I have been talking about 2 Corinthians and Philippians, both of which may well represent instances in which earlier letters were cut and pasted together.    A number of readers of the blog have asked me if this kind of thing was ever/often done in the ancient world.  As it turns out, one of the blog members is an established New Testament scholar, Brent Nongbri (PhD from Yale; visiting associate professor at Aarhus University), who is interested in this kind of question. (He’s also the author of Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept and God’s Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts.)  Unsolicited, he sent me the following note: asking and then answering the question, with a link to a fuller study.

These are his words:


“Do we know whether or not this kind of editing was a common practice during the first three centuries?”

I had this very question a few years ago, specifically regarding 2 Corinthians. I’ve read a lot of ancient letters, and I had never really seen like what scholars say is going on with 2 Corinthians: 2 (or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6!) letters all anything fused into one. So I carefully looked into the question: Did this kind of thing happen often in antiquity? Short answer: Sort of.

Many people in the Roman world …

To see what Brent has to say, you need to belong to the blog.  If you don’t belong yet, now it your big chance.  Don’t miss out!  And remember, every penny raised goes to charity.