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Extremely Brief Essay on Pseudonymity

During Paul Harvey’s lifetime, numerous sayings or writings were attributed to him and circulated under his name. Today we have the convenience of Snopes to help us sort out if they are correctly attributed, even now many people believe in Paul’s authorship & continue to circulate the letters under his name. 2000 years from now, it is a safe bet that the only surviving copies of these writings will bear Paul Harvey’s name. Furthermore, it’s reasonably unlikely that there will remain copies of the Snopes archive or of any contemporary eye-witness testifying to the correct authorship or against Paul Harvey’s.

Some samples: here, here, here.

Whether similar principles might apply more forcefully in the first or second century to the pastoral letters of any other ‘Paul’ is for the reader to discern.

(The reason I write this is that I just finished reading an essay by someone who argues against pseudonymity in the NT canon, despite convincing critical evidence that at least some of the “Pauline” corpus actually is pseudonymous. Part of his argument against pseudonymity was that some of these letters, according to Papias, were attributed to Paul during the first century, when “eye-witnesses” still lived. Even in 2009, incorrect attribution rarely falls to the objection of an “eye witness”. So, I find that argument weak. It is true, however, that there remains some small sliver of doubt over the question of pseudonymity in the NT canon, and for some epistles, even a reasonable question of authorship remains.)

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