New testament authorship

Did Paul really write Galatians? Would appreciate more knowledge on New Testament authorship.

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I think this is a good question to ask to explore not only what the answer is but how would one go about answering a question like this?

Do you just type it into a Google search bar? When you do that, is your prior search or Internet history influencing what might appear?

We can always try starting with say Wikipedia and that could potentially give us other sources to pursue:

There is also a certain presumption that many people have that if Paul didn’t write some of these letters then it calls into question fundamental beliefs people have about what the Bible is. So you can easily find many articles written by various Christians that dismiss evidence against Pauline authorship. My first goal in any question like this is to genuinely understand what is the academic consensus on the topic and why.


Exactly. Because you can find examples of people saying just about anything.

The short answer is, “it’s debated,” but Paul’s authorship of Galatians is not as contested as some other books like Titus, or Peter’s authorship of 2 Peter, for example. Any good commentary would outline the evidence that has been marshaled for and against and give you a sense of where most Bible scholars fall or what assumptions attract a person to either side.

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Excellent advice. Thank you for your help!

I surely appreciate your thoughts, and will study further.

Author of Galatians = God.

Does this generation not know it is irrelevant who the human person was that wrote it? Whether it was the Apostle Paul, or another Apostle, or a mystery writer?
None of that changes that it is the Word of God regardless who wrote it. This is Carnal.

The Holy Spirit of Truth is who wrote the Word of God, and God used men to put the Word to writing. it matters not who the person was who wrote what God told them to write.

it has happened to me many times, where i was writing an article about something, and the Spirit would convict me so much, to remove something that i said in it. The Holy Spirit of Truth would not allow me to write something that was not from God. If then the Holy Spirit did this for me, i assure you the Holy Spirit did it to the Apostles too. If they were about to write something that was their own personal opinion and not from God, then the Holy Spirit would not allow them to write that.

It matters not who the person was that wrote it, it is the Word of God, regardless if Joe Smoe wrote it.

Who wrote Galatians? God did.
Who wrote Romans? God did.
Who wrote Matthew? God did.
Who wrote Revelation? God did.
It’s just that simple.

2 Timothy 4:13
When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas

God needed a cloak?


DiscipleDave subscribes to the “stenographic view” of scripture and revelation. In other words, he believes that God dictated every word in the Bible (Old and New Testament) in what ever language any part of it was written. Moreover, he believes that God guided the translators of the Bible to choose every English word they used in order to come up with the King James Version of the Bible. DiscipleDave’s bottom line: the King James Version of the Bible is as much “THE Capital-W Word of God” as the original text was and is completely and absolutely inerrant, because God doesn’t make mistakes.

That view of scripture, which is very much the same as orthodox Islam’s view of the Qur’an", locks Dave in a box that he can’t get out of–even though he doesn’t believe he has a need to get out of it. I never got a chance to ask him if he was aware of the fact that the original King James Bible included the Apocrypha, which Dave’s KJV doesn’t. But, since Dave believes that he is literally a Prophet of God called by God to preach to “this generation”, I figure God will have to be the one to wake him up if and when God thinks it’s time to do so.


I think “it’s debated” while being technically correct, may come off a bit of an overstatement for Galatians. I just perused Intros by Kummel, Brown, Ehrman, Guthrie and the NJBC and there is no indication of serious dissent here. Most state this directly and sweep past the issue. Galatians is probably the least contested of all Paul’s writings. Its not really debated by scholars despite a small handful in the 19th century and Rylands and McGuire’s contrary views in the 20th century. I think McGuire thought Galatians 2 showed knowledge of Acts 15 despite contradicting the council’s decrees and therefore couldn’t have been written by Paul.


I agree. I was just trying to acknowledge that you will always be able to find some scholar marshalling some evidence against the consensus. They’ll never say, “everyone agrees.”


Extreme skepticism about the traditional authorship in the Old or New Testament seems to go along with extreme lack of skepticism about the posited alternative sources and the methods used to “discover” them. If we have large amounts of text known to come from an author, it is possible to compare that with a work of uncertain authorship and see how well they match. But we don’t have that for the biblical texts. Analysis of textual features has its use, but chasing after supposed sources is generally unverifiable and merely distracting from the actual message of the text.

Paul’s letters are written over the course of many years to various recipients, on various topics, in various situations, and are relatively brief. So significant differences are likely. Claims that similarities between letters mean one must be copied by an imitator, and differences between letters means they can’t have the same author, leave Paul unable to write anything.


I think the most practical thought is this. The same way with the Old Testament.

Paul and the other apostles wrote a lot of epistles and many wrote their historical and biographical journalistic gospels. Over time some of these letters were lost, and many was edited. We can see many exits in existence. We can see how different movements made slight changes to them. So the issue does not really need to be who wrote this or that, we find dozens of these verses found as quotes in various early writings by “ church fathers “.

So I think we can definitely trust in it all. We just also need to realize that humanity has helped edited just as much as the spirit helped influence. Often a sentence, or paragraph can be rewritten to be even better, without changing its message.


“Extreme skepticism” about traditional authorship is no less intellectually bankrupt than “extreme trust” in traditional authorship. That knife cuts both ways. Should we accept the letters of Paul and Seneca or many other non-canonical works we now believe were falsely attributed to the apostles? There are certainly enough internal differences to question Pauline authorship of some of 13 NT epistles. The pastorals are a prime example of works most scholars dispute.

If we want to believe an author in the 50s wrote a letter attributed to him one to two hundred years years later in the record, we still need to provide positive evidence why this attribution should be accepted. Mis-authorship of Christian works along with pseudonymous writings are brute facts of history. This sets the climate as Paul is absolutely a prime target for forgery. I mean, I am not sure there is actually a better candidate in the first century. We can argue Marcion would have disagreed with their “anti-gnostic ideology” and that maybe the scribe in p46 was writing smaller to include them at the end (or suppose another quire) but the extant evidence that doesn’t require jumping through hoops seems to show Marcion (ca. 140?), p46 (ca 200 Oldest collection of Paul) and Vaticanus (oldest mostly complete Bible?) lacked the pastorals. Tatian rejected one of the three and accepted another one per in the second half of the second century per later reports. 1 Tim 1:5 might actually be an internal hint this is a third generation text ca. 80-100CE and not a response to Marcion in the middle of the second century or a letter by Paul in the 50s as some have argued. Or maybe Paul wrote it and a grandmother was converted who then converted her daughter and son in a small time frame in that generational order. If you look at these places that may lack the pastorals and combine that with knowledge of forgeries and the vocabulary and theological differences, along with potentially different church structures, we get a stronger cumulative case and the reason why most interpreters reject works like the Pastorals as Pauline. Nothing is ever proven in this field. [Edited] I forgot to add that there are also chronological questions in Paul’s life and many reconstructions render these letters written in close proximity which renders arguments for different vocabulary over time rather weak.

It would also be be extremely reasonable to believe Paul may have changed his mind on a number of issues since he wrote, as you said, over many years. Thus we could explain theological discrepancies in the NT Pauline corpus as him simply changing his views on a few subjects as virtually all humans are prone to do. By the time Paul wrote the pastorals his radical egalitarianism had subsided and misogyny had taken afoot. I don’t expect that intrinsically reasonable and historically plausible view to catch on in evangelical circles, however.

Given that we have to know how to interpret ancient authors in their proper historical context and that these epistles are like listening to one side of a phone conversation, to properly understand the message, the question of Pauline authorship and its date and life setting in the Church is not merely distracting, it is important. Is this coming from the 50s or the 80s? Or the 150s as a response to Marcion? How does one adequately understand a text without a context? A person being able to write as someone else in Scripture also raises questions about the method of inspiration and hermeneutics. Accommodation ALL the way.


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Yes, neither undue credulity nor undue incredulity is advisable. Carefully examining one’s own biases is also important. For example, many supposed inconsistencies hinge on particular interpretations that may be based on the assumption that the passages are different rather than soundly based on the context itself.

The a priori assumption of inerrancy precludes the inconsistencies whether the context suggests them or not. Critical scholars don’t jump through hoops to find errors. It’s the apologists who engage in mental gymnastics and often times evade the plain sense of the words and invent any and every possibile excuse. Every holy book in existence could be defended as inerrant with the Chicago Statement. Everyone has bias but it’s not the critical NT scholars who suffer from it the most.

Neither inerrantists nor errantists are devoid of bad arguments. Both display mental gymnastics. I’m not too keen on the Chicago Statement myself; it seems to err towards a modernistic misreading as literalistic history. Conversely, I don’t think many serious critical scholars take the “Jesus Seminar” very seriously.

It’s particularly critical to beware of possible bias towards what one wants to hear. Making a fuss about the exact relationship between sunrise and the timing of the women heading for the tomb is silly - not everyone got up at the same instant, different parts of the city would vary a bit in exactly when the sun became visible, and judging exactly when you think it is dawn has a degree of subjectivity. There are other points that are more reasonable to raise questions about, but a tendency to make mountains of molehills does not inspire confidence. Likewise, it is implausible that no one ever noticed an issue before critical scholars came along - both sides need to seriously engage with the rival responses.

Much of popular inerrantism and errantism makes the same error of treating the accounts as if they should be modernistic literalistic reporting. In reality, they need to be carefully considered in the context of contemporary writing styles (e.g., some of the recent (or not so recent) investigations of classical biography styles and conventions).


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