On the Pseudepigraphal works of Paul

On the Pseudepigraphal works of Sha’ul (The Apostle Paul)

We enter into that moment when those issues most volatile are presented before the reasoning public, and discuss why we have attributed some of the works of Sha’ul to Sha’ul himself, and denoted others as pseudepigraphal works. Let us consider this issue in order.

First, we begin with a petition in prayer that the Ruach HaQodesh would reveal all truth in this matter as we discuss it. There are so many today who worship the teaching of “Paul” at the expense of all other scripture – even subjecting the gospels to Paul’s review of them, filtering the words of HaMashiach through Paul, the words of Moshe through Paul, the words of David, Solomon, Zachariah, Joel, Isaiah, etc. through Paul, and if in conflict, Paul prevails.

For those of you whose theology is more substantially rooted in the teachings of Paul than even the teachings of Mashiach, this discussion will most likely fail to reach you, as your conclusion has been reached, notwithstanding the hard evidence to the contrary. For those who are capable of considering this issue with an open mind, I will proceed cautiously, so as to raise a few issues to help you along the way as to why we reached the conclusions we did.

This term – pseudepigraphal – is the mixing of two words: pseudo and epigraph. Pseudo does not necessarily mean that it is false, but rather intentionally illusory. For instance, a pseudonym or pen name has been used throughout modernity without an intent to deceive, whether you are discussing George Sand or Mark Twain. Epigraph is another word for signature. A pseudepigraphal work is a work that has been placed under the signature of someone who did not directly write the work, but it was placed under his or her name. It is a work that is composed as if it were written by a person from the past (the “attributed author”), while the actual author was someone else (sometimes anonymous). Usually the attributed author is either a famous person from the remote past, or the actual author’s own teacher, but penned after his death. It should not be assumed that these are false writings, as a pseudepigraphal work says nothing about the value of the work's content, but denotes its attributed authorship. There is, however, an issue of intrinsic credibility that attends to a work, particularly when those who espouse the works are claiming that Paul was the direct recipient of heavenly inspiration.

The practice of authoring a work centered on the ideas of a particular teacher under the teacher’s name, even though the teacher was far removed from the document, was a practice common in antiquity. For instance, many of the “Letters of Socrates” were composed as if written by Socrates himself in the 5th century BC. However, they were actually written for the first time well after his death in the first century AD. It is important to note the timing of this writing and this practice, as it is consistent with the earliest Greek texts of the New Testament. The practice allowed the teachers during the Pax Romana to point to authoritative texts in furtherance of their teachings of the ideas of the masters whose views they espoused.

The thirteen letters attributed to Paul are without question, the least credible documents in all of scripture. Virtually all of the Old Testament, including Ecclesiasticus, Esdras, Judith, Yovheliym (Jubilees) and Enoch were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The texts of Yechezq’el (Ezekiel), Yeshayahu (Isaiah) and Psalm 119 were word-for-word and letter-for-letter with the modern Tanakh. Without question the Torah is the most perfected text in the world, and the assurances of credibility are unmatched by any civilization in regard to any solemn works.

Let us then discuss what is called in the common vernacular the New Testament. Here, the accepted roster (and the roster we have set forth in the Eth Cepher) is a compilation of 27 segregated writings. All of the Roman-based theologians claim that the originals (none of which exist) were written in Greek. However, the first written gospel of the modern era was a writing in Hebrew given to Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus also known as St. Jerome when he visited the church in Antioch. Eusebius made his first attempt to learn Hebrew from one of the Yahudiym following HaMashiach in Antioch, and was guided by a group of Netzeriym (Yahudiym believers) in Antioch. It was here that the gospel was first recorded in writing, and it was done in Hebrew. The fragments of this gospel are known today as the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which the Netzeriym considered to be the true gospel of Matthew.[1]  It was Eusebius/Jerome who translated this gospel into Greek.[2]

Consider now that the person with whom Eusebius/Jerome worked was a certain Paulinus; the newly ordained Bishop of Antioch. Paulinus was a competitor to take the helm of the called out assembly at Antioch. His competitor was a certain Meletius, who had been consecrated by and claimed the theology of the Arians (similar in theology to today’s Jehovah’s Witnesses). Paulinus held the post as Bishop from 362 to 388, and he was the one who ordained Eusebius/Jerome as a priest. Interestingly enough, Paulinus had been ordained as Bishop by a certain Lucifer of Calaris. Id.

The four oldest manuscripts of the New Testament are in order, the Codex Alexandrius, written in the fifth century; the Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, also written in the fifth century (almost unreadable), the Codex Sinaiticus, believed to have been written in the fourth century, and the only one of the four which contains all 27 books, and finally, the Codex Vaticanus written in the fourth century, and missing 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon.

Now we have arrived at several difficulties. First, we discover that no text of Paul exists prior to Eusibeus/Jerome’s undertaking to transcribe the first bible. He is ordained by a fellow named Paulinus, and the Jewish Rabbi known by the Netzeriym in Antioch as Sha’ul emerges as Paul. The fallen angel identified as Heylel, son of the howling morning in Yeshayahu 14, is suddenly the subject of a name substitution (not a translation or transliteration) at the hands of Eusebius/Jerome, and the Hebrew הֵילֵל heylel becomes Lucifer. One wonders how he reached that conclusion. You may recall that it was Eusibeus/Jerome who placed the two horns on Moshe’s head.

Further, another early witness to the writings of Paul, Clement of Rome, writes in his own letter to the Corinthians a mention of a single epistle of Paul (1 Clement 47.1). 1 Clement also tells us that Paul had been "driven into exile ... (and) reached the farthest bounds of the West" (5.5,6). This testimony is consistent with the 29th chapter of the book of Acts, included in the Eth Cepher, and consistent with the testimony of the Muratorian fragment. Again, the earliest extant copy (in the Codex Alexandrinus) of 1 Clement dates from the fifth century and the earliest reference to 1 Clement is made in the 4th century history of Eusebius/Jerome. (Hist. Eccl. 3,16,38; 4,22).

The testimony of Justin Martyr, who, in the mid-2nd century, discussed the apostolic mission to the Gentiles at length. Justin Martyr makes no mention of Paul or his epistles, not even when arguing the point that “circumcision was unnecessary.” There is no reference to Paul in the fragments that are available in the work of Hegesippus (110-180), who was a contemporary of Justin and himself a Yahudiym.

So, we are left with the earliest list containing all of Paul's letters in the Muratorian fragment. This fragment self-dates from the late 2nd century, although the fragment itself is a copy from the fifth century. Its author is unknown and the list takes its name from its 18th century Italian discoverer Muratori. The Muratorian fragment indicates the difficulty in ascertaining the validity of the authorship of the Pauline epistles, stating at one point the following: “Moreover there is in circulation an epistle to the Laodiceans, and another to the Alexandrians, forged under the name of Paul.”

While we consider these difficulties, we cannot avoid a discussion of Marcion of Sinope (85 – 160 AD). Marcion was a self-proclaimed Bishop of the early church in Sinope who completely rejected the existence of the deity described in the Hebrew Scriptures and in distinction affirmed the Father of Christ to be the true God as separate from YUHUAH, ELOHAY of Avraham, Yitzak, v’Ya’aqov. He was denounced by the church fathers and chose to separate himself from the church leadership thereafter. However, he is often considered to have held a pivotal role in the development of the New Testament canon.

Marcion came to conclude that many of the teachings of Jesus as interpreted by Paul were inconsistent with the actions of YAHUAH. Marcion responded by developing a dualist system of belief around the year 144. This dual-god notion allowed Marcion to reconcile contradictions between the Covenent / Torah / Gospel of the Old Testament and the Gospel message as proclaimed by Jesus, in the interpretation of Paul. Marcion affirmed Jesus to be the savior sent by the Heavenly Father, and Paul as his chief apostle. In contrast to the practice of the Netzeriym, Marcion declared that Christianity was in complete discontinuity with Judaism and entirely opposed to the Old Testament message. Marcion did not claim that the Hebrew Scriptures were false. Instead, Marcion asserted that they were to be read in an absolutely literal manner, thereby developing an understanding that YAHUAH was not the same god referenced by Jesus.

Marcion called the ELOHIYM of the Old Testament the DEMIURGE, or the creator of the material universe, and labeled YAHUAH as a jealous tribal deity of the Jews, whose TORAH was legalistic (where have we heard that before?) reciprocal justice, and who punished mankind for its sins through suffering and death. Marcion asserted that the god professed in the gospel was an altogether different being; a universal god of compassion and love (whose mercy endures forever?) who looks upon humanity with benevolence and mercy. Marcion also produced his Antitheses contrasting the Demiurge of the Old Testament with the Heavenly Father of the New Testament. Ultimately, Marcion denied that YAHUSHA had come in the flesh, as he claimed that the body of HaMashiach was only an imitation of a material body. He therefore denied the bodily birth, death, and resurrection and thereby denied the historic Christian Gospel.

Marcion proposed his unique New Testament canon. His canon consisted of only eleven books grouped into two sections: the Evangelikon, being an edited version of the Gospel of Luke, and the Apostolikon, a selection of ten epistles of Paul the Apostle, whom Marcion considered the correct interpreter and transmitter of YAHUSHA’S teachings. You will again note that only ten letters – not fourteen – are referenced by Marcion.

So, we have a serious issue here concerning the validity of the Cepheriym Sha’ul. In our understanding and rendition of the books traditionally housed in the New Testament, we have set forth the collection of the 27. We specifically considered and did not include the Letter to the Laodiceans (determined to be a Marcion forgery), the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Apocalypse of Peter, although the latter had been canonized in the early church. We did elect, as stated in our preface, to include the 29th chapter of the book of Acts from the Sunini manuscript, which we believe to be sufficiently witnessed to warrant its inclusion. Our delineation as to the authorship of the letters of Sha’ul is taken directly from the original translation of the King James Bible, where the authorship is specifically proscribed. The order of the Pauline manuscripts comports with the travels of Sha’ul as set forth in the book of Acts, and we have segregated the books into those which were not denoted as pseudepigraphal by the KJV interpreters, from those that were.

An in-depth review of this subject is in order for any student of scripture, as there are many commentators who disagree that our inclusion of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus as non-pseudepigraphal works is accurate, given that they (the Pastoral letters) were omitted by Marcion (together with the book of Hebrews), and went without mention in the early church, being omitted in the fourth century Codex Vaticanus. Other commentators also believe that 2 Thessalonians may be a later pseudepigraph attributed to Sha’ul, which would leave Sha’ul as the author of Romans, Galatians, and 1 Thessalonians.

I will conclude this discussion with the following admonition. The pursuit of the truth calls for spiritual maturity and intellectual discernment. If you are grafted into the root (see Sha’ul’s discussion in Romans 11) then you are grafted into a Hebrew root – a root based in the covenant between YAHUAH and Avraham, Yitzakh and Ya’aqov, whose birthright was divided, being granted to Ephraim (a great company of nations), Menashsheh (a great nation), and Judah (the scepter in his hand, and the lawgiver between his feet). Or else, “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Yahudiym. Yahuchanon 4:22.

[1] Rebenich, Stefan (2002), Jerome, p. 211.

[2] Pritz, Ray (1988), Nazarene Jewish Christianity: from the end of the New Testament, p. 50.