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Re: [GTh] Authorship and Dating

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  • Mike Grondin
    John Moon raises several questions relating to what is meant by authenticity, and by what we mean when we ask whether X wrote T. I ll take a crack at answering
    Message 1 of 22 , Jan 21, 2013
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      John Moon raises several questions relating to what is meant by authenticity,
      and by what we mean when we ask whether X wrote T. I'll take a crack at
      answering those questions, hoping that, although I'm speaking of my own
      understanding, it also reflects those of others.
      The most easily answered question is whether the identity of the actual inscriber
      of an original is relevant. Briefly put, it isn't. If X dictated T to scribe S, then
      we should still say that X "wrote" T, meaning that X was the author of T.
      It gets a little stickier if T was written in a language (say, L) unknown (or
      poorly known) to X, with the result that S was translating X's words from
      another language into L. Even in that case, though, I think it would still be true
      to say that X was the author of T. (Hence, in both cases, that T was authentic.)
      What about the case where the original of a text T is explicitly attributed to X,
      but actually authored by a follower (or "the school") of X (presumably, after X's
      death). I think it's clear that in this case T wasn't "written" (meaning, as above, 
      'authored') by X, but I also think one might argue that it's "authentic" in some
      sense - depending on how closely the ideas in T resemble those of X. The
      problem, of course, is that there's often no way of judging that. If the ghost
      author can be determined to be someone very close to X, the presumption
      might be that T is a reflection of X's thinking. On the other hand, one might
      argue that the ghost author was illegitimately using X's name to lend credence
      to an of extension of X's thinking to a new situation that X never encountered.
      Questions about "authenticity" can thus be a can of worms in a case like this,
      unless we make clear what sense of 'authenticity' is involved. If it's taken to
      be equivalent to the question of authorship, the answer is clear, otherwise not.
      What about redaction? Since redactors never identified themselves, if we find
      that a text has been redacted, we can only question whether the original of T
      was authored by who T says it was (assuming that T specifies an author).
      Unfortunately for GThom, it isn't clear what the original looked like or when
      it was first written. If one dates it 1st century, it could have been authored by
      Thomas (with L13 presumably being redaction), while later dating quickly
      reduces the chance of that to zero, since the apostle would probably have
      been about 85 years old in 100 CE, if he was still alive.
      Mike Grondin
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