I have been talking about the problems in knowing what the “original” text of Philippians is. Even with the following brief review, the comments I will be making in this post will, frankly, probably not make much sense if you do not refresh your memory from my previous two posts. Here I will be picking up where I left off there.
We have seen that knowing what the original of Philippians is complicated by the facts that: 1) The letter appears originally to have been two letters, so that it’s hard to know whether the original of each separate letter is to be the original or if the final edited version which Paul himself did not produce is the original; 2) Paul dictated his letters, and the scribe who wrote down his dictation would typically have made a fresh copy of the letter after Paul had made a few corrections – so which is the original: what the scribe originally wrote or the fresh copy he made after the corrections? 3) And if Paul made corrections to what the scribe wrote, then which is the original – what the scribe originally wrote (that’s the oldest form of the written text) or the correction Paul made (that’s what he intended to say)? And how do you choose which is the “original”? One of these forms of the text is the original thing written, but the other is what the author (Paul) originally meant.
And there are more complications: what if, for example, Paul dictated the relatively long letter to the Philippians (it’s short for the Pauline letters, but very, very long for typical Greco-Roman letters: usually these were only one papyrus page in length and had very little substance to them), but between the time he did the dictation and the time he corrected the copy, he changed his mind about something and decided to say or word it differently? Then which is the original – the way he originally said it or the way he later corrected himself to say?
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