are accustomed, when considering the letters ascribed
to the Apostle Paul, to speaking of justification.
But when we seek to tunnel beneath the theological
ground we stand on, to deconstruct the notion of Pauline
theological authority (i.e., to take it apart and
find out better how it works), we might better speak
of reification, that process whereby a contrivance
of human beings like ourselves has at length come
to assume an aura of inviolable sacredness, an autonomous
reality, a wholeness greater than the sum of its parts.
The sabbath is reified when we begin to forget that
the sabbath was made for men and women, not the other
way around. The biblical canon is a classic case of
reification. Most students and laypersons are quite
surprised, and at least a bit dismayed, to discover
that the Bible's contents are not self-evident, that
a choice between writings was made at all, and by
mere mortals like themselves, and at a particular
time in history . How can such things be true of the
eternal Word of God ?
canon of Holy Scripture is like the Holy Place in
the Jerusalem Temple: it is shielded from prying mortal
eyes by a veil of sanctity. One is curious to peer
inside, yet at the same time one fears being disappointed
should one dare steal a glimpse, like the profane
usurper Titus who was startled to find an empty chamber.
Or, worse yet, will one find a stammering man behind
the curtain, at the controls in a hidden speclal effects
booth, as in The Wizard of Oz?
the biblical canon is the Holy Place, perhaps we may
liken the Pauline Corpus to the Holy of Holies. For
even among those for whom the outer veil has long
ago been rent, this inner zone of canonicity retains
its numinous inviolability. For Christian scholars,
whether apologists or supposed critics, the Pauline
Epistles are like the metaphysical Presence of traditional
ontotheology. We are reluctant to have someone come
along and play the Derridean trick of showing us where
the seams and junctures are.
yet the game is afoot already; the profane feet have
trodden the sacred courts. For the better part of
a century, scholars have crossed swords (at least
pens, which are mightier) over the question of the
collection of the Pauline Epistles: who first collected
them, when, where, and why? It will be our task to
sift through a pile of these speculations (and, as
Walter Schmithals reminds us, that is all such reconstructions
can ever be) . In the process we may feel like we
are sitting in the poorly-lit attic, exploring the
confusing souvenirs of our ancestors as they emerge
one by one from a neglected old steamer trunk. Let's
believe we can distinguish four main lines of approach
to the question before us. It will be useful to segregate
our theories according to the distance they posit
between the career of the Apostle Paul and the collection
of his letters. This taxonomy, admittedly, violates
the chronology of the history of scholarship in favor
of a different sort of chronology. But I believe little
will be lost: each major group of theories seems to
have evolved pretty much autonomously. Though one
may have arisen in reaction to another, the fact is
seldom crucial to the logic of each theory. When it
is important, it will be easy enough for us to note
the fact. And within each family of theories, of course,
we will trace historical development. Furthermore,
by arranging the theories in a timeline from minimal
to maximal intervals between the Apostle and the collection,
we may come to see something important about the theories,
their tendencies, and motives.
first type of collection theory with which we have
to do may be called the "Pauline Testament"
approach. Here there is virtually no interval at all
between the Apostle and the collection of his writings,
for, these scholars posit, it was Paul himself who
collected them. The earliest exponent of this theory,
so far as I know, was R . L. Archer ("The Epistolary
Form of the New Testament," 1951-52), who reasoned
that Paul had kept copies of his epistles, and that
sometime after his death the Christians who had inherited
them hit upon the scheme of publishing them. This
notion they derived from reading Seneca, a great publisher
of collected letters. While Seneca frowned upon the
publication of strictly pcrsonal letters, Cicero,
as is well known, found much value in publishing even
personal correspondence. Paul's posthumous admirers
agreed with Cicero. And thus the Pauline writings,
both literary epistles and personal letters, were
Guthrie thinks Archer did well to look to the contemporary
practice of letter collection and publication as the
background for the Pauline Corpus, but he remains
skeptical whether early Pauline Christians would have
been much interested in or influenced by the likes
of Cicero and Seneca. Against Guthrie's criticism
one may question whether he is too much under the
influence of Deissmann's belief, based on 1 Corinthians
1:26, that the early church was a pedestrian, plebeian,
and proletarian movement. Abraham Malherbe's more
recent studies might persuade us differently. But
Guthrie still might have noticed that, if "not
many" of the Corinthians, or of Pauline Christians
generally, were to be numbered among the educated
elite, the very wording of the verse in question implies
that a few were. One need think only of the householders
Stephanas and Chloe.
as for early Christian interest in the literary luminaries
Seneca and Cicero, let us not forget the apocryphal
letters of Paul and Seneca. Someone before Archer
certainly envisioned early Christians being interested
in both epistolarians! And remember Jerome's famous
dream in which his Christian conscience rebuked his
classical inclinations. An angel like Hermas' cast
this in Jerome's teeth: "Thou art not a follower
of Christ, but of Cicero!" (Just the opposite,
one may say, of the vision of the Prophet Muhammad,
in which the angel Gabriel insisted that he recite
verses though he was illiterate.)
much more recent theory along somewhat the same lines
is that of David Trobisch (Die Entstehung der Paulusbriefsammlung,
1989; Paul's Letter Collection: Tracing the Origins,
1993). Trobisch, like Archer, deserves Guthrie's praise
and ours for exploring the contemporary practices
of collecting and publishing letters, having studied
many hundreds of epistles and letter collections from
several centuries adjacent to the Pauline period on
either side (300 B.C.E. to 400 C.E.). He notes that
in many cases an initial collection of an author's
letters was made by the author himself, with a view
to publication, more of a "selected" than
a "collected letters." These might be arranged
in chronological order. But whatever the principle
of sequence, Trobisch observes, when after the author's
death others undertook to publish more of his correspondence,
the additional letters would simply be appended to
the original set, not placed among them by the original
sequence principle. The new letters would observe
the same order among themselves, but they would follow
the original corpus as a new block. The author's own
selection Trobisch calls the "authorized recension.
" Posthumous additional collections might be
published as separate volumes or, if thematically
related to the authorized recension, they might be
appended to the original volume and published together
as what Trobisch calls an "expanded edition."
Finally, scribes may try to unearth and publish all
known letters together in a single manuscript. This
Trobisch calls a "comprehensive edition."
And in all expanded and comprehensive editions, Trobisch
says, the added material starts over, recapitulating
the sequential order of the originals but not intermingling
with the letters of the author's own collection, leaving
the integrity of the original intact. It would be
comparable to a current-day author merely adding a
new preface, an introduction to a new edition, or
some appendices to the original text of a reprinted
early work, rather than revising and updating it:
"What I have written, I have written."
calls attention to the fact that, with very few exceptions,
the mass of ancient manuscripts arrange Paul's letters
the same way, in an almost perfect order of longer
to shorter, except that Ephesians is longer than Galatians
and yet follows it. Of course the descending length
principle starts over once we reach the Pastorals,
but no one is surprised by this since we have reached
a new category of (ostensibly) personal letters to
individuals. But what of Ephesians? After considering
previous theories, Trobisch suggests it would make
most sense if Ephesians represented the point where
a new "expanded edition" had been added.
Of what did this expanded edition consist? Here Trobisch
tips his hat to Goodspeed. One expects Trobisch to
say (as did Schmithals, 266) that Ephesians led off
a second, posthumous, collection of a few letters,
perhaps Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon. Goodspeed,
as we will see below, had suggested Ephesians had
once begun the whole corpus and indeed had been written
by the Colossian freedman Onesimus for that purpose.
Schmithals was willing to let Goodspeed be right only
about the threefold corpus of Ephesians-Colossians-Philemon,
but Trobisch is more generous, though less consistent:
"If my analysis is correct the letter to the
Ephesians functioned as an introduction to the expanded
edition of the thirteen letters because it is the
first letter of the appendix" (1993, 101). But
it is difficult to see how Ephesians might serve as
an introduction to the whole corpus of thirteen letters
if it comes fifth! This, of course, is why Goodspeed
posited a lead-off position for Ephesians even without
any manuscript evidence to back him up.
this is not the only problem with Trobisch's reconstruction.
Far from it. For one thing, while there is nothing
prima facie unreasonable in Trobisch's suggestion
that the initial four letters (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians,
Galatians) were Paul's own choice for a selected letters
volume, with Ephesians beginning a posthumous appendix,
Trobisch seems merely to have shown that such a scenario,
if true, would fit the analogy of a widespread practice
of an author publishing his own letters. This is a
viable form-critical argument, it seems to me. But
Trobisch leaves it unclear whether the initial letter
collections to which expansions were appended were
always or usually collections by the author himself.
We have in the case of H. P. Lovecraft's letters something
that at first seems to parallel the ancient practice
as Trobisch describes it. Shortly following Lovecraft's
death, two of his correspondents, August Derleth and
Donald Wandrei, decided to collect and publish their
late friend's letters. Lovecraft wrote innumerable
epistles of fantastic length, so Derleth and Wandrei
knew they must make a selection. At first they planned
on a single volume of Selected Letters, but as the
years went by and the sifting process continued, the
project expanded to three, then four volumes. Following
the deaths of Derleth and Wandrei, James Turner took
up the task and compiled the fifth volume. All letters,
edited and condensed for publication, were presented
in chronological order, and all from Arkham House
many Lovecraft aficianados were not satisfied, their
appetites having been merely whetted. So a couple
of them, S.T. Joshi and David C. Schultz, scoured
the archives of Brown University and contacted various
obscure Lovecraft correspondents, seeking ever more
letters. Their labors have produced several more volumes,
Lovecraft's Letters to Robert E. Howard, Lovecraft's
Letters to Henry Kuttner, to Richard Searight, to
Robert Bloch, etc. And chronological order is observed
within each such volume of Tosefta. Finally, these
editors hope one day to compile a definitive Collected
Letters of H. P. Lovecraft.
all sounds very much like Trobisch on Paul--except
that Lovecraft was dead when it all began. Do we know
that first collections were always the work of the
epistolarian himself? Trobisch does not tell us, and
yet his reconstruction is considerably weakened if
it is not so.
suspects that the underlying motive of the Pauline
Testament theories is an apologetical one: it would
seem to secure a set of texts with both authenticity
and integrity guaranteed. After all, Paul himself
edited them as well as wrote them. And here one is
reminded of the fundamentalist apologetic for the
New Testament canon list as a whole. John Warwick
Montgomery and others assert that in John 16:12-14
Jesus authorized in advance the entire New Testament
canon just as in John 10:35 he had put his imprimatur
on the Old Testament canon. Or think of Vincent Taylor's
argument that the Synoptic tradition must be basically
sound since the apostles must still have been around
carefully overseeing the progress of oral tradition.
Are not Archer and, even more, Trobisch trying to
have Paul himself collect the Pauline Corpus (at least
the Hauptbriefe) and rescue us from text-critical
a purpose would not seem alien to Trobisch who explicitly
wants to return to a harmonizing reading not only
of Paul but of the whole New Testament (1993, 97-98).
This would appear to be a move to neo-conservative
hermeneutics, a la Brevard Childs. But Trobisch surprises
us, for what he gains in authenticity he squanders
in textual integrity. We are surprised to discover
that he takes a leaf from Schmithals's codex and subdivides
the Corinthian correspondence into no less than seven
mini-letters, the seams between which Trobisch discerns,
much as Schmithals does, by excavating fossils of
vestigial letter openings and closings as well as
mapping out digressive passages, labeling them as
Pauline redactional notes. Why on earth Paul would
have done this, especially since Trobisch has him
leave the basic letter-forms of Galatians and Romans
intact, is a puzzle. "Behold, I show you a mystery,"
but not, alas, a solution. Schmithals's controversial
surgery on the various epistles is at least supplied
with a motive: the redactor needed to conflate his
fragmentary sources into the form of a catholicizing
seven-fold form. Whether this be judged persuasive
is one thing. Whether it is better than no reason
at all, as with Trobisch, is another.
is strikingly ironic is that Trobisch offers as his
theory's chief merit that it makes possible a harmonizing
reading of the Pauline Corpus (at least, again, the
Hauptbriefe, though he seems to want to go farther).
Is this purpose served by breaking up the Corinthian
letters? Or does he mean that Paul wanted the letters
to be re-read as if they formed one or two longer
texts? It seems Trobisch does not intend this, but
in any case, he has undermined his own goal.
borrow another analogy from Lovecraft, Trobisch's
reconstruction reminds us of the editing of Lovecraft's
serial narrative "Herbert West - Reanimator."
Lovecraft wrote the episodic story in six installments
for sequential issues of a magazine. Thus each installment
began with a capsule resume of the previous one(s).
When the story finally appeared in book form, these
capsule vehicles seemed redundant. Eventually when
Jeffery Combs prepared a text for an audiotape version
of the story, he decided to trim away the summaries,
reasoning that, once the six episodes were read continuously,
the summaries became counterproductive: first intended
to reinforce continuity of reading, they now tended
to interrupt it. But why would Paul trim away the
openings and closings of most of the Corinthian mini-letters?
This would make sense only if what Paul pared away
was a set of "Now where were we?"s and "More
next time"s. But that is not the character of
most of the Pauline greetings and closings we have.
According to Schmithals and Knox, openings and closings
may have been added to make a heap of random fragments
into letters, but it is difficult to understand the
procedure proposed by Trobisch.
the most intriguing aspect of Trobisch's version of
the Pauline Testament approach is his connection of
the two Pauline collections, i.e., Paul's own collection
of alms for the Jerusalem saints and the collection
of Paul's epistles. Typically, though, Trobisch casts
this potent seed on rocky ground and continues on
his way . He notes that 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans,
and Galatians all mention the alms collection and
that the thread of continuity seems to be that Paul
agreed to the chore in the first place to conciliate
the Pillar saints of Jerusalem, who have since, like
Cephas in Antioch, betrayed their accord. As a result
he fears the fruits of his harvest on their behalf
may be rejected, may become a bone of contention rather
than an olive branch of peace. One purpose of Paul's
collecting these particular letters and sending them
to Ephesus would be to put his side of the story on
file in view of the conflict anticipated in Jerusalem.
I view this as a brilliant suggestion, though not
compelling. Why should Paul not have simply written
it straight out in a single new letter, using the
same kind of plain talk he had used in Galatians?
It is significant that, at the close of Paul's Letter
Collection, Trobisch supplies a "fictive cover
letter" in which Paul does explain his object
in compiling the corpus. Trobisch thus admits some
such word of explanation is necessary if his theory
is to carry conviction--and that Paul did not supply
if one did find the collection-connection persuasive
(and it certainly merits further thought), one need
not count it as evidence of Paul himself having collected
the Hauptbriefe. Paul's motive in collecting the money
remained an issue between the Pauline communities
and Jewish Jesus-sectarians who cast Paul in the role
of Simon Magus crassly trying to purchase an apostolate
with filthy lucre, as F.C. Baur argued. One can easily
imagine (and, granted, that is all one may do) Pauline
advocates collecting these letters as a defense against
Ebionite detractors, much as later Catholics would
fabricate the Pastorals to distance Paul from the
blasphemies of the encratites (see Dennis Ronald MacDonald,
The Legend and the Apostle: The Battle for Paul in
Story and Canon, 1983 ).
second group of theories calls to mind Bultmann's
dictum that Jesus "rose into the kerygma,"
the gospel preaching of the early church. These theories,
to some of which Guthrie applied the rubric "theories
of immediate value," in effect have Paul die
and immediately rise in the form of a collection of
his writings , which replace the irreplaceable Apostle.
Thus I dub this the Paper Apostle approach. The scenario
envisioned here is much like that described in Islamic
tradition following the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
The voice of prophecy had forever fallen silent. Just
the opposite of the Deuteronomic Moses, Muhammad was
the definitive Seal of the Prophets: no "prophet
like unto me" could be expected to succeed him.
Thus the Muslim faithful began to cherish and trade
remembered Surahs of revelation, recording these on
whatever materials came to hand, scraps of leather,
papyrus leaves, parchments, potsherds, even shoulder
blades of sheep . At length the first Caliph, Abu-bekr,
decreed that the Surahs should be collected, and the
corpus of the Koran (Qur'an) was the eventual result.
Thus the Book of the Prophet was the only successor
to the Prophet.
(Die Briefsammlung des Apostels Paulus, 1926) reasoned
that Paul's letters were treasured by enthusiastic
readers upon delivery. "Did not our hearts burn
within us as he opened the scriptures unto us?"
Not content to wait for the Apostle to post another
missive to their own church, Pauline Christians would
check through the whole Pauline network and copy each
other's epistles till each church had a complete set,
much like avid fans of an author today. The keen longing
by his fans for ever more of Paul did not arise only
after his death. His absence during his life, when
working elsewhere far away, had already led his fans
to make up collections of his letters to serve as
poor substitutes for his presence, like a treasured
photograph of an absent lover. Thus the groundwork
for the Pauline canon was already in place when Paul
himself passed away. One might say that the Pauline
Corpus was already warming up even as the Pauline
corpse was cooling off. Indeed, his death was a mere
formality; as Barthes and Derrida tell us, the author
is dead as soon as he or she produces his or her text,
which (as a "dangerous supplement") takes
on a prodigal life of its own.
was persuaded of the immediate impact of the letters
by four factors. First, Paul's letters are perceived
by us as being rhetorically and theologically powerful,
and Harnack assumes ancient readers must have been
as astute as we are. And yet, one may reply, we should
not be too hasty in identifying our tastes with ancient
predilections. For instance, someone, somewhere, must
have thought the Upanishads or the Saddharma Pundarika
sounded good. Max Muller certainly didn't. Mormon
missionaries grow teary-eyed about the heart-warming
experience of reading The Book of Mormon, but Mark
Twayne found it "chloroform in print." Wasn't
Harnack reading the text through a haze of eighteen
centuries of Christian piety? One thinks of the scene
in Cecil B. DeMille's King of Kings when thousands
assemble to hear Jesus, as if they realize here is
their chance to hear the soon-to-be-famous Sermon
on the Mount. (This anachronistic incongruity produces
a sense of anticlimax: one hears it and perhaps wonders
what all the fuss was about.)
took 2 Corinthians 10:10 ("His letters are weighty
and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, his speech
of no account") as denoting that even Paul's
opponents had to admit his letters were powerful.
But isn't the point rather pretty much that Paul merely
talks a good fight and can't back it up? As Paul himself
says elsewhere: "The Kingdom of God is not talk,
Corinthians 7:17 ("And so I ordain in all the
churches") meant to Harnack that what Paul had
written here he had similarly written in epistles
to all his churches, implying a large volume of letters.
Not only is this an arbitrary reading of the verse
which might simply refer to oral instructions in person,
but it had not occurred to Harnack that such a verse
is very likely a post-Pauline catholicizing gloss,
added in order to facilitate the use of 1 Corinthians
itself as an encyclical. "What I say to you,
I say to all."
Harnack inferred from 2 Thessalonians 2:2 and 3:17
that already in Paul's day his letters were both numerous
and authoritative enough to have called forth cheap
imitations. In both his third and fourth arguments,
Harnack gets himself into trouble. He seemed to realize
that if Paul had written as large a volume of letters
as his arguments implied, we must be missing most
of them. So, Harnack reasoned, a selection was made,
and our Pauline Corpus represents the cream of the
crop. But doesn't this notion undercut Harnack's whole
reconstruction? For the true fan, there is no such
thing as an embarrassment of riches. Rather, one seeks
to preserve every scrap, just as P. N. Harrison pictured
a redactor of Pauline fragments in 2 Timothy doing.
as F. C. Baur pointed out long ago (as he felled another
tree in a forest empty of anyone to listen), the references
to pseudepigraphy in 2 Thessalonians, like the request
to have 1 Thessalonians read in church (1 Thessalonians
5: 27), is simply a case of my four fingers pointing
back at me when I point one at you. 1 and 2 Thessalonians
presuppose an earlier "Paper Apostle" collection.
As is well known, Harnack was a foe of Baur and Tubingen,
and his apologetical Tendenz is no more difficult
to spot here than in his early dating of Acts.
Guthrie also wanted to close the gap between Paul
and the collection of his letters, so to ensure the
authenticity and integrity of the corpus. (And again,
it is no surprise to see him favoring the Vincent
Taylor/F. F. Bruce theory of reliable oral transmission
and early written gospels to shorten a similar dark
and frightening tunnel period.) Guthrie imagines that
just after Paul's death, one of his associates, probably
Timothy, saw to the collection of his master's literary
remains (655-657). After all, Timothy would have been
present to hear Galatians read in his home church
of Lystra. And years later he himself had brought
Paul his suitcase full of parchments and scrolls,
which might well have been a file of copies of his
own epistles a la Archer! It is clear that for Guthrie,
the Timothy character continues to play the apologetical
guarantor role assigned him by the Pastor (2 Timothy
2:2). Of course Guthrie's theory requires Acts to
be historically accurate and the Pastorals to be genuinely
find ourselves in familiar territory with C. F. D.
Moule's version of the Paper Apostle. For Moule, it
was Luke who both wrote the Pastorals (serving as
Paul's amaneunsis with a very long leash) and collected
the genuine Paulines after he penned his gospel and
Acts (204). (A few subsequent scholars have also affirmed
common authorship for Luke-Acts and the Pastorals,
e.g., Stephen G. Wilson, Jerome D. Quinn, but unlike
them Moule pictured this author as being Luke the
beloved physician and companion of Paul.)
suggestions of Hans Conzelmann ("Paulus und die
Weisheit," NTS 12  321-44) and Eduard Lohse
("Die Briefe an die Kolosser und an Philemon,"
Meyer Kommentar IX. 2:14, 1968), Hans-Martin Schenke
("Das Weiterwirken des Paulus und die Pflege
seines Erbes durch die Paulusschule," 1975) allows
the pendulum to settle down in the middle of the Paper
Apostle options. Eschewing both Harnack's faceless
"creative Volk community" approach, and
Moule's and Guthrie's nomination of a single Pauline
disciple, Schenke ascribes both the collection of
the corpus and the writing of some deutero-Pauline
epistles to a Pauline School, disciples of Paul rather
like the anonymous conventicles of the Sons of the
Prophets who passed on the traditions of Elijah, Elisha,
and Isaiah. These true sons of the Apostle took on
themselves both the task of continuing Paul's work
and the mantle of his authority as they made his voice
sound forth again to meet new challenges and answer
new questions. Harry Gamble (1985, 39) approves this
notion since it avoids "the dubious idea of one
particular collector." Yet we may ask, what is
so dubious about the notion of a single collector?
Perhaps Gamble (who shows himself elsewhere to be
shy of all but the most cautious speculation, willing,
e.g., in his Textual History of the Letter to the
Romans to take but a carefully circumscribed sabbath
day's journey from the data) disdains the "scandal
of particularity" involved in picking a single
name like Luke, Timothy, or Onesimus. Or, more likely,
he finds theologically distasteful the lurking idea
of a Marcion-like "second founder of Paulinism"
image of Paul resurrected in his letters is especially
apt for Schenke's theory:
hatten es zu tun mit dem lebendigen Paulus, mit seinem
gegenwartigen Wirken und Wort, mit der Erinnerung
daran und dem Fortwirken in ihnen, mit dem Wirker
und Wort der reisenden bevollmachtigten Stellvertreter
des Paulus, mit dem Wirken und Wort derer in der Gemeinde,
die als der verlangerte Arm des Paulus gelten konnten,
und mit alledem, was man sich von Paulus erzahlte.
though Schenke himself does not invoke the analogy
of the schools of the Old Testament prophets, I believe
the comparison is a very helpful one, inviting us
to understand the Pauline Corpus (as Marcion did)
as the private canon, the sectarian scripture, of
a particular Christian body, the Pauline School, much
like the composite book of Isaiah which contains not
only the oracles of the original Isaiah of Jerusalem,
but also the deutero-and trito-Isaianic supplements
of his latter-day heirs. And just as in the case of
the Isaiah canon where (a la Paul Hanson, The Dawn
of Apocalyptic) we find intra-canonical collisions
(cf., Kasemann "The Canon of the New Testament
and the Unity of the Church"), so do we find
Pauline versus deutero-Pauline clashes here and there.
living Paul who continues, as it were, to write through
the pens of the Pauline School is obviously the twin
of the Risen Christ to whose self-appointed prophets
Bultmann (and many others on down to Wayne Boring)
had ascribed many of the inauthentic sayings of Jesus.
But at least Schenke's "Risen Paul" who
thus lives on in Geschichte had lived a previous life
in Historie. ("If once we knew [Paul] after the
flesh we know him so no longer.")
next we come to a much older theory of a Pauline School
which surely fulfills the name "Paper Apostle"
to the letter. W. C. van Manen was the greatest of
the Dutch Radical critics who sought to carry to their
logical conclusion (some would say their reductio
ad absurdum, but not me) the critical insights of
Baur and the Tubingen School. Van Manen, along with
Allard Pierson, S. A. Naber, A. D. Loman, and their
predecessor Bruno Bauer (all of whom F. C. Baur swatted
away much as Luther had dismissed Schwenkfeld and
the Schwarmerei) denied the authenticity of every
single Pauline letter. Space forbids the rehearsal
of the striking and often powerful arguments put forth
by van Manen. Suffice it to say the only "refutation"
they were ever accorded was that of the cold shoulder.
(For more details, see van Manen's English writings
in the References; also Detering's 1991 dissertation,
Paulusbriefe ohne Paulus?)
Manen saw no reason to doubt the existence of Paul
as an early Christian preacher (whose genuine itinerary,
he thought, had been preserved in Acts), but he judged
the so-called Pauline Epistles to have as little direct
connection to this early apostle as the so-called
Johannine and Petrine writings have with their historically
obscure namesakes. The epistles, van Manen argued,
display a universalizing and philosophizing tenor
unthinkable for the apocalyptic Jesus-sect pictured
in Acts or the Gospels. Their greatest affinity is
with emerging Syrian Gnosticism. Nor do they represent
the thinking of one theologian (contra the single
"Paulus Episkopus" of Pierson and Naber).
Rather, in the Pauline Epistles we are overhearing
intra-scholastic debates between different wings of
Paulinism. Has God finally cast off the Jewish people
or not? Does grace imply libertinism, as some hold?
Do some preach circumcision in Paul's name? Can women
prophesy or not?
Manen locates the home of Paulinism at Antioch, or
perhaps Asia Minor, beginning at the end of the first
century or the start of the second, thriving by 150
C.E. ("Paul," 3634). Fragments of the writings
of this gnostic Pauline circle were later compiled
into the familiar epistles, each and all of which
are in their present form redactional compositions,
finally receiving a catholicizing overlay. "We
do not know by whom the collection was made, nor yet
what influence his work had upon the traditional text.
Perhaps we may suppose that it led to some changes.
Probably the collection was not wholly the work of
one person, but arose gradually through additions"
("Old-Christian Literature," 3482). Just
like the epistles themselves.
Manen's theory belongs with the others we have lumped
together under the Paper Apostle approach even in
the sense that, like them, it tends to minimize the
time interval between the writing of the letters and
their collection. But in this case both the writing
and the collecting fell early in the second century.
find much less diversity among the theories some of
which Guthrie groups under the heading "theories
of partial collections." I, however, prefer Moule's
slow, anonymous process of accretion, the snowball
theory. We have to suppose, that is, that the intercourse
between one Pauline centre and another gradually led
to the exchange of copies of letters, until, at any
given centre, there came to be not only the letter
or letters originally sent to it, but also copies
of certain others collected from other Pauline Churches.
Thus in each centre there would come to be little
nests of letters, and gradually these would move into
wider circulation and would be augmented, until the
full number, as we know it, was reached. Then all
that remained to be done was the making of a careful
"edition" of the whole corpus. (203)
Lake had said the same in 1911 (The Earlier Epistles
of St. Paul): "Small and partial collections
came into existence in various centers, before the
Corpus in its completed form fully replaced them"
(in Mitton, 16). Similarly Zuntz (The Text of the
Epistles, 1953) suggests that "smaller collections
may have been made in and around Ephesus" (Guthrie's
N. Harrison observed that the Corinthian correspondence
was itself something of a "Pauline collection,
" of fragments. To this first Pauline anthology
was then added Romans, then later a Macedonian collection
of Philippians and Thessalonians. Together these formed
a "European Corpus." There had also been
forming an Asia Minor collection of Galatians, Colossians,
the Letter for Phoebe (Romans 16), and Philemon. [May
I take this opportunity to propose that Romans 16,
when considered a separate document, henceforth be
referred to as "Phoebe," or "Paul's
Letter for Phoebe"?] Once these had been added
on to the European Corpus, some Asian Christian penned
Ephesians on the basis of all the others (239-240).
Mowry sees it the same way: "We can distinguish
three such regions each with its own body of material,
the Asian hinterland, with Galatians, Colossians and
Philemon; Macedonia, with 1 Thessalonians and Philippians;
and Achaea with I Corinthians and Romans" ("The
Early Circulation of Paul's Letters," 1944).
Though I will return to him later in another connection,
I probably ought to include Walter Schmithals here
("On the Composition and Earliest Collection
of the Major Epistles of Paul" (1960, rev. 1965),
since he understands Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon
to have begun as a separate Asian collection, joined
only subsequently to a seven-letter collection (1
and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, l and 2
is the difference between a Paper Apostle theory like
Harnack's and the Snowball theory? Simply one of time
intervals. Snowball theories cannot credit so early
a collection as Harnack posits, nor such a later collection
ex nihilo as Goodspeed posits (see below). The collection
came to fruition fairly late, says the Snowball theory,
but we can supply the missing evolutionary link by
positing partial collections in the meantime like
small multicellular creatures joining to form a more
complex jellyfish. But, come to think of it, how did
we get the multicellular creatures? How did they evolve
from unicellular beasties? A development of the Snowball
theory supplies an answer.
Nils Dahl ("The Particularity of the Pauline
Epistles as a Problem for the Ancient Church,"
1962) and others have gathered evidence that various
of the Pauline Epistles must have circulated among
the churches between the time of their initial and
that of the formation of local collections, made from
both such encyclicals and local, hitherto-uncirculated
letters. There are copies of Romans with no addressee
and manuscripts lacking the last two chapters. Lightfoot,
Dahl reports, had already sought to account for this
textual data by suggesting Paul had sent out earlier
copies, omitting personal and merely local concerns,
to various of his churches. Lake put the shoe on the
other foot and proposed that Paul had added the specifics
to an earlier encyclical letter, making it into our
Romans (Dahl, 1962, 269) .
famous catholicizing gloss of 1 Corinthians 1:2b ("..
together with all who in every place invoke the name
of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord as well as ours.")
has been claimed by Schmithals, following Johannes
Weiss, as evidence that 1 Corinthians once led off
the Pauline Corpus. But Dahl reasoned that it might
be more naturally understood (along with other glosses
like 7:17; 11:16; 14:33) facilitating the use of 1
Corinthians by itself as an encyclical letter. (I
would go further in the same direction pursued by
those who view the letter as a set of fragments and
compare 1 Corinthians and its many "now concerning"-transitions
with the Didache, where such phrases are clearly mechanical
introductions [like Mark's redactional "immediately"s]
to new topics in a generic church manual, which is
just what I consider I Corinthians to be).
grand epilogue to Romans (16:25-27), too, might make
better sense as a way of refitting Romans for a wider
audience. Schmithals, like Weiss, takes this as evidence
that Romans closed the sevenfold corpus, and perhaps
it did, but his seems an unnecessary hypothesis, much
like the popular exegesis of Revelation 22: 18-19
as a warning meant to apply to the entire Bible.
notes that the address of Galatians, to "the
churches of Galatia," even if original, already
made that epistle more than a local possession. 2
Thessalonians she sees as a later pseudonymous encyclical
aimed at dampening the premature apocalyptic fervor
ignited by 1Thessalonians. In fact, the fabrication
of 2 Thessalonians would be symptomatic of the whole
situation as Mowry sees it: as the living voice of
charismatic prophecy fell more and more silent, the
written word was desired to fill the gap.
also without an addressee in the earliest manuscripts,
is obviously another ideal candidate for an encyclical,
a universalizing redaction of Colossians.
Bauer (Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity,
German 1934, English 1971) had long ago contended
that the only Pauline epistle we have definite allusions
to among the Apostolic Fathers is 1 Corinthians: "whenever
we come from the marshy ground of 'reminiscences'
and 'allusions' to firmer territory, again and again
we confront I Corinthians" (219). Why? Because,
as 1 Clement makes plain, the epistle was useful to
combat heretics and schismatics, foes of emerging
Roman orthodoxy. The encyclical use of 1 Corinthians
for which Dahl and Mowry argue fits Bauer's thesis
2 Corinthians? Mowry sees it as a second collection
of scraps intended to supplement its predecessor.
"II Corinthians owes its composite character
to the desire to produce something analogous in scope
to I Corinthians. If any weight attaches to this suggestion,
the inference would seem to be that I Corinthians,
at least, had already circulated locally before the
collector began his work" (81). Mowry seems to
assume that the fragments used to compile 2 Corinthians
came from the archives of the Corinthian church. But
it need not be so. "2 Corinthians" might
simply denote "a sequel to 1 Corinthians,"
just as 2 Thessalonians, on her theory, is simply
a pseudonymous sequel of sorts.
depending on what sort of Gnosticism, proto-Gnosticism,
or gnosticizing Paulinism one sniffs out in 1 Corinthians
(and I for one still think Schmithals's case a pretty
good one), one might even want to reconsider one of
Simone Petrement's fascinating guesses (A Separate
God): that there is some connection between "Corinthians"
and "Cerinthians." She thinks that "Cerinthus"
was like "Ebion," an unhistorical eponymous
founder, posited by heresiologists, in this case,
of a gnosis originally associated with the Corinthians.
I would turn it around, rehabilitate Cerinthus, and
ask if the antiheretical "Corinthian" epistles
are punningly referring to Cerinthian Jewish Gnostics.
Knowing that the historical Paul lived before Cerinthus'
activity, he could not be made to address him directly,
but some readers would take the hint, just as they
did the winking reference to Marcion's Antitheses
and heretical gnosis in 1 Timothy 6: 20.
can use Mowry's thinking on 1 and 2 Corinthians also
to shed light on the origin of the apocryphal 3 Corinthians.
The writer of the Acts of Paul obligingly constructed
a fictive Sitz-im-Leben for the letter when he elected
to include it in his narrative, but in its previous
circulation, how had it justified its name? What was
its connection with Corinth? Most likely none. But
it was an attempt at a third antiheretical, and thus
"Corinthian," letter. In fact, as the Acts
of Paul is singularly bereft of definite allusions
to any canonical Pauline Epistles at all (even the
Iconium Beatitudes are an independent reflection of
the paraenetic material shared with 1 Corinthians,
as I attempt to show in my "The Acts and Apocalypses
of Paul: Do They Know the Pauline Epistles?,"
forthcoming), I suspect that 3 Corinthians was the
only "Pauline" letter available to the author
of the Acts of Paul. And this was no accident. 3 Corinthians,
which reads much like the short apocryphal Laodiceans,
is a cento of phrases filched from canonical Pauline
texts. My guess is that 3 Corinthians was a local
attempt to supplant and replace the Pauline collection
which had, as Walter Bauer and Goodspeed suggest,
become guilty by association with the heretics who
so loved it.
just mentioned, E. J. Goodspeed and Walter Bauer (together
with Hans von Campenhausen and others) have maintained
that throughout the second century we meet a crashing
silence as regards the Pauline Epistles. Justin Martyr,
in his voluminous writings, never mentions Paul. When
he is mentioned by various writers, Paul has nothing
distinctive to say, is a pale shadow and obedient
lackey of the Twelve, as in Acts. When Ignatius, Polycarp,
and 1 Clement (all much too blithely taken for genuine
early second-century writings, in my opinion) make
reference to Pauline letters, as Bauer noted, they
sound almost like an ill-prepared student trying to
fake his way through a discussion of a book he neglected
to read. 1 Clement (47:1) appears to have thought
there was but a single Pauline letter to Corinth.
Ignatius (Ephesians 12:2) somehow imagined that Paul
had eulogized the Ephesians in every one of his epistles.
Polycarp thought there were several letters to Philippi
(Philippians 3:2) and that all Paul's letters mentioned
the excellent Philippians (11:3) . The special pleading
of Andreas Lindemann (e.g., Lindemann, "Paul
in the Writings of the Apostolic Fathers," in
Babcock [ed.] Paul and the Legacies of Paul, 1990,
25-43) attempting to reinterpret these peculiar references
as well as to supply some citations of Paul for these
writings, only serves to underline the embarrassment
of his position.
also saw a period of neglect of the Pauline literature,
only he placed it earlier, between Paul's death and
the collection of the corpus about 90. Bauer saw the
church in the role of Peter, denying his Lord when
the latter's popularity waned, or, perhaps better,
like the haughty scribes who shunned Jesus because
they didn't like the riffraff he associated with.
Goodspeed, on the other hand, might have likened the
church who neglected Paul to that "wicked lazy
servant" who buried the valuable talent in the
ground. Bauer would not disagree with this. Implicit
in his theory, too, as John Knox puts it, is that
Paul had never had the centrality in his own lifetime
that the publication of his letters gave him posthumously.
But in any case, that influence was a long time coming,
according to Bauer, Goodspeed, Knox and C. Leslie
Mitton. And then, through the labors of a single individual,
the first collector of the Pauline Epistles, "Paul
becomes a literary influence" (in the words of
A. E. Barnett, like Knox, a disciple of Goodspeed).
We may call this the "Second Coming" approach.
essentials of Goodspeed's widely discussed theory
are easily stated. Taking up an idea put forth earlier
by Johannes Weiss ("Der erste Korintherbrlef,"
Meyer Kommentar V 1910; Das Urchristentum 1917, 534)
and Adolf Julicher, that Ephesians had been written
by the first editor of the Pauline collection, Goodspeed
argued that Paul's influence had sputtered out until
the publication of Luke's Acts reawakened interest
in the great Apostle. This would have happened about
90 C. E. Someone in the Ephesian church (Goodspeed
nominated Onesimus) read Acts and thrilled to the
gospel exploits of the man to whom he owed so much.
If the reader were Onesimus, as John Knox would subsequently
argue with some ingenuity (Philemon Among the Letters
of Paul, 1935), he had Paul to thank both for his
freedom and his Christian faith. But in any case,
Goodspeed pictured a man who cherished his church's
copies of Colossians and Philemon. Reading Acts set
him to wondering whether there might be more such
epistolary gems in the various churches whose apostolic
founding he had read of in the Acts. So he set out
to retrace Paul's steps, and his hunch bore out.
church clerks at Rome, Corinth, Thessalonika, Galatia,
and Philippi did manage to retrieve copies that had
languished beneath old church ledgers, membership
rolls, and Sunday School lessons. They blew the dust
off and handed them over. Like the new owner of the
treasure hidden in the field, Onesimus (or whoever)
went on his way rejoicing. Back in his study, as he
thought over the matter, he was both determined to
share his discovery with the wider Christian world
and uncertain as to the best way to do it. At length
he hit upon the idea of publishing a collection of
the letters and writing a kind of digest of Pauline
sentiments, a new Colossians but beefed up with gems
from the Septuagint and Paul's other letters, to serve
as an introduction to the whole. This new epistle
bore no title. But seeing it was published in Ephesus
and began circulating outward from there, people eventually
took it for a genuine epistle and simply assumed it
had been mailed by Paul to the city whence it had
emerged. Thus it came to be known as the Epistle to
the Ephesians .
had essentially cast Onesimus in Goodspeed's own role
of reviving and noising abroad the neglected work
of a noble predecessor (in Goodspeed's case, Johannes
Weiss and his theory about Ephesians and the Pauline
Corpus). What evidence led him to draw this conclusion?
Goodspeed observed that Christian writings dating
before circa 90 C. E. betray no evidence of familiarity
with Paul's letters or influence by him. Here Goodspeed
is thinking mainly of the Synoptic Gospels. But after
90 Paul's shadow is long and falls across the whole
literary landscape. His ideas echo in the pages of
Hebrews, 1 Clement, 1 Peter, and the Gospel of John.
The sudden flood of epistles and, particularly of
sevenfold epistle collections (Revelation 1-3; Ignatius,
Dionysius of Corinth) all attest the great impact
of Paul's letters organized as to seven churches,
with the Corinthian letters being conflated or at
least counted together, likewise the Thessalonians,
and even Philemon riding the coattails of Colossians.
happened in or around 90 C.E. that could account for
such an overnight change? One thing, said Goodspeed:
the publication of the Acts of the Apostles. It was
the catalyst for the publication of the Pauline Corpus.
These are the main lines of Goodspeed's argument.
Several problems became evident at once, and critics
were not slow in pointing them out. For one thing,
the degree of Pauline influence on this or that document
is largely in the eye of the beholder. Ralph Martin
makes Mark, not unreasonably, a Paulinist gospel.
And whence the talk of "justifying" oneself
and of being "justified" In Luke? And is
not Paul in view in Matthew 5:17-19? On the other
hand, is John's Gospel so very Pauline?
same problem arises with respect to Goodspeed's dates.
Guthrie thinks Goodspeed dated everything too late.
I would have the opposite objection. Why not place
the gospels in the early to mid-second century? And
for Acts itself, even Goodspeed's own disciple Knox
places it just before 150 C.E. (Though otherwise he
follows Goodspeed as loyally as Onesimus followed
Paul, Knox does not think Onesimus would have needed
to read Acts to be moved to collect the epistles.)
the sevenfold collections: one has to cheat (as Schmithals
points out) to squeeze Philemon together with Colossians.
And need John of Patmos have derived the idea of seven
letters from Paul? The Apocalypse is fairly crawling
with sevens (as Guthrie noted against Goodspeed),
and not even Goodspeed dared claim John got all of
them from Paul.
thinks Goodspeed made Onesimus into a first-century
Tischendorf, traveling to exotic locales hot on the
trail of rare manuscript finds. Apparently Tyrrell's
quip about the nineteenth-century questers for the
historical Jesus applied no less to questers for the
origins of the Pauline collection: they looked down
a deep well and saw only their own faces reflected.
And no doubt F. F. Bruce is correct when he dismisses
the whole thing as "a romantic embellishment"
(in Patzia, 88). Specifically, it is cut from the
same bolt as the patristic fictions of Mark the evangelist
being Peter's major domo or Luke playing Bones to
Paul's Kirk ("Damn it, Paul, I'm a doctor, not
an ecclesiastical historian!").
Knox, and Mitton are happy to be able to point to
Walter Bauer's thesis to strengthen their contention
for a period of Pauline neglect, but Bauer had a rather
different candidate in mind for the herald of Paul's
second coming: Marcion of Pontus, the second founder
of Pauline Christianity. "I would regard him
as the first systematic collector of the Pauline heritage"
(221). This opinion, like Goodspeed's, was hardly
unprecedented. F. C. Burkitt had hazarded the same
we consider Marcion's special interest in S. Paul,
he being, according to Marcion, the only one who understood
the doctrine that Jesus came to deliver to mankind;
and when, further, we remember that Marcion was perhaps
more of a traveller than any other Christian in the
second century, and therefore had opportunities for
collection above most of his contemporaries; when
we consider these things, we may be permitted to wonder
whether Marcion may not have been the first to make
a regular collection of the Pauline Epistles. (318-319)
Bauer and Burkitt, by the way, recognized that at
least 1 Corinthians must already have circulated widely
before Marcion's collection.)
an advocate of Goodspeed's Onesimus as the first collector,
seems to realize he really should follow Bauer's lead
instead. After all, in Knox's neglected Marcion and
the New Testament (1942) he demonstrates the soundness
of the view defended by F. C. Baur, Ritschl, Volkmar,
and Hilgenfeld that Marcion's gospel was not an abridgment
of canonical Luke but rather a more modest abridgment
of a shorter Ur-Lukas subsequently used also by the
writer/redactor of canonical Luke-Acts in the second
century (Knox, 1942, chapter IV). Among other arguments
Knox shows how distinctively (canonical-) Lukan themes
and favorite vocabulary are thickly concentrated in
special Lukan material not shared with Marcion's text
(according to patristic citation) but are largely
absent from material common to Marcion's text and
canonical Luke. Sometimes mundane non-Lukan synonyms
appear where canonical Luke has favorite Lukan words,
and none of these have any conceivable theological-polemical
relevance (i.e., Marcion wouldn't have switched them,
whereas they are just the sort of stylistic changes
Luke regularly makes in his Markan Vorlage).
make a long story short, Knox argues persuasively,
along many lines, that Luke-Acts was a second-century
Catholic response to Marcion's Sputnik, the Apostolicon.
Canonical Luke was a catholicizing expansion of the
same Ur-Lukas Marcion had slightly abbreviated, while
Acts was a sanitized substitute for Marcion's Pauline
Corpus. Thus it presents a Paul who, though glorified,
is co-opted, made the merest Narcissus-reflection
of the Twelve--and who writes no epistles, but only
delivers an epistle from the Jerusalem apostles! Knox
sees the restoration of the Pauline letters (domesticated
by the "dangerous supplement" of the Pastorals)
and the addition of three other gospels and several
non-Pauline epistles, In short the whole formation
of the New Testament canon, as a response to the challenge
of Marcion and the Marcionite church.
light of all this, why does not Knox abandon Goodspeed,
as Andrew and his friends did John the Baptist, and
attach himself to Bauer instead? There are four reasons.
First, he believes the Catholic Pauline collection
reflects a different text than Marcion's, so it must
be based on another version of the Corpus already
available before Marcion. But, on the one hand, Knox
himself admits we cannot know for sure how Marcion's
text read since we read it through the thick lenses
of the Catholic apologists. And they, in turn, may
have read an already-evolved post-Marcion text from
the Marcionite church or the sect of Apelles. On the
other hand, why not assume that Marcion's opponents
simply reacted to Marcion's collection by making their
own collection of Pauline letters from different sources?
As we have already seen, it is likely enough that,
if one looked hard enough, one could find one's own
texts of 1 Corinthians, Romans, and perhaps any of
the others. Even Bauer does not ask us to believe
that no one had access to the Pauline Epistles before
Marcion, as if he had discovered them in a cave at
Qumran. If the Catholic Pauline Corpus was a counter-collection
(not just the same collection of texts, but restoring
Marcion's omissions) then the question of a variant
textual tradition need not worry us overmuch. Knox
imagines Bauer's theory to require so to speak, a
Catholic edition of the RSV, when it could just as
easily have entailed a fresh Catholic corpus like
the Jerusalem Bible.
second reason for rejecting Marcion as the first collector
is that he believes, contra Bauer, that the Apostolic
Fathers do show familiarity with various Pauline letters.
The only way to settle this is to compare each supposed
allusion with the corresponding Pauline text and to
ask whether we are dealing rather with a similar turn
of phrase or a piece of common ecclesiastical jargon.
Admittedly, we do still find Polycarp to be filled
with Paulinisms, but in this case the allusions suggest
too much. Polycarp reveals itself upon close inspection
to be little more than a clumsy and pointless pastiche
composed of Pauline and Pastoral formulas. Anyone
might have written it, and one would certainly have
expected the great Polycarp to have had a bit more
of his own to say. It is only sleepy acquiescence
to church tradition that causes "critical"
scholars, weary with debates over Pauline authenticity,
to accept Polycarp to the Philippians at face value.
(And think of "1 Clement," as anonymous
as Hebrews!) So Knox ought to have thought twice before
banishing Bauer by invoking Polycarp.
cannot imagine the collection taking place so late
as Marcion, since Ephesians already presupposes the
other nine letters. But R. Joseph Hoffmann (Marcion:
On the Restitution of Christianity, 1984) argues quite
cogently that "Laodiceans" was not merely
Marcion's name for our familiar Ephesians; instead
it was an earlier Marcionite version. Just as canonical
Luke is a catholicized, anti-Marcionite version of
Ur-Lukas, so, according to Hoffmann (a latter-day
admirer of Knox's book on Marcion), canonical Ephesians
is a catholicized reworking of an original Marcionite
Laodiceans. And this Laodiceans was the work of Marcion
himself (274-280). (As with Knox's argument on Luke,
Marcion's gospel, and the Ur-Lukas, one must engage
Hoffmann's extensive exegesis before reaching a judgment.
It is impossible to present it adequately here.)
is interesting to note that van Manen had made almost
exactly the same diagnosis of
(in which we read of an encounter between Paul and
the Jerusalem Pillars strikingly reminiscent of Marcion's
clash with the Roman church hierarchy!): it was at
first a Marcionite text, later catholicized by his
opponents who then covered their tracks by accusing
Marcion of abbreviating it ("Paul," 3627).
identification of Marcion as possibly being the first
collector is now generally considered to be dead in
the water, though, ironically, for almost the opposite
reason to one of Knox's. He felt the difference between
Marcion's text and that of the Catholic edition of
Paul implied Marcion had chosen one of perhaps several
editions of the Corpus already available. But scholars
including Nils Dahl ("The Origin of the Earliest
Prologues to the Pauline Letters," 1978) and
John J. Clabeaux (A Lost Edition of the Letters of
Paul, 1989) think they have found evidence of a widespread
textual tradition to which Marcion's text appears
to have belonged. In other words, now it is Marcion's
textual similarity to non-Marcionite texts of Paul
that eliminates him as the first collector. How have
things turned about? It is no longer solely a question
of textual relatedness or difference. We have already
suggested that the availability of several copies
of various individual Pauline letters would have allowed
different collections of the same documents to reflect
different streams of textual transmission. (And by
far most of Clabeaux's valuable study simply reinforces
this conclusion: not surprisingly, other editions
of Paul had drawn on some of the same textual streams
as Marcion's did.)
new factor is the possibility that Marcion's collection
was simply an edited version of a Pauline Corpus already
arranged in the same distinctive order, an order that
had been considered Marcion's innovation: Galatians
first (no surprise if he himself wrote it!), then
1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Romans, 1 Thessalonians,
2 Thessalonians, Laodiceans/Ephesians, Colossians,
Philippians, Philemon. This order, or something like
it, is attested in only two other places: in the so-called
Marcionite Prologues, and in the Old Syriac canon
as attested in Ephraim and in a canon list from the
late third century. If these instances could be shown
not to derive from Marcion's Apostolicon, we would
see them instead as evidence of a more widely current
edition of the Corpus with this arrangement. Dahl,
building upon the argument of Hermann Josef Frede
(Altlateinische Paulus-Handschriften, 1964), tries
to disassociate both sources from Marcion. His argument
centers on the theological slant of the Prologues.
two major arguments, it seems to me, are, first, that
the "false apostles" everywhere denounced
in the Prologues as Paul's opponents need not be the
Judaizing Twelve of Marcionite polemic and, second,
that Paul is not pictured as the sole authentic apostle
in the Prologues. I think he is wrong, at least wholly
unpersuasive, on both counts.
the pseudo-apostles of Corinth are said to represent
"the sect of the Jewish Law" (secta [-am]
legis Judaicae). This by itself could mean many things,
but the Prologue to Romans speaks of the unwary being
lured by the false apostles "in to the Law and
the Prophets" as opposed to "the true Evangelical
faith." Dahl's attempt to evade the force of
the "Law and Prophets vs. Gospel" opposition
is blatant special pleading (260). If the author of
the Prologue was not a Marcionite, he had a funny
way of showing it.
also thinks that the Corinthian Prologue depicts Paul
fighting on two different fronts, against two different
groups of the false apostles, one specializing in
"the Jewish Law, " to be sure, while the
other dealt in "the wordy eloquence of philosophy."
But this simply reflects the contents of the Corinthian
letters themselves (to borrow Dahl's own observation
on the Galatian Prologue) and in no way means the
Prologuist did not view the Corinthian opponents of
Paul as the Jerusalem Pillars. After all, F. C. Baur
thought the same thing.
as for the possibility that the Prologue to Corinthians
speaks favorably of other apostles besides Paul, there
is some textual confusion here. Where Dahl reads that
the Corinthians "heard the word of truth from
the apostles," plural, ab apostalis, he is making
a text-critical choice. A number of manuscripts do
have this reading, but others have it the way Knox
reads it, with the singular ab apostolo, "from
the Apostle." In view of the fact that the singular
(ab revocat apostolus) occurs also at the conclusion
of the Corinthian prologue, the most likely option
is surely that the plural reading preferred by Dahl
is an orthodox, catholicizing "correction."
Dahl's own motive in attempting to read the Prologues
as endorsing Cephas and Apollos alongside Paul is
obviously the same(259).
the Prologues remain tilting to the Marcionite side,
their order must be assumed to derive from the Apostolicon
of Marcion. What about the Old Syriac? Of this Dahl
arrangement of the letters in the Old Syriac version
seems to be due to an amalgamation of an order like
that of Marcion and the Prologues for the first four
letters and an order more like that of our Greek manuscripts
for the others. Textual affinities are not so striking
that they suggest Marcionite influence upon the Old
Syriac version of Paul. (254)
other words, the textual evidence is inconclusive.
And in that case, why simply assume it was "an
order like that of Marcion" and not Marcion's
(80) accepts most of Goodspeed's reconstruction, save
that she fills in the tunnel period as we have seen,
with the circulation of individual epistles. As for
Marcion, Mowry hypothesizes that he obtained a copy
of Goodspeed's/Onesimus' ten-letter (or seven-church)
Corpus but, having learned of earlier versions of
individual letters, he obtained them and undertook
his own critical edition on that basis. This would
explain Marcion's use of the short ending of Romans,
the encyclical version. But if there is good reason
to accept Marcion as the first collector (and, with
Burkitt and Bauer, we may ask who could be a more
obvious choice?), why not simply turn Mowry's reconstruction
on its head and suggest, as we have above, that it
was the Catholic opposition who scrambled to assemble
their own counter-collection from different textual
sources? The one seems as likely as the other. Obviously
all such speculations remain educated guesses, unverifiable
at present, as Burkitt admitted. But why is the identification
of Marcion as the first collector so unthinkable even
to someone like Knox who comes so close? We may, again,
only speculate that Guthrie speaks for many: "It
is highly improbable that a heretic should have been
the first to appreciate the value of the Pauline corpus"
(644). The hands are the hands of historical criticism,
but the voice is the voice of Eusebian apologetics.
reviewed several distinct theories of how the Pauline
Corpus first came to be, we must now give some attention
to the disputed question whether all of our texts
of the Pauline Epistles descend and diverge from a
particular, definitive edition of the Pauline Corpus.
This is not to ask whether there had ever been different
Pauline collections or different ancient editions.
Almost everyone agrees that there would have been.
But did one of these supersede all the others to form
the basis of all extant manuscripts? Or do our manuscripts
still reflect, because they descend from, several,
albeit quite similar, Pauline Corpus editions? Let
us survey a handful of proposals of a definitive archetype.
decided that the best way to account for a Pauline
textual tradition that differs so much in minor respects,
but hardly at all in major ones, was to posit the
compilation of a definitive variorum edition about
a half-century after the original writings. In the
meantime there would have been extensive copying of
various individual letters, giving rise to the variants
catalogued in the archetype. The only tradition of
ancient scholarship capable of producing such a critical
text was the Alexandrian, and there seemed to Zuntz
no particular reason to prevent our locating the operation
in Alexandria itself. Zuntz also believed he could
identify several glosses introduced into the text
by the Alexandrian scholars. Later scribes who made
copies on the basis of the resultant master-text would
not be so careful (pedantic?) as to bother noting
variant readings but, like some modern Bible translators,
would simply choose one of the alternatives in each
case and go on. Thus the definitive edition carried
the seeds of its own undoing. In broad outline F.
F. Bruce accepts Zuntz's reconstruction. As we will
see, others think quite differently.
Schmithals, notorious for his division of most of
the Pauline Epistles into hypothetical earlier fragmentary
letters, adopted the older theory of Johannes Weiss
that the earliest collection of Paul's letters must
have begun with 1 Corinthians (the catholicizing gloss
in 1:2 introducing the whole Corpus to a wider readership)
and ended with Romans (the grand doxology of 16:25-27
ringing down the curtain on a broader ecumenical stage).
Schmithals pictured an original seven-letter collection
excluding Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, as
well as, of course, the later Pastorals. (These may
have been, a la Trobisch, two independent three-letter
collections later appended to the original.) The number
seven was important to the compiler/collector, just
as it was to John of Patmos, to Ignatius, and to Eusebius
the collector of the letters of Dionysius of Corinth
because it "expressed original and perfect unity"
(261). The Corpus was meant to stand for the truth
of Catholic orthodoxy against Gnostic heresy.
it was this symbolic constraint (again, felt by various
other letter collectors as well) that provides the
motive for the compiler stitching together the various
Pauline fragments as he did. He could not leave any
of the precious text on the cutting room floor so,
by hook or by crook, he got it all in. This scenario
would also account for the anti-Gnostic polemic Schmithals
finds in every letter. It is not so much that Schmithals
thinks Paul was a first-century Joe McCarthy looking
for a Gnostic under every bush. Rather, it was the
concern of the redactor to include some of Paul's
anti-Gnostic polemic in each of the seven letters.
feels that Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon do
not show signs of the distinctive hand of the redactor
and so cannot have belonged to the original collection.
He knows that Goodspeed and Knox, who also invoke
the analogy of other early Christian seven-letter
collections, try to squeeze in these three by combining
the pairs of Corinthian and Thessalonian letters,
but Schmithals says that to go on and make Philemon
and Colossians count as one letter is to force a square
peg into a round hole. Schmithals points out that
the key thing is not letters to seven churches (neither
the Ignatian nor the Dionysian collection fits that
pattern, some letters being to individuals, others
to more than one congregation), but rather seven letters
to churches. Thus Schmithals anticipated the criticism
of Gamble ("The Redaction of the Pauline Letters
and the Formation of the Pauline Corpus," 1975)
that it had to be seven letters to seven churches
for the symbolism to make any sense. Perhaps so, but
don't tell Schmithals, tell the compilers of the letters
of Dionysius and Ignatius.
to place and time, Schmithals approves Harnack's location
of the compilation at Corinth, and he thinks it happened
already by the 80s. The first collector was the redactor,
and he bequeathed us our archetype.
Munro (Authority in Paul and Peter, 1983) argued with
great ingenuity and attention both to general criteria
and to specific detail that all our copies of Paul's
epistles descend from a particular archetype which,
unlike Zuntz and Schmithals, she does not identify
with the original collection. She demonstrates the
existence of a comprehensive and systematic set of
textual interpolations across the whole Pauline Corpus
as well as 1 Peter (long recognized as something of
a Paulinist adjunct anyway). These interpolations
stand out because of their great affinity with the
socio-political stance and pious quietism of the Pastorals
and for their clash with the many elements of apocalyptic
egalitarianism and sectarian radicalism in the other
Pauline letters. Munro reviews a raft of previous
critical treatments of these jarring "subjection
texts" and notes that not infrequently scholars
would peg this or that individual text (e.g., Romans
13:1-7; Ephesians 5:21-33- I Corinthians 11:1-16;
14:34-38) as a possible interpolation. Munro draws
all these suggestions together, isolates criteria
for identifying what she calls a "Pastoral stratum,"
and uncovers several more passages of the same type.
not come from the original collector and redactor
of a Pauline letter corpus, but from different circles
at a more advanced stage of Christian history. The
later stratum, together with the Pastoral epistles,
will therefore be characterized as 'Pastoral' or trito-Pauline...
its milieu is the Roman hellenism of the first half
of the second century, when the Christian movement
was prey to sporadic persecution, but was nevertheless
hopeful that it might gain recognition and tolerance
from the Roman authorities under the Antonine emperors.
the Pastoral redactor couldn't have been either the
first collector or one who reissued the Corpus in
a new edition after a period of neglect. In either
of these cases, Munro feels sure, the Pastoral reviser
would have been much freer to excise remaining elements
of Pauline radicalism distasteful to him. "The
inescapable conclusion is that the ten-letter collection
was in circulation at the time of the Pastoral revision.
That means it must have been taken over from an opposition
group and revised in order to counteract its influence"
(141-142). Dennis R. MacDonald makes much the same
case, though in brief outline, in The Legend and the
Apostle (1983, 85-89). He, too, sees the hand of the
Pastor in the editing of what became our textual archetype,
though in my opinion his profile of the opponents
in view is more convincing than Munro's. He makes
them a motley collection of encratite Christian radicals,
whereas Munro speaks more narrowly of Jewish-Christian
us remind ourselves briefly of Trobisch: his theory
certainly entails an archetype Corpus, since his method
depends significantly on the study of the order of
the Pauline letters in extant manuscripts. He notes
that various canon lists have atypical orders but
that virtually no extant manuscripts do. And he ascribes
the order, at least of Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians,
and Galatians to Paul. Paul himself edited this collection
and provided the archetype. Trobisch leaves unanswered
(even unasked ) the question as to whether there were
other collections made after Paul's death by Christians
ignorant of the sheaf of copies he had sent to Ephesus.
If so, they must have utilized copies of the unedited
versions of Paul's letters. Which edition would have
been considered more authoritative?
Zuntz, Bruce, Schmithals, Munro, MacDonald, and Trobisch
believe a single archetype edition lies behind all
extant manuscripts, their agreement is impressive
but by no means unanimous. Significant voices taking
the opposite view include Kurt Aland and Harry Gamble.
Aland pronounces thusly on the matter:
opinion that a uniform "ur-Corpus" of seven
Pauline Epistles had been collected by the close of
the first century, from which all later witnesses
have descended, is nothing but a "phantasy of
wishful thinking" .... by about A. D. 90 several
"Ur-Corpora" of Pauline Epistles began to
be made available at various places, and . . . these
collections, of differing extent, could have included
some or all of the following: 1 and 2 Corinthians,
Hebrews, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians.
Eventually other traditional Pauline Epistles were
added to the several collections and a more or less
stabilized collection finally emerged. (in Patzia,
several publications Gamble voices essentially the
same sentiments. And yet one should not imagine that
Aland and Gamble envision a radically diverse textual
tradition: just the opposite. In general, they believe,
the stream of textual transmission flowed pure and
without deviation. It was like that disciple of Rabbi
Johannon ben Zakkai, a plastered cistern that lost
not a drop. No archetypal ur-Corpus was needed to
ensure faithful transmission of the text, and so none
is needed to account theoretically for textual near-unanimity.
then, the Pauline textual tradition goes back to multiple
sources, it remains a matter of note in relation to
redactional hypotheses [like Schmithals's] that the
forms of the Pauline letters remain fundamentally
the same in all known witnesses. Except in the case
of Romans [with its longer and shorter endings], the
tradition preserves no textual evidence that any of
the letters ever had basically different forms than
the forms in which we know them. The case of Romans
offers the exception that proves the rule: when textual
revisions have taken place they have left their marks
in the evidence. (1975, 418)
other words, there is just enough textual variation
to show that there was not a uniform and universal
archetype (in which case all texts would agree completely),
but there is by no means enough textual variation
to indicate the existence of significantly different
it seems entirely possible, even most probable, to
other scholars that earlier, shorter (non-interpolated)
versions of Pauline letters might once have existed
and yet without managing to leave any traces in the
manuscript tradition. There are two factors, distinct
but compatible, that Aland, Gamble, Zahn and their
congeners ignore. First, during the process of early,
informal circulation, as well as in the course of
making local letter collections, or of Aland's "several
Ur-Corpora," it seems likely that scribes comparing
longer with shorter versions of the same epistle would
harmonize the two, always following the longer reading.
Mowry understood this: "The new collection came
into immediate demand, and soon supplanted every other
edition still in circulation. But copies of letters,
in the form they had had when circulating individually
and locally, survived here and there and left their
mark either directly or indirectly in [the] manuscript
tradition... Their textual additions survived; their
omissions tended to disappear" (86).
once a book came to be officially adopted in a particular
form, older forms which lacked any such ecclesiastical
approval tended to disappear. Manuscripts would gradually,
and fairly rapidly, be conformed to the "correct"
text. The process would never have become complete,
and thus we have the various local texts, which emerge
clearly enough in the early third century. These,
however, differ relatively little from one another;
and that is true not because the autographs were so
faithfully followed in the late first and early second
centuries but rather, on the contrary, because official
editions and publications so completely drove the
autographs (if there were any surviving) and their
descendants from the field. (1942, 131)
O. Walker ("The Burden of Proof in Identifying
Interpolations in the Pauline Letters," 1987)
is not surprised that there should be no surviving
manuscript evidence for interpolations which critics
identify on literary grounds: "Indeed, if a collector-editor's
real goal was to include all available Pauline writings,
as seems at least plausible, the tendency almost inevitably
would have been to err on the side of inclusion, not
of exclusion. In addition, deliberate or inadvertent
interpolations may well have been introduced prior
to the final editing of the letters. Also to be noted
in this context, of course, is the well-documented
practice of copying glosses into the texts of later
his The Recovery of Paul's Letter to the Galatians
(1972), J. C. O'Neill anticipates
objection... that we might well expect that more texts
than Marcion and D would exhibit consequential texts
[i.e., without the verses O'Neill proposes to excise
as a gloss]. My answer is that scribes would on the
whole prefer to transcribe the longest text, being
unwilling to lose anything precious. Every addition
would tend to be recorded, even if the addition depended
for its sense on an omission that the scribe was unwilling
to adopt [cf., those copies of Mark containing both
the longer and shorter endings] . That means that
[e.g., ] Vaticanus in fact bears traces of the whole
history of the text. That history cannot, however,
be read from Vaticanus, without evidence from other
manuscripts which have gone a different way. (36)
other consideration neglected by Aland and Gamble
is the possibility of official ecclesiastical suppression
of earlier shorter or otherwise "deviant"
text forms. Winsome Munro thinks of it in terms of
more or less voluntary conformity within the orthodox
episcopacy was probably not yet firmly established
in the Aegean region [at the time of the Pastoral
revision], it would have been possible to maintain
a standard text within orthodox circles. Acceptance
of this ecclesiastical authority would have involved
adherence to the scriptures and revisions of scripture
it authorized, and rejection or deviation therefore
would have spelt expulsion. (143)
of the revulsion with which fundamentalists greeted
the debut of the RSV. Certainly none would be caught
dead with anything but King James in church.
sectarian "heretics" would not be eager
to share their cherished scripture versions with their
religious opponents, so neither side probably had
much to fear in the way of textual infection. And
when these sects expired their scriptures were buried
with them: witness, e. g ., the dearth of Bogomil
or Catharist scriptures.
envisions a slightly later situation in which internalized
authority might prove insufficient:
only know that the surviving text of the Pauline letters
is the text promoted by the historical winners in
the theological and ecclesiastical struggles of the
second and third centuries. Marcion's text disappeared
- another example, no doubt, of the well-documented
practice of suppressing and even destroying what some
Christians regarded as deficient, defective, deviant,
or dangerous texts. In short, it appears likely that
the emerging Catholic leadership in the churches "standardized"
the text of the Pauline corpus in the light of "orthodox"
views and practices, suppressing and even destroying
all deviant texts and manuscripts. Thus it is that
we have no manuscripts dating from earlier than the
third century; thus it is that all of the extant manuscripts
are remarkably similar in most of their significant
cannot help but wonder if text-critical theories like
those of Gamble and Aland, Zahn and Harnack, Metzger
and Fee, are simply contemporary attempts to safeguard
that official sanitized textual tradition in the interests
of the same ecclesiastical establishment that produced
the text they so jealously guard.
composing a survey like this one, it is scarcely possible
to avoid reaching some tentative conclusions of one's
own. I will take the liberty of sharing them here.
Most of them will by now come as no surprise.
use of Romans and 1 Corinthians, followed later by
the sequel 2 Corinthians, as encyclicals seems quite
likely, as does local exchange and circulation of
other letters. And the question of authorship would
have little bearing here one way or the other. In
this process, interpolations were made and then gradually
permeated the text tradition of each letter until
final canonization of the Pastoral edition (and concurrent
burning of its rivals) put a stop to all that.
the first collector of the Pauline Epistles had been
Marcion. No one else we know of would be a good candidate,
certainly not the essentially fictive Luke, Timothy,
and Onesimus. And Marcion, as Burkitt and Bauer show,
fills the bill perfectly. Of the epistles themselves,
he is probably the original author of Laodiceans,
the Vorlage of Ephesians) and perhaps of Galatians,
too. Like Muhammad in the Koran, he would have read
his own struggles back into the careers of his biblical
adapted the now-lost Ur-Lukas and combined it with
his ten-letter Pauline Corpus to form the Apostolicon.
As Knox perceived clearly, our canonical Luke tried
to supplant Marcion's gospel, augmenting the pre-Marcionite
Ur-Lukas with new, catholicizing and anti-Marcionite
material of various sorts. Canonical Luke succeeded
in this effort (again, the longer displaces the shorter).
And a la Knox, the Acts of the Apostles (with its
Peter-clone Paul who writes no letters but only delivers
them for the Twelve) was intended to replace the dangerous
Corpus of "the apostle of the heretics."
But, like Jacob, it only managed to usurp priority
over Esau (even today subtly governing the way historical
critics read the Pauline Epistles). The Pauline Corpus
survived alongside it.
modification I would make in Knox's reconstruction
is to factor in Jerome D. Quinn's proposal that the
author of Luke-Acts was the author of the Pastoral
Epistles and that he intended a tripartite work, on
the pattern of contemporary collections of documents
about or by a famous figure and concluding with a
letter or collection of letters by the great man.
Luke-Acts-Pastorals would then be a "tripartite
tractate" to counter Marcion's scripture, the
Pastorals meaning to supplant the earlier letters.
I suspect the redacted Ephesians and 3 Corinthians
were originally similar Pauline "diatessarons"
aiming but failing to replace Marcion's Pauline Corpus.
( I should note that Knox did, of course, regard the
Pastoral Epistles as post-Marcion and anti-Marcion;
he just didn't group them with Luke-Acts.)
the Corpus could not be eliminated, Plan B was to
reissue them in a sanitized edition, domesticated
by means of the Pastoral stratum. From there on in,
it became easier to destroy rival versions of the
Pauline letters. The Gospels of Mark and Matthew were
added. and so was John once it had undergone "ecclesiastical
redaction" ( Bultmann), just like Laodiceans
and Ur-Lukas. How interesting that, just as Acts has
Paul chained to a Roman guard on either side, so are
the most "heretical" of New Testament writings
escorted by watchful catholic sentinels on both sides:
John is bracketed between Luke and Acts, Paul's letters
between Acts and the Pastorals. They shouldn't offer
nondescript Catholic Epistles were spuriously ascribed
to the Pillar Apostles so as to dilute Paul's voice
yet further. There was even an attempt to fabricate
an innocuous replacement for the Marcionite Laodiceans.
It didn't catch on, though it did manage to fool Harnack
I observe that the idea of the Pauline collection
serves as something of an allegory of reading (Paul
de Man), or rather perhaps an allegory of writing,
for the present paper. For one finds oneself in the
role of Onesimus or Marcion, rounding up all the various
theories on the origin of the corpus, collecting both
the well-known and the obscure. One puts them together
and finally writes one's own Laodiceans/Ephesians,
this paper, to introduce one's collection to a wider
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Expository Times, LXIII (1951-52). 296ff.
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" ibid . cols . 3603-3606, 3620-3638.
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