Pseudonymity? Pseudepigraphy? Pseudo*.*?

--could the New Testament letters be such?

(Rewritten: Oct 2002)        |              Part Two: Post-Easter Data and Discussion


In modern discussions about the teachings and history of the New Testament, the issue of pseudonymity (i.e. "false(ly) named") generally comes up. This term refers to the position of some NT scholars that the stated authors of some of the NT epistles are not the actual authors of those documents--that someone other than Paul wrote an epistle which claims it was written by Paul, or that someone other than Peter wrote an epistle which claims it was written by Peter.


The term 'pseudepigraphy' (lower case p) is somewhat related: its narrow meaning refers to pseudonymous writings (i.e., writings which state the author to be someone else than the actual author).  The term 'Pseudepigraphy' (capital P)--a much 'looser term'-- refers to a collection of books not included in the canons of the Hebrew or Christian bibles. Most of these books (in the pre-NT writings) are actually anonymous (making no explicit claim to authorship), but were either (a) later attributed to someone other than the actual author; or (b) seem to imply--in the text-- an author other than the actual one.


Pseudonymity would include 'mild' forms, of course, such as simple pen-names (e.g. Charlotte Bronte writing as Currer  Bell, Charles Dodgson as Lewis Carol, Samuel Clemens as Mark Twain), but in our context of religious/philosophical writing in antiquity, the pen-name would be of some famous character of antiquity (e.g., Pythagoras, Zoroaster, Adam, Moses). We will call this latter form 'high pseudonymity'. [I will henceforth refer to pseudonymity and pseudepigraphy by the generic 'pseudox', for typing brevity…sigh]


The type of pseudox we are dealing with in the NT epistles is of course VERY high pseudox. The letters explicitly claim to be from Paul (or Peter, etc.), and generally give personal details about his life/situation. They claim to be authoritative, also, as apostolic missives.


For example, under the issue of literary authorship (we will discuss the content-continuity theory of Meade later), this high pseudox forces the issue of 'forgery' and 'deception' on us:


"Given the unique authority of the apostle of Jesus Christ in the church, writings by others in his name but without his involvement inevitably carried the taint of forgery. Even if done by later disciples to express their view of the apostle's thought, they still represented a deceptive imposition of apostolic status on a non-apostolic writing. New Testament letters of Paul and of Peter explicitly and repeatedly refer to their apostolic author. If they are pseudepigrapha, they are clearly deceptive and fully deserve the condemnation leveled at them by L. R. Donelson: The author of the Pastorals 'is not employing pseudepigraphy as an exercise ... ; he is trying to deceive.... [He will] employ any device . . . to accomplish his deception. Facile forgeries do not normally last.'" [NT:MNTD:322ff]


And the deception of origination has to be followed up with the deception of 'sneaking it in'…


"The third model is applicable to the majority of the pseudepigrapha. This is that the documents were variously "discovered" and presented to the churches as authentic. A later example of this technique is the Apocalypse of Paul, which relates the story of its own discovery in the foundations of Paul's house in Tarsus. It may be that the textual mutilation of Ephesians 1:1 is a deliberate attempt to suggest an original address while at the same time obscuring its origins. Since I have already suggested that the Pastorals may have been written to supplement a growing Pauline collection, it is easy to see how several more Pauline "letters" would be readily accepted, and the personal nature of their address (to Timothy and Titus, rather than churches) would be sufficient explanation for the lateness of their arrival on the scene. 2 Peter also gives an awareness of a collection of Pauline letters (3:16) as well as of I Peter (3:1). It is highly likely that 2 Peter was circulated as a rediscovered circular letter of Peter, in an era where interest in the recovery of apostolic literature was growing. This is probably [sic] also the case for the other pseudepigrapha we have discussed. If 3 Corinthians is not an independent work, its inclusion in the "historical" work of the Acts of Paul and Thecla may have served as a cover for its pseudonymous origins." [PsC, p.198, Meade]




It is customary in modern Western culture (as inheritors of the traditions in Graeco-Roman culture) to call this 'forgery' and forgery has a long, long history in antiquity.


Consider some of the observations of Anthony Grafton ("Forgers and Critics: Creativity and Duplicity in Western Scholarship" [HI:FCCDWS]):


·         "In fact, some evidence from the classical period suggests that sensitivity to forgery was almost as widespread as its practice." (p.10)


·         "The first real heyday of the forger and the critic, however, began in the fourth century B.C. The existing traditions of forgery blossomed anew. " (p.10)


·         "Literary forgery flourished as well, since literary traditions were transformed in Hellenistic times in ways favorable to the production of good fakes. By then the principle had been established that a literary work was the product of a specific individual with a distinctive style and set of concerns. A loose canon of classic texts in prose and verse had also begun to take shape, one which identified the most excellent writers in each genre as models for imitation. The rhetoric schools trained their pupils to turn out excellent pastiches of earlier writers, especially in the form of private letters, a favorite exercise. These could easily be taken as genuine once they came into circulation." (p.10f)


·         "The Athenian book market in the fourth century BC had already seen dubious orations and plays begin to drive out genuine literary currency. But the new, refined demand for rare items naturally provoked the deliberate creation by forgery of a self-renewing supply. Vast numbers of faked texts accompanied the genuine ones into the libraries; spurious tragedies infiltrated the collections of Aeschylus and Sophocles, while spurious prose works clung like barnacles to the genuine ones of Plato, Hippocrates, and Aristotle. " (p.12)


·         "Between the first century B.C. and the third A.D., in short, the scholar confronted a mass of forgeries, some purporting to come from the Greek literary tradition that anyone with a good education could control, others from foreign environments about which Greeks scholars knew almost nothing precise. Some were produced simply for gain, others to support or refute complex philosophical and religious doctrines. And as one might expect, the methods used to forge works by religious and philosophical authorities infiltrated imaginative literature and other forms of extended narrative as well. The claim to derive from earlier texts written in mysterious languages and stored in mysterious places, for example, crops up in the Greek novel about the Trojan War ascribed to Dictys the Cretan." (p.18)



But this was not 'morally accepted' by the GR world at all--and much of the vast apparatus of criticism was born to combat such a problem:


·         "The scholars, headed by that patron of all later librarians, Callimachus, fought back. They apparently did not excise the texts they condemned as fakes from the canons. But they drew up lists (pinakes) of the genuine works of each major author, and identified the spurious ones as well. Though only remnants of these critical manuals, the ancestors of modern library catalogues and literary histories, survive, these show that their authors distinguished clearly between the genuine and the forged. Genuine works of a writer they classified as gnesioi (legitimate), the same term applied to legitimate children; spurious ones were nothoi (bastards); thus the ancient Katalogos of the works of Aeschylus includes Aitnaiai gnesioi and Aitnaiai nothoi. Genuine writing, in short, had for them an organic relation to the writer who produced it-and that relationship distinguished it from forged writing, even though the latter might be retained in libraries and lists. And they used a variety of tests to identify spurious texts." (p.12)


·         "And despite the critics it flourished mightily, both in the Greek world and--after Greek literary forms and grammatical, or scholarly, skills were transplanted to Latin soil--in Rome as well. The polymaths of later republican and early imperial Rome also confronted vast arrays of texts that needed to be judged and classified. In Rome too experts flourished, like the friend of Cicero who became known for his ability to pronounce that "this is a verse by Plautus"; "this is not." And here as well the bad currency of the forgers threatened to drive out the good; of the 130 plays of Plautus in circulation, the scholar Varro judged 109 to be forged and 21 genuine, while another canon included 25." (p.13)



And this, of course, applied to our general time period as well…





And just after our period (but during many of the church discussions of canonicity):


"In the late-antique marketplace of ideas, as we have seen, an ancient or an oriental pedigree, or preferably both at once, was the most enticing guarantee a seer could give for the power and beauty of his revelations…Porphyry defended his Platonic sect against all purportedly older and more exotic rivals. At Plotinus' request, for example, he composed a refutation of a work attributed to Zoroaster, 'which I showed to be entirely spurious and modern, made up by the sectarians to convey the impression that the doctrines they had chosen to hold in honor were those of the ancient Zoroaster'" (Vita Plot. 16, 1:44-45)" Forgers and Critics, p.83f)



Occasionally it is argued, btw, that the philosophical schools were not so 'legalistic', that somehow they didn't mind about spurious works much, but the data is otherwise. Many of the philosophical schools (with the possible exception of the Pythagoreans and Cynics) developed intensive criteria and methods for separating the wheat from the chaff:




"Authenticity and the proper order of works within a corpus are two of the major questions typically addressed in such introductions. As with most literary collections in antiquity, certain works attracted critical suspicion. Ancient critics raised doubts about several of the thirty-six dialogues typically included in both ancient and modern editions of Plato's works. At least one editor, however, did not expunge such works from the corpus on this account: Thrasyllus questioned whether Plato wrote the Anatores, but still included it in his fourth tetralogy (D.L. 9.37) Other pseudonymous dialogues sprang up at various times and places, but none of them attained a status approaching that of the dialogues assigned to the nine tetralogies." [HI:TTAW:94f]





"Andronicus devoted himself to determining the genuineness of Aristotle's work…Aristotelians of the first and second centuries CE never explicitly stated a set of philological criteria for judgments about pseudepigraphic texts; at least, no such remarks survive. But arguments for and against the authenticity of certain texts reveal five basic criteria for such judgments…So when it came to determining whether a work derived from its putative author, it appears that Aristotelians share several critical methods with members of other philosophical schools." [HI:TTAW:69f]





"Less of a popularizer and public figure than Philonides, Zeno of Sidon, active c. 125-75 BCE, is notable for his wide range of philosophical and philological activities.  He was also a beloved teacher of Philodemus, who used many of Zeno's writings in his own treatises. Two areas of particular interest to the present study are Zeno's work on spurious Epicurean texts and his textual work on Epicurus' writings.


"Zeno's work exists only in fragments, but several of these showcase his philological labors. One fragment in particular sheds light on his critical approach to certain Epicurean literature:


based on his accurate understanding of the doctrines of the Founders, he was suspicious from the start about certain books, for example, certain letters, the epitome To Pythocles concerning heavenly phenomena, On Virtue, Counsels [attributed to Metrodorus], Testimonies, and especially the second book Against the Gorgias of Plato, the books Against the Rhetors, attributed to Polyaenus, and Concerning the Moon and works [attributed] to Hermarchus.



"Apparently, some of the works circulating under the names of the Founders were not to be trusted. Diogenes Laertius confirms that certain scandalous letters issued under Epicurus' name were a deliberate attempt to tarnish his reputation: "Diotimus the Stoic, who is hostile to him, has assailed him with bitter slanders, adducing fifty scandalous letters as written by Epicurus; and so too did the author who ascribed to Epicurus the epistles commonly attributed to Chrysippus." So Zeno was certainly justified in his suspicion. In fact, it may be a result of his efforts that none of the writings called into question here (with the possible exception of the Letter to Pythocles) were taken as authentic by later Epicureans.


"Unfortunately, Zeno's precise methods for determining the authenticity of a work remain in doubt. Critical judgments about the authorship of written texts had been raised for a long time, at least as far back as Herodotus, who expressed doubts about the authenticity of the Cypria, attributed to Homer. For the most part, however, such judgments were intuitive and lacked a rigorous methodology. Dionysius of Halicarnassus [1st century BC] was the first critic known to us who specified precise categories for such literary judgments, testing a work on stylistic, artistic, and chronological grounds." [HI:TTAW:51-52f]



So, although there were vast amounts of spurious and pseudoxy works in antiquity, it is just not correct to assume it was 'okay' to do so:






Now, to show how strong, incontrovertible, and well-supported this point is, let me cite the research results of Donelson, who has a monograph specifically on this subject (and who, incidentally, accepts the Pastorals as deceptive and high pseudox):


"It is undeniable that one of the primary motivations behind ancient pseudepigrapha was respect for figures of the past, but there is sparse evidence for the concomitant theory that these were executed innocently and openly. The appeal to Jewish apocalyptic is tenuous. The anachronistic dates in the beginning of Judith have been seen as a signal to its readers that the document is a pretense; but other examples are hard to come by. We cannot conclude therefore that Jewish apocalyptic provides any hard evidence of nondeceptive pseudepigrapha. Such school productions as the Pythagoreans, Cynics, Neo-Platonists, and Christians authored under the name of their respective progenitors are of a diverse and uncertain nature. In no case can it be deduced with certainty that this was done innocently with no intention to deceive.


"In fact, in many cases the contrary can be demonstrated. No one ever seems to have accepted a document as religiously and philosophically prescriptive which was known to be forged. I do not know a single example. We have instead innumerable examples of the opposite. Both Greeks and Romans show great concern to maintain the authenticity of their collections of writings from the past, but the sheer number of pseudepigrapha made the task difficult. When the great libraries emerged, hungry for documents from famous writers, the temptation to forgery was great, so that philosophic, historical, and religious literature all suffered from the onslaught of forgeries. But, even though the literary world was inundated by pseudepigrapha, we have no known instance of a pseudepigraphon recognized as such which acquired prescriptive and proscriptive authority as well. If discovered, it was rejected. The same holds true in Christian circles. As Candlish has pointed out, "no writing known as pseudepigraphical was ever accepted as authoritative in the early church". The history of the New Testament canon illustrates this clearly. The Muratorian canon for instance rejects both the Letter to the Laodiceans and the Letter to the Alexandrians since they were suspected of being forgeries. Eusebius frequently employs this criterion for rejecting writings."


"We are forced to admit that in Christian circles pseudonymity was considered a dishonorable device and , if discovered, the document was rejected and the author, if known, was excoriated." [HI:PEAPE:10-12, 16]


This is a strong statement that should be kept in mind as we consider this topic. The data of antiquity and Christian history is conclusive--high pseudonymity was NOT an acceptable praxis. No amount of verbiage about 'canon-consciousness', 'transition', 'changing times',  'Jewish mindsets toward attribution', 'pneumatic looseness', 'consciousness of living tradition' and the such like will change this fact--it was universally rejected when it became known.



Needless to say, such an appearance of forgery--in either our modern views or in the views of G-R antiquity--raises moral concerns (not to mention practical ones, such as those attending the "Donation of Constantine"!…smile). Consider this morally sensitive statement by Dunn:


"It is on the issue of falseness that the significance of pseudepigraphy within the NT hangs. The issue should not be confused with that of anonymity. Many NT writings are anonymous (the Synoptic Gospels, for example), but that fact raises no point of principle about such writings being included in the NT. Nor should pseudepigrapha be confused with apocrypha. Both terms were used in the early church regarding those books that today are almost universally known as the OT Pseudepigrapha (the books of Enoch, the testamentary literature attributed to the patriarchs), but in this case “apocryphal” has the sense of suitable for private reading, as opposed to the public reading of recognized apostolic and hence canonical works (Synopsis sacrae scripturae 75, attributed to Athanasius).


"By putting the emphasis on false attribution, however, the term pseudepigraphy implies a negative value judgment as to a document’s integrity and acceptability. This is clear from its earliest attested use in Christian circles, where Serapion (second century A.D.) applies it to the Gospel of Peter: “the writings that falsely bear their names [Peter and the other apostles] we reject . . . knowing that such were not handed down to us” (Eusebius Hist. Eccl. 6.12.3). It is this judgment of falseness, of an intent to deceive and mislead, particularly by passing off as apostolic what should not be so regarded, that makes the issue of pseudepigraphy in the NT so sensitive. J. I. Packer put the point tersely: “Pseudonymity and canonicity are mutually exclusive” (-).


"In the light of the negative judgment implicit in the term itself, the claimed presence of pseudepigraphy in the NT would seem to pose a moral and theological problem for the notion of an authoritative canon of Scripture. The uncomfortable fact is, however, that a large consensus of NT scholarship maintains that certain NT writings, particularly Ephesians, the Pastorals and 2 Peter, are pseudepigraphic, the first two attributed to Paul, the last attributed to Peter. How then to handle the seeming contradiction within the very phrase “NT pseudepigraphy”? [NT:DictLNT,  s.v. "Pseudepigraphy", J. D. G. Dunn]



Now, as intense as this problem is in the NT epistles, we must recognize first of all that this problem only attaches to a small amount of Jewish and Christian literature, since most of it is not in this 'high' category:


"A more careful definition [of pseudonymity] is that of K. Koch: 'A text is pseudonymous when the author is deliberately identified by a name other than his own.' This would eliminate the designation 'pseudonymous' from most of the NT and OT, and much of the OT Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha as well. Though a great many of the books included in these are in fact incorrectly attributed, this is often due to the mistaken attribution of originally anonymous works and not from any calculated attempt to deceive." [PsC:1, Meade]



Indeed,  the Jewish literature prior to the  NT presents us with a wide range of levels of pseudox.


Moshe Bernstein, in studying the pseudepigraphic writings of the Second Temple Period [HI:PPAPLDSS], including Qumran scrolls, makes this helpful taxonomy of pseudepigraphic function (examples are his):


1. Strong/Authoritative pseudepigraphy: "The speaker of the work is purported to be a figure of antiquity"

·         Enochian lit

·         2 Baruch

·         4 Ezra

·         Testaments (mildly)

·         Jubilees (maybe)


2. Convenient pseudepigraphy: "the work is anonymous and individual pseudepigraphic voices are heard within the work"

·         Testaments

·         Wisdom of Solomon

·         Ecclesiastes

·         Reworked Pentateuch (Qumran))

·         Genesis Apocryphon (parts, but note "the author…avoided the appearance of forgery by writing [his additions] in Aramaic")

3. Decorative pseudepigraphy: "the work is associated with an ancient name with regard neither for content, nor, more significantly, for effect."

·         Prayer of Manasseh

·         Psalms of Solomon

·         various non-canonical psalms at Qumran



And he draws some contrasts between them:


·         "Convenient pseudepigraphy is particularly important for the genre we can rewritten Bible, since much rewritten Bible is anonymous, like Scripture itself. Jubilees is an exception to that rule and its strong authoritative pseudepigraphy makes it stand out (in contrast to 4QRP, for example). The addition of pseudepigraphic speeches to rewritten biblical narrative creates a localized, weaker form of pseudepigraphy which is completely conventional and which functions to render the work more vivid.


·         "We should distinguish between texts which are both internally and externally pseudepigraphic, and thus strongly pseudepigraphic, and those which are pseudepigraphic only internally, where the pseudepigraphy is convenient. Only the former can be said to function pseudepigraphically as a whole. Decorative pseudepigraphy is only external.


·         "We should probably employ the term "pseudepigraphy" only for authoritatively pseudepigraphic works.


·         "Works which are partially pseudepigraphic, either through interpolation of legal material or of speeches, should not be classified as pseudepigraphic in toto.


·         "Prophetic literature is only to be considered pseudepigraphic if it is authoritative and if the prophecies are pseudepigraphic. Narratives about prophetic figures are the same as any other rewritten Bible."



And, Meade's comment about most of the literature being non-high-pseudox can be easily demonstrated. In the pre-NT period we can note that:


1.        Much of the Hebrew Bible is anonymous.


"In Jewish tradition, as in the Orient generally, documents did not emphasize their authorship and they were even catalogued by title rather than, as in the Greco-Roman world, by author.  They were generally produced anonymously and only later attributed to an author . Apart from a few of the prophetic books the Old Testament documents fall into this anonymous category.  [NT:MNTD, p.322ff]



2.        Most of the Qumran literature is anonymous.


"With this point in mind, our first step is an acknowledgment of the obvious fact that Qumran literature is largely anonymous and not pseudonymous…If pseudepigraphy were ever de rigeur at Qumran as a literary device, it may have been used only in texts which were attempting to proclaim a legal or theological doctrine to the outside world and considered unnecessary in works intended for insiders. Otherwise, we would expect to find an authoritative figure such as Moses as the putative author of various legal texts at Qumran…the writings of the Qumran group avoid authoritative pseudepigraphy." [HI:PPAPLDSS, 8, 9,25]



3.        Some of the intertestamental literature is reliably self-attributed (e.g., Ben Sira, Philo)

4.        Most of the "Pseudepigrapha" is NOT high pseudox (referring to the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, as delineated in [OTP]. I will henceforth refer to OT pseudox sometimes as "OTP" below. Post-NT pseudox will come up in later discussion.).



Let's go through the table of contents of OTP, and look for high pseudox, in existence before the ministry of Jesus:





Explicit claim to authorship by Biblical character?


Name in text?


1 Enoch (2nd BC - 1st AD)


Mostly (content)




2 Enoch (late 1st AD)






3 Enoch (5-6th AD)






Sibylline Oracles (2nd BC - 7th AD)






Treatise of Shem (1st BC)


Questionable--in title only (copyist?)




Apocryphon of Ezekiel (1st BC - 1st AD)


NO (only from external witnesses)




Apocalypse of Zephaniah (1st BC - 1st AD)






4th Ezra (late 1st AD)






Greek Apocalypse of Ezra (2-9th AD)






Vision of Ezra (4-7th AD)






Questions of Ezra (date unk.)






Revelation of Ezra (prior to 9th AD)






Apocalypse of Sedrach (2-5th AD)






2 Baruch (early 2nd AD)






3 Baruch (1-3rd AD)






Apocalypse of Abraham (1-2nd AD)






Apocalypse of Adam (4-5th AD)






Apocalypse of Elijah (1-4th AD)






Apocalypse of Daniel (9th AD)






Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (2nd BC)


Mostly (content)

yes, in narrative



Testament of Job (1st BC - 1 AD)






Testament of Abraham (1-2nd AD)






Testament of Isaac (2nd AD)






Testament of Jacob (2-3 AD)






Testament of Moses (1st AD)


Mostly (content)




Testament of Solomon (1-3rd AD)






Testament of Adam (2-5th AD)












Letter of Aristeas (3rd BC - 1st AD)






Jubilees (2nd BC)


NO (actually attributed to Angel of the Presence)




Martyrdom/Ascension of Isaiah (2nd BC - 4th AD)






Joseph and Aseneth (1st BC - 2nd AD)






Life of Adam and Eve (1st AD)






Pseudo-Philo [LAB] (1st AD)






The Lives of the Prophets (1st AD)






Ladder of Jacob (1st AD)


only content (dream sequence)




4 Baruch (1-2nd AD)






Jannes and Jambres (1-3rd AD)






History of the Rechabites (1-4th AD)


NO (Zosimus)




Eldad and Modad (prior to 2nd AD)


(fragment in Hermas only,

Rabbinics agree)




History of Joseph (prior to 4th AD)






Ahiqar (7-6 BC) [Not a Jewish work]






3 Maccabees (1st BC)






4 Maccabees (1st AD)






Pseudo-Phocylides (1st BC - 1st AD)






The Sentences of the Syriac Menander (3rd AD)






More Psalms of David (3rd BC - 1st AD)






Prayer of Manasseh (2nd BC - 1st AD)






Psalms of Solomon (1st BC)


NO (late attribution)




Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers (2-3rd AD)






Prayer of Joseph (1st AD)






Prayer of Jacob (1-4th AD)






Odes of Solomon (late 1-2nd AD)






By my count:





This means that the vast majority of the pre-NT Jewish writings are not pseudox in the high sense.





So, which NT writings are considered by some to be high pseudox?


When I now turn to a standard non-conservative NT Intro by Kummel [INT], I find that there are eight epistles so designated:


1.        Eph  (dated 80-100 AD)

2.        I Tim  (dated 'beginning of 2nd century', c. 100+)

3.        2 Tim   (dated 'beginning of 2nd century', c. 100+)

4.        Titus   (dated 'beginning of 2nd century', c. 100+)

5.        James  (dated 'toward end of 1st century', c. 95+)

6.        1 Peter (dated 90-95)

7.        2 Peter (dated 125-150)

8.        Jude (dated 'turn of 2nd century', c. 100)



Now, to approach this question we need to consider a number of issues:


  1. Given that the practice of forgery was not acceptable in GR culture of the data, are there any pre-NT exemplars of high pseudox letters in Jewish culture, which show that the practice was followed and that it was also morally acceptable?

  2. If we cannot find any examples of high pseudox epistles, can any of the non-epistolary high pseudox (e.g., apocalypses, testaments) be understood to function as exemplars?

  3. Do we have any literary or historical evidence that high pseudox was acceptable in the NT period (30-80 AD)?

  4. Do we have any indication of how this practice might have been viewed by Christians in the 50-150 AD period?

  5. Do the post-150 AD statements (and perhaps, behavior) by the Fathers indicate that the practice is acceptable?


After this, we can look at two non-ethical issues:


  1. Do we have any chronological data about (some of) these epistles, relative to their authorship?

  2. How confident can we be about judging these epistles to be pseudox on the basis of literary style issues?


(We will discuss in Part two on the thesis by Meade that (a) the apostolic period is discontinuous with the Fathers (relative to pseudox) (b) and continuous with his reconstruction of pseudepigraphy-mindsets in the Jewish literature of the pre-Christian era. [PsC:199])




One. Given that the practice of forgery was not acceptable in GR culture of the day, are there any pre-NT exemplars of high pseudox letters in Jewish culture, which might show that the practice was followed and that it was also morally acceptable?



To answer this, we obviously have to find some actual cases of pre-NT high pseudoxy epistles, and then find some 'evaluative' responses to them.


We run up against our first 'warning sign' here--the relative scarcity of even candidates for this.


The pre-NT candidates that are sometimes offered are:


  1. The Epistle of Jeremy

2.        The Letter of Aristeas

  1. The interpolated letters between Hiram, Pharaoh, and Solomon in Eupolemus (plus such letters in 1 & 2 Macc)
  2. Wisdom of Solomon (suggested by Meade as an 'open letter', transitional form toward epistles, [PsC:66n108])
  3. Epistle of Enoch, (I Enoch 91-103)



Unfortunately for the 'quest', none of these fit the criteria:


·         The first two are not actually epistles (and of course, Aristeas is not a 'famous' biblical figure of antiquity either):


·         "It is particularly significant that among the mass of Jewish apocryphal and pseudepigraphic writings only two make any pretense to use the epistolary form, the Epistle of Jeremy and the Letter of Aristeas, and neither of these is in the strict sense a true epistle. The former is more a homily and the latter an apologetic narrative.  [GNTI:1012, Guthrie]


·         "But this means that 'Aristeas' must have been a pseudonym used to create the impression of greater antiquity for the letter and to hide the author's true identity. This type of production contains more differences than similarities when compared with the alleged pseudepigrapha in the New Testament, for it was not modelled on any known authoritative writing, nor was it associated with the name of an authoritative teacher. The sole similarity is its aim to provide earlier attestation for contemporary requirements. The same tendency may be traced as the main motive of much later pseudepigraphic literature and may be considered as one of the most characteristic features of this type of literature." [GNTI:1015]


·         "…but only two pseudonymous letters have come down to us from Jewish sources, namely, the Epistle of Jeremy and the Letter of Aristeas, neither of which is really a letter. The former is a little sermon, and the latter an account of the translation of the Old Testament into Greek. There is no epistle among the canonical writings of the Old Testament, so there was no authoritative precedent to follow. A false claim to writing a letter would probably be easier to detect than, say, a false claim to writing an apocalypse. Whatever the reason, pseudepigraphic letters among the Jews are extremely rare." [NT:CMM:367]

·         "The so-called Letter of Aristeas, written ca. 100 B.C. (which despite its traditional title is not a letter)…The Letter of Jeremiah, supposedly a copy of a letter…Neither an epistolary prescript nor closing formulas are part of the text." [NTLE:178, Aune]

·         "Certain of the Pseudepigrapha were referred to as 'letters' in antiquity, though they are not in epistolary form. This was true of the Epistle of Jeremiah, 1 Baruch, and the 'Epistle of Enoch'" [HI:JWSTP:581]

·         (Meade has this rather bizarre statement on these works, in his dismissal of Guthrie's work: "Once again, however, the confusion of genre and theological intent is apparent, since the only Jewish literature that he compares with NT epistolary pseudepigrapha are the two sole examples of Jewish pseudonymous letters: The Letter of Aristeas and Epistle of Jeremiah. Yet even this reveals a parallel to the NT practice of supplementing or contemporizing a tradition through the use of pseudonymity. Unfortunately, Guthrie discounts it." [PsC:15]. Besides contradicting his statement about the Epistle of Enoch being an example "two centuries before the NT" (discussed below), this statement is patently false, and does NOT support or even illustrate his position fairly. Aristeas is a historical shot-out-of-the-blue forgery, not tied to any previous tradition whatsoever (ergo, not 'supplementing or contemporizing a (existing) tradition' in the least). The Epistle of Jeremiah, a presumably pseudox document (although it is not a letter, as noted above), doesn't even meet Meade's own criteria for his category: (a) it was certainly received as explicit--and not 'associative'--authorship, by the allusion in 2 Macc 2.2 and the church Fathers (e.g., Hilary, Cyprian); (b) it was NOT received as canonical in the Hebrew canon at all; (c) as an example of 'expansions to the OT' (Nickelsburg), it might fall completely out of the pseudox category (and therefore fall into the amorphous pit of 'aggada')--remember, not just any old expansion of the text will do as an example for Meade--it has to be integrally and substantially  connected with its alleged exemplar, and trying to 'coast' on the authority of said exemplar; (d) it is not 'tied to Jeremiah' (as the core tradition-stream, but only as a 'convenient theater-stage') at all, but is dependent on a much wider range of sources [cf. Mendels, [REF:ABD, 'Jeremiah, Epistle of']: "The epistle is dependent on the familiar topoi found in the Bible to describe the idols (cf. Jer 10:2–5, 8–11, 13b–15; Isa 44:9–20; 46:5–7; Ps 115:3–8; Deut 4:27–28)."]. Thus, I find Meade's statement here obscure at best, and seriously mistaken at worst.)






The interpolations in Eupolemus are simply expansions and paraphrases, based on the letters described in the Hebrew bible (between Solomon and Hiram). [Josephus does a similar, although less 'robust' paraphrase in Ant. 8.55ff.] They are placed in a purely narrative context, as part of the story line. This would not remotely be considered pseudox. Eupolemus is a thoroughly Hellenistic work, and Hengel points out that this is the 'why' of these letters:


"The largest fragment contains the narrative of the building of the temple by Solomon; the central place is occupied by a fictitious correspondence between the kind and Pharaoh Uaphres of Egypt and king Suron of 'Tyre and Sidon', based on the exchange of messengers between Solomon and Hiram in II Chron. 2.2-15 (the Pharaoh is probably taken from Jer. 44.30). This is in accordance with the manner of Hellenistic history writing, which loved to insert 'official' archives. " [NT:JH01:93, to see the ethical limits of this type of invention, see my discussion at Comment 20 in stil1720.html]


And the same factors apply to the letters in 1st and 2nd Maccabees--they are internal 'pieces', within a narrative structure. To use Bernstein's term, they are "completely conventional", like speeches. They are NOT true examples of high pseudox.




Meade suggests this in a footnote (p.66n108): "Indeed, by its portrayal of Solomon's writing as an 'open letter' to rulers, it may have helped pave the way for epistolary pseudonymity."


Unfortunately, this work is almost impossible to construe as a "transitional form" on the way to epistolary pseudox:


1. The Genre of the work as a whole is certainly not epistolary (e.g., no salutations, greetings, footer, etc), and indeed is one of the more difficult pieces to classify (not a good starting point).


"The Wisdom of Solomon is in many respects an elusive document, hard to categorize and difficult to place in a historical context. Such difficulties are due in part to its variegated contents and styles. Its first section (1.1 - 6.11) begins and ends with a warning to 'rulers' concerning just conduct, but its central focus is on the plight of the righteous. The latter are shown tormented by irreligious opponents but ultimately vindicated in the judgment of God and rewarded with immortality. This theodicy gives way to a rhetorical depiction of Wisdom, the ultimate gift of God (6.12 9.18). Adopting the persona of Solomon, the author praises Wisdom's many attributes and offers a humble prayer for God's bestowal of her benefits. In a transitional passage, he gives a list of biblical figures saved by Wisdom, climaxing in the story of the Exodus (10.1-21). The second half of the book (chapters 11-19) gives an extended commentary on incidents in the Exodus, using the pattern of syncresis (comparison) to contrast the misfortunes of the Egyptians with the deliverance of God's people. This long section is interrupted near its start by two important digressions, one on the character of God's justice (11.22 - 12.27), the other on the follies of non-Jewish worship (nature worship, idolatry and animal cults, 13.1 - 15.19) .2 In this second half the figure of Wisdom drops from view almost completely and the 'Solomonic' speaker gives way to a confessional 'we'." [NT:JMD:181f]



2. It most closely represents the genre of encomium--a public, literary, hortatory, praise-address (basically an "open speech") quite different from letter-forms:


"It seems better to follow Beauchamp and treat Wisdom as in the genre of encomium. Aristotle, followed by Cicero and Quintilian, classes discourses as deliberative, judgmental and epideictic. This last does not aim at passing judgment or at urging a decision with a bearing on the future. It tries to impel the hearer either to admire somebody or to practice a virtue or develop a quality. This last type of discourse is called the encomium. The descriptions of this type of writing given by Aristotle and his successors correspond to what we find in Wisdom.


"There is an introduction which is addressed directly to the audience and tries to arouse its attention and interest. The theme is summed up briefly and readers are urged to put it into practice. To show what is at stake in the discourse, those who refuse to practice what is to be praised are heard. What they say is criticized and some difficult or paradoxical situations are described to show how necessary it is to agree with the encomium. The exordium ends with a brief description of the object of the encomium, and the plan of the rest of the discourse is set out. The first part of Wisdom corresponds exactly to this procedure.


"The encomium itself should show three things: the origin, nature and activity or function of what is to be praised. This is the hardest part, both for speaker or writer, and for audience or reader from whom special effort is demanded. In Wisdom, the second part, announced 6:22 at the end of the exordium, corresponds to this programme. But the subject in this case makes it necessary to distinguish two aspects of the origin. There is the origin of wisdom itself, and its origin in Solomon. The author begins with the second aspect. Solomon's wisdom was not hereditary, but came through prayer, and only prayer can occasion wisdom in man (7:1-7; 8: 17-2 1; 9). The origin of wisdom itself is to be found in God, of whom it is the image, mirror and reflection, because it shares his intimacy (7:25-26; 8:3). The nature of wisdom is described through its twenty-one attributes.


"It is essentially absolute purity, penetrating all things and working for good (7:22-24). This leads the author to speak of its activity, which is inherent in its nature. It animates the universe and makes men friends of God and prophets (7:27-8: 1). Indeed, it is 'fashioner of all that exists' (7:2 1; 8:4-6). mother of all good things, which it then brings to the soul who receives it (7:12). Hence its action stems from its nature and origin. It affects the whole world and all who welcome it. Characteristic, however, of the Book of Wisdom is that this encomium sees prayer as the first requisite. Nothing else can bring man wisdom. This is why the encomium as such ends with prayer(9).


"To fortify hearer or reader and make them really desirous of practicing what has been held out as praiseworthy, Aristotle and his successors prescribed a development of the theme by means of well-known examples. This part is less demanding and can be longer or shorter as the author wishes. One good way of driving home the lesson of these examples, while still speaking implicitly of the activity or works of the thing praised, is to contrast the opposite line of action. Contrasts throw light. The case of those who practice what is praised is contrasted with the case of those who are against it. This was termed the syncrisis i.e. comparison. Further, care is taken to draw a moral for the audience from the contrasts thus brought out. The author is also free to introduce digressions, again to fortify the resolution of the reader. The discourse ends with a brief summary of the lesson to be drawn from the examples. A final attack on the opponents leads in the conclusion, which is kept as short as possible. The hearer or reader is left to decide. Wis 10- 19 again corresponds perfectly to the rules laid down by the masters of Greek rhetoric. The examples set out are so well known to the readers that no names have to be mentioned. All are basic elements in the tradition known to the readers. The comparisons are worked out in detail and the two digressions are well placed. The ending corresponds to the principles of Greek rhetoric as well. The only difference - and this is along the lines of the special feature of the encomium itself - is that the developments based on the examples are given in the form of a hymn. The author constantly addresses God, not the reader or hearer, as he did in the prayer of ch. 9; and so even in the last verse of the book." [Wisdom Literature, M. Gilbert, in [HI:JWSTP:307f]]



3. It lacks all of the formal, distinguishing characteristics of Hellenistic letters (see [PLW:44-113]):


·         "Despite the nature of his epistles, Seneca beautifully expressed the fundamental fact that a real letter is essentially a substitute for a personal meeting…It is not surprising, therefore, that a letter should reproduce the basic characteristics of an encounter in which a greeting and leave-taking bracket an exchange of information. Thus a letter is made up of three parts, the address, the body, and the farewell. " [PLW:44f]


·         "The standard address used by Paul's contemporaries was brief in the extreme. It is typified by 'Claudius Lysias to his Excellency the governor Felix, greeting' (Acts 23.26). The two necessary elements were the names of sender and recipient. The formal greeting--chairein in Greek or salus in Latin (often abbreviated to the initial letter)--could be omitted. " [PLW:45]


·         "A number of Greek private letters from Egypt, ranging from the second century B.C. to the second century A.D. contain an 'I give thanks to the gods' formula immediately after the standard prayer for the well-being of the person named in the address." [PLW:56]


·         "The key word in the conclusion of the ordinary Greek letter is erroso if there is only one recipient, and errosthe if the recipients are multiple. They are the singular and plural perfect imperative passive of ronnymi "to strengthen, make strong." Hence literally, "Be made strong," or more elegantly, "Farewell." The Latin equivalent is Vale/Valete. It was often associated with other elements, for example, a wish for the health of the recipient, a request for the recipient to greet others, greetings from those with the sender, the date." [PLW:98]


·         "A concluding paragraph, normally brief, in the author's handwriting showed that he had checked the final draft and assumed responsibility." [PLW:7, cf. 2 Thess 3.17; Gal 6.11; 1 Cor 16.21; Phlm 19; Col 4.18)


Now, look at the beginnings and endings of Wisdom:


Love righteousness, you rulers of the earth, think of the Lord in goodness and seek him with sincerity of heart; 2 because he is found by those who do not put him to the test, and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him. [Missing all of the beginning elements of epistolary literature: sender, "to recipient", greeting, optional thanks.]


For in everything, O Lord, you have exalted and glorified your people, and you have not neglected to help them at all times and in all places. [Missing all of the ending elements of epistolary literature: farewell, authenticating postscript]


It is difficult in the extreme to see how Wisdom could somehow 'pave the way' for pseudox: (a) there is literally NOTHING in common with the epistolary genre; and (b) its 'openness' is due to its encomiastic nature.


[BTW, it would have been incredibly simple/easy to turn Wisdom into an 'epistle' if necessary, by slapping on a bogus heading and footing. This was done often in literature in the time. ("Epistolary prescripts and postscripts could be used to frame almost any kind of composition", Aune, [NTLE:170]). The well-educated writer of Wisdom could easily have created a 'transitional form', if he/she/they wanted to, or even could have created an initial artificial exemplar for us…but it just didn’t happen.]


[Postscript--in my own handwriting (smile): Wisdom was a confusing book all the way around, but it was widely used by the early believers (much of it is quite beautiful). Somehow, it was actually mentioned as being part of the New Testament in the Muratorian Fragment(!), and was ascribed to 'friends of Solomon' (i.e., the customary composers of encomia were friends, clients, and/or officials).]




Meade offers it up as a prime example:


"The early second century (B.C.) Epistle or Admonitions of Enoch is styled on the form of an Aramaic letter (his footnote here cites J.T. Milik, Books of Enoch, pages 51-52), providing an example of epistolary pseudepigraphy two centuries before the NT." [PsC:96]


If this indeed is in epistolary genre, it is exactly the kind of exemplar we are looking for. (It would be sadly disappointing, of course, to note that it would be the sole pre-NT exemplar if so, and would therefore hardly demonstrate the 'pervasive' and/or 'acceptable' character of the practice!--but it would be a start.)


But, unfortunately, we are going to be disappointed again, in that it is not a real 'epistle' (as in 'epistolary genre') at all…The word 'epistle' appears in the superscription of this section of 1 Enoch, and shows up in the text itself in 100.6 (the word 'epistle' in the Greek translation), but it doesn't seem to manifest any/enough of the genre characteristics which would allow this self-designation to be an accurate one.


Before we get to Meade's cited source (Milik, writing in 1976), let's note some recent assessments of its epistolary features:


·         First, P. S. Alexander, in this discussion of Second Temple Period epistolary literature (1984):


"Certain of the Pseudepigrapha were referred to as 'letters' in antiquity, though they are not in epistolary form. This was true of the Epistle of Jeremiah, 1 Baruch, and the 'Epistle of Enoch'" [HI:JWSTP:581]



·         Next, David Aune, in his discussion on Hellenistic Jewish Letters (1987):


"Finally, 1 Enoch 91-108 has been labeled 'The Letter of Enoch' because of the subscription found in the Greek versions (confirmed by an internal reference to 'this letter' in 100.6). The entire section is in the form of a final testament (and thus comparable to 2 Peter [tanknote: I cannot understand why this comparison is made--a simple glance at 2 Peter shows that it possesses ALL the features of epistolary form(?)]). More recently it has been proposed on the basis of the Aramaic fragments that the letter is limited to 1 Enoch 92.1-93.2. However, no epistolary forms characterize either textual unit." [NTLE:178]



·         Then, James M. Lindenberger, in "Letters" in [HI:EDSS:2:480-485, year 2000]:


"From the Qumran caves themselves, there are virtually no traces of true letters. The concluding section of the Ethiopic Book of Enoch (1 En 91-108) has been known since ancient times as the 'Epistle of Enoch.' Two Aramaic manuscripts of Enoch from Cave 4 contain fragments of this 'Epistle' (Enoch-g [4Q212] and Enoch-e [4Q206]). Jozef T. Milik (1976) reconstructs Enoch-g as containing references to Enoch's writing a letter for Methuselah and his grandsons, but the extant text has no epistolary features and it is not included here [in his discussion of DSS letters]."


And the reasons for these conclusions can easily be seen by comparing the epistolary features/forms for Aramaic/Hebrew letters with the features of the so-called 'Epistle of Enoch'.


Aune gives Fitzmeyer's list of Aramaic epistolary features [NTLE:174] as:


1.        Prescript (sender/recipients of various "to X from Y" and "from Y to Z" forms)

2.        Initial greeting (two forms: 'shalom' and/or 'bless', sometimes omitted in official letters)

3.        Secondary greetings ('conveyed by the writer for others')

4.        Main part

5.        Concluding statement (e.g. 'be well')


And then gives Pardee's list for Hebrew letters [NTLE:175]:


1.        The address (sender and receiver, but may double as a greeting)

2.        Initial greetings (optional)

3.        Formula for transition to main part ("The transition from the prescript to the main part of the latter is usually marked by a special word which can be translated 'and now' or 'now', or in the Bar Kosiba letters, 'that'.")

4.        A final greeting (shalom)--only in Bar Kosiba letters and later

5.        The signature -- only in Bar Kosiba letters and later


Now, if we try to find such features (Hebrew, Aramaic, or Hellenistic) in the opening/closing lines of 1 Enoch 91-108, or 1 Enoch 92.1-93.2, we are going to come up rather empty! [Note: some end the Epistle at 105, some at 107, some at 108--we will give the ending lines of ALL three possible endings.] Look at these passages for a moment (all taken from [OTP:1]):


First, the larger section (91.1-5, and the three endings):


The opening:


"Now, my son Methuselah, (please) summon all your brothers on my behalf, and gather together to me all the sons of your mother; for a voice calls me, and the spirit is poured over me so that I may show you everything that shall happen to you forever. Then Methuselah went and summoned his brothers, and having summoned them to him, gathered his family together. Then he (Enoch) spoke to all of them, children of righteousness, and said, 'Hear, all you children of Enoch, the talk of your father and listen to my voice in uprightness; for I exhort you, (my) beloved, and say to you: Love uprightness, and it alone. Do not draw near uprightness with…"


The endings of 105, 107, 108:


·         "In those days, he says, 'The Lord will be patient and cause the children of the earth to hear. Reveal it to them with your wisdom, for you are their guides; and (you are) a reward upon the whole earth. Until I and my son are united with them forever in the upright paths in their lifetime and there shall be peace unto you, rejoice, you children of truth. Amen." (105.1-2, only a two-verse chapter)


·         "'And now, my son, go and make it known to your son Lamech that this son who has been born is his son in truth--and not in falsehood'. And when Methuselah had heard the words of his father Enoch--for he revealed to him everything in secret--he returned (home). And he called the name of that son Noah, for he will comfort the earth after all the destruction." (107.2-3, only a 3-verse chapter)


·         "I shall bring them out into the bright throne of his honor; and they shall be resplendent for ages that cannot be numbered; for the judgment of God is righteousness, because he will give faith--as well as the paths of truth--to the faithful ones in the resting place. Then they shall see those who were born in darkness being taken into darkness, while the righteous ones shall be resplendent. (The sinners) shall cry aloud, and they shall see the righteous ones being resplendent; they shall go to the place which was prescribed for them concerning the days and the seasons'. Here ends the Revelations of the Secrets of Enoch." (108.12-15)



Now, the smaller one (mentioned by Aune, 92.1-93.2, above):


"(book) Five, which is written by Enoch, the writer [or "That which was written by Enoch the scribe", Argall, [IES:39], who delineated the Epistle as 92-94!] of all the signs of wisdom among all the people. He is blessed and noble in all the earth. (It is written) for ["to"?]  all the offspring that dwell upon the earth, and for the latter generations which uphold uprightness and peace. Let not your spirit be troubled by the times, for the Holy and Great One has designated (specific) days for all things. The Righteous One shall awaken from his sleep; he shall arise and walk in the ways of righteousness; and all the way of his conduct shall be in goodness and generosity forever. He will be generous to the Righteous One, and give him eternal uprightness; he will give authority, and judge in kindness and righteousness; and they shall walk in eternal light. Sin and darkness shall perish forever, and shall no more be seen from that day forevermore. Then after that Enoch happened to be recounting from the books. And Enoch said, 'Concerning the children of righteousness, concerning the elect ones of the world, and concerning the plant of truth, I will speak these things, my children, verily I, Enoch, myself, and let you know (about it) according to that which was revealed to me from the heavenly vision, that which I have learned from the words of the holy angels, and understood from the heavenly tablets.""  [93.3 continues his discourse.]



Now, it should be very obvious that the larger selection--the traditional designation of 'Epistle of Enoch' (1 En 91-105+), and that referenced by Meade, clearly manifests no epistolary features (as per comments above by Aune et al.). The smaller one--beginning in 92.1--looks a bit more promising, though. There is certainly an author and an audience mentioned, but these features are also present in another, different  genre (the Testamentary genre). We can see why Aune/Lindenberger/Alexander could reject this as an epistolary prescript if we simply compare the form here, with the known examples in actual Aramaic letters:


"The prescripts of Aramaic letters exhibits five different patterns:

(a) "To Y, your servant/brother/son X, [greetings] (e.g., Ezra 4:11-16)

(b) "To Y from X, [greetings]"

(c) "From X to Y, [greetings]"

(d) "X to Y, [greetings]" (e.g., Ezra 7:12-26)

(e) "To Y, [greetings]" (e.g., Ezra 4:17-22; 5:7-17)" [NTLE:174]


Notice that the form "That which was written by X, for Y" is not on the list…in fact, it looks more like "These are the last words of Y"--the 'last will and testament' kinda language.


And indeed, that is what this 'Epistle' is generally considered--a member of the Testament genre.


·         "The entire section is in the form of a final testament" [NTLE:178]


·         "The testamentary features of the Epistle, particularly in its opening chapters (1 En 92-94), were noted by Kolenkow….the Apocalypse of Weeks (93.1-10 et al) supplies the typical testamentary element of the forecast of the future." [IES:39f]


·         "The testament is a death-bed address, usually by some ancient seer or patriarch. It is a genre which was considered particularly apt for the passing on of eschatological or cosmic secrets…Such contexts, furthermore, were thought suitable for reviewing one's life and drawing moral or ethical conclusions from it. So paraenesis of a moral character is also an integral part of the testaments. The moral teaching of The Epistle of Enoch and of 2Enoch, for example, bears this testamentary character." [HI:JWSTP:418,19]


·         "The Dream Visions are followed by a testamentary scene (chap. 91, which is related to 81.1-82.3), in which Enoch asks Methuselah to gather Enoch's children, so that they can hear his revelations about the future." [Nickelsburg, "Enoch, Books of" in [HI:EDSS:1:250]]


·         "The most fundamental defining characteristic of a testament is that it is a discourse delivered in anticipation of imminent death. Typically the speaker is a father addressing his sons, or a leader addressing his people, or his successor. The testament begins by describing in the third person the situation in which the discourse is delivered, and ends with an account of the speaker's death…In short, the form of a testament is constituted by the narrative framework…" [HI:JWSTP:325f; please note that Enoch was not supposed to have died, so this leads us to…]

·         "Enoch's Biographical Situation: The patriarch, who is pictured as the recipient of revelation and teacher of the righteous, is living in that short interval between his 300-year stay with the angels and his final removal from humankind. During those days he reports to his children (e.g., 91:1-3, 18; 92: 1; 93:2; 94: 1), who are the righteous (compare 94:1 with 94:3, for example), what he had learned from the angels and other celestial sources. On the basis of that information he utters his exhortations and woes. The same situation was presupposed in the AB (and perhaps the BD), but it receives greater elaboration in I Enoch 81:5-10-part of an addition to the original AB which shows several points of contact with the Epistle. According to 81:6, the angels who had returned Enoch to his kin allowed him one year in which to instruct his children. The chronology of his life, which is the same in the MT, LXX, Samaritan Pentateuch, and Jubilees, could tolerate only a brief homecoming for him. He was 65 years of age when he became the father of Methuselah; he then spent 300 years with the angels; and he was 365 when God took him (Gen 5:21-24). Thus only a part of a year was available for his pedagogical labors. The result is that the Epistle assumes the testamentary setting that proved quite popular elsewhere in Jewish literature (e.g., Genesis 49; the Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs; the final speeches of Noah, Abraham, and Isaac in Jubilees, etc.)." [HI:EGAT:171]



So, all the data so far indicates that the 'Epistle' of Enoch does NOT constitute an 'example of epistolary pseudepigraphy two centuries before the NT"




Micro-pushback: "One thing I don’t get--why did Milik indicate that the Epistle was "styled on the form of  an Aramaic letter" (Meade), if there are not epistolary features, according the more recent specialists in ancient literature (especially Lindenberger)?



Milik was an original translator of the Qumran Enochic literature, and I can only suppose his identification of the alleged epistolary features was tentative.


When you look at his reasons for affirming its epistolary style (The Book of Enoch--Aramaic Fragments, 51-52), he gives these:


  1. The presence of the phrase "And now, to you I say, my sons" is the formula used in the body of letters to indicate a transition from greeting-to-subject or from subject-to-subject.


  1. The presence of the word 'peace', common as endings to Greek letters, occurs often (6 times), harkening back to some other alleged letter in 14-19(!).


  1. Many expressions of bad wishes on the addressees (about 30  'woe betide you's).


  1. The presence of the formula "and now I swear to you", addressed to either the wise or the sinners (multiple times).



I think I can see exactly why the later specialists affirm 'no epistolary features' here--these four reasons are not discriminatory enough. In other words, they are not uniquely epistolary.


1. To be sure, the first one is close, because it is a common feature of letters:


"…the transition to the body (from the greeting) with w't ('and now') is a common construction in both Hebrew and Aramaic letters of the early period" [Lindenberger, op.cit.]


"Aramaic and Hebrew writers often use the expression 'now' or 'and now' to begin a new section of a letter or to introduce a new topic, where in English this is indicated by beginning a new paragraph…" [Lindenberger, Ancient Aramaic and Hebrew Letters, Scholars Press (SBL):1994, p.11]


But the problem is that they are not uniquely epistolary. In other words, these 'and now' forms occur all over the place, in narratives, prayers, and even in non-epistolary portions of 1 Enoch.


For example, in the Aramaic portions of the Hebrew Bible, these phrases ARE used within the body of the embedded letters in Ezra, but they also occur in many passages which are NOT epistolary at all (Ezra 5.16; 4.10; Dan 2.23; 4.34 [EB 37]; 5.12; 15, 16; 6.9 [EB 8])


And, more to the point, these forms occur in earlier portions of Enoch that are not at all epistolary--clearly demonstrating that these forms are NOT markers/indicators of an epistolary genre:


·         [Chapter 9.1] And then Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel looked down from heaven and saw much blood being 2 shed upon the earth, and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth. And they said one to another: 'The earth -- made without inhabitant -- cries (with) the voice of their cryings (going) up to the gates of heaven. 3 And now to you, the holy ones of heaven, the souls of men make their suit, saying, "Bring our cause 4 before the Most High."' And they said to the Lord of the ages: 'Lord of lords, God of gods, King of kings, and God of the ages, the throne of Thy glory… And now, behold, the souls of those who have died are crying and making their suit to the gates of heaven, and their lamentations have ascended: and cannot cease because of the lawless deeds which are 11 wrought on the earth. And Thou knowest all things before they come to pass, and Thou seest these things and Thou dost suffer them, and Thou dost not say to us what we are to do to them in regard to these.'


·         [Chapter 10.1] Then said the Most High, the Holy and Great One spake, and sent Uriel to the son of Lamech, 2 and said to him: 'Go to Noah and tell him in my name "Hide thyself!" and reveal to him the end that is approaching: that the whole earth will be destroyed, and a deluge is about to come 3 upon the whole earth, and will destroy all that is on it. And now instruct him that he may escape 4 and his seed may be preserved for all the generations of the world.' And again the Lord said to Raphael…"


·         [Chapter 15] And He answered and said to me, and I heard His voice: 'Fear not, Enoch, thou righteous 2 man and scribe of righteousness: approach hither and hear my voice. And go, say to the Watchers of heaven, who have sent thee to intercede for them: "You should intercede" for men, and not men 3 for you: Wherefore have ye left the high, holy, and eternal heaven, and lain with women, and defiled yourselves with the daughters of men and taken to yourselves wives, and done like the children 4 of earth, and begotten giants (as your) sons? And though ye were holy, spiritual, living the eternal life, you have defiled yourselves with the blood of women, and have begotten (children) with the blood of flesh, and, as the children of men, have lusted after flesh and blood as those also do who die 5 and perish. Therefore have I given them wives also that they might impregnate them, and beget 6 children by them, that thus nothing might be wanting to them on earth. But you were formerly 7 spiritual, living the eternal life, and immortal for all generations of the world. And therefore I have not appointed wives for you; for as for the spiritual ones of the heaven, in heaven is their dwelling. 8 And now, the giants, who are produced from the spirits and flesh, shall be called evil spirits upon 9 the earth, and on the earth shall be their dwelling…"


·         [Chapter 16.1] From the days of the slaughter and destruction and death of the giants, from the souls of whose flesh the spirits, having gone forth, shall destroy without incurring judgement -thus shall they destroy until the day of the consummation, the great judgement in which the age shall be 2 consummated, over the Watchers and the godless, yea, shall be wholly consummated." And now as to the watchers who have sent thee to intercede for them, who had been aforetime in heaven, (say 3 to them): "You have been in heaven, but all the mysteries had not yet been revealed to you, and you knew worthless ones, and these in the hardness of your hearts you have made known to the women, and through these mysteries women and men work much evil on earth." 4 Say to them therefore: " You have no peace."'


·         [Chapter 63.4] We have now learnt that we should glorify And bless the Lord of kings and Him who is king over all kings.' 5 And they shall say: ' Would that we had rest to glorify and give thanks And confess our faith before His glory ! 6 And now we long for a little rest but find it not: We follow hard upon and obtain (it) not…


·         [Chapter 67.1] And in those days the word of God came unto me, and He said unto me: ' Noah, thy lot has come 2 Up before Me, a lot without blame, a lot of love and uprightness. And now the angels are making a wooden (building), and when they have completed that task I will place My hand upon it and preserve it, and there shall come forth from it the seed of life, and a change shall set in so that the 3 earth will not remain without inhabitant.


·         [Chapter 79.1] And now, my son, I have shown thee everything, and the law of all the stars of the heaven is 2 completed. And he showed me all the laws of these for every day, and for every season of bearing rule, and for every year, and for its going forth, and for the order prescribed to it every month 3 and every week: And the waning of the moon which takes place in the sixth portal: for in this 4 sixth portal her light is accomplished… Such is the picture and sketch of every luminary which Uriel the archangel, who is their leader, showed unto me.


·         [Chapter 82.1] And now, my son Methuselah, all these things I am recounting to thee and writing down for thee! and I have revealed to thee everything, and given thee books concerning all these: so preserve, my son Methuselah, the books from thy father's hand, and (see) that thou deliver them to the generations of the world. 2 I have given Wisdom to thee and to thy children, [And thy children that shall be to thee], That they may give it to their children for generations, This wisdom (namely) that passeth their thought.


·         [Chapter 83.1] And now, my son Methuselah, I will show thee all my visions which I have seen, recounting 2 them before thee. Two visions I saw before I took a wife, and the one was quite unlike the other: the first when I was learning to write: the second before I took thy mother, (when) I saw a terrible 3 vision. And regarding them I prayed to the Lord.


·         [Chapter 84.1] And I lifted up my hands in righteousness and blessed the Holy and Great One, and spake with the breath of my mouth, and with the tongue of flesh, which God has made for the children of the flesh of men, that they should speak therewith, and He gave them breath and a tongue and a mouth that they should speak therewith:

2 Blessed be Thou, O Lord, King,
Great and mighty in Thy greatness,
Lord of the whole creation of the heaven,
King of kings and God of the whole world.

For Thou hast made and Thou rulest all things,
And nothing is too hard for Thee,
Wisdom departs not from the place of Thy throne,
Nor turns away from Thy presence.
And Thou knowest and seest and hearest everything,
And there is nothing hidden from Thee [for Thou seest everything].
And now the angels of Thy heavens are guilty of trespass,
And upon the flesh of men abideth Thy wrath until the great day of judgement.
5 And now, O God and Lord and Great King,
I implore and beseech Thee to fulfil my prayer,
To leave me a posterity on earth,
And not destroy all the flesh of man,
And make the earth without inhabitant,
So that there should be an eternal destruction.
6 And now, my Lord, destroy from the earth the flesh which has aroused Thy wrath,
But the flesh of righteousness and uprightness establish as a plant of the eternal seed,
And hide not Thy face from the prayer of Thy servant, O Lord.'


And notice how similar these forms are to those within the 'Epistle of Enoch' (depending on who defines the boundaries, of course):


·         [Chapter 91] 1 And now, my son Methuselah, call to me all thy brothers
And gather together to me all the sons of thy mother;
For the word calls me,
And the spirit is poured out upon me,
That I may show you everything
That shall befall you for ever.' 2 And there upon Methuselah went and summoned to him all his brothers and assembled his relatives. 3 And he spake unto all the children of righteousness and said:


·         [Chapter 92.18] And now I tell you, my sons, and show you
The paths of righteousness and the paths of violence.
Yea, I will show them to you again
That ye may know what will come to pass.
19 And now, hearken unto me, my sons,
And walk in the paths of righteousness,
And walk not in the paths of violence;
For all who walk in the paths of unrighteousness shall perish for ever.'


·         [Chapter 94] 1 And now I say unto you, my sons, love righteousness and walk therein;
For the paths of righteousness are worthy of acceptation,
But the paths of unrighteousness shall suddenly be destroyed and vanish. 3 And now I say unto you the righteous: Walk not in the paths of wickedness, nor in the paths of death,
And draw not nigh to them, lest ye be destroyed 8 Woe to you who acquire silver and gold in unrighteousness and say: " We have become rich with riches and have possessions;
And have acquired everything we have desired. 9 And now let us do what we purposed:
For we have gathered silver, 9c And many are the husbandmen in our houses."


·         [Chapter 98] 1 And now I swear unto you, to the wise and to the foolish,
For ye shall have manifold experiences on the earth. 2 For ye men shall put on more adornments than a woman, And coloured garments more than a virgin: In royalty and in grandeur and in power, And in silver and in gold and in purple, And in splendour and in food they shall be poured out as water.9 Woe to you, ye fools, for through your folly shall ye perish: and ye transgress against the wise, 10 and so good hap shall not be your portion. And now, know ye that ye are prepared for the day of destruction: wherefore do not hope to live, ye sinners, but ye shall depart and die; for ye know no ransom;


·         [Chapter 100] And now, know ye that from the angels He will inquire as to your deeds in heaven, from the sun and from the moon and from the stars in reference to your sins because upon the earth ye execute 11 judgement on the righteous. And He will summon to testify against you every cloud and mist and dew and rain; for they shall all be withheld because of you from descending upon you, and they 12 shall be mindful of your sins. And now give presents to the rain that it be not withheld from descending upon you, nor yet the dew, when it has received gold and silver from you that it may descend. When the hoar-frost and snow with their chilliness, and all the snow-storms with all their plagues fall upon you, in those days ye shall not be able to stand before them



·         [Chapter 106] 1 And after some days my son Methuselah took a wife for his son Lamech, and she became 2 pregnant by him and bore a son. … 4 And his father Lamech was afraid of him and 5 fled, and came to his father Methuselah. And he said unto him: ' I have begotten a strange son… And now, my father, I am here to petition thee and implore thee that thou mayest go to Enoch, our father, and learn from him the truth, for his dwelling-place is 8 amongst the angels.' And when Methuselah heard the words of his son, he came to me to the ends of the earth; for he had heard that 1 was there, and he cried aloud, and I heard his voice and I came to him. And 1 said unto him: ' Behold, here am I, my son, wherefore hast 9 thou come to me ? ' And he answered and said: ' Because of a great cause of anxiety have I come to thee, and because of a disturbing vision 10 have I approached. And now, my father, hear me: unto Lamech my son there hath been born a son, the like of whom there is none, and his nature is not like man's nature….And now make known to thy son Lamech that he who has been born is in truth his son, and call his name Noah; for he shall be left to you, and he and his sons shall be saved from the destruction..

·         [Chapter 107] 1 And I saw written on them that generation upon generation shall transgress, till a generation of righteousness arises, and transgression is destroyed and sin passes away from the earth, and all 2 manner of good comes upon it. And now, my son, go and make known to thy son Lamech that this 3 son, which has been born, is in truth his son, and that (this) is no lie.' And when Methuselah had heard the words of his father Enoch-for he had shown to him everything in secret-he returned and showed (them) to him and called the name of that son Noah; for he will comfort the earth after all the destruction.


(These are also frequent in Testamentary lit--to which genre the 'Epistle' is closest. Cf. Test. of Reuben 2.1: "And now hear me, my children, what things I saw concerning the seven spirits of deceit, when  I repented. Seven spirits therefore are appointed against man, and they are the leaders in the works …"; cf. Test .Simeon 3.1; Test Jud 14.1, etc.)




2. The second one has an obvious problem--letters were only ended once (smile), not six times…and 'peace' occurs throughout literature in the forms here 'there is no peace'…Not only is this actually non-epistolary, it is also non-discriminatory.


3. Similarly, 'woe unto you' shows up all over the ancient literature without it being an indicator of epistolary forms (e.g. "Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, for you tithe mint and ….")


4. And the same goes for the 'swearing formula'. First-person statements like this can be found in non-epistolary literatures, and narratives (it is in fact a legal sub-genre of oaths):


·         "I swear to you, my children, but I swear not by any oath, neither by heaven nor by earth, nor by any other creature which God created. (2 Enoch, 49.1; probably dependent on the NT actually)


·         "I thought, in my heart, that the conception was the work of the Watchers the pregnancy of the Holy Ones and that it belonged to the Giants... and my heart was upset by this... I, Lamech, turned to my wife Bitenosh and said... Swear to me by the Most High, Great Lord, King of the Universe...the sons of heavens, that you will truthfully tell me everything, if... You will tell me without lies... Then Bitenosh, my wife spoke harshly and she cried... and said: Oh my brother and lord! Remember my pleasure... the time of love, gasping for breath. I will tell you everything truthfully... and then my heart began to ache... When Bitenosh realized my mood had changed...Then she withheld her anger and said to me: O my lord and brother! Remember my pleasure. I swear to you by the Great Holy One, the King of the heavens... That this seed, pregnancy, and planting of fruit comes from you and not a stranger, Watcher, or son of the heaven... [Col 2, 1Q20]


·         "And then spake Jacob to Rebecca, his mother, and said unto her: 'Behold, mother, I am nine weeks of years old, and I neither know nor have I touched any woman, nor have I betrothed 5 myself to any, nor even think of taking me a wife of the daughters of Canaan. For I remember, mother, the words of Abraham, our father, for he commanded me not to take a wife of the daughters 6 of Canaan, but to take me a wife from the seed of my father's house and from my kindred. I have heard before that daughters have been born to Laban, thy brother, and I have set my heart on them  7 to take a wife from amongst them. And for this reason I have guarded myself in my spirit against sinning or being corrupted in all my ways throughout all the days of my life; for with regard to lust  8 and fornication, Abraham, my father, gave me many commands. And, despite all that he has commanded me, these two and twenty years my brother has striven with me, and spoken frequently to me and said: 'My brother, take to wife a sister of my two wives'; but I refuse to do as he has done. 9 I swear before thee, mother, that all the days of my life I will not take me a wife from the daughters 10 of the seed of Canaan, and I will not act wickedly as my brother has done. (Jubilees 25.4)


·         "And I, myself, beg thee to exhort Jacob concerning me and concerning my sons, for I know that he will assuredly be king over me and my sons, for on the day my father blessed him he made him the higher and me 24 the lower. And I swear unto thee that I shall love him, and not desire evil against him all the 25 days of my life but good only.' And he swore unto her regarding all this matter. And she called Jacob before the eyes of Esau, and gave him commandment according to the words which 26 she had spoken to Esau. (Jubilees 35)

·         "Then she pulled the head out of the bag and showed it to them, and said, “See here, the head of Holofernes, the commander of the Assyrian army, and here is the canopy beneath which he lay in his drunken stupor. The Lord has struck him down by the hand of a woman. 16 As the Lord lives, who has protected me in the way I went, I swear that it was my face that seduced him to his destruction, and that he committed no sin with me, to defile and shame me.” (Judith 13.15)


Not to mention references in the OT writings:


·         Abraham in Gen 21.14: "I swear it" (in a narrative)

·         Samson on the Philistines in Judg 15.7: "Samson said to them, “If this is what you do, I swear I will not stop until I have taken revenge on you"

·         God, in a prophecy of Jeremiah (22.5): "But if you will not heed these words, I swear by myself, says the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation"

·        God again in prophecy (Ezek 36.6): "Thus says the Lord God: I am speaking in my jealous wrath, because you have suffered the insults of the nations; 7 therefore thus says the Lord God: I swear that the nations that are all around you shall themselves suffer insults."



And this particular word (omnuo) is used by God in the LXX of Ps 95.11 (cited in Heb 3.11): "As I swore in my wrath, they shall never enter…"


This is just a legal-looking statement, and not specific to epistolary literature either.



So, although these particular features do occur in epistolary forms, they do not specify or indicate that the form is epistolary. There is too much 'play' in these elements for them to be used in the way Milik initially did.


Two other points that are sometimes mentioned about this 'Epistle':


1. The verse at 92.1 is sometimes compared to 2 Maccabees 1.1 as a type of 'epistolary prescript', but we have already noticed that the form of 92.1 does NOT match any of the know letter-openings, whereas 2 Maccabees clearly does. Here are the two passages (notes and markers in bold mine):


"The book written by Enoch-[Enoch indeed wrote this complete doctrine of wisdom, (which is) praised of all men and a judge of all the earth] for all my children who shall dwell on the earth. [no actual 'to' or 'from' formal markers--as required] And for the future generations who shall observe uprightness and peace. [NO greeting element] Let not your spirit be troubled on account of the times; For the Holy and Great One has appointed days for all things. 3 And the righteous one shall arise from sleep, [No 1st person form in the opening] (Enoch)



"The Jews in Jerusalem and those in the land of Judea [Sender, this actually follows the next clause in the Greek], To their Jewish kindred in Egypt [explicit 'to' Recipient, first in the Greek text], Greetings and true peace [Greeting element]. 2 May God do good to you, and may he remember his covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, his faithful servants. 3 May he give you all a heart to worship him and to do his will with a strong heart and a willing spirit. 4 May he open your heart to his law and his commandments, and may he bring peace. 5 May he hear your prayers and be reconciled to you, and may he not forsake you in time of evil. 6 We are now praying for you here. 7 [Body begins here] In the reign of Demetrius, in the one hundred sixty-ninth year, we Jews wrote to you, in the critical distress that came upon us in those years after Jason and his company revolted from the holy land and the kingdom [1st person and 2nd person usage, in the opening] (2 Macc 1.1)



2.  Even the word 'epistle' which occurs in the text at 100.6 in the Greek translation of the Aramaic original does not indicate that the original 'thought of itself as' a letter. Black (Epistle of Enoch, p.12):


"The Greek version of 110.6 does refer to the 'words of this epistole', but the original ktb' or sefr' could mean simply 'writing' or 'book' and refer to the Book of Enoch as a whole, as the ambiguous Ethiopic mashaf 'writing, book, epistle' does at 108.1. Was it perhaps from the Greek version of 100.6 that the Greek redactor took his subscription?"



Accordingly, I can certainly see why the genre specialists (Aune, Lindenberger, Alexander) decide AGAINST this 'epistle' being an example of  a letter.


Okay, back to the subject…






So, where does this leave us?


It leaves us without a single pre-NT exemplar of Jewish epistolary pseudepigrapha.


And, without a single example, we obviously cannot complete the next step of evaluating whether it was 'morally acceptable' or not!!!!


(Cf. Donelson's results: "My own investigation of the pseudepigraphical letter confirms this, because I was unable to find any Jewish letter which appears to be of the same genre as the Pastorals." [HI:PEAPE:14f, note 37])


This silence might be interpreted as evidence that the practice was not acceptable, but all we can safely argue from it is that the practice was not 'a practice' at all. Nobody Jewish apparently wrote 'pastoral letters' -- much less pseudepigraphical ones. The other available genres (e.g., apocalyptic, testaments, wisdom) must have met all their 'publication' and/or 'pseudepigraphical' needs…


But this is enough, actually, for now--this does move our discussion further: epistolary pseudepigrapha was unknown in the "Jewish matrix" prior to the New Testament period.




Two. If we cannot find any examples of high pseudox epistles, can any of the Jewish non-epistolary high pseudox (e.g., apocalypses, testaments) be understood to function as exemplars?


The first thing we should note here is that we might be looking in the wrong place in so doing. Donelson points out:


"Although Jewish apocalyptic as a genre does not provide working models for the formal elements of Christian pseudepigrapha as literary documents, the theological predicament which inspired Jewish apocalyptic is remarkably similar to that of early Christian pseudonymity. Therefore, the observations of Russell, Mowinckel, and Burkitt, who write primarily on the origins of Jewish pseudepigrapha might shed light on Christian pseudepigraphy. Relying on H. Wheeler Robinson's idea of corporate personality, Boman's observations on contemporaneity in the Hebrew vocal system, and Pedersen's theory that the inheritance of a progenitor's name includes inheritance of his character, Russell attempts to vindicate Jewish pseudepigraphy from the charge of deception. The apocalyptist wrote under the name of a patriarch in order to express his spiritual dependence on his predecessors and his accord with true Old Testament tradition. "In this way pseudonymity is to be explained in terms both of tradition and of inspiration which in turn are to be understood in terms of that peculiar Hebrew psychology to which the apocalyptists had fallen heir."


"Unfortunately, this thesis contains nothing beyond those of Aland or advocates of innocent and open forgery, except an appeal to "that peculiar Hebrew psychology." Against this sort of explanation Morton Smith has pointed out that the normal Hebrew pattern for inspired literature was anonymity. In fact he suggests that it was only by way of contact with Greco-Roman literature that Jews began to employ the device of pseudonymity. If so, then no "peculiar Hebrew psychology" was determinative. Furthermore, Smith suggests that the idea of inspiration only clouds the issue, since apocalyptists are only inspired by angels and never by the patriarchs themselves. A revelation by Michael or Raphael or some other angel does not explain how the name of Moses or Enoch or some other patriarch came to be affixed as author . Smith's suggestion that Jewish literature learned the pseudonymous device from Greco-Roman literature is supported by the close formal characteristics which the Christian pseudepigraphical letter shares with Greco-Roman ones and the relatively few affinities with Jewish materials [Footnote 37: 'A few authors have located the origins of Christian pseudepigraphy in Jewish apocalyptic…The combined analyses of Brox, Smith and Speyer indicate that the influence Jewish apocalyptic had on Christian pseudepigraphy happened only because Jewish literature first fell under the spell of Greek literature. Thus to understand the essence of pseudepigrapha we must look first to Greco-Roman literature, as they all do, and then to Jewish as a species of it. My own investigation of the pseudegraphical letter confirms this, because I was unable to  find any Jewish letter which appears to be of the same genre as the Pastorals'] . As a genre the Christian pseudepigraphical letter must be classified as a species of Greco-Roman pseudepigrapha and not Jewish apocalyptic. Of course, it is likely that influence of Greco-Roman literature was occasionally mediated by Jewish literature, but the primary milieu of Christian pseudepigraphy, and especially of pseudepigraphical letters, remains Greco-Roman and not Jewish. We will notice below that R. H. Charles' observations on the motivations behind Jewish apocalyptic are applicable to Christian pseudepigrapha, but these observations are limited to questions of motivation and theological predicament and do not apply to forms of argument and literary techniques." [HI:PEAPE:13-15]



Donaldson (and the sources he draws upon--Brox, Smith, Speyer) here certainly reduces our interest in the Jewish literature, but since we ARE interested in matters of motivation (somewhat), it might be worthwhile to ask the next round of questions.


But at this point this sub-question has expanded a bit--from 'where did they get the idea of pseudepigrapha?' to 'where did they get the idea it was morally OKAY?'…and why 'switch' to G-R letter format?


Well, we first have to remember that the Jewish literature of the pre-NT period was predominantly anonymous (as noted often above). But NT epistles--written to churches and groups facing specific challenges and needs--had to have an author. And the author had to be the 'correct', 'authoritative' one. An anonymous letter could hardly settle a 'battle' between claimants to apostolic authority (e.g., Paul vs. the super-apostles), or a 'contest' between doctrines claiming to be authentically Christian (e.g. incarnational vs. docetic Christologies). The very nature of the apostolic commission by Jesus ("As the Father sent me, so send I you…") and its focus on teaching/discipleship ("go…make disciples, teaching them…")--in the unique new context of universal/global mission(!)--created a set of communication/leadership demands probably not experienced in pre-NT Judaism.


Accordingly, an 'anonymous' form (e.g., 'unlabeled' moral instruction, 'unidentified' commands about church discipline, 'anonymous' decisions about theological boundaries) would hardly have been useful. There had to be some way to identify the content of the communication with the authentic Christian foundations--and in a world in which the theology of the post-Easter Jesus movement was literally being 'unpacked' from the primal explosion of revelation in the words/works of Jesus and the extension of this via the Spirit, the only way to do this was in connection with those in demonstrable continuity with both the primal events and the continual 'unpacking', i.e., the apostles.


But let's ask a question here--if the apostles had been influenced by authorship-attribution patterns of the pseudepigrapha, then why don’t we have pseudox letters from Jesus, instead of Paul and Peter? Why don't we have pseudox gospels by Jesus (or even angels, for that matter) instead of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Why is Hebrews anonymous, instead of being by Jesus (or, for that matter, by one of the original Twelve)?


In other words, why isn't Paul himself a pseudepigraphic writer, if the OT Pseudepigrapha were influential, in matters of authorial attribution?


The reason is probably very, very simple: nobody in the NT period probably knew those OTP works to be pseudepigraphical! Those that believed in them at all (they were mostly sectarian works, remember, and often were combating more 'established' traditions; Nickelsburg uses the phrase 'the likelihood that many of the contemporaries of the Enochic authors did not accept the prophetic credentials and genuine religious experience of these authors' [HI:PPAPLDSS:100]) most likely believed that Enoch wrote Enoch, that Ezra wrote "his" apocalypse, and that David wrote the extra psalms. Some probably recognized the 'expanded nature' of the Testaments of the Patriarchs (but still believed in the 'core content' of the disclosures, perhaps), and some probably understood that 'rewritten bible' was normally simply a vivid exposition and story-telling thereof [except for Jubilees, of course!]. But we certainly have little reason to believe that the religious teachers of the first half of the first century AD knew these major works to be pseudepigrapha.


You have to remember that many of these works were in a 'rivalry' situation (e.g, 1 Enoch vs. Ben Sira (Argall, [IES]). In fact, 1 Enoch is so much 'greater than Moses' it is best seen as a frontal assault on the religious foundation of some Temple hierarchy group:


"Thirdly, it is noteworthy that the authors of I Enoch do not simply attribute their writings to a pre-Mosaic author. They also present them in a manner that devalues the Mosaic Pentateuch. The initial oracle in chapters 1-5 is a paraphrase of part of Deut. 33 '24 and some of the content and testamentary language in chapter 91 is reminiscent of Moses' farewell discourse in Deut. 29-32 .2.5 In effect, this casts Moses into the role of a "me-too." In addition, the account of the events at Mount Sinai in the Animal Vision, while it allows Moses an important role as a leader of Israel and even grants him a vision of the Deity, never states that he received the Torah on Mount Sinai (89:29-34). Revelation came to Israel at Marah (89:28; cf, Exod 15:25-26). Thus, I Enoch leapfrogs the Mosaic Torah and assumes for itself a prophetic authority that precedes Moses." [HI:PPAPLDSS:101]



Now, apart from the few 'high pseudox' we have in our table above, the other major cache of pre-NT writings (i.e., Qumran) didn't adopt the pseudox approach either:


"With this point in mind, our first step is an acknowledgment of the obvious fact that Qumran literature is largely anonymous and not pseudonymous…If pseudepigraphy were ever de rigeur at Qumran as a literary device, it may have been used only in texts which were attempting to proclaim a legal or theological doctrine to the outside world and considered unnecessary in works intended for insiders. Otherwise, we would expect to find an authoritative figure such as Moses as the putative author of various legal texts at Qumran…the writings of the Qumran group avoid authoritative pseudepigraphy." [HI:PPAPLDSS, 8, 9,25]



Also remember that the pre-NT pieces in OTP are mostly NOT high pseudox (only 5 of 18), and note that the Enochian literature made a huge impact on the Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs and on Jubilees (a semi-pseudox work). It might be interesting to note that 1 Enoch actually disparages authorial-identification!


"The authors of I Enoch were also critical of the teaching and practices of their rivals. The Shemihazah version of the myth of the fallen Watchers was a criticism of the priesthood for violations of the laws of family purity. The teaching motif found in the 'Asael version of the myth, which became attached to the Shemihazah version, referred to the teaching of worthless mysteries; presumably the instruction offered by priests or sages who supported the temple establishment. Ben Sira is a contemporary sage who supports the priests (Sir 7:29-31) and the high priest (50:1-24). In addition, the author of the Epistle of Enoch knows the mystery that in the end-time, sinners "write books in their own names"A plurality of opponents are in view here, but ben Sira has surely written a book in his own name (Sir 50:27)." [IES:86f; using the Greek variant]



It is very suggestive that the foundational work from which a family of pseudox branched out of (e.g., parts of Jubilees, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Assumption of Moses, 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra [OTP:1:8]) specifically mandated either anonymity or (more probably) pseudepigrapha! Anybody living in/following that particular sectarian group would clearly have considerable pressure on them to write pseudox! So, it's no wonder much of the Enoch-based literature is pseudox--who wants to violate the spirit of tradition, and pretentiously and presumptuously write in his own name, eh?!


Outside of that circle, though--Qumran internal lit, non-Jubilees rewritten bible, history, Wisdom lit--we simply do not see the high pseudox of Enoch present.


And, my original point here (pre-wandering, obviously…sigh) was that since the pseudonymous character of the pre-NT OTP work was not known, this corpus could NOT have functioned as a 'methodological exemplar' for early NT pseudox. (Additionally, I noted above that if it had, we should have had entries more like "Jesus' letter to the Corinthians")


So, that basically excludes the OTP from being the exemplar, but we can push the question back one more hop: can whatever was the model for pseudox in the OTP (remember, it had to start somewhere, too) also function as the model for NT pseudox?


Here we run up against two currently-argued options:


1.        The Jewish anonymous-preferring writers were influenced by G-R pseudox, and 'learned the lie' of pseudox via that mechanism (as per Donelson, Smith, Brox, Speyer);


2.        The Jewish OTP writers (as well as the NT folks) were influenced by biblical/canonical pseudox, which didn’t actually use an author's name to mean he/she/they wrote the piece in question (Meade).



Option 1 is what most of the hard data indicates, and indeed explains all post-NT pseudox also (but it doesn't let us off the moral issue, without recourse to the 'noble lie' tactics--considered later)


Option 2 gets us off the moral hook (by making authorial attribution NOT mean 'real' authorial attribution, but rather 'content - continuity' or 'tradition association' attribution), but requires us to both (a)  find OT canonical pseudox (revealing content-continuity attribution) ; (b) show that this form of pseudox/understanding is a significant (or preferably the dominant) model among the other OT writings, such as the named prophets; and  (c) prove 'praxis content' linkage between that OT praxis and NT praxis. (Meade's position in PsC).



So, let's see if Meade's position will fix the problem…


Let me introduce this discussion by citing Dunn's synopsis of it (Meade was Dunn's student):


"The most promising contribution to the discussion of NT pseudepigraphy in recent years has been the thesis of D. G. Meade. He argues that the most obvious context within which to examine the issue of NT pseudepigraphy is not Greco-Roman literary genres and practices (as still Donelson, 14–15), and not simply particular Jewish apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, but the process in Jewish religious writing whereby tradition has accrued to a prominent historical figure and particularly the process whereby an original oral or literary deposit has been expanded by the attribution of further material to the originating figure. He instances Isaiah, the Solomonic corpus and the Daniel and Enoch traditions. In each case he finds that “attribution is primarily a claim to authoritative tradition, not a statement of literary origins” (Meade, 102)…When he turns to the NT Meade observes similar features in the letters usually regarded as pseudepigraphal, “a consistent relationship between the development of the Petrine and Pauline traditions and the literary forms which they take” (Meade, 192–93). In other words the relation of Ephesians and the Pastorals to the undisputed Paulines could be regarded as equivalent to the relation of Second and Third Isaiah to First Isaiah. In each case the motivation was to “make present, contemporize” (Vergegenwärtigung) or renewedly actualize the authoritative Petrine and Pauline traditions for the following generation…Of all the approaches to the issue of NT pseudepigraphy, Meade’s seems to have the greatest potential to explain the conundrum of pseudepigraphy within the canon; that is, how it could be that the earliest Christians may have accepted documents claiming as author someone who was already dead.


"(OT) Third, there was a point of transition when the process of Vergegenwärtigung changed in character, from an elaboration within the tradition itself to an interpretation of the tradition now more or less fixed. The tradition having become established in canonical form (though textual variations retain a certain fluidity) the role of the targumist and halakist takes over. The vitality of the tradition is maintained, not least in the claim of Mishnah…of an unbroken tradition of Torah from Moses, through Joshua, the elders and the prophets to the men of the great synagogue. But any suggestion of pseudepigraphal elaboration has long been superseded.


"The Prophets. If we take the example of Isaiah, the scholarly consensus is that while much of Isaiah 1–39 can be referred to the eighth-century Isaiah of Jerusalem, Isaiah 40–55 come from an unknown hand during the exilic period and Isaiah 56–66 are probably a collection of multiauthored oracles from a still later period. Variations on the basic consensus still have to reckon with a tradition that, on the most plausible reading of the text(s), spans several generations, in which case we see the same three features present…First is an authoritative starting point for the tradition. Isaiah of Jerusalem was evidently a prophet who made a huge impact and whose prophecies were treasured as living resources within the circle that most revered his memory…Second, there is a clear continuity and fundamental identity of religious perspective between the first two Isaiahs. That is to say, Second Isaiah consciously stood within the living tradition that stemmed from Isaiah of Jerusalem and can be seen quite properly as a creative reinterpreter of the earlier oracles…Third, with Third Isaiah the earlier tradition seems to have become more fixed: the material is full of near or complete citations from the two earlier stages; and the reworking of the tradition begins to assume more the character of a Midrashic exposition of these texts. It would appear then that the process of pseudegraphical elaboration within such a tradition can last only so long as there is an appropriation and reworking of the tradition that can legitimately claim to reexpress the mind of the tradition’s originator and be recognized and accepted as doing so.


"And in this case the attribution proved to be successful in its claim to stand within the tradition of Solomon, at least to the extent that Qoheleth made it (just!) into the Hebrew canon. At the same time, however, although the name of Solomon continued to gather fresh works around it (Wisdom of Solomon, Psalms of Solomon, Odes of Solomon) there was never any question of their acceptance into the canon. By then the connection and continuity with Solomon was too remote for the attribution to be regarded as anything other than a literary fiction honoring the memory of Solomon as a sage and composer of psalms and odes but not constituting a claim to stand within Solomon’s authoritative tradition.


"The Jewish background to the issue of NT pseudepigraphy thus reveals a consistent pattern of living tradition with the same three features: a revered figure in the past to whom a particular character of authoritative tradition could properly be attributed; an elaboration of that tradition from within or at least in a manner whose continuity with and contemporizing of the original tradition was widely acknowledged; and a recognition that the vitality of the tradition could not be maintained in that way when the connection and continuity with the authoritative originator became too distant, tenuous or artificial.


"It was Irenaeus’s advocacy of John as part of the fourfold Gospel witness, despite its attractiveness to the Gnostic sects, that made its place within the emerging orthodox canon secure. Others, like the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Thomas, were judged to have transgressed the boundary of acceptable Vergegenwärtigung.


"The issue, it should be noted, was not settled simply on the question of attribution of authorship. It was the character of the tradition so attributed, whether it stood in sufficiently close continuity with and as an acceptable elaboration within the living tradition that was decisive. If so, the later attribution to John, however elaborated the tradition, was acceptable; if not, the attribution to Peter or Thomas was insufficient to secure its widespread acceptance. In an important sense, therefore, the issue of pseudepigraphy was secondary...


"The explanation that makes best sense of the evidence is that Ephesians was written by an associate or a disciple of Paul who stood within the tradition begun by Paul and was recognized to do so, was seen to represent the Pauline tradition after Paul’s death and was able to reexpress it in significant measure in his own terms but in Paul’s name and without deceit.


"The significance for the present discussion is that documents so markedly different from the earlier Paulines could still claim Pauline authorship and the claim not be regarded as illegitimate. It can be and is still argued conversely by an important minority that the letters’ own claim to have been written by Paul outweighs the above evidence (-). But the earlier discussion shows how equally plausible it is that associates or disciples of Paul could legitimately write in the name of Paul, as a claim to represent Paul’s counsel in the face of later challenges, and that the literary device could be accepted without demur because the writings were recognized as standing in a direct line of continuity with those of Paul himself (note 2 Tim 2:2)—possibly aided by the incorporation of brief notes (particularly 2 Tim 4:9–15) from Paul’s final imprisonment. Though no one need have been in any doubt as to their post-Pauline authorship, what mattered was their Pauline character. In Meade’s terms, their attribution to Paul was primarily “a claim to authoritative tradition, not a statement of literary origins.” The living Pauline tradition, despite already solidifying into “sound teaching,” was still sufficiently fluid and developing from within.


"In contrast, the line of continuity was presumably not sufficiently sustained in the case of 1 Clement, or Clement was a sufficiently independent figure of authority in his own right for it to be necessary to present its exhortation under Paul’s name. Subsequently the Acts of Paul (including 3 Corinthians) never gained much credibility, and the Epistle to the Laodiceans was too obviously a clumsy pastiche, though it was widely disseminated in the West.


"There is, then, what might be called a biblical practice of continuing and developing a literary tradition, begun by an authoritative figure in the past, after his death. That second phase could be and in various well-documented cases evidently was recognized as sharing in the authority of the tradition’s originator and accepted as also authoritative under his name. In each case the traditioning process that bore the author’s name was also recognized to be of limited duration, after which the tradition had become too fixed or claims to write in the authoritative name were no longer widely accepted." [NT:DictLNT,  s.v. "Pseudepigraphy", J. D. G. Dunn]



A first impression of this position would suggest that Meade has simply replaced one "Hebrew way of thinking" (Russell's) with his own 'psychology of attribution', or 'semantics of attribution'. Consider a couple of his statements:


  1. "The consciousness of standing within an inspired stream of tradition, an attitude that can be traced back into Judaism nearly a thousand years before the New Testament, has effected an approach to literary attribution that is entirely foreign and highly appropriate to the modern mind. [PsC, p.198f]


  1. "…there emerged a consciousness of a fundamental discontinuity between "apostolic" and "ecclesiastical" tradition. What this represents is a qualitatively different attitude toward tradition which could not fail to have dramatic implications for literary attribution. [PsC, p.199]


  1. "There is good reason to maintain that there was a quantitatively (if not qualitatively) different attitude toward pseudonymous and anonymous authorship in the NT era from that pertaining in subsequent generations."  [PsC, p206]



And, that by refusing to discriminate between genres ([PsC:13,15] without justification for the position, btw--it is only asserted that this is proper methodology), he may be as guilty of 'over-generalizing' as those he criticizes (Speyer [PsC:8], Brox [PsC:13], Aland [PsC:13f]).



Now, there are a number of points at which this position should be challenged (e.g., the multiple-authorship theories), but for the sake of time (and verbosity), let me point out some of the more critical and germane ones:


Let's start with the Isaiah scenario, for most of the major issues will surface here:


1. There is a major confusion here, between self-representation as someone else, and later attribution of anonymous writings to another by someone else . The author of the Pastorals, for example, deliberately tries to convince us he is Paul (assuming it is pseudox, of course), using skillful techniques of deception (as noted by Donelson above). The alleged author of Second Isaiah (50-55), however, never represents himself or herself as the Isaiah of Jerusalem (or as anyone specific, for that matter)--the name is not mentioned, no personal details are given, there is NOTHING in the text that reflects a pseudonymous claim/intimation of authorship…The concept that someone later in time wanted to call this author 'Isaiah' (by glupping 40-whatever together with 1-39) has nothing to do with the self-attribution nature of NT pseudox. This argument fails because it is irrelevant to the case.


Meade seems to be aware of this phenomena: "Whether or not second Isaiah considered himself a prophet, in the light of the above discussion it is unlikely that he though of himself as independent of the revelation given previously to Isaiah of Jerusalem. This is by far the most plausible explanation for the anonymity of his oracles." [PsC:36]. And apparently Meade sees that doesn’t quite fit in with his schema, for he has to 'soften' his conclusion there to "the semi-pseudonymous addition of a (literarily) separate work" ([PsC:37, emphasis mine). Although he latter asserts that "no clear distinction can be made between anonymity and pseudonymity" [PsC:43], this is only due to a failure to make the distinction between origin of the individual oracles/units and the assembly/editing of those into wholes. The prophet who uttered/wrote an Isaiah-like oracle did not make an attribution-claim at all, but perhaps latter editors (under his understanding of the literary production process) added the 'attribution' and 'pseudonymous' touches. This means that Meade has NOT demonstrated a continuity of consciousness between the oracle-giver (who did NOT see himself as "Isaiah of Jerusalem") and the oracle-editor/assembler (who allegedly "saw" the oracle-giver as Isaiah-like enough to abandon both anonymity and orthonymity). This is a disconnect which would have to be breached, in order for this to apply in any way to NT cases of high pseudox. In the NT, alleged pseudox is said to occur at point-of-origination (e.g., when the letter was written) and not at point-of-collection (e.g., collection of the letters, assembly into a canon). As it stands in Meade's theory, however, it is fair target for Ellis's criticism:


"E.g. J. D. G. Dunn ('Pseudepigraphy,' DLNT, 977-984) and his pupil D. G. Meade (Pseudonymity and Canon, Tubingen 1986, 26-62, 116-157, 203-216), who support their thesis by citing the Pentateuch, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Isaiah as canonical examples of a Jewish pseudepigraphal tradition. But they confuse anonymous books later wrongly attributed to a particular author with pseudepigrapha, i.e. books wrongly claiming to have been composed by a particular author. [NT:MNTD, p.322ff, footnote]




2. Meade understands the shared traditions between the "3 Isaiahs" to be an indicator of adequate content-continuity to warrant common attribution to "Isaiah Prime", and that this 'amount' of sharing would have been enough reason for a exilic 'Isaiah' to consider himself "an Isaiah" (even though Second Isaiah  doesn’t claim this of course, nor do we have any indication that Isaiah, Jr had any hand in compiling the oracles together in a book, resulting in this 'attribution by association'). But Meade knows that prophetic traditions and topoi were shared by ALL the prophets (see my high-level tabulation at profprof.html, in the piece on the "OT in the OT", canon06.html),  and he knows that there is no clear reason why 2nd Isaiah would have remained anonymous, when other OT prophets did not. Cf. his statement [PsC:25]: "The question as to why the autobiographical or orthonymous witness of some prophets are retained and others are not is a question that cannot be fully answered…It must simply be admitted that our understanding of the phenomenon of OT prophecy is too incomplete to gain a clear picture…". In other words, the other prophets do not manifest the pattern he is urging upon as being the dominant one in OT authorial-attribution…(This is a serious weakness in his overall reconstruction, IMO.)



3. But the real "show stopper" for this position is wisely noted by Moshe Bernstein:


"It must be noted, however, that the Second Temple authors, lacking the perspicacity of modern biblical scholars, probably did not assume that any of those biblical works [e.g. multiple-Isaiah] was pseudepigraphical and therefore could not have employed them as a model for their own work." [HI:PPAPLDSS, p.4n5]


This is similar to the point I made earlier--that the earlier post-OT pseudox were not known to be such in NT times. Bernstein points out that this applies to the biblical materials (in which Meade is trying to locate his 'attribution consciousness') as well.


In the specific case of Isaiah, this is easy to show:


"It is clear that the Jews accepted Isaiah's authorship of the later chapters of the book well before the coming of Christ. Ecclesiasticus, written early in the second century B.C., says, "By the spirit of might he [Isaiah] saw the last things,/ and comforted those who mourned in Zion" (Ecclus 48:24). The last clause clearly refers to Isaiah 61:3… Josephus (Antiq. XI, 3-6 [i.12]), writing late in the first century A.D., says that Cyrus read the prophecies about himself in Isaiah and wished to fulfill them. Whether or not this story is true, it shows that Josephus regarded this material as predictive in nature. (tanknote: in the Antiq passage, Isaiah is portrayed as the direct recipient/hearer, and direct, active speaker of God's revelation about Cyrus--no 'loose attribution' theory will fit this passage in the Antiq.)


"More important, however, is the testimony of the NT, which quotes Isaiah--and from different parts (e.g., John 12:37-41)--by name more often than all the other writing prophets combined. It is said that this testimony has little significance because all the NT writers were really doing was identifying the source of their quotations in particular OT books. Although this explanation would fit some of the quotations, there are others that cannot be explained in this way. Each of the named quotations from Isaiah in the Epistle to the Romans is introduced by phraseology using verbs of speech (Rom 9:27, 29; 10:16, 20-21), and those in Romans 10 are from Isaiah 53 and 65. Clearly, Paul believed these chapters to be the work of Isaiah himself." [EBCOT, "Isaiah"]


Note the significance of this for our NT period: even if Meade were correct about the consciousness of the Isaiah writers during the biblical period, that consciousness had disappeared by the end of the biblical period, and hence, would not be relevant to our study. Even if his theory were correct during biblical times, the model of that "pseudo-is-okay-if-it-meets-certain-criteria" position was not available to our writers. This 'attribution by association' perspective simply cannot be demonstrated at the turn of the millennium.


Thus, when Meade faults the "school theory" for not being able to show "a demonstrable link between the pseudonymous practice of some of the Greek philosophical schools (not all used it) and the proposed practice of the NT" [PsC:10], he has the same--if not greater--problem. He (1) can demonstrate no link whatsoever (i.e., the 'model' on the OT end to 'link to' is missing  well before we get to the NT), and (2) he has the 'some' problem in spades (since most of the prophetic corpus in the OT does not fit his three-stage theory).


Now, strictly speaking, we could drop the Meade position at this point, since the cases of Daniel and Enoch (under his understandings of them) are going to fall into the same categories of either biblical-period or early-2nd-temple-period writings, and this means that any pseudox character to them is going to be 'lost' for future (as in "New Testament") generations (as we have noted above).  [One can document this easily, for both Daniel and Enoch. Jesus' reference to 'the prophet Daniel' as speaking the words of Daniel 9.27+, in Matt 24.15, can be compared with Qumran's reference to "the anointed of the spirit about whom Daniel spoke" (11Qmelch:15ff, referring to a figure in the 'pseudox part' of Daniel), as well as  the numerous mentions in Josephus, of course. Enoch, of course, is referred to in Jude (although the source of the citation is disputed), as actually saying something at least related to the Enochian corpus. And references to Enoch as a prophet/person can be found in Barnabas IV and Tertullian's defense of the canonicity of some of the Enochian corpus.]





So, the prophecy and apocalyptic streams of tradition do not fit the bill--but what about the wisdom tradition, and the suggested 'ownership' of that stream by Solomon?


 In Meade's discussion of this literature, there are several things which should be noted:


·         Proverbs. First of all, he attributes entirely too much significance to Proverbs 1.1 ("proverbs of Solomon"), relative to the rest of the collection. I don’t know of any historical position that actually attributes Solomonic 'authorship' to the words of Agur or Lemuel, in such a way as which would 'force us' to redefine 'authorship'. [The exception to this is, of course, those positions which hold that Agur and Lemuel were pseudonyms for Solomon himself (e.g. Rabbinic--cf. b. Sanh 70b; Rashi), which makes the 'authorship' of Solomon direct and explicit for the entire collection anyway. This, even allowing for the insertions of the additional Solomonic proverbs in the time of Hezekiah.] Proverbs has multiple authors--some mentioned in the text--and most commentators see Solomon's remarks in 1.1 as introductory (as is the first several chapters). Consider this explanation from the conservative [EBCOT]:


"In conclusion, then, Solomon is responsible for 10:1-22:16 and perhaps all or part of chapters 25-29. Most scholars, including many conservatives, see some dependence of 22:17-24:34 on the Instruction of Amenemope. The nature of this dependence is debatable, but it may be that Israel knew these sayings by the time of Solomon. Most scholars also see chapters 30-31 as non-Solomonic and from a later date, perhaps from a time contemporary with Hezekiah. [9] The prologue to the book (1:8-9:18) would have been added to form an introduction, certainly by the time of Hezekiah, and possibly in Solomon's time. The old title and introductory purpose (1:1-7) then headed up the final collection."



Attribution is much, much 'softer' in the wisdom traditions anyway, as the literary character of the content becomes less 'attached' to historical and biographical events (e.g., "The book [Eccl] is quoted by the Tannaim, who generally interpret it in terms of morality and asceticism, not history." [HI:JWSTP:286f]"). When the sage makes a historical-looking statement ("I saw …" or "the woman went down to the street corner and cried out…"), it doesn’t really have to mean there was a specific incident to which he was referring. There may be some equivocation issues in this subject, so we will need to be careful.



When we get to the next examples of 'authorial attribution', this weakness becomes even more prominent.


·         With Canticles, Meade opens up with an admission of the problem:


"The question might be raised whether Canticles or the Song of Songs can be regarded as either a wisdom book or as Solomonic in any fashion other than through simple misattribution." [PsC:53]


and recognizes that the opening "Song of Songs, which [belongs to, is dedicated to, in the fashion of, etc] Solomon" is an editorial addition (or at least very, very ambiguous).


Meade finds various wisdom features in the text, and argues from this that the latter attribution (by others, btw!) to Solomon was quite natural. (However, it is important to note that he never says this attribution was intended by the original author--it was not obviously written as a high pseudox.)  Strangely, he argues that its genre (as 'wisdom'--because of the wisdom elements he finds within it) was a major factor in Solomonic attribution. This should seem a little odd to the reader here, since (1) he has SPECIFICALLY denounced 'genre' as irrelevant to the discussion;  (2) 'wisdom' is NOT a genre/form; and (3) if wisdom WERE a genre, it would not be in the form of "… patently a collection of ancient Hebrew love poems…" [EBCOT]!


At a literary piece, it certainly manifests the high, novelistic, almost theater-quality character that could have flowed from a 'right brain' strand of sages (smile):


"Nor are we fully comfortable with the literary genre of the whole or the parts. Is Song of Songs a single composition from a common source, or is it a collection of songs that originally circulated independently? Is there a progression of a story line in the material? Is it a drama? All these questions affect interpretation. Some of the text seems to be "stream of consciousness" material where the dialogue takes place as it might in dreamlike material. Or is it all to be taken as actually occurring in normal consciousness? We do not know enough about Hebrew literature in the second millennium to answer all these questions dogmatically. For this writer the Song does contain an inherent unity that causes him to see it as a body of material from a single source. There is a bit of a story line. In chapter 4 the lover begins to speak of his beloved as his bride. In ten verses (4:8-5:1) he calls her his bride six different times. This is climaxed in 5:1, which seems clearly to be a euphemistic account of the physical culmination of the relationship. It seems, furthermore, that much of the material represents the world of wonder in the imagination of the maiden rather than actual happenings. Thus a time line on the progress of the relationship is very difficult. But it all fits together to make a whole…The passages starting at 3:1 and 5:2 may represent dream sequences. No theory answers all the questions. " [EBCOT]


Given such "a-historical" content in the piece, any words and actions of an embedded-Solomon-figure cannot be taken to be an actual case of pseudonymity! There would be no assertion that Solomon "actually said those things" at all (although, in this case, he doesn’t have a real speaking part…).


Meade  tries to close his case out by arguing thus:


"That the 'attribution' of Canticles to Solomon could not have been regarded as strictly a literary statement can be seen by 8:11-12, where the bridegroom addresses Solomon." [PsC:55, emphasis his].


Why this cannot be a 'literary' device escapes me. Solomon is an actor in the drama already (whether as the lover or as a rival, depending on your interpretation). And why this in-narrative address somehow suggests that the author wanted the authorial-attribution to Solomon to be made--in such an obscure and ambiguous manner!--is altogether baffling.


This is a beautiful piece of literature, without any real overt or covert indication of its authorship. It could easily have been written by Solomon (especially in a pre-editorial form), and yet it still had no explicit attribution. It was another Jewish anonymous piece…


"The only evidence for attributing the work to Solomon occurs in the title, where, as in other instances, the attributive particle can mean "to," "for," "concerning" and "in the manner of," as well as denoting direct authorship, so that the evidence is quite ambiguous. The name Solomon appeared six times in the composition (1:5; 3:7, 9, 11; 8:11, 12), of which the first and last two alluded to the great wealth of the monarch, while those in the third chapter probably referred to the historical Solomon. Three additional occurrences involving the king (Cant. 1:4, 12; 7:6) probably implied Solomon also, and although he was the chief figure in much of the poetry he was not actually credited with any utterances. The attribution to Solomon may also be based upon his prowess as a composer of lyrics (I Kgs. 4:32), of which Canticles may be the supreme example…Talmudic opinion (Bab. Bath. 15a) assigned its composition to Hezekiah and his company, reflecting the activities of this group with regard to other Solomonic material also (cf. Prov. 25:1). [RKH:1049]


So, in the rabbinic perspective, Solomon writes it, Hezekiah edits it, and who is supposed to get the attribution? Solomon, of course…no rocket science here.


And conservative views don’t have a problem with this one way or another--it's just not a matter of 'deception' of 'false attribution' at all:


"The question of authorship of the Song of Songs is a difficult one. Traditionally it was attributed to Solomon, due in part to the title, the six other explicit references to Solomon (1:5; 3:7, 9, 11; 8:11, 12), and the three references to an unnamed king (1:4, 12; 7:5 [6 MT]). The data, however, contains some ambiguities. The Hebrew construction in the heading (lishlomoh) was once referred to as the lamedh auctoris. Now it is known that it was used for other purposes than the ascription of authorship…Nor do the references to Solomon indisputably indicate authorship. These could be historical references to a royal prototype. There are no references anywhere else in Scripture to help us in this matter except the identification of Solomon in 1 Kings 4:29-34 with Hebrew wisdom, poetry, and knowledge of the flora and fauna of Israel. His multiplicity of wives and concubines means little in terms of his knowledge of the kind of love described in the Song of Songs, unless this is a product of his earlier and purer years…The case for Solomon's authorship is not definitive, but the case against it is equally far from being sure." [EBCOT]


The Canticles example is just too ambiguous to support the thesis here. That it was attributed to Solomon by later decision makers is in no way correlated with the original authorial intent. And later attribution could easily have been correct in this case anyway…



·         From this Meade moves on to Qoheleth, another anonymous work.


Again, he seems to have awareness that it doesn't look like high pseudox:


"Though the question of Solomonic authorship of Qoheleth is no longer a live one, there is still a great deal of doubt over whether to regard the book as pseudepigraphic. M. Hengel conveys this perplexity by describing it as 'semi-pseudonymous'" [PsC:56]


[It is interesting to note the points that Hengel makes in the work cited by Meade, most of which militate against Meade's conclusions:


·         "The semi-pseudepigraphy of the work is unique." [NT:JH01:129; note: 'unique' means its not in a 'pattern']


·         "But we should also remember that pseudonymity, which can only be demonstrated in Judaism to any considerable extent after the beginning of the Hellenistic period [tanknote: essentially after all the biblical examples Meade advances as prototype of pseudox, such as Isaiah II and III…]…" [NT:JH01:130]


·         "Koheleth came before this development and was naturally far removed from its consequences. He chose 'Solomon' as the author of his work because the figure of the wisest and richest king formed an effective foil for his basic thesis of the vanity of human existence. The observations in 1:16 and 2.9, which do not fit the framework very well, show that he himself did not take the pseudonymous garb very seriously. In fact the pseudonymity only applies to 1.12-2.12b; later the individuality of the author breaks through the pseudonymous form. " [NT:JH01:130; notice--a 'foil' is a literary device.]


[Hengel doesn’t actually indicate any 'perplexity' at all--the figure of Solomon is used for foil, briefly, then discarded…this is hardly a reason to attribute the whole work to him!]


Meade knows that this usage of Solomon is brief:


"Although it seems clear that the name "Qoheleth" itself is not a pseudonym, the introduction to the book (1: 16-2:12) does raise the question of an assumed identity most likely that of King Solomon. The difficulty in assessing the intent behind this portrayal is engendered by the fact that nowhere is the name Solomon used, and even the whole fiction or portrayal of kingship is dropped after the second chapter. Indeed, in the body of the book Qoheleth shows by his attitude and perspective that he is not a king (4:13,16; 5:7-9; 8:2-4; 10:4,20)." [PsC:56]


Note, btw, that this last point ('shows…he is not a king') virtually eliminates the possibility that Q wanted his/her readers to make the association between himself and Solomon. "Real pseudepigraphers use names"…


"It seems highly probable, as Gordis has pointed out, that had the author intended to represent his book as the work of Solomon, he would not have employed the enigmatic designation Qoheleth, but would instead have used the name of Solomon directly, as was the case with later pseudepigraphic literature." [RKH:1074]


In other words, this usage does not fall neatly into Meade's pattern, since the association is not very explicit (as he argued with Isaiah, Daniel, Enoch, and as we should expect under his theory). Like the other pieces in the wisdom tradition we have looked at, this stands apart from the patterns Meade is urging upon us.


Now, Meade recognizes that this is a literary device, but wants us to ask the question "Is the use of Solomon merely a literary device?" [PsC:57; emphasis mine]. His answer is "No. The choice of Solomon by Qoheleth is also a deliberate attempt to place his work firmly in the context of the Solomonic wisdom tradition" [PsC:57f].


Now, few would have a problem with this statement as it stands, but when Meade says this, he apparently means something stronger. He will go on to argue that the 'corrective' Qoleheth applies to this "Solomon foil" came from the "historic Solomonic wisdom tradition" (so far, so good) and that this corrective was administered "under the authority of Solomon" [PsC:58].


This is something fundamentally amiss here…


 'Solomonic wisdom tradition' derived its power from the divine-elements within the world, and NOT from the 'authority' of Solomon! Any sage could come up with a proverb which could become a pre-canonical 'candidate'. There is no 'authority' of Solomon involved--the 'authority' of a wisdom saying came from itself (as created by God). Solomon was certainly a great stimulus to this, and likely its greatest patron in ancient Israel, but it is fundamentally mistaken to argue that the authority of wisdom was dependent on some kind of link to Solomon! The canonical book of Job, for example, is a classic wisdom piece, but it would be ludicrous to try to construe Job as somehow a pseudonym for Solomon, or its author feeling any necessity to derive 'his authority from Solomon'. And, when the greatest literary sage between Ezra and the New Testament wrote, he wrote under his own name (Ben Sira) and mentions Solomon only twice--only in the Hall of Fame (Sir 47). There is no book that fits so neatly into post-biblical wisdom literature category as his--and there is NO ATTEMPT to derive 'authority' from Solomon. In fact, before the book of the "Wisdom of Solomon" is written, we have two non-Solomonic wisdom perspectives in major competition, without even lip-service being paid to Solomon. Sirach ties wisdom to Torah, and 1 Enoch ties it to the Enochian revelations [IES:94-97]. This insistence on having to link to some 'authority of Solomon' is off the mark.


Meade argues that this book represents the first and best example of 'pure pseudox', and that the "immediate and almost universal" attribution of it to Solomon proves his point:


"With the book of Qoheleth we can see the full birth of the genre of canonical pseudepigrapha. Unlike the books of Proverbs and Canticles, or the works of the prophets, Qoheleth is not a collection of material of varying ages, some likely authentic; but is the totally independent work of a creative individual. Though making claim to the same tradition process of Vergegenwartigung, it is not a redaction or supplementation, but an entirely new work issued under the authority of another. If this is not the essence of pseudonymity, what is? Those (usually conservative) scholars who argue that the pseudonymity of Qoheleth is only a literary device, not seriously undertaken and transparent to all, have serious difficulty reconciling this view to the fact that the book was immediately and almost universally received as Solomon's. Its pseudonymity is only "transparent" to a modern critic. The objection that if Qoheleth had intended to be identified as Solomon, he would have signed his name as in other pseudepigrapha, misses the point. " [PsC:59]



Now, we have already seen that the case for the author's intending to be identified with Solomon is dubious at best. And we have pointed out that there is no 'need for Solomonic authority' for this either. But Meade actually raises a point here which, oddly enough, forms a fatal objection to his position.


His argument here (and for ALL the other examples as well, btw) runs like this:


1. The actual author (final or 'core content') was not XYZ.

2. The actual author, however, tried to convince the reader that he/she was XYZ (i.e., writing under or implying a pseudonym).

3. Later recipients of the book attributed the book to XYZ.


4. Therefore, this later attribution to XYZ would not have meant an assertion that XYZ was the actual author (but something 'softer' like 'identifier/authoritative head of authentic living tradition').


This, as best I can tell, is a fair statement of the essence of Meade's arguments for a pseudox-is-okay position.


The fatal flaw in this argument (IMO) is the assumption that is unstated between statements 3 and 4.


                (3. 5  These later recipients knew that XYZ was not the actual author.)


In other words, the only way to make the 'attribution' in Statement 4 mean something other than 'direct authorship' is to force it out of that meaning by precluding that meaning with prior knowledge.



We need to be clear on this.


If the pseudonymity of a book 'worked' and the later recipients were fooled by it, then these later recipients actually would believe that the fictive author was the real author. Then, when they would make 'attribution', they WOULD BE making an assertion of direct authorship (since that is what they believed about the text's author), and Meade's attempted redefinition of attribution would/could not be operative.


The only way to make later attribution be 'non-authorial' would be for the later recipients to KNOW the book was pseudox (i.e., not written by XYZ), and that any "literary" pseudonymity was an appeal to authoritative tradition (and NOT to real authorship). Thus, the later recipient would need to know (on independent grounds, or maybe from the book itself?) that XYZ was not the actual author before any statement by them to the effect of "I attribute this book to XYZ" could possibly mean something other than direct/actual authorship.


What this means is that Meade had better restate the above paragraph: pseudonymity had better be 'transparent' to the recipients, or attribution is uniformly going to be direct and authorial.



This, of course, calls to mind the earlier statements of Bernstein that the later recipients did not know the earlier works to be pseudox, the comment of Ellis that Meade's thesis failed because of failure to factor in misattribution, and the examples given about Daniel, Enoch, and Isaiah in the NT period documents.


But Meade still has a 'defense' here, but not an 'offense'. He cannot show that ANY of the recipients understood these works as pseudox (an absolutely necessary precondition for his 'non-authorial' attribution thesis), so he cannot go on the offensive. But he might argue that the 'attribution' statements are too ambiguous to exclude his redefined attribution meaning. In other words, simple attribution statements like "Solomon was responsible for Proverbs" or "the book of Isaiah speaks of a Servant of YHWH" could possibly be referring to this softer type of attribution. This would be an acceptable 'defense', but only would allow his thesis as a possibility--not a probability.


Unfortunately, although there are many such statements that could be construed in such a way, there are likewise too many statements that are irreconcilable with this position--and these would include statements in which it looked like the recipient 'fell for' the literary devices of pseudox. For example, if our pseudoxy author uses a literary figure of Solomon in the text to 'link to Solomonic authority', and a later reader actually is convinced that this in-text figure was/is Solomon (and that therefore Solomon was the direct author of the piece), then we have concrete evidence that the pseudonymity worked, and that direct authorship is the meaning of attribution in that case.



And these statements are easy to come by in the Rabbinics, for example.


Even though the Talmudists knew that the editing steps were carried out by others:


"Hezekiah and his colleagues wrote (Mnemonic YMSHK) Isaiah, Proverbs, the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. The Men of the Great Assembly wrote (Mnemonic KNDG) Ezekiel, the Twelve Minor Prophets, Daniel and the Scroll of Esther. Ezra wrote the book that bears his name and the genealogies of the Book of Chronicles up to his own time. [b. BB 15a; Soncino note 2: "The word ‘wrote’ here seems to have the meaning of ‘edited’ or ‘published’."]


They still identified the allegedly pseudonymous literary devices as being Solomon:


Ginsburg (Legends) footnotes the names ascribed to Solomon: "Targum Sheni 1.2, 4; Shir 1.1 (here the real names are:   Koheleth, Solomon, and Jedidiah, whereas Agur, Jakeh, Lemuel, and Ithiel are  attributes); BaR 10.4; Mishle 30, 103-104; Tan. Wa-Era 5; Tan. B. II, 18;  Yelammedenu in 'Aruk, s. v. agar; Koheleth 1.1; Jerome, Eccles. 1.1. 


Notice that "attribute names" of Solomon include two speaking figures from Proverbs (Agur, Lemuel--both identified as Solomon by Rashi, as well). Rashi identifies Qoheleth with Agur (at Ecc 1.1), then Agur with Solomon at Prov 30:1. And b. Shabbath 30a specifically quotes Eccl as being spoken by Solomon the person:


"This question was asked before R. Tanhum of Neway: What about extinguishing a burning lamp for a sick man on the Sabbath? — Thereupon he commenced and spake: Thou, Solomon, where is thy wisdom and where is thine understanding? It is not enough for thee that thy words contradict the words of thy father David, but that they are self-contradictory! Thy father David said, The dead praise not the Lord; whilst thou saidest, Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead (Eccl 4.2) but yet again thou saidest, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. (Ecc 9.4)" (b. Shabb 30a, Soncino)



And Solomon is placed directly into Ecclesiastes and Canticles in Sanhedrin 20b:


"But eventually his (Solomon) reign was restricted to Israel, as it is written, I Koheleth have been king over Israel etc. [Ecc 1.12]  Later, his reign was confined to Jerusalem alone, even as it is written, The words of Koheleth, son of David, king in Jerusalem.[Ecc 1.12] And still later he reigned only over his couch, [Soncino note: "household"] as it is written, Behold it is the litter of Solomon, three-score mighty men are about it etc. [Cant 3.7] And finally, he reigned only over his staff as it is written, This was my portion from all my labour. [Ecc 2.10, inside the literary device]" [b. Sanh 20b, Soncino]



Now the implication of this should be clear: the mindset that "pseudonymity was standard biblical praxis" proposed by Meade is neither evidenced in the data of document origination (e.g., no 'serious' pseudonymous literary traits in the anonymous documents), nor in the data of recipient attribution (e.g., recipients treat the putative author as a real narrator or character in the story). There simply is no warrant for believing such an 'attribution of sacred association' was present in the historical pre-NT recipients and/or authors, and the data strongly suggests otherwise (i.e., that no one was aware of the alleged pseudox-nature of the OT and the OTP). Consequently, there is no such mindset 'going into the apostolic period'.



Next, in Part Two we will turn to the apostolic and post-apostolic data. But to anticipate some of the discussion in Part Two, let me cite Ellis' summary of the situation (some of which we saw above):


"Many of those generally following Baur's views supposed that forgery was an acceptable practice of the day or that there was no 'ethical notion of literary property.  In the twentieth century some of them have continued to defend on this basis the canonicity of New Testament letters that they regard as pseudo-apostolic.


"In fact, the Greco-Roman world recognized and contested forgeries composed for a variety of reasons and thus presupposed the rights of literary property that could be violated. It also recognized a kind of pseudonymity--e.g. schoolboy exercises, romantic or historical fiction--that did not deceive and did not intend to do so.  But as Wolfgang Speyer comments, to fall into this category in antiquity 'a pseudonym had to be independently created and must not be borrowed from a recognized author or from a famous personality since otherwise it would look as if the intention to forge directed the choice of the name.'


"In Jewish tradition, as in the Orient generally, documents did not emphasize their authorship and they were even catalogued by title rather than, as in the Greco-Roman world, by author.  They were generally produced anonymously and only later attributed to an author . Apart from a few of the prophetic book the Old Testament documents fall into this anonymous category. A good number of New Testament writings do also, but those composed under an apostle's name provide a significant departure from this tradition.


"From the first the 'apostle of Jesus Christ' had a unique authority within the church. Paul underscores that fact by regularly opening his letters with this self-designation, by his concern to show that his apostleship is on a par with that of the Three, by his refusal to allow his apostolic message to be evaluated like that of any other prophet or pneumatic,  and by branding opponents who question his apostleship as 'pseudo-apostles.'  He also apparently knows of letters being circulated in his name, apostolic pseudepigrapha that are to be rejected. In a word, Paul witnesses both to the authoritative status of the apostle in the church of the 50s and to the fraudulent character of writings wrongly claiming to be from an apostle of Jesus Christ.


"Given the unique authority of the apostle of Jesus Christ in the church, writings by others in his name but without his involvement inevitably carried the taint of forgery. Even if done by later disciples to express their view of the apostle's thought, they still represented a deceptive imposition of apostolic status on a non-apostolic writing. New Testament letters of Paul and of Peter explicitly and repeatedly refer to their apostolic author. If they are pseudepigrapha, they are clearly deceptive and fully deserve the condemnation leveled at them by L. R. Donelson: The author of the Pastorals 'is not employing pseudepigraphy as an exercise ... ; he is trying to deceive.... [He will] employ any device . . . to accomplish his deception. Facile forgeries do not normally last.'


"In the patristic church apostolic pseudepigrapha, when discovered, were excluded from the church's canon. This applied whether or not the pseudepigrapha were orthodox or heretical  [footnote here: "Rejected orthodox pseudepigrapha included the Preaching of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, Epistle of the Apostles and Correspondence of Paul and Seneca. Cf. NTA II, 34-41, 46-53, 620-638; ANT 558-588; cf. Metzger (note 226), 180ff.]


"The hypothesis of innocent apostolic pseudepigrapha appears to be designed to defend the canonicity of certain New Testament writings that are, at the same time, regarded as pseudepigrapha. It is a modern invention that has no evident basis in the attitude or writings of the apostolic and patristic church and is more an exercise in apologetics than in historical criticism." [NT:MNTD, p.322ff]


Now, personally, I don’t have the mildly-negative view of apologetics evident in Ellis' statement here (self-serving smile), and I heartily applaud the sensitivity and efforts of Meade (and Dunn) to try to find 'a place of peace' for the hearts of those who accept the moral problem caused by the belief in NT pseudox. Since I don't believe the historical or literary data requires such a belief, I obviously don’t have that problem--but many do. So, I can appreciate the efforts of those who wrestle with the issues. In this case, however, I just don’t see that the problem has been resolved by their new approach…





Summary of Part One:


1.        The alleged NT pseudonymity is of a very high type: deliberate, carefully-crafted, and intentionally deceptive self-representation of a non-apostolic author as being an actual apostle, in the body of a letter.

2.        At a literary level, such epistles would be considered forgeries in the ancient G-R world.

3.        The deception involved in the conscious creation of such a document had to have been followed with a deceptive scheme to introduce the pseudox into the Christian community's "working canon" of the time (e.g., slipping one such letter into Paul's collection, as it was being circulated.)

4.        The massive critical apparatus and methodologies of antiquity arose to combat the equally as massive production of forgeries.

5.        This attempt to separate the genuine from the spurious in important literature is evidenced uniformly and consistently throughout ALL antiquity and Late antiquity (including, obviously, the apostolic and sub-apostolic periods).

6.        Several of the major philosophical schools manifest this active and laborious concern over spurious works attributed to their founders.

7.        Forgery--in the case of pseudepigrapha--was judged as morally unacceptable by the ancient G-R world.

8.        There is not a single example in antiquity in which a religious or philosophical pseudepigraphon was accepted as legitimate--if it were known/discovered to be so.

9.        This 100% rejection rate was observed in both Christian and non-Christian milieu.

10.     In Christian circles, pseudox was considered a dishonorable device, and grounds for censure.

11.     The claims of NT pseudox, then, raise intense moral questions for those who believe in NT pseudox.

12.     The OTP (Old Testament Pseudepigrapha in [OTP]) manifest different levels of pseudonymity (not all cases are high pseudox).

13.     In fact, the bulk of the pre-NT literature (Hebrew bible, Qumran lit, even OTP) is either anonymous or NOT high pseudox at all.

14.     Thus, the majority of pre-NT Jewish writings are not high pseudox, suggesting that perhaps pseudox was NOT a 'dominant' form of biblical writing/mentality.

15.     There are eight alleged NT pseudox epistles, attributed to Paul, James, Peter, and Jude.

16.     We found ZERO cases of Jewish, pre-NT, epistolary pseudox, to server as exemplars for NT writers to emulate.

17.     (Consequently, we found ZERO cases where Jewish epistolary pseudox was morally acceptable!)

18.     Since Jewish writings were generally anonymous, the introduction of pseudonymous practice has been traced to G-R (Hellenistic) influence in the post-biblical period.

19.     Actual pseudepigraphic patterns in the OTP were not followed in the NT literature--there were no early "Gospels by Jesus" (written pseudoxly by Matthew) or "Epistle of Jesus to the Gentiles of Asia Minor" (written pseudoxly by Paul), suggesting the flow of influence just wasn't there at all.

20.     In fact, nobody in the intertestamental periods (except the actual authors of pseudox!) knew these works were pseudox. The way they describe the events within the literature--and attribute these narratives and even participation in the narratives by the putative author--clearly show they were 'fooled by' the pseudox, and actually believed in the direct authorship by the fictive/putative authors.

21.     Thus, the OTP could not have really given the NT writers the 'idea of pseudox', since they weren't even understood as being pseudox! (The idea of pseudox, then, must have come from G-R pseudox practice.)

22.     The recent theory of D.G. Meade--that there existed a mindset/psychology/consciousness in the Jewish matrix which allowed statements of attribution to be only 'attributions of association/continuity', as opposed to the traditional understanding of 'attributions of content authorship'--is contradicted by the literary data (in document origination) and by the character of attribution statements (in document reception).

23.     Document reception statements in the period of the NT and just prior the NT indicate that pseudepigraphic intent was NOT 'detected' at all. Indeed, the recipients make statements which are only reflective of 'strong authorial' attribution (e.g., identifying in-narrative characters with the putative author).

24.     Meade's suggested pattern held for neither the prophetic, apocalyptic, and wisdom books he advanced, and this pattern was also seen to be inappropriate for the larger mass of the OT prophetic literature (the named prophets).

25.     The recipient attribution data indicated that there were only two possible 'attribution states' available: authored or anonymous. The suggested third category of attribution of 'associated via tradition' did not show up in the data.

26.     The data showed no evidence of such a 'mindset' in the Jewish milieu, in the pre-NT period (e.g., they bought the pseudox claims!, e.g. Sirach) nor in the NT/post-NT period (to the extent this was reflected in the rabbinic, gospel, and Fathers' material we glanced at).


So, going into our Part Two on the apostolic and post-apostolic periods, we do not have any pseudox exemplars from Jewish literature (epistolary OR 'regular'--remember, nobody seemed to know they were pseudox!) for the NT writers to follow, and ALL the exemplars from G-R culture are morally culpable.  Let's see what we can find out about apostolic and post-apostolic attitudes toward false representation (even if for a 'good cause'--i.e., the 'noble lie')…


See you in Part Two


Glenn Miller

October 2002



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