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In my Bible, The New Oxford Annotated Bible (NSRV), a prologue states the Pastoral Epistles are psuedoepigraphical, not written by Paul. When comparing "The Letter of Romans or other letters attributed to Paul (according to scholars), 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy have a different voice and style than Romans or Philippians."

My questions are;

  • Does anyone have evidence for who might have written these epistles?
  • How should modern readers weigh Biblical texts that are in question?

I guess I'm saying Romans holds more weight for me than Timothy. Especially when some concepts seem inconsistent.

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An anonymous person who writes in Paul's name? –  Double U Jun 26 '13 at 20:03
@Anonymous: What would you know about anonymous people? :P –  Flimzy Jun 27 '13 at 3:46
They are anonymous? –  Double U Jun 27 '13 at 11:27

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Sadly, we just don't know.

While I generally affirm the broad consensus that the pastorals are pseudonymous (I usually add the caveat that I think 2 Tim could be Pauline), it is worth noting that several good (but, generally more conservative) scholars such as Luke Timothy Johnson do actually affirm Pauline authorship of the pastorals. And I suppose that's worth something.

However, it's important to remember that around the time that the canon was forming, there were many Christian texts floating about—many of them pseudonymous—which were read by Christians as scripture up to the 4th Century CE. Many scholars affirm that the Muratorian Fragment represents one of the earliest (if not the earliest) "canons" (though nowhere does it claim to be such) of the New Testament—perhaps from as early as the end of the 2nd century CE (though this is disputed). Notably, the list affirms the Pauline authorship of the Pastorals, but observes that there were other writings 'forged' in Paul's name. If nothing else, this tells us that pseudonymous letters 'by Paul' were circulating among Christian communities during these early centuries. Whether the Pastorals were among them, only God knows.

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2 Thes. 2:2 ("letter supposed to have come from us" [NIV]) indicates that Paul was aware at that time of false authorship claims. –  Paul A. Clayton Jun 26 '13 at 23:28
@PaulA.Clayton just because there exist false letters does not make timothy or titus false –  caseyr547 Jun 27 '13 at 1:02
@caseyr547 I did not mean to imply such. I merely was stating that such was already a problem contemporary with the apostle Paul. –  Paul A. Clayton Jun 27 '13 at 1:05
@PaulA.Clayton thats fine –  caseyr547 Jun 27 '13 at 2:04
+1 for answering with objectivity, facts, and citations. Also, the site you used as a reference, bible-researcher.com, looks like a great resource. Thanks for the link, jackweinbender. –  Philip Schaff Jun 28 '13 at 2:01

Reading from a preface with a decidedly less orthodox viewpoint on the matter. (i.e. the New American Bible created by those eminent scholars widely considered to be the successors of the Apostles themselves)

From the late second century to the nineteenth, Pauline authorship of the three Pastoral Epistles went unchallenged. Since then, the attribution of these letters to Paul has been questioned.

So tradition goes to Paul, and the age that invented questioning every obvious thing was the first to question their authenticity.

Most scholars are convinced that Paul could not have been responsible for the vocabulary and style, the concept of church organization, or the theological expressions found in these letters.

And whoops, they decided they weren't authentic because they were different.

A second group believes, on the basis of statistical evidence, that the vocabulary and style are Pauline, even if at first sight the contrary seems to be the case. They state that the concept of church organization in the letters is not as advanced as the questioners of Pauline authorship hold since the notion of hierarchical order in a religious community existed in Israel before the time of Christ, as evidenced in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Finally, this group sees affinities between the theological thought of the Pastorals and that of the unquestionably genuine letters of Paul.

But on second thought, they don't seem to be contradicting each other, so maybe someone can write differently when they're writing to different people over the course of ones lifetime?

You can that introduction yourself, but it goes on to suggest two other ideas about the authenticity of the letters, whether the were written by a secretary, which isn't particularly novel considering Jeremiah and Peter. Or that they were compiled from fragments of Paul's writing and added to and redacted over time, which isn't novel either considering Job, Esther and Daniel.

So, 3 out of 4 groups of scholars say Paul and the majority of salvation history is with Paul writing the letters and regardless, most Christians believe it is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit permeating the entire Bible regardless whose hand marked the papyri.

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3 of 4 groups, perhaps, but still not "most scholars." –  jackweinbender Jun 27 '13 at 12:43

1Ti 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; 1Ti 1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rev 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

The Bible's claims of authorship are perfect. Paul wrote the epistles which have his name with absolute certainty. My group called Word of Faith Bible literalists believes that the word was written down correctly and that any scholarly arguments about who did what and fallibility are rubbish. Everyone writes different at different times in their lives based on the purpose of who they are writing to and who transcribes for them as well. Many things can cause great effect on a persons psychology warranting a change in style or flavor of vocabulary. The underlying doctrines are in complete agreement with the other pauline epistles. Some of the correlations between the pauline epistles are outlined in Paul's System of Truth by Mark Hankins.

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You may want to describe which "underlying doctrines" you are referring to. –  Double U Jun 26 '13 at 20:03
@Anonymous the most distinctive doctrine of the pauline epistles is our place in Christ. It's so interwoven it would take months to cross reference all the less distinctive doctrines. Concordances do that. –  caseyr547 Jun 26 '13 at 20:08
Can you provide a summary of "most distinctive doctrine"? –  Double U Jun 26 '13 at 20:29
@Anonymous thats a reasonable request i can provide a link to a book about it –  caseyr547 Jun 26 '13 at 20:33
Although there are a few scholars who disagree with the consensus view that 1 Timothy is written by a person other than Paul, one may want to take into consideration that the authorship of the 1 Timothy epistle may have been written by someone else, assuming that a person's psychology is kept constant. –  Double U Jun 26 '13 at 22:52

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