Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics

By Bart D. Ehrman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
Forgery in Antiquity
Motives, Techniques, Intentions,
Justifications, and Criteria of Detection

The discussion of the previous chapter leads to an obvious question: If literary forgery was extensively condemned in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, why was it, at the same time, so widely practiced? This question takes us directly to the matter of motivation: What drove so many authors to make false authorial claims? Wolfgang Speyer in particular has recognized motivation as a fundamental aspect of the broader phenomenon: “Failing to develop the intentions of forgers would be equivalent to failing to understand their forgeries. Motive alone explains the forgery.”1

We are in the fortunate position of having vestiges of an ancient discourse on motivation. It is true that only rarely (and never in our period) do ancient forgers themselves explain why they did what they did.2 And rarely (again, never in our period) is there systematic reflection on the matter by critics; only later writers attempted taxonomies of motivation. These are still worth examining. But from our period itself (prior to the fifth century ce) we do have numerous discussions of individual instances and clear ascriptions of motive by those who claim to have uncovered the deceitful practices of others. These discussions do not give unqualified indications of what individual forgers were actually thinking when they

1. “Der Verzicht auf ein Herausarbeiten der Absichten der Fälscher wäre gleichbedeutend mit dem Verzicht, die Fälschungen zu verstehen. Nur das Motiv erklärt die Fälschung.” Die literarische Fälschung, p. 9.

2. We have only one writing from our period in which a forger admits to what he did, the letter of “Mithridates” that indicates why he produced pseudepigraphic responses by the addressees of the letters of Brutus (assuming, with Calhoun, that this letter is not itself pseudepigraphic). Unfortunately Mithridates does not explain his motivation. See Robert Matthew Calhoun, “The Letter of Mithridates: A Neglected Item of Ancient Epistolary Theory,” in Jörg Frey et al., eds., Pseudepigraphie und Verfasserfiktion, pp. 295–330.

-93-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 628

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.