In my previous post I tried to show why most critical scholars think that the letter of 2 Corinthians is actually two different letters that have been spliced together.   When I was back in graduate school, I learned – to my surprise – that there were scholars who thought that in fact 2 Corinthians was made up of five different letters, all spliced together.  At first that struck me as a bit crazy, but as I looked at the evidence I began to see that it made a good bit of sense.

I’m not completely committed to that idea, but I’m inclined toward it.  My sense is that this is the view of a sizeable minority of critical scholars, but I have no data, only anecdotal evidence, to back that up.

In any case, what matters more is what you yourself might think of it.  I won’t be giving the evidence in full, but here is how I lay it out for students to consider in my textbook on the New Testament for undergraduates.  To see the force of the evidence, you would need actually to look carefully at the letter itself, in light of the considerations I suggest here.

If it is true, that what is now one letter is actually parts of five, and one wants to know “What is the Original” — what do you say?  There are several good answers, and many readers might think one of them is “right” — but others will think another one is right!

(Incidentally: a reader has asked me whether any of the letters allegedly found in 2 Corinthians could have originally been written by someone other than Paul.  You’ll see here that this is widely believed by scholars for one small chunk of the letter.  On this particular question, there is a much larger critical agreement on the matter, though not complete consensus).

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