27 February 2016

A Bluffer's Guide to Pauline Pseudonymy (1)

Every Traddy knows that S Paul wrote all the letters assigned to him in the New Testament. Even the one that he didn't put his name to, Hebrews. But every New Testament Expert (NTE) knows that he wrote Romans and Galatians, I and II Corinthians, and probably not much else. Those four are sometimes called the Tuebingen Four, because F C Baur of that University demonstrated that they alone are Pauline in the early nineteenth century. This conclusion (surprise surprise) fits snugly into the Lutheran assumption that, since Justification by Faith Alone is manifestly the heart of S Paul's Gospel, Romans and Galatians are clearly his most important writings. I think I remember that the dear old New English Bible of the 1960s actually had "The Gospel according to Paul" as the page heading above much of Romans.

At the other extreme from the Tuebingen Four are the Pastoral Epistles, I Timothy, II Timothy, and Titus, about which the kindest thing a NTE can say is that they are "Deutero-Pauline"; the work of an admirer (admirers?) of S Paul well into the next generation. They clearly breathe a quite different atmosphere from the Four. In between the Four and the Pastorals lie the other 'Pauline' letters; NTEs differ in their judgements about these. But if you were to refer, in the hearing of a NTE, to "S Paul's Letter to the Ephesians", you would see passing across his sophisticated face that tolerant, amusedly superior smile which we save for simple if earnest folk who do not know all the complexities of which we cognoscenti are aware.

In 1966, A Q Morton brought the science of 'Stylometry' to bear on the New Testament. This involves constructing a computer print out of the minutiae of style of a Greek writer. Things like sentence length, use of passive verbs, anacolouthon, use of the articles ... I could fill a page with it all. Establish a writer's 'stylistic fingerprint', and then you can test any other writing to see whether it bears that 'fingerprint'. Scrupulous in his scholarship, Morton demonstrated that the NTE community was right: the Tuebingen Four form "a group"; "between the group and the other Epistles exist a large number of significant differences ... It is not possible to explain these differences without assuming a difference of authorship". This is a very satisfactory conclusion, is it not?

Let me now hare off at a tangent and introduce to you ... I'll explain why in the next part of this treatise ... a very able scholar, who is a Catholic priest who, sadly, lost his Faith. Sir Anthony Kenny left the Church and worked as a teacher of philosophy. An academic of immense distinction, he became Master of the intellectually prestigious Balliol College in this University (where he still was when our Middle Daughter was an undergraduate there). Many of the Catholic-haters in the Media grew up Catholic, then lost their Faith (sometimes because it conflicted with their genital urges) and turned violently against the Church. Not so Sir Anthony. As a sympathetic agnostic, he attended the Anglican Divine Office in Balliol Chapel (but did not join in the Creed). Such was his reputation for laid-back impartiality that he was the agreed chairman for the Debate beteen Professor Richard Dawkins, and Archbishop Rowan Williams, in the Sheldonian Theatre. It was a fascinating encounter; Dawkins' peasant illiteracy held up very poorly in the face of the high culture of both Kenny and Williams. Dawkins: I've never heard of Wittgenstein. Kenny: Oh. The Archbishop and I both find him very interesting ... or words to that effect. I think you can still find that Debate on the Internet.

I shall delete unread comments sent in before I have published the next two parts of this piece. I apologise in advance to those of you who think I should not write disdainfully about peasants.

1 comment:

Ivan said...

Pardon me Father, but surely you meant we cognoscentes?