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

By Bart D. Ehrman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWELVE
Forgeries Involving Church
Organization and Leadership

From the earliest of times, Christian churches of every description encountered difficulties of organization and leadership. From the early years of the movement we are best informed about the churches connected with Paul, where problems arose that could make even the most stalwart apostle tremble. Nowhere is that clearer than in the Corinthian correspondence, directed to a community organized (if one can use the term) according to a charismatic principle that enabled considerable chaos to reign not only in the worship services but also in the life of the community in general, especially in competing factions and their outspoken representatives. Within such communities factionalism often played itself out in the realm of theological discourse, as subcommunities and individuals advocated views of the faith in opposition to the rest. Small wonder that the church as a whole could not continue to structure itself along such lines, that hierarchical organization and established leadership soon took hold in order to provide both clarity and direction for a church settling in for the long haul.

But even more conventionally organized communities experienced serious internal problems and conflicts over how the church should be structured and who should be granted roles of leadership. Concerns for church order are evidenced throughout our literature, whether orthonymous (Paul’s letters), anonymous (e.g., the Didache), or forged. At the early stage of our literary record, nowhere are the concerns more evident than in two of the Pastoral epistles, 1 Timothy and Titus, forged in Paul’s name by the same author who produced 2 Timothy, which we have already considered for another reason and in a different context.


1 TIMOTHY AND TITUS

In that earlier discussion I provided a preliminary sketch of all the background issues of relevance to the question of the pseudonymous character of these two

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