Thursday, November 12, 2015

Paul's references to writing "in my own hand"

Image:  Roman era inkwell

The integrity and authenticity of the Pauline epistles began to be challenged at the time of the Enlightenment and this challenge has become standard in modern historical-critical academic studies.  It is clear that Paul and other NT authors, on at least some occasions, made use of scribes to compose their letters (see Rom 16:22; 1 Peter 5:12).  It is also evident that pseudonymous letters were known even within the NT era (cf. 2 Thess 2:1-2).

Of note in this discussion are the occasions at the close of several of Paul’s letters where he makes reference to writing “in my own hand.”  These “signatures” may indicate both the use of an amanuensis and the desire to verify or validate the authenticity of the letter.  Of note also is the fact that these references appear throughout the Pauline corpus both in letters whose authenticity is unchallenged in modern scholarship (1 Cor, Gal, Philemon) and in ones that have been challenged (Col, 2 Thess).  The traditionalist simply sees these as evidence of the fact that they did, in fact, come from the hand and mind of Paul.

Paul’s references to writing “in my own hand”
1 Corinthians 16:21 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.
Galatians 6:11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
Colossians 4:18 The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.
2 Thessalonians 3:17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.
Philemon 1:19 I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.

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