Sunday, March 22, 2009

I, Paul

You gotta be careful arguing with Jason Engwer. If you say something and you don't qualify it up down and sideways he'll jump all over you as if he's found a very important mistake. For instance recently I had said with regards to the arguments of some of the Dutch radical critics "Why doesn't someone actually try and deal with the arguments?" This is pay dirt for Jason. Worthy of a whole new post. After all a few internet apologists have said a few things. There was a webcast where some issues tangential to this were dealt with. Yeah, yeah, ya got me. To say nobody in the history of internet apologism has ever said one thing in response to the Dutch radicals, I guess I'm wrong. Congratulations.

Way back when I had said "I Paul" references would make one suspicious because these type of references are common in pseudonymous works and would be a "dead give away to forgery." Whoo boy. That was too far. Jason has pay dirt. Dead give away? "So if these two words are strung together in any sense without regard to context I should assume forgery? See how ridiculous Jon is?"

Well, OK. I'll offer some more of those qualifications that Jason apparently can't see.

But let's start with my basic contention. What of "I, Paul" references. Is it true that we find these in pseudonymous works? Absolutely. They're all over the place.

Gospel of Peter 14:3

But I, Simon Peter, and Andrew my brother, took our fishing nets and went to the sea. With us was Levi, the son of Alphaeus, whom the Lord...

Apocalypse of Peter

And I, Peter, answered and said unto him: Interpret unto me concerning the fig-tree,

Apocryphon of John 1:19

When I, John, heard these things I turned away from the temple to a desert place.

Book of Thomas the Contendor (1:2)

The secret words that the savior spoke to Judas Thomas which I, even I, Mathaias, wrote down, while I was walking, listening to them speak with one another.

Revelation 1:9

I John, your brother and partaker with you in tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

Testimony of the 12 Patriarchs III:2:

I Levi was conceived in Haran and born there,

Infancy Gospel of Thomas 1:1

I, Thomas the Israelite, am reporting to you, all my brothers from the nations, to reveal the childhood and the greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ, what he did in my country after he was born.

Apocalypse of Zephaniah B:7

Truly, I, Zephaniah, saw these things in my vision.

1 Enoch 105:13

Then I, Enoch, answered and said, The Lord will effect a new thing upon the earth.

Testament of Solomon

5. Now when I Solomon heard this, I entered the Temple of God, and prayed with all my soul,

Tobit 1:3

I Tobit have walked all the days of my life in the ways of truth and justice, and I did many almsdeeds to my brethren, and my nation, who came with me to Nineve, into the land of the Assyrians.

Daniel 7:15

I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.

Looks pretty clear that I, (name) is a forgers technique. Rather than deal with the fact that this is all over pseudonymous writings, Jason will focus on how I had said it's a "dead give away" (even though I had also said it is "suspicious" which implies it's not a certainty). Do the facts matter to Jason, or is my potential overstatement the only thing worth talking about?

What we're seeing in these cases is the authors protesting authorial identity. It's not about introducing people to an author that the readers don't otherwise know. This is about an author identifying himself as a person that is highly regarded and has status. It's pretty obvious why a forger would use such a technique. It might compel readers to treat the text as something that is very important.

And it's not just Dutch radical type people that recognize this as a forgers technique. As Jason pointed out, I cited Bart Ehrman in support of this claim. Ehrman takes all the standard (what I would call conservative) lines on Pauline authorship. He accepts the 7 supposedly authentic letters from Paul. Even still he understands that this is a forgers technique.

So my basic contention (which I qualified for Jason's benefit) is that this is indicative of forgery. It may not be all the time, but it's certainly something that should raise suspicion. Given that we see it frequently in pseudonymous works, and I have yet to see it in works regarded as genuine, we should obviously look at such texts with suspicion, right? Does Jason deny this? Isn't it obvious?

But now Jason says that some translators claim Josephus uses the phrase. Jason doesn't tell us exactly where to find this passage except to say it at the opening of War. Probably this is the passage:

I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country, and sent to the Upper Barbarians; (2) Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth a Hebrew, a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself, and was forced to be present at what was done afterwards, [am the author of this work].

Presumably just prior to "Joseph" it could be translated "I, Joseph". That could be and doesn't look all that suspicious. What's the difference? In this case the author appears to be identifying himself for those that don't know him. This is who I am, where I'm from, what I did, who my father is, etc. The word "I" could land next to the name "Joseph" in such a context without necessarily suggesting anything about pseudonymity.

In the case of the spurious texts above it's not about letting people know who a person is. It's basically just name dropping. In that context it would appear much as it appears in spurious documents. Which do the Pauline epistles look like? They look just like the spurious texts listed above.

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