Yesterday I talked about one Christian forger who got caught red handed who had to explain himself.  Well, justify himself.  Well, bend over backwards to make himself look innocent.  We’ve been seeing a lot of that these days.  It goes way back.  Humans are humans.

Here is my assessment of the situation, not in terms of our own front-page news but in terms of this obscure little controversy, which highlights my obscure little academic point: in the ancient world, readers simply did not *like* it when they found out someone had written a book claiming to a be a famous person.  They condemned it.  That should be borne in mine when thinking of other instances of the phenomenon, such as those found in far more familiar books from the early Christian tradition.  (And this is the point the riles a number of my scholar friends, who just can’t *believe* ancient authors would do something deceitful….)

I’ll start this post with a bit from the end of the previous one, to remind you about it.  If you didn’t read the other, you may want to do so quickly to make better sense of this one.


Given this confession of motivation, what Salvian claims next may seem a bit surprising, if not down-right duplicitous. Why did he choose the name Timothy in particular? Readers naturally took the name to refer to Paul’s Pastoral companion, hence Salonius’s distraught reaction. But in clear tension with his earlier assertion that an unknown person would not be accepted as an authoritative source, Salvian claims that he chose the name purely for of its symbolic associations. Just as the evangelist Luke wrote to “Theophilus” because he wrote “for the love of God,” so too the author of this treatise wrote as “Timothy,” that is, “for the honor of God.” In other words, he chose the pseudonym as a pen name.

Despite the fact that many critics today continue simply to take Salvian’s word for it, the explanation does not satisfy. If Salvian meant what he said, that the reason for choosing a pseudonymous name was to authorize the account – since a treatise written by an obscure or unknown person has no authority – then how can he also say that the specific pseudonymous name was not that of an authority figure (Paul’s companion Timothy) but of an unknown, obscure, and anonymous person intent on honoring God?

Scholars determined to follow Salvian’s lead in getting him off Salonius’s hook have pursued various angles. Norbert Brox thinks …

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