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Don Stewart :: Is It Possible That Someone Other than the Stated Author Wrote One or More of the Biblical Books? (Pseudonymous Writing)

Don Stewart

There has been the charge that one or more of the books that are in the canon of Scripture were not really authored by the person named but were rather penned by someone writing under their name. This is not the author using a scribe to write for him. It is rather someone pretending to be someone they are not. This is known as pseudonymous writing.

Pseudonymous Writing Was Supposedly A Common Practice

There have been those who have argued that pseudonymous writing was a common practice in the ancient world.

The biblical books that are usually cited as possible candidates are the following: Ecclesiastes, Ephesians, First and Second Timothy, Titus, and Second Peter.

Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes claims to have been written by Solomon.

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem (Ecclesiastes 1:10).

However it has been argued that the actual author was not Solomon but rather someone writing under his name. Ephesians

Ephesians claims to be a letter by Paul.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:1).

Yet it is claimed by some that the actual writer was one of Paul's disciples and not Paul himself.

The Pastorals Letters (1,2 Timothy, Titus)

The different pastoral letters all claim to have been written by Paul.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope (1 Timothy 1:1).

In the second letter to Timothy it says.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:1).

To Titus it reads.

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness (Titus 1:1).

It is often assumed that the pastorals were not written by Paul but rather by a later author using his name.

The Problems Of Holding With Pseudonymous Writings In Scripture

There are a number of problems with the idea of certain biblical writings being written by pseudonymous writers. They include the following.

1. We Are Dealing With The Word Of God

The major problem is that the author of the work would be lying to his audience. While this may have been practiced to some degree in the ancient world we are not talking about any ordinary writing. What is under consideration is Holy Scripture - the Word of God to humanity. How can it be claimed that God could endorse a book that gives a false idea as to whom the author was? It is inconsistent with the God who has revealed Himself in Scripture. In what sense can these documents be divinely inspired if the author was not actually the person whom he claims to be?

2. There Are Personal References In These Writings

There is also the issue of personal references in the works. If the author was not whom was named in the work then the personal references are deceitful and misleading. How can this be consistent with the God of truth who divinely inspired the writing?

3. Pseudonymous Writing Was Not That Common

It has also been contested that pseudonymous writing was not that common in the ancient world. The evidence is not that compelling that pseudonymous writing was done on a regular basis. Even if it was common, it certainly does not mean that any of the biblical books were written pseudonymously.

4. There Is No Need To Assume This Was The Case

Finally there is no need to resort to calling these works pseudonymous. A good case can be made out for the authorship of the person who claims to have written the document.

Summary

Certain books of Scripture have been attributed to pseudonymous writings. They include Ecclesiastes, Ephesians, First and Second Timothy, Titus, and Second Peter.

The idea of certain biblical writings being written by someone other than the named author has many problems. First, it is hard to reconcile the writer lying about his identity in a work that claims to be divinely inspired of God. In addition, the lie would be compounded with personal references. Add to this the practice of pseudonymous writing may not have been that common in the ancient world.

Finally, there is no need to assume that the stated author did not write the books.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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