Before we can enter into a discussion of Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, and Titus we have to, briefly, consider the issue of pseudonymity. This issue raises eyebrows among some as they believe it calls into question certain issues like divine inspiration of Scripture. Let me say right at the beginning that it does not. God can inspire an unknown apostolic student just as surely as he can inspire a well known Church leader.
The books listed above are considered by the majority of New Testament interpreters to be "pseudonymous". Also considered pseudonymous are 1-2 Peter, Jude, and James as well as Revelation. What, then, is pseudonymity? First, an understanding of classical education is necessary.
In the ancient world, students learned to imitate their teacher. Independent thought was not encouraged. Rather, students were made to memorize their teachers ideas and repeat them as if they were the teacher himself. So, for example, a student of Paul, the Rabbi (!), would learn to think as Paul thought and speak as Paul spoke. When he had completed his schooling he could proceed to speak in the name of his teacher, Paul. No one would think a thing of it if he said, "Paul says", etc. In fact, he would have been expected to do so.
Thus, as time passed and Paulís students began to circulate in the early Church after Paulís death, they would speak and write in his name to new situations. The letters above originated in this circle of Paulís students and thus, when written, were written in the name of Paul. Again, the modern student sometimes thinks this is a deceitful or disingenuous procedure, since after all there was only one Paul. But to the ancients, such things were commonplace and everyday.
So, when modern scholars describe books as pseudonymous all they mean is that the book in question was written in the name of a famous teacher by a later student. In our discussion of several of the books attributed to Paul that are pseudonymous, this is the understanding that we have in mind.
We can now turn to Ephesians. Ephesians, attributed to Paul, is most likely a pseudonymous writing. The vocabulary, sentence structure, and theological perspective are "Pauline", but the situation addressed (historically) is later than Paul. This means that a s tudent of Paul utilizeulary to address a later situation.
Why was Ephesians written? To encourage Christians at the end of the first century to "look up" at Jesus and find strength for ethical behavior. Again, this book was most likely written around 90 CE by a Pauline disciple to the Churches of Asia Minor (the phrase "in Ephesus" is quite late -- an addition by a later scribe).
An outline of the book makes this purpose quite clear.
1- Greeting (1:1-2)
2- Doxology (1:3-23)
3- The Mystery of God (2:1-3:13)
4- Prayer (3:14-21)
5- Exhortation to Faithful Living (4:1-5:20)
6- A Household Code (5:21-6:9)
7- Personal Protection (6:10-20)
8- Concluding Comments (6:21-24)
The letter exhibits Pauline quality, but its organization is not quite as smooth as Paul. The student learned well, but not perfectly.
ASSIGNMENT: Read Colossians, and Brownís Introduction, chapter 27.
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