I have been doing a few posts on the difference between popular writing (for a trade book) and scholarly writing (for an academic book).  In my last post I reproduced the introduction to my book Forged: Why The Biblical Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (popular book published by HarperOne); here, by way of contrast, is the introduction to Forgery and Counterfortery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics (academic book by Oxford University Press).  Both the title and the opening paragraphs are give-aways that this is not meant for most readers, even if those who are interested can certainly follow it and get a lot out of it.  It ain’t quantum mechanics.


Arguably the most distinctive feature of the early Christian literature is the degree to which it was forged.[1]   Even though the early Christians were devoted to the truth– or so their writings consistently claimed – and even though “authoritative” literature played a virtually unparalleled role in their individual and communal lives, the orthonymous output of the early Christians was remarkably, even astonishingly, meager.  From the period of the New Testament, from which some thirty writings survive intact or in part, only eight go under the name of their actual author, and seven of these derive from the pen of one man. [2]  To express the matter differently, only two authors named themselves correctly in the surviving literature of the first Christian century.  All other Christian writings are either anonymous, falsely ascribed (based on an original anonymity or homonymity), or forged.

Matters begin to change with the second Christian century, even though orthonymity continues to be the exception rather than the rule.  It is worth considering, for example, what Pre-Enlightenment scholars accepted as the writings of apostolic and subapostolic times.[3] There were

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