Notes and Opinions

1895 The Biblical World  
Rotes anb @pintons. Recent Criticism of the Pauline Epistles. -One of the newest books upon this subject is by Dr. Carl Clemen, entitled Die Einheitlichkeit der Paulinischen Briefe, etc. Professor Marcus Dods, commenting upon this work in the Critical Review (July 1895), speaks thus of the subject and of Dr. Clemen's view of it: "The possibility that the Pauline epistles may have admitted interpolations from the hand of revisers, or may have received additions at the instance of the original
more » ... of the original writer, or may have been made up into their present form by combining letters or fragments originally separate, cannot well be denied. And yet, when admitted, this possibility opens an alarmingly wide door to conjectural emendations and unbridled criticism. We know so little of the first fortunes of the letters which churches or individuals received, and so little understand the feelings with which they would originally be regarded, or the use which might be made of them either by friends or enemies, that it is impossible, a friori, to deny that they may have been tampered with, and may not now exist in the form in which they came from their writer's hand. They were not at once put into wide circulation, nor were they regularly read even by the churches to which they were addressed. They were written on frail papyrus, and in the course of years would be reproduced. Copyists might not be absolutely infallible; words, sentences, possibly loose pages, might be misplaced. In profane literature there are many instances of the revisal of books either by their authors or by others. AEschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides revised and retouched their own plays; the great orators issued differing editions of their speeches, and it is a small part of extant classical literature which can claim to have been exempt from the 'emendations' and reconstructions of ancient editors. It is also known that in those times as now the writer sometimes added a sentence on the margin or interlined it. " It is the task of criticism to discover how far these normal hazards of ancient literature attach to the Pauline letters, and to what extent these most precious relics of antiquity have been affected by them. The possibility of referring a letter to two hands or to two different occasions presents so easy a means of accounting for all apparent contradictions and inconsistencies, and so ready an instrument for getting rid of all that does not approve itself to the often very limited apprehension of the critic, that its enthusiastic adoption by a certain school is not surprising ..... In Holland especially, the work begun by Marcion and revived by these modern critics [Pierson and Naber, Verisimilia, 1886] has been diligently pursued. .... In Germany, Steck and V61ter represent the same tendency. Clemen, while he recognizes that much of this criticism has been arbitrary and futile, and while he does 300 This content downloaded from 129.
doi:10.1086/471743 fatcat:uh2espghirdfrpkeqzrtoy6oye