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A Common Criticism (of me!)

QUESTION: I want to ask your thoughts on something quickly because I think it points out one of the concerns I have with what you write and say. It seems that you have a willingness to take different positions (or maybe emphasize different positions is the right way to say it) depending on where you are and what you're advocating. In your interview with the Infidel Guy and other places, you talk about how ancient writings were dictated all the time. On the Infidel Guy show, for example, you said the following: "Every person who wrote epistles in the ancient world dictated them to scribes". But in your debate with Darrell Bock on the Unbelievable radio show (August 6, 2011) you try and argue the case that there is no evidence for dictation having happened in the ancient world (specifically in response to this claim about 1 and 2 Peter). I have also been told that when you speak in scholarly circles, the sensationalistic claims you make about the unreliability of the Bible when speaking [...]

Ancient Secretaries (Part 2)

This is a continuation of my previous post on secretaries in the ancient world, drawn from my forthcoming book Forgery and Counterforgery. In the earlier post I talked about the use of secretaries in taking dictation and doing light copy-editing, based on the findings of the full study of Randall Richards. The discussion is relevant to the writings of the New Testament: could 1 Peter, or Ephesians, or any of the other pseudepigraphical writings of the new testament have been produced by secretaries rather than their reputed authors? ****************************** It is Richards‘ third and fourth categories that are particularly germane to the questions of early Christian forgery. What is the evidence that secretaries were widely used, or used at all, as co-authors of letters or as Ersatz composers? If there is any evidence that secretaries sometimes joined an author in creating a letter, Richards has failed to find or produce it. The one example he considers involves the relationship of Cicero and Tiro, cited earlier by Gordon Bahr as evidence for co-authorship. In Bahr’s words [...]

Ancient Secretaries (Part 1)

I have received some comments and emails about my claims about Silvanus as a secretary (or rather, NOT as a secretary) for the book of 1 Peter, and realized it would help if I could give some more detail about what we know about secretaries in the ancient world. The following is from an excursus in my forthcoming Forgery and Counterforgery; it will come in two parts, the first today and the second, hopefully, tomorrow. If you've read my book Forged, the substance of what follows will be familiar; this is the slightly more whomped up version of what I discuss there. ************************************************************************************************************************ Now that we have explored six of the Deutero-Pauline epistles, we are in a position to consider the hypothesis widely invoked by advocates of authenticity to explain how a letter allegedly by an author should differ so radically from other writings he produced. The notion that early Christian authors used secretaries who altered the writing style and contributed to the contents of a writing– thereby creating the anomalies that arouse the critics‘ [...]

Silvanus as Peter’s Secretary?

QUESTION: What do you make of the author's reference to a Silvanus in 1 Peter 5:12? Could it be that this really is Peter saying he used a secretary to write this letter? I know you said there is little to no evidence that people used secretaries, but what do you make of this reference to a Silvanus? RESPONSE: Yes, this is a question that I deal with in my book Forged, and that I deal with at yet greater length in the book coming out in the fall, Forgery and Counterforgery. Several points are important to make about the question, but first a bit of background. FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, log in as a Member. Click here for membership options. If you don't belong yet, JOIN!!                 Background.   Scholars have long noted that the book of 1 Peter is written in elegant Greek, and that it seems highly unlikely that an Aramaic-speaking fisherman of the lower classes (which Peter must have been), who is called “unlettered” (literally, “illiterate”) in Acts 4:13, [...]

2020-04-03T19:30:22-04:00July 28th, 2012|Catholic Epistles, Reader’s Questions|
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