In the previous two posts I began to answer why scholars think that some of the letters that go under Paul’s name were not actually written by him.  I have focused on the Second Letter to the Thessalonians, which claims to be written by Paul but appears to have been written instead by someone else who wanted his readers to *think* he was Paul.  In those two posts I recounted what I said about the matter in my trade book, written for a lay audience, Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why The Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are.

In the next several posts I will show how I address the same question for scholars, in my scholarly monograph, Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics.   I thought this would be worth doing for two reasons.  First, I’d like you to know – if you’re interested – what the full reasoning behind the common critical view of 2 Thessalonians is, that is, what the really persuasive arguments are.   Some of these are long and complex and not easily simplified for a lay audience.  And so I didn’t try in my popular book!    Second, I thought it would be interesting to show, by way of example, how a scholarly approach to a question like this differs from a popular approach.  I’ve already shown the latter and now I’ll show the former.

This will take about four posts.  I hope you don’t find them at all offputting.  This first one is not overly technical and should be accessible, I think.   The others are reasonably so (we’re not talking nuclear physics here), but they’re not the sort of thing you’re gonna find in Barnes & Noble.  In my scholarly discussion, I do at the outset what scholars tend to do: give a brief account of the history of scholarship on the question.  This is what I say there (Note:  for the sake of convenience, I have not included the footnotes – which, among other things, provide the German quotations of the original sources; if you want the really full monty, just get the book!):


History of the Question

Problems connected to the authenticity of 2 Thessalonians were first recognized by J. C. Chr. Schmidt in 1801.