Friday, September 28, 2007

J. Muddiman on the Authorship of Ephesians

One of the issues related to Ephesians I will have to eventually explore in my research is the thorny "question" of its authorship. This is, of course, only natural at this level of study. True, I could simply bypass the discussion by taking some sort of literary stance that obviates historical questions. But, while I do plan to employ a literary methodology (specifically, inter-textuality), I tend to think that my research on Ephesians might help us better understand statements in the "genuine" Pauline letters. At any rate, I just finished looking at the introduction to J. Muddiman's commentary on Ephesians and thought I would provide a little summary of his interesting proposal.

Muddiman begins by raising questions regarding the supposed dependence of Ephesians on Colossians. Muddiman notes that Ephesians is not as similar to Colossians as often argued and that if someone has created Ephesians by editing Colossians, then this really person "has transcribed only one short paragraph (6.21-2)" (pg. 32). Rather than outright accepting Pauline authorship of Ephesians, Muddiman basically proposes that a genuine letter of Paul has been edited and this document has become the canonical "Letter to the Ephesians."

While I can appreciate the historical problems raised by what one finds in Ephesians, I do have to wonder if it is stilll necessary to erect this chasm between the Paul of the "genuine" letters and the author of Ephesians. I do appreciate how close Muddiman comes at times to accepting Pauline authorship of Ephesians. For example, in discussing the theology of Ephesians, Muddiman states, "some theological emphases in Ephesians are sufficiently different and later than Paul . . . but they sit alongside authentic expressions of Paul's own distinctive emphases" (20). Muddiman seemingly sees the author of Ephesians as at once different from the "true" Paul (whoever that is) but at the same time quite faithful to Paul. No doubt Ephesians is unique. Yet, it is this uniqueness (possibly arising from its historical purpose) that while making it difficult to accept Pauline authorship, also makes it difficult to develop satisfactory alternatives. In the end, accepting Pauline authorship is at least as viable as any other proposal and should thus receive more credibility from the academy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Back in business

Sorry for the lack of posting over the past few months. We spent most of the summer spending time with family and getting lots of R & R. At any rate, we have finally arrived in Aberdeen and are settling in quite well (amazingly enough). I should be able to get back to more consistent blogging as my research develops.