Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition and Collection

Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition and Collection

by E. Randolph Richards


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Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition and Collection by E. Randolph Richards

Traditional Christian art depicts Paul the letter writer, pen in hand, attentive to the Spirit. We might think we know better and imagine him pacing in agitation as he rapidly dictates to a secretary his letter to the Galatians. But in reality neither of these pictures is accurate.

In Paul's day, producing a letter was a time-consuming and costly business. And we have ample resources from the ancient world to piece together what it must have been like. A secretary was usually part of the picture. But so were notes, drafts, corrections and careful rewrites, not to speak of scratchy pens, sooty ink and coarse papyrus. Interestingly, there is evidence that Paul involved his missionary team in the writing of letters. And then came the delivery over land and sea, the reading and circulation, as well as the epistolary afterlife of copying, collecting and storing.

E. Randolph Richards has extensively studied ancient letter writing and secretaries. Informed by the historical evidence and with a sharp eye for telltale clues in Paul's letters, he takes us into this world and places us on the scene with Paul the letter writer. What first appears to be just a study of secretaries and stationery turns out to be an intriguing glimpse of Paul the letter writer that overthrows our preconceptions and offers a new perspective on how this important portion of Christian Scripture came to be.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780830827886
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Publication date: 10/22/2004
Pages: 252
Sales rank: 967,833
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

E. Randolph Richards (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is dean and professor of biblical studies in the School of Ministry at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He is a popular speaker and has authored and coauthored dozens of books and articles, including Paul Behaving Badly, A Little Book for New Bible Scholars, Rediscovering Jesus, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, Rediscovering Paul, The Story of Israel, and Paul and First-Century Letter Writing.

Early on in their ministry he and his wife Stacia were appointed as missionaries to east Indonesia, where he taught for eight years at an Indonesian seminary. Missions remain on the hearts of Randy and Stacia. Randy leads mission trips and conducts missionary training workshops and regularly leads tours of the Holy Land, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. He has served as interim pastor of numerous churches and is currently a teaching pastor. He and Stacia reside in Palm Beach, Florida.

Table of Contents

1. A Modern, Western Paul
2. Paul as a First-Century Letter Writer
3. The Tools of a Letter Writer
4. Secretaries in the First-Century World
5. Paul's Use of a Secretary
6. Identifying Inserted Material
7. Weaving Together a Letter
8. Classifying Paul's Letters
9. Analyzing Paul's Writing Style
10. Preparing a Letter for Dispatch
11. Dispatching the Letter
12. Paul's Letter Carriers
13. Paul's Use of His Letter Carriers
14. Collecting Paul's Letters
15. Inspiration and First-Century Letter Writing
Modern Authors Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index

What People are Saying About This

Arthur G. Patzia

"A comprehensive, impressive, insightful, informative and engaging account of letter writing in the ancient world with primary emphasis on the composition and collection of Paul's letters. Richards builds upon--but expands--his earlier work (The Secretary in the Letters of Paul, 1991) by including additional information about the mechanics of writing letters (all the 'nuts and bolts'), the role of coauthors and colleagues (such as Timothy, Sosthenes, Tertius, Silas), and the significance of preformed material and interpolations for understanding issues of Pauline authorship. The book is the fruit of sound historical research and cautious scholarship. It is a major contribution to the field, bound to be read with profit and treasured by teachers, pastors and students of the New Testament."
Arthur G. Patzia, Professor of New Testament, Fuller Northern California

E. Earle Ellis

"Amplifying his astute monograph, The Secretary in the Letters of Paul (1991), Dr. Richards offers here an insightful, well-organized and very readable study of an important issue in New Testament research. He is at his best in the discussion of secretaries and their tools in the ancient world. While not all will agree with every viewpoint expressed, all can profit from this important contribution to our discipline."
E. Earle Ellis, Research Professor of Theology Emeritus, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Dr. Bruce Corley

"For those who want an over-the-shoulder look into Paul's world, this is the book. Richards guides the reader with a sure hand, sifting through a wide array of ancient texts and artifacts to reconstruct an engaging picture of Paul's letter writing. But there are bonus features: one also learns about life in the city and marketplace; travel by land and sea; customs at home, school, and in the company of friends; and a host of other topics. Rarely does a book this size offer so many insights, sometimes challenging common opinion but always illuminating. This treasure trove, written in readable style with eye-catching pages, will attract students of Paul and Greco-Roman history again and again."
Dr. Bruce Corley, President and Professor of New Testament and Greek, B. H. Carroll Theological Institute

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