BNTC Survey on Pauline Authorship

Rick Sumner shared this delightful image (from a Koine Greek subreddit that I had no idea existed!):

Click through to see the image full size.

I really appreciate Rick’s comments on the results. And I think that seeing numbers like these can be more helpful than references to “what scholars think” or “the consensus view.” Quantifying the matter – even in an anecdotal survey – helps readers see that there are some things that scholars genuinely agree on (Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, he did not write Hebrews), things that there is a solid majority view about (the Pastoral Epistles), and things about which there is significant disagreement (Ephesians). The audience may or may not have had more conservatives present than is typical across all of academia, which would affect the precise numbers, much as an opposite leaning in a different audience might slant things in the opposite direction. But the overall impression conveyed is useful nevertheless.

The image is from an appendix to Paul Foster’s article “Who Wrote 2 Thessalonians? A Fresh Look at an Old Problem” (published in JSNT in 2012).

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  • Dan Wilkinson
    • Allen Marshall O’Brien

      And it’s awesome.

  • Ian

    Wow, I am surprised at some of the numbers, and sad at others.

    Surprised that Colossians was quite as uncertain as it came out on. I wouldn’t have predicted that a majority would think it was authentically Paul.

    Sad that nearly 10% of people thought there was a chance Paul wrote Hebrews!

    But I agree, it is good to see what is more or less certain.

    • Rick Sumner

      This is exactly what I said! Ten percent!

      And I wish I had a name for who doubts Philippians. I mean… Really? Part of me wonders if they have something interesting, and the other part wonders if they checked the wrong box.

      • James Dowden

        Yes, that Philippians vote is bizarre. Maybe it’s a very silly way of expressing an objection to Philippians (and presumably 2 Corinthians) being treated as a single letter.

  • Evan Hershman

    What is BNTC? Sorry if this is a dumb question.

    • James F. McGrath

      British New Testament Conference

  • Jerry Wilson

    Is this data skewed conservative?

    • James F. McGrath

      I would say yes. But even so, I think it indicates that there are some things that are agreed upon, and some things which, even in a group skewed in a conservative direction, there is a majority opinion that views the letters as inauthentic.

      There are also some quirky individual answers too…

  • David Miller

    I was surprised at the yes and uncertain votes for the pastorals. I was under the impression the vast majority of scholars view them to be inauthentic.

    • Beau Quilter

      As has been said in earlier comments, the chart is skewed conservative.

  • Bernard Muller

    Obviously, the BNTC was loaded with conservative Christians, considering Ephesians, Colossians and 2Thessalonians got so many votes in favour of authenticity. These three epistles are considered not by Paul by most critical scholars, as far as I know. Another surprise: many think Galatians was the first written epistle (instead of 1Thessalonians).
    At least, nobody voted to have all the Pauline Corpus declared spurious, as many mythicists think.
    This survey tells me more about the make up of the BNTC than about anything else.
    Cordially, Bernard