And when I have his material handy, I can
report back more.
Others are welcome to do so, using the benefits of forum
Peter, I suggest you actually read this particular Barbara Thiering
page , or even just the paragraph below, and give your informed
critique, on specifics. To make it easier, I now have the urls with the
full text. This first new reference gives what may be the earliest
The various arguments from Jeremiah Jones do
not seem extremely impressive, unless there are hard errors that stand
up to scrutiny. This is a key issue, and it may need Berry,
Savenster, Thiering, and some of the non-English writing (Aubertin,
Ramelli) to really get a sense of how lay "the facts on the
ground".Â Thiering, in a surprisingly sensible article and
post, claims to have looked carefully at the conjectured factual problems
and considers them as vaporware.Â And Ehrman said very little in his
acceptance of the forgery claim about the factual matter, working mostly
with stylistics. You get the sense that Ehrman did not want to emphasize
factual problems in the rejection and forgery accusation, since there
could be embarrassing rebuttals, as when people are named as fictional
and then show up in ancient archives.
Yet, a 4th century forgery of a 1st century correspondence (motive?Â
to counter 21th century mythicists?)Â with numerous techie details,
should have multiple glaring holes.
My view is simple on authenticity:
"the factual aspects, in a case like this, must
predominate.Â Not the stylistic."
We know from experience that stylistic arguments are remarkably flexible
and subject to special pleading, as in the "scholarship
consensus" rejection of the Pastorals and 2 Peter as
forgeries.Â And, similar articles by some, of other books.Â
Look at the Mark ending stylistic fiasco, now essentially dead and
buried.Â There are a few additional considerations, beyond factual
accuracy and stylistics, in any evaluation of authenticity, but I do not
want to bog down this post, simply upon up the discussion.
One thing is clear : there should be no surprise that Paul and Seneca
would connect, considering Seneca's brother is specifically mentioned in
Acts, and Gallio comes out looking pretty responsible and fair in all
And if you want a general aphorism to help you with considering
Thiering's analysis ... remember, a stopped clock is right twice a day.
If we should not reject everything written by Bart Ehrman because of his
adoptionist and ebionite presuppositions that color his analysis, then we
should grant a similar courtesy to Barbara Thiering.
And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with
one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, Saying,
This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. And
when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the
Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews,
reason would that I should bear with you: But if it be a question of
words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will
be no judge of such matters. And he drave them from the judgment
seat. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the
synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared
for none of those things.
The question of Paul's correspondence to
Seneca (purported) comes up in the recent Forgeries book of Bart
Ehrman.Â It is also the subject of a book by Paul Berry, that
defends the authenticity. (Berry was also involved in the question of
Christian Latin inscriptions in Pompeii from before the volcano, The
Christian Inscription at Pompeii, 1995.)
J. B. Lightfoot and Farrar were part of the modern dismissal (although
there was an earlier period involving Decembrio, Valla and Erasmus) of
authenticity. One review is here.
The phrase above comes from Lightfoot.,
Let us start with Lightfoot and Farrar. Â St. Paul's epistle to the Philippians
edited by Joseph Barber Lightfoot
http://books.google.com/books?id=ufJ5jhs3d-wC&pg=PA269 The poverty of thought and style, the errors in chronology and
history, and the whole conception of the relative positions of the Stoic
philosopher and the Christian Apostle, betray clearly the hand of a
Farrar gives one chronological element, one
however that looks very weak.
The Life and Epistles of St. Paul: (1870 - expanded
William John Conybeare, John Saul Howson
chapter xii - p. 357-371 - Seneca on p. 363-366Â
(a good read, but nothing that seems to
match the dismissal, in fact au contraire.)
Assuming that 54 AD is correct for when
Paul's literature would get to Seneca, In addition to 1 Thessalonians,
Galatians and 2 Thessalonians would have been written, Romans and
Corinthians were possible, as they were written between 50-58.Â
Plus, Paul could make any correspondence or writings available.
The one 'hard' Farrar dismissal attempt fails miserably.Â If anything the dates to get literature to Seneca work
superbly.Â Interestingly, Seneca refers specifically
"Seneca speaks favourably of Paul's
epistles "to the Galatians, to the Corinthians and to the
Achaians". (Thiering, below)
Edgar Goodspeed refers to "the
well-known but spurious correspondence between them."Â
Apparently he does not give any reasons, perhaps feeling that following
Lightfoot and Farrar and any others was sufficient.
Interestingly, Goodspeed mentions another spurious writing that
independently utilizes or corroborates the Seneca-Paul correspondence,
the Letter of Benan.Â And Goodspeed discusses and dismisses the
Letters of Pontius Pilate, purported to be from Pilate to Senaca.
The whole issue of Goodspeed forgery refutations and dismissals may need
another revisit (Benan is new to me today). In the past Roger Pearse, the
host of that site, has been helpful in correspondence and
discussion.Â Be careful with Goodspeed :) .
So let's go to Bart Ehrman, all but one page is online.
Lots of stylistic-type arguments, one
page not visible on google, which has to be checked to see if Ehrman
claims any hard errors ? Bart Ehrman has one point about a flip in
perspective towards Nero, however you get the sense that the concern is
strained, it would need more specific study.
There is an amazing level of detail in these letters (see examples below
on the Thiering page).
My initial sense:
If there are no hard errors, then
it is virtually impossible to conjecture a fourth-century
The defenders of the authenticity point
out the highly unusual situation with Nero's spies all about (later Nero
forced Seneca to commit suicide, so this was not simply paranoia) and the
nature of light, even hasty, personal letters.Â See below.Â
Correspondence between Paul and Seneca, A.D.
... After a introduction that summarizes forcefully the evidence for the
primacy of Latin in the Apostolic Age, Berry presents each of the
letters, eight from Seneca to St. Paul and six from St. Paul to Seneca.
First he gives an architectural facsimile from the original 9th-century
copies in the State Library of Vienna, written in a quite legible
Carolingian hand. Then he gives a facing transcription in modern type,
together with a suggested translation, followed by copious commentary on
It would be interesting to read the
defenders of authenticity, e.g. Ramelli and Berry.Â Also some
"unusuals" like Barbara Thiering (whose page is quite strong,
surprisingly) and Klaus Schilling.
And it would also be interesting to know whether all the brouhaha about
chronology and history has any real substance, or is vaporware like
Farrar above. And if any purported anomalies short of hard errors are
easily explained by a good analyst.
The Correspondence between Paul and Seneca
.... The letters, some of them with exact dates expressed in terms of the
consuls actually in office, sound natural, without any defensiveness such
as would be expected if they were forgeries. They are written in just the
way an open-minded intellectual of the period would write if he had taken
an interest in a new religion from a foreign source being presented as
another philosophy. If, as the pesher of Acts indicates, Paul was a
member of the court of Agrippa II , then he was of sufficient social
standing to meet and converse with the eminent philosopher. The later
letters show that Seneca was protecting Paul and the Christians from the
venom of Nero in the period leading up to the great fire of 64 AD. This
accords with the fact that Seneca, who had been tutor of the young Nero,
had lost the favour of the capricious emperor, who ordered him to commit
suicide, an order he had to obey with the courage of a Stoic in 65 AD.
The letters begin at the outset of Nero's reign at the end of 54 AD. In
the first, Seneca from Rome writes to Paul, who at the end of that year
was in Ephesus. The two had previously met, possibly in Athens in 51 AD,
where Paul had debated with Stoic and Epicurean philosophers (Acts
Notice that the letters have a level of
substance and especially detail that Ehrman carefully glosses over and
hides (whether authentic or not).
More about Stoicism - the Seneca letters
Barbara Thiering - Fri May 25, 2001Â
Arguments have been brought against the genuineness of the Seneca
letters, but none of them stick, as for example the claim made that a
pair of consuls, in whose name dating is given, never existed. But in
fact they did - they belong in a list of suffect consuls. The argument
that a non-literary style is used is not convincing - these were hastily
written personal notes.
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