Saturday, August 16, 2008

Textual Criticism and Provenance

Every now and then textual criticism plays a significant role in determing the addressees of a certain document. The most well known examples are the discussions related to the absence of "Rome" from some manuscripts on Rom. 1.7 and of "Ephesus" from Eph. 1.1, which of course impacts the question of who were the original addressees and what happened during the subsequent circulation of the letters. But in the case of Colossians, it is not the addressees but the provenance of the letter that contains some interesting evidence. The provenance of Colossians, assuming Pauline authorship, is an intriguing debate and it is hard to split the Rome or Ephesus options (Dunn seems 55% in favour of Rome, whereas Wright and Martin are convinced of an Ephesian place for writing). According to Metzger (p. 627), some majuscules contend that Colossians was written from Rome, whereas the Marcionite prologue to Colossians maintains that the letter was written from Ephesus. Is this evidence of early speculation about the provenance of Colossians or can we give some weight to these statements? Does the Marcionite prologue have anything particularly invested in an Ephesian provenance or is it just earlier guess work?


  1. Could you, please supply the full reference to Metzger.

    In addition, the "Marcionite" prologues are very likely not Marcionite in origin, see N.A. Dahl, The Origin of the Earliest Prologues to the Pauline Letters, Semeia 12, 1978, 233-277. At least a "so-called" should be the minimum qualifier of "Marcionite" in this respect.

    Ulrich Schmid

  2. I presume this refers to the subscription in some mss in which 'from Rome' appears in various forms:
    'to Colossians written from Rome' (A B1 P pc)
    'to Colossians written from Rome through Tychichus and Onesimus' (075 1739 1881 Maj)
    'the epistle of Paul the Apostle to Colossians written from Rome through Tychichus' (0278).