Devon (nameherlover) wrote in bible_as_lit,

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Paul's Letters / Pseudo Paul

I haven't had time to read through this entire community, so if this topic has already been discussed, I apologize, though fill me in commentary is welcome.


Alright. I'm a religious studies major and I've recently taken a class- Gender in Early Christianity. It was quite the intrigue. It wet my palatte. I had a debate with a fellow student one day during a Mock Trial meeting. He's originally from GA and very very religious. In his words, "Whatever is written in the Bible I believe as true.."

Now, he is a very intelligent individual, so I'm not looking for comments about the absurdity of his statement, or how valid of a point he made. I'm just giving you an idea of the type of gentleman I was dealing with. Now, I tilted my head at him and asked quite frankly, "Well, continuing with that statement, how do you feel about the assertion that Timothy, in Paul's Letters, is said to be a suppliment to the Bible, and not actually written by Paul, but a later addition." He, looking directly at me and not blinking, replied, "Paul wrote that letter. All the letters attributed to him are from his hand." Shaking my head, I went on, "But have you read all his letters?" And the boy nodded confidently, so I added, "And you didn't notice the difference in style, or tone, or issues addressed? In Timothy, there is a lot of emphasis on women's place in the church- how they should remain silent, and not teach/preach, while Paul's other letters speak highly of women and even claim some taking an active part in the minisitries. Hell, he praises the effort of women, yet in Timothy, they're to be 'seen and not heard. Don't you find that unsettling? Wouldn't you agree that perhaps somewhere down the line, religious authority saw it fit to have scripture that made sure women did not get too bold? That they knew their place, despite Early Christian efforts to share the ministry with women and men alike?'" He shook his head and repeated, "Whatever is in the Bible is true, and not added merely for convenience."

Any thoughts on this, ladies and gentleman? I still hold strongly to the idea that some scripture within the Bible may not be in the hand of the originally thought author.
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woah. WAIT. *I* took a course with that very name. Where are you a student?
The authorship of scripture forms part of the evangelical argument for why it's inerrant, so it's not surprising that your fellow student (who I imagine would count as evangelical) insists that Paul wrote all the letters which the Bible claims for him. If I remember rightly, my old church thought that because of the promise of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles in John, what the Apostles wrote was reliable. It's thus very important that those Epistles are by Paul if you want them to be inerrant, which evangelicals do (I'm not quite sure how they cope with the problem that Paul wasn't there when the promise in John was made). As to why they think inerrancy is so important, I've sort of talked about it on this thread.
Though it's uncertain who's actually in the right given how little we know of the writers of the various books of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, you're making the more educated point.

Just as there are as many as three different writers present in Isaiah and two in Job, the letters of Paul could very likely have been written by different authors.

I think the important point to note to this kid--though it's unlikely to make the slightest difference in his thinking--is to point out that, as Dante would have urged, to reach any understanding of the truth in the Bible and to comprehend the immense sacrifice faith requires, one must constantly question and discuss the issues contained in the canon. To--without the slightest hesitation--accept what is written as truth is to make God less than what He is. Just as Jesus wiped away the mysterious words he traced in the ground in John 8, so must we make the effort to not let ourselves be caught clinging to the words of the canon as Ultimate Truth and rather understand that they are a way to understand the greater Word that weaves its way throughout them.

I'm running on, so I'll quit now. Truly, though, you are in the right here and, though he may be intelligent, this peer of yours is using the Bible as a crutch rather than as a way to understand something greater than himself--which is what one should use all great poetry for.