There is one other book in the New Testament that may be a cut-and-paste job, and as it turns out, it is another one of Paul’s letters, Philippians.  Philippians was for a long time my favorite Pauline letter, back in my late teens when I was first starting to read the Bible.  It contains the first verse I ever memorized: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21); and it is the first book that, a couple of years later, I committed completely to memory, word for word.  Little did I know, back then, that some scholars think it is in fact two different letters of Paul’s that have been spliced together.

The evidence of there being two letters in Philippians is not as clear and compelling as in the case of 2 Corinthians, and I suspect, but do not know for a fact, that the *majority* of scholars hold to the “integrity” of the letter.  In this case, the word integrity has nothing to do with “honesty.”  It is the word used to indicate that a book is *ONE* writing and not two or more put together.  If one argues for the integrity of Philippians, then, one is saying that it is a single work, written by a single author more or less finished at one time.

Long ago, however – back, I suppose, early in my academic career — I became convinced by those scholars who maintained that Philippians was made up of two separate letters.  (Some scholars think it is made up of *three* letters, but I’ve never gone there.  Hey, I don’t want to be extreme.  J )

Before introducing the argument that Philippians is two letters instead of one (with the end of one and the beginning of the other lopped off by the editor who pasted them together), I should give a bit of background to the letter Itself.   Here is what I say about the book in general terms in my Introduction to the New Testament.


To read what I have to say about this intriguing letter, you need to belong to the blog.  If you don’t belong, now’s your chance to join.  Don’t blow it!   It won’t cost much and every penny goes to those in need.  So why not?



We do not know very much about the Christian community in Philippi because Paul does not provide as many explicit reminders of their past relationship as he does, for example, for the Thessalonians and Corinthians. There is some information provided in Acts 16; unfortunately, little of it can be corroborated from Paul’s letter itself. Paul never mentions, for example, the principal characters of Luke’s account, Lydia and the Philippian jailer.

The city of Philippi was in eastern Macedonia, northeast of Thessalonica, along one of the major trade routes through the region. Paul speaks in 1 Thessalonians of being shamefully treated in Philippi prior to taking his mission to Thessalonica (1 Thess 2:1–2). We should probably assume that he is referring to his initial visit to the city when he founded the church there. In view of their rough treatment, Paul and his companions may not have spent much time there, perhaps only enough to make some converts, instruct them in the rudiments of the faith, and get out of town while the getting was good.

We have little information about the converts themselves. We can probably assume that the Philippian church, like the other congregations Paul established, consisted chiefly of converted pagans who had been taught to worship the one true God of Israel and to expect the return of his Son, Jesus. References to these teachings can be found throughout the epistle (e.g., 1:6, 10–11; 2:5–11; 3:20–21). Why, then, did Paul write it? The answer to this question is somewhat complicated, more complicated, for example, than in the case of Galatians, for it appears to many scholars that different parts of this letter presuppose different occasions. As was the case with 2 Corinthians, Philippians may represent a combination of two or more pieces of correspondence.


In my next post I will show why many (but not most?) scholars have thought this, that Philippians was two letters instead of one.[/mepr-show]