The Epistle to the Ephesians, often shortened to Ephesians, is the tenth book of the New Testament. Its authorship has traditionally been credited to Paul, but it is considered by some scholars to be Deutero-pauline, that is, written in Paul's name by a later author strongly influenced by Paul's thought. Bible scholar Raymond E. Brown asserts that about 80% of critical scholarship judges that Paul did not write Ephesians, while Perrin and Duling say that of six authoritative scholarly references, "four of the six decide for pseudonymity, and the other two (PCB and JBC) recognize the difficulties in maintaining Pauline authorship.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge ...view middle of the document...
This would be about the same time as the Epistle to the Colossians (which in many points it resembles) and the Epistle to Philemon. However, as noted above, most critical scholars have questioned the authorship of the letter, and suggest it may have been written between AD 80 and 100.[3
Authorship of the Pauline Epistles
The first verse in the letter, according to the late manuscripts used in most English translations, reads, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus." (Eph. 1:1 NIV). Hence, the letter identifies Paul as its author, and these manuscripts designate the Ephesian church as its recipient. Ephesians is found in the two earliest canons, and many of the early Church Fathers (including Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Hermas, and Polycarp) support Paul's authorship. However, there are a few problems with this traditional position, including:
• The earliest and best known manuscripts omit the words "in Ephesus", rendering the phrase simply as "to the saints ... the faithful in Christ Jesus" (NIV alternative translation).
• The letter lacks any references to people in Ephesus, or any events Paul experienced there.
• Phrases such as "ever since I heard about your faith"[1:15] might seem to indicate that the writer has no firsthand knowledge of his audience. This presents a problem as the book of Acts records that Paul spent a significant amount of time with the church in Ephesus, and in fact was one of its founders. However, "faith" in this verse is the start of a list of qualities displayed by the recipients of the letter, not a solitary statement about news of faith, full stop. Additionally, the author gives no indication that the report he "heard" was his introduction to the church in Ephesus. It could mean that he received word of the further development and growth of the church in Ephesus, and if Paul—co-founder of that church---wrote the letter, this illuminates his follow-up: "I do not cease to give thanks for you..."[1:16]
There are four main theories in Biblical scholarship that address the question of Pauline authorship.
• The traditionalist view that the epistle is written by Paul is supported by scholars that include Ezra Abbot, Asting, Gaugler, Grant, Harnack, Haupt, Fenton John Anthony Hort, Klijn, Johann David Michaelis, A. Robert, and André Feuillet, Sanders, Schille, Brooke Foss Westcott, and Theodor Zahn. For a thorough defense of the Pauline authorship of Ephesians, see Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary by Harold Hoehner, pp 2–61.
• A second position suggests that Ephesians was dictated by Paul with interpolations from another author. Some of the scholars that espouse this view include Albertz, Benoit, Cerfaux, Goguel, Harrison, H. J. Holtzmann, Murphy-O'Connor, and Wagenfuhrer.
• As noted above, most critical scholars think it improbable that Paul authored Ephesians at all. Among this group are Allan, Beare, Brandon, Bultmann,...