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NOTE: Nineteen articles will begin with these same two introductory paragraphs but will then speak specifically about the Bible book in question.
It has often been said [by whom?] that it was an accepted practice in antiquity for a writer to attribute his work to a well-known figure from the past or a teacher who has greatly influenced him. The practice would have been condemned as dishonest by all authorities in antiquity. The book Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are by Agnostic New Testament Bible scholar Dr. Bart D. Ehrman contends that this is incorrect. Falsely attributed writings are often referred to as “pseudepigraphs,” but Ehrman maintains that the more honest term is “forgery.” The book suggests that 11 or more books out of the 27 books of the Christian New Testament canon were written as forgeries. This article and others will debunk this claim. In his book, Ehrman points out numerous inconsistencies which he finds within the New Testament which appear to support many of his claims, such as the fact that in Acts 4:13, the statement is made that both Peter and John were illiterate, yet in later years entire books of the Bible were then alleged to have been written by them. This last argument is quickly debunked on two grounds: (1) it was not years later that they wrote their books, it was over thirty years later, and in the case of John, it was over sixty years later; (2) the Greek means unlettered (YLT) that is, not educated in the rabbinic schools; not meaning illiterate. Nevertheless, below are three articles that destroy this argument of Ehrman.
In addition to the eleven books of the New Testament, Ehrman identifies as forgeries, he discusses eight originally anonymous New Testament texts that had names of apostles ascribed to them later and are falsely attributed. These are not forgeries since the texts are anonymous but have had false authors ascribed to them by others.
Who Wrote It?
Ephesians was written by Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles (see the information on Paul in chapter 10).
The internal evidence that the apostle Paul wrote this book is very strong. (1) There is the explicit claim in two places in the book that Paul is the author (1:1; 3:1). (2) The theology of the book is Pauline, stressing the exalted Christ, unity in the church, and the grace of God. (3) The vocabulary is Pauline, with minor deviations fitting the theme of the book. In fact the style is more Pauline than any imitators could have been. The use of a pseudonym was not practiced by early Christians. (4) Ephesians has close similarities to Colossians (see chapter 16), which also has strong evidence for Pauline authorship. Here again, the differences between the two books fits their respective themes.
The evidence from other sources also supports Paul’s authorship. The earliest manuscripts of the book all bear Paul’s name, indicating it was accepted into the canon of Scripture as a work of Paul. The early Fathers support Paul’s authorship. Citations from this book with Paul’s name on it are found in both Ignatius and Polycarp among the earliest Fathers and all the other main Fathers from Irenaeus to Augustine after them.
When Was It Written?
The book of Ephesians was written around AD 60. This would be during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment (see Acts 28). At the same time Paul wrote Philemon and Colossians (see chapter 16). As the text makes plain, he was in prison when he wrote Ephesians (3:1; 4:1; 6:20).
There are three views as to the place and time of the writing of Ephesians: during the Caesarea incarceration, during the Ephesian imprisonment, or while Paul was at Rome.
Caesarea Incarceration (Acts 24:23)
Problems: This view has several difficulties: (1) Paul was at liberty to preach during his later Roman imprisonment (Acts 28:30–31; see Eph. 6:19), but there is no such indication of this in Caesarea. (2) If it was Caesarea, he would have been likely to seek contact with some of his churches there, but he did not. (3) There was no promise of release in Caesarea, as there was in Rome (Philem. 22). (4) The slave Onesimus would not have had access to Paul in Caesarea, which was possible in the more informal setting in Rome (Acts 28:30–31).
In 1 Corinthians 15:32, written when Paul was in Ephesus, Paul speaks of fighting “wild beasts” there; 2 Corinthians 1:8–10 speaks of a “sentence of death”; 2 Corinthians 11:23 refers to being often in prison.
Problems: (1) There is no statement that specifically links Paul to prison in Ephesus. (2) His close companion Luke (in Acts) said nothing of an imprisonment in Ephesus. (3) “Wild beasts” is figurative of a spiritual struggle (see Acts 20:29). (4) Even if it could be established that Paul was in prison in Ephesus, there is no evidence he wrote Ephesians there. (5) The reference to “chains” (Eph. 6:20) suggests Rome as the place of origin.
Paul’s writing the letter to the Ephesians from Rome (Acts 28) fits the situation better than the other possibilities, because: (1) he speaks of a palace guard (Phil. 1:13); (2) he refers to Caesar’s household (Phil. 1:13; see Phil. 4:22); (3) he has freedom to preach there (Acts 28:30–31; Eph. 6:20; Phil. 1:12–18); (4) the conditions of disunity in the church (Eph. 4:1–6) fit this period; (5) the ecclesiological emphasis fits with Colossians, which was written at the same time, and doesn’t feature as prominently his earlier salvation emphasis in Romans and Galatians.
Since the same general material is in both Ephesians and Colossians (in half of the verses), both books were undoubtedly written at this time. Indeed, the same person (Tychicus) carried both Colossians (4:7) and Ephesians (6:21) to their destinations. And the same companions (Tychicus and Onesimus) are in Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7, 9; Philem. 10), so Philemon was probably written at this same time (see chapter 16).
Many scholars believe this imprisonment is to be distinguished from his later (second) imprisonment in Rome, since he had the hope of release here (Philem. 22), but later he looked forward only to martyrdom (2 Tim. 4:6–8).