Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Ghost writing Paul

Paul: The Lost Epistles, Robert M. Price, 2011.

There are only seven letters that are widely recognised as coming from the pen of Paul.

1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians?  Forget it.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Paul should have felt greatly flattered.

But what do we Christians do about the pseudo-Pauline stuff?  Maybe we could find a kinder term; deutero-Pauline maybe, and hope nobody in the pews catches on...

Or attribute them to a "Pauline school", of which, alas, no evidence exists other than wishful thinking.

Then again, to think outside the square, we could take them as a precedent, and cook up a few more.  In fact, it wouldn't be hard to improve on some parts of the original product.  Who, after all, has any idea what Paul is beating his gums on in Romans; sixteen chapters of theological quicksand where obscurity parades - in the minds of systematic theologians at least - as profundity unparalleled.

Enter Robert M. Price with some newly 'discovered' Pauline letters.  There's the Iconian correspondence, a letter to the Beroeans, another to the Milesians... you get the picture.  Fourteen documents in all including - wait for it - a Pauline apocalypse.

Now, to be clear, Bob isn't trying to pull the wool over the sheeple, he's making a point.  The result however is much more than a pastiche, it actually works really well!

The significant question is whether he's done anything different to the faceless imitators who gave us the canonical pretenders.  Well, yes, in one respect anyway; Bob's pseudonymous offerings are clearly fictive. Though he knows how to string us along in his introduction (which is worth the price of the book by itself),  we know better from the outset thanks to a nod and a wink.

It's an endearingly cheeky initiative.  But how would you describe the resulting material?  Fiction?  In which case, what about Colossians, Ephesians and 1 Timothy?

Thus far only available in a Kindle edition, this is a diverting read.  Both great fun and provocative.  And for around $5 for an instant download, unmissable.

1 comment:

  1. Does this "Paul" of whom you speak, speak of the Virgin Birth or the other Apostles?