Friday, September 11, 2009

Christ-Believers in Ephesus

Let me announce a new publication by my colleague Mikael Tellbe, Örebro Theological Seminary:

Christ-Believers in Ephesus: A Textual Analysis of Early Christian Identity Formation in a Local Perspective. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 1 - WUNT 242. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009. ISBN: 3-16-150048-2; ISBN13: 978-3-16-150048-0

Abstract:
This book deals with issues relating to the formation of early Christian identity in the city of Ephesus, one of the major centres of the early Christian movement towards the end of the first century and the beginning of the second century CE. How diverse was the early Christian movement in Ephesus? What were its main characteristics? What held this movement together? Taking these questions as a starting point, Mikael Tellbe focuses on the social and theological diversity of this early Christian movement, the process of "the parting of the ways" –i.e. issues of ethnicity –, the influence of "deviating" groups and the quest for authority and legitimacy, as well as issues of commonality and theological unity. The author argues for a textual approach and the impact of various textual "prototypes" in the task ofanalyzing the process of early Christian identity formation in Ephesus.

Order the book from Eisenbrauns here (price: $149.00).

16 Comments:

Daniel Buck said...

Does he believe that the Epistle to the Ephesians was written to believers at Ephesus?

Sean said...

Does he believe Philippians was written from Ephesus?

Daniel Buck said...

Sean, I believe that's a higher criticism question rather than a textual criticism question. The external evidence for Philippians' place of writing indicates Rome, as does the internal evidence.

The internal evidence for the place of writing Ephesians also indicates Rome, although not as strongly. But the weight of the internal evidence is definitely against the church in Ephesus as the intended recipient of the letter. And some external evidence also argues against it: several manuscripts don't have EN EFESW in 1:1. Notably, p46 doesn't mention Ephesus in the introduction or the postscript, but only in the page heading.

It's interesting that of the two epistles Paul did write to the church at Ephesus, there's divided external evidence about that too.

Sean said...

Thanks Daniel. I'm just curious, but what external evidence suggests Rome as the provenance of Philippians? I was under the impression it was quite difficult to determine the provenance of Philippians, with Evangelicals mainly favouring Rome, but continental scholars favouring Ephesus - but that's a generalisation.

See Thielman, F. S. “Ephesus and the Literary Setting of Philippians” in New Testament Greek and Exegesis: Essays in Honour of Gerald F. Hawthorne edited by A. M. Donaldson and T. B. Sailors. Michigan: Eerdmans, 2003.

Mark said...

Does he believe in a fair price? $149? I thought my eyes were deceiving me I had to look twice. Unbelievable that's higher then a genuine leather bound Bible! What a shame.

Tommy Wasserman said...

Mark: "Does he believe in a fair price? $149?"

I agree that the price is too high, but do not blame the author, but rather the publisher Mohr-Siebeck.

Anonymous said...

Tommy

I'm assuming you are an author (based on your response), but I simply have to disagree with you on this point, and it's hard for me to disagree in a polite way, but I'll try.

1. Authors FIRST choose a publisher!!

2. Authors use criteria that they want publishers to meet.

3. Authors have the ultimate right to reject a publisher's bid to publish their work.

While the author is making a determination as to which publisher to use, the PRICE of the book must be disclosed to the author. If the price is TOO HIGH, the author simply rejects that publisher. I realize authors have to eat, but the PRICE of a book ultimately must be decided by the author. If the author gives that right to the publisher, then the author loses control of his/her work; this is irresponsible behavior on the author's part. Also, the author has no regard for his/her readers.

Some authors actually publish their work for free. See for example W. Hall Harris of Dallas Seminary!! I mention this to show that the author ultimately has the final say so about his/her work.

Authors need to be strong when it comes to negotiating; those that are not, will fall prey to the publishers.

I certainly have no intent to offend anybody, but I always insist that the author take full responsibility on his/her work and its price. To say the publisher determines the price (suggesting the author has no say so) is actually false.

Tommy Wasserman said...

Thanks anonymous. Yes, I am an author and my book is much cheaper :-).

Theoretically I agree on many of your points, but in practice there are a number of issues for an author to think about - pricing is one criterion as you say. Further, this particular criterion may change over time; the book may, for example, come out in paper back.

Peter M. Head said...

How can you determine a "fair price" for a book?

Ryan said...

Following up on Daniel Buck's comment, "And some external evidence also argues against it: several manuscripts don't have EN EFESW in 1:1. Notably, p46 doesn't mention Ephesus in the introduction or the postscript, but only in the page heading."

I know this is a tired horse, but it's always piqued my interest and I've never had a chance to study it.
I've often thought that, on its own, this particular piece of evidence seems rather equivocal. The mss simply demonstrate that some copies did not have "in ephesus" in the address. But why does that necessarily indicate that an originally a generic circular letter was made specific to Ephesus? Couldn't it just as easily demonstrate that an originally specific letter to Ephesus was latter made generic?

I suppose what would need to be done would be to see if there are other examples of either generic letters being made specific, or specific letters being made generic.

My gut hypothesis, however, would be that it is more likely for a specific letter to be made generic, than a generic letter to be made specific. My thinking is simply pragmatic: In order to send a specific letter into general circulation, a scribe would have to remove the specific address "in ephesus." In order to send a general letter to ephesus, however, there would be no real need to add a specific address; by its very definition, a general circular letter would already be in suitable form for sending to a given community.

Who's done the big work on this question, in any case?

Peter M. Head said...

Within this blog we have discussed Eph 1.1 previously:
http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2005/11/to-ephesus.html
and
http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2005/11/eph-11-update.html

Ryan said...

Both those discussions were before my time, so thanks for the links Peter!

Daniel Buck said...

Sean:
"I'm just curious, but what external evidence suggests Rome as the provenance of Philippians?"

AFAIK, only the subscripts, which are in the majority of mss. If this is excluded from external evidence, excuse me. I realize its canonicity is questionable, but to me it's still usable evidence that should not be dismissed out of hand.

Note that in the epistles the subscript evidence is often divided among where the letter was written and/or who delivered it, but in the subscripts to Philippians Rome is the only provenance mentioned by any mss in the apparatus at LaParola.

Daniel Buck said...

Tommy:
"Yes, I am an author and my book is much cheaper :-). . . the book may, for example, come out in paper back."

I thought the reason why your book is cheaper is that it DID originally come out in paperback!

Daniel Buck said...

Ryan:
"I've often thought that, on its own, this particular piece of evidence [p46] seems rather equivocal. . . why does that necessarily indicate that an originally a generic circular letter was made specific to Ephesus? Couldn't it just as easily demonstrate that an originally specific letter to Ephesus was latter made generic?"

The external evidence is only significant, IMHO, because of the internal evidence. Ephesians shows plenty enough evidence for being Pauline, yet it lacks Paul's characteristic greetings at the end. This in itself is not decisive, as neither does another Pauline epistle to the church at Ephesus, 1 Timothy.

Now, it's interesting that the majority of mss have SOU instead of hUMWN (with or without an AMEN following) as the last word of that epistle--as if to indicate that early scribes did not see enough evidence that this was an ecclesiastical letter, rather than a personal letter, and edited the signature line accordingly. Now 2 Timothy, on the other hand, does end both with Pauline greetings to members of the church in Ephesus, and a much better attested hUMWN; any deviations from hUMWN there are easily explained by less insidious scribal tendencies.

Ephesians, however, is not a personal letter at all; the recipients are addressed in corporate, though rather vague, terms. It's almost inconceivable that Paul would address a letter to the congregation that he had led for eighteen months and not mention any of them by name. Thus the combination of internal and external evidence raises the question, could Ephesians have begun as a letter to somebody else that was later addressed to the Ephesians?

I'm convinced that this is so, for several reasons.

First of all, the letter appears to have been carried by Tychicus who was acting as Paul's forerunner, visiting places Paul hadn't been in order to introduce them to the man and his message (6:21). Paul, still in prison at the time, apparently had plans of visiting these same cities after he was released. Since it was intended for a number of different recipients, there was no specific greeting at the end as there would have been had it been addressed to a single congregation, like Romans was--even though Paul hadn't even been to Rome yet when he wrote it.

All this is higher criticism stuff, but it intersects with textual criticism when we actually look at a manuscript like p46. Not only is EN EFESW missing, but the whole paragraph suffers enough omission to render it nearly nonsensical. It is as if someone had abruptly cut out the addressee without changing the sentence structure any (kind of like Mark 16:8 . . .).

This is evidence, IMHO, that the various copies of Ephesians left Paul's hand with different addressees, and that p46's ancestor had merely cut out the "obviously incorrect" addressee when it was compiled into the Pauline corpus as PROS EFESIOUS.

We can speculate why the circular epistle got the title PROS EFESIOUS, but it should be obvious that, given Paul's close connexion with the congregation there, it would have seemed rather unfair for them to go down in history with no more than a small and somewhat derogatory section of Revelation with their name on it.

Therefore, I submit that EN EFESW in Ephesians 1:1 was copied directly or indirectly from Revelation 2:1 into an archetype of the Paulines that had at least collateral influence on every single ms now extant, p46 not excluded.

Ryan said...

Daniel, Thanks for your thoughtful comments! Something for me to consider.