Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pauline (non)authorship of Ephesians

Among many other things, one of the topics discussed with some amount of zeal in my Introduction to the New Testament course was the question of pseudepigraphy and the authorship of the deutero-Pauline epistles. Our professor asked us to get out a piece of paper and write down what we would say in the following situation:

A congregant comes up to you and tells you, "Pastor, I heard on the TV that Bart Ehrman wrote a book where he says that Paul didn't write Ephesians. But I love Ephesians -- what am I supposed to do?"

My hypothetical response was something along these lines:

I am glad you love Ephesians; I love it too. But I think the reason we love it is not so much for the fact that Paul wrote it, but because the Holy Spirit speaks to us through it. We really do come into contact with God the Father, with Jesus Christ, and with the Holy Spirit in the words written here. The authorship of Paul is not what wins us over or impresses us, but this real contact with God. We know that it is God speaking to us, because Ephesians is all about Jesus Christ and what he has accomplished for us! It calls us to turn to Christ! Moreover, we know we are not peculiar in this respect, because the whole tradition of the Christian church has had this experience of God in the text for as long as it has been around. So we ought to read Ephesians, and we are right to love it! Thank God for it!

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