonments. The pastorals describe the historical movements of Paul after the history of Acts was recorded (AD 3061; cf. AD 61-64). In these closing years Paul visited Ephesus...Crete...Nicoplis...Corinth...Miletus...a nd Troaas... and was finally taken to Rome (II Tim. 1:17).

Third, some have claimed that the local church organization as described in the Pastorals is too advanced for the actual time of Paul's ministry. However, the appointment and the assigned responsibilities of the bishop-pastor-elder were an integral part of Paul's minstry of edification (Acts 14:23; 15:2-6; 20:17-28) and of Peter's admonition (I Peter 5:1-4). The concept of the function of the deacon developed very early in the church (Acts 6:1-6; cf. Phil. 1:1). Women always played an important role in church life...That they are of a designated group of widows is what prompted the creation of the diaconate initially (Acts 6:1-6). Proper order within worship services had developed before the writing of the Pastorals (1 Cor. 11-14).

Fourth, critics believe that the false teaching attacked by the Pastorals is the Gnostic heresy of the 2nd century. They point out that abstinence from marriage and a vegetarian diet (1 Tim. 4:3) were common characteristics of advanced Gnosticism. However, the heresy faced by the pastorals still had a strong Jewish influence (1 Tim. 1:3-10; Titus 1:10, 14; 3:9). This corresponds more to the incipient Judaistic Gnosticism refuted in Colossians than to the mature philosophical Gnosticism of the second century.

The 5th proposed argument is that the style, vocabulary, and doctrinal outlook in the Pastorals were radically different from that in the other Pauline Epistles. It is a fact that there are 175 words in teh Pastorals that are not found elsewhere in the NT. However, the difference in subject matter would account for most of this. A man's style normally changes with increasing age and experience. Actually, this is an argument in reverse for pauline authorship. Would a forger have incorporated so many unique words if he were trying to pass the books off as Pauline originals? Would he have dared to call the beloved Apostle Paul the "chief" of sinners?

The arguments proposed against the Pauline authorship of the Pastorals are not as strong as they appear initially. Evangelical answers are readily available. Until better evidence is forthcoming, it must be concluded hat both the external and the internal evidence supports the Pauline authorship of these books."

Now, I have another book entitled An Introduction to the New Testament, by D.A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, and Leon Morris. They go over much the same ground as Gromacki did. However, they have other info not covered in Gromacki's book. They mention "spurious" epistles in the book and say, pp. 367-368:

"...pseudoepigraphic letters among Jews are extremely rare. Nor are they common among the Christians....Some scholars give the impression that letters claiming to have been written by one person but actually written by another were in common circulation among adherents of the new faith. But this is not so. The Christians produced pseudonymous forms of other types of literature, such as gospels and acts, but very few epistles. ...we should not approach the NT epistles as though it were common for the early Christians to write letters in the name not their own. As far as our knowledge goes, there is not one such letter emanating from the Christians from anywhere near the NT period and precious few even from later times. It may be correct that NT Christians commonly wrote letters in names not their own (an opinion that scholars routinely pepetuate), but we should be clear that it flies in the face of all the evidence we have about the way letters were written in first century Jewish and Christian communities.......the onus is on upholders of theories of pseudonynous authorship to explain why this strong tradition of anonymity {of authorship of NT books} was discarded in favor, NOT of authors attaching their OWN names to what they wrote (As Paul did), but of other people's names." 

I wrote to the correspondent on CARM:

The authors go on to tell of a spurious letter attributed to Paul, from Acts of Paul, which was accepted in some Syrian and Armenian churches as canon, under the impression that Paul actually had written it, when in fact, he did not. The authors write that elsewhere it was recognized as pseudonynmous, and it was for that reason rejeced; "its edifying content was not enough to secure its recognition. Tertullian speaks of writings 'which wrongly go under Paul's name and tells us that 'in Asia, the presbyter who composed that writing, as if he were augmenting Paul's fame from his own store, after being convicted, and confessing that he had done it from love of Paul, was removed from his office. (Tertullian, On Baptism, 17) (p. 369).

Now, if such a man was removed from his ecclesiastical office for writing something edifying and assigning Paul's name to it, out of love for Paul, then what on earth would make you and those scholars you quote think that they would consider the pastoral epistles as canon, if they thought for ONE MOMENT that Paul had NOT written them, but that some other person had, out of "love" for Paul????

The authors go on to tell of another spurious epistle attributed to Paul, "the Epistle to the Laodicians....There is no doubt that its author had a high regard for Paul. But there is also no doubt either that, although the letter was orthodox, it was NOT accepted by the Christian church. The church simply did NOT accept spurious letters." (p. 369)

The authors further tell of Serapion, bishop of Antioch near the end of the 2nd century. They recount that the so-called Gospel of Peter was in use in the church at Rhossus. The bishop thought it was okay, harmless stuff--until he actually read it. Then he rejected it as promoting heresy, and forbid it to be used. He wrote "For our part, brethren, we receive both Peter and the other apostles as Christ, but the writings which falsely bear their names ws reject, as men of experience, knowing that such were not handed down to us." (p. 369, of the book I am quoting from. A footnote says where this quote from Serapion came from, but it is too long to be included here).

Now, the Gospel of Peter wasn't an epistle, but it still shows that Serapion made a very sharp distinction between the apostolic writings he "wholeheartedly accepted('As Christ') and those that "falsely bear their names.'" Some of these might be harmless, but they had no place among those writings considered authoritative and part of the canon.

So, this asks the obvious question: if the early church rejected Acts of Paul and Letter to the Laodocians, however "orthodox" they might be in content, because it knew that Paul didn't write them, then what on earth would make anyone believe that the church would accept as canon the orthodox Pastoral epistles, if they believed that Paul did NOT write them????

Anyway, I would think you would have heard of these authors. Have you ever heard of Gary Wills? I haven't.

Thanks for your time; God bless!

Response #7: 

Thanks -- this is all very good stuff and I couldn't agree it with more (especially your comments).

No, I had never heard of Willis. Prizes are also very political and also heavily skewed against persons of genuine faith (both in terms of content and prejudice).

Please feel free to write back about this any time.

Yours in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8:  

Funny, I have never heard of Morris, just Carson. And I am aware of the pitfalls of quoting scholars; one can always find one with an opposing view. However, the ones I quoted and sent to you cover all the objections that these other liberal scholars have about the authenticity of Paul's pastoral letters. And do it very thoroughly, I think. Again, my correspondent is probably out trying to dig out more liberal scholars to agree with him. But I think the examples that Carson et. al. give from antiquity--how the ancient church refused to accept spurious letters written by others with Paul's name attached--are pretty good reasons to accept the Pastoral letters as genuine. If they wouldn't accept the others, why accept the Pastoral letters if the church really knew that Paul hadn't written them??? It makes no sense whatsoever. And the logic about the 175 words found in the Pastoral letters that aren't in the others....how true is that! If one were trying to pass them off as genuine, then the last thing a forger would do would make them different from the rest of Paul's letters.

If we take the logic that there are words in the Pastoral letters that Paul didn't use elsewhere to mean they aren't genuine, then that means we shouldn't accept the Gospel of John, either, since he alone calls Jesus "the Word of God" and he also writes of miracles not reported in the other synoptic gospels. I mean, really! How far does one want to take this!!!

Thanks again.

Response #8: 

Well put!

Thank you for all your good efforts at CARM – it's an important ministry and a valuable resource (one of the few on the internet I recommend).

Keep fighting the good fight!

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

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