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Topic 13 Disputed (Prison) Letters: Colossians and Ephesians A.Some Considerations on Pseudonymity in NT 1.Pseudonymity was common practice in antiquity.

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Presentation on theme: "Topic 13 Disputed (Prison) Letters: Colossians and Ephesians A.Some Considerations on Pseudonymity in NT 1.Pseudonymity was common practice in antiquity."— Presentation transcript:

1 Topic 13 Disputed (Prison) Letters: Colossians and Ephesians A.Some Considerations on Pseudonymity in NT 1.Pseudonymity was common practice in antiquity. 2.Concepts of authorship, literary property, and copyright were not as developed then as today. 3.It was often considered a tribute to write under the name of a great teacher. 4.Pseudonymity was a way to let “Paul” speak to a new generation, which often misunderstood and misused Paul’s teaching. 5.Apostolic authorship was only one consideration for canonization. 6.Pseudonymity threatens inspiration only if inspiration is narrowly conceived, such as verbal dictation.

2 B.Colossians 1.Authenticity – scholars divided; all see problems: a.Vocabulary/style differ from undisputed letters – many unusual words, constructions. b.Theology differs from undisputed letters. 1)Absence of key Pauline themes (justification; law; grace; Spirit). 2)Non-characteristic development of others: a)“Cosmic” Christology (1:15-20;2:9-10). b)Christ-head concept (1:18; 2:19) – church as torso of which Christ is head (cf. church as whole body of Christ in 1 Cor. 12). c)“Realized” eschatology; resurrection already past (2:12; 3:1a; cf. Rom. 6:4-5). c.“Gnostic” opponents may point to later period. d.Similarity to Ephesians suggests “guilt by association.” 2.Church in Colossae a.Paul was personally unknown in Colossae (2:1). b.Founded by Paul’s co-worker Epaphras (1:7-8; 4:12-13) – prob. during Paul’s Ephesian ministry. Map

3 B.Colossians – cont. 3.Date and place of writing a.If authentic, prison (1:24; 4:10,18) 1)Rome (c ) – lateness could explain peculiarities. 2)Caesarea (c ) 3)Ephesus (c ) – proximity to Colossae. b.If inauthentic, c in Asia Minor. 4.Occasion – opposes a false teaching a.Some sort of “Gnostic syncretism.” b.Worship of “angels” (2:18) or “elemental spirits of universe” (2:8). 1)Prob. Gnostic “archons” (rulers) or astral deities. 2)Paul uses Pleroma (“fullness;” 1:19; 2:9) as if refuting their usage; Gnostic technical term for realm of hostile powers. c.Ascetic practices (food restrictions; abstinence from sex; observance of holy days) designed to appease or defeat the angelic powers (2:16, 21, 23). Map

4 5.Highlights of Colossians ch. 1-2Theology – the “all-sufficient Christ” 1:15-20“Colossians hymn” – supremacy of Christ; Lord over all: 1)Creator – of “all things” 2)Sustainer – of “all things” 3)Redeemer – of “all things” 2:8-15Warning against false teaching 1)Christ is supreme over all “spiritual powers.” 2)“Fullness” (pleroma) of deity dwells in him (v. 9-10). 3)Cross cancels debt of sin and wins victory over spiritual powers (v ). 2:16-23Warning against ascetic practices 1)Faith in Christ is sufficient for salvation. 2)Ascetic practices are not necessary.

5 5.Highlights of Colossians – cont. ch. 3-4Ethics 3:5-11“Put off” earthly things 3:12-17“Put on” heavenly things 3:18-4:1“Domestic Code” (Haustafel) 1)Proper conduct within Christian household. 2)Addresses three paired relationships: a)Wives and husbands b)Children and parents c)Slaves and masters 3)Similar to “household codes” of Stoic and other ethical teachers, except that Paul “Christianizes” duties of the Paterfamilias (love your wife; do not provoke children; treat slaves justly). 4)Not imposing “patriarchal hierarchy” on readers but presupposing it and modifying it. 5)Not teaching that husband is “head” of family, but that “head of family,” if he is Christian, must behave as one. 4:7-18Closing 1)Note Onesimus, Archippus (v. 7, 9). 2)Luke, the “beloved physician” (v. 14). 3)Trade letters with Laodicea (v. 16).

6 C.Ephesians 1.Authenticity – widely disputed a.Vocabulary/style are quite different from undisputed. 1)Many words not found in undisputed letters but common in Christian writings c )Long, ponderous sentences (1:3-14, 15-23). b.Theological differences: 1)“Church” is not local assembly but universal/cosmic body (1:22). 2)No “justification” language. 3)Already raised with Christ (2:6). 4)Apostles and prophets as foundation of church, as if apostles belong to past era (2:20). c.Verbal parallels to Colossians and other letters suggest literary dependence (cf. Eph. 6:21-22 with Col. 4:7-8). d.Impersonal tone and lack of concrete occasion. 2.Recipients – identity uncertain regardless of authorship a.Text of salutation is uncertain (1:1). 1)Most mss. read “to the saints who are in Ephesus and faithful.” 2)Oldest/best mss. omit “in Ephesus.” 3)Marcion called it “Laodiceans.” b.May have been “circular letter” addressed to no church in particular; reference to Ephesus added by later scribe.

7 C.Ephesians – cont. 3.Date and place of writing a.If authentic, from prison (3:1; 4:1), apparently same as Col. (cf. Tychicus in Eph. 6:21-22; Col. 4:7-8). 1)Rome – lateness may explain peculiarities. 2)Caesarea 3)Ephesus b.If inauthentic, c in Asia Minor. 4.Occasion – unclear; some possibilities: a.Tension between Jewish and Gentile Christians – not Judaizing but arrogance of Gentiles (cf. 2:11-13, 17-19). b.E. J. Goodspeed theory: 1)Composed by collector/editor of Paul’s letters as cover letter for published collection. 2)Summarizes Paul’s theology as introduction to the reader. 3)Collector/editor was none other than Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway slave!

8 5.Highlights of Ephesians ch. 1-2Theology ch. 1Blessing and thanksgiving (only letter with both) 1)Blessing (v. 3-14) – one sentence a)For God’s plan of salvation which destined us for adoption from beginning (v. 4-5). b)God’s plan is “to gather up all things in Christ” (v. 10), cosmic figure in whom broken elements of Cosmos are being reunited and reconciled to God. 2)Thanksgiving (v ) – one sentence a)For Church, in which universal salvation is being actualized. b)Church is universal body expanding to incorporate whole Cosmos (v ). 2:1-10Salvation by grace, not works (v. 8-9) 2:11-22Unity of Jews and Gentiles in Christ 3:1-13Place of Paul’s ministry to Gentiles in God’s plan 3:14-21Prayer for readers

9 5.Highlights of Ephesians – cont. ch. 4-6Ethics 4:1-16Unity of the Church 1)“One body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (v. 4-6). 2)Spiritual gifts for building up body of Christ to maturity (v ). 4:17-24Renunciation of the old life 4:25-5:20Rules for the new life 1)“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you” (v. 32). 2)“And live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (v. 2). 5:21-6:9Domestic Code 1)Similar to Col. but much expanded. 2)Whole code is put under rubric of “mutual submission” (v. 21). 6:10-20Whole armor of God – gives strength for battle with evil. 6:21-24Closing


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