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Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition and Collection Paperback – October 22, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (October 22, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830827889
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830827886
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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)

"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)

"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)

About the Author

E. Randolph Richards (M.Div. and Ph.D., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is dean of the School of Ministry and professor of biblical studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. He has frequently served as an interim or "supply" pastor, and from 1988 to 1996 he was a missionary with the International Mission Board, SBC, stationed in East Indonesia. His scholarly articles have appeared in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Southwestern Journal of Theology, Bulletin for Biblical Research and Biblical Illustrator. He is coauthor of Discovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology and The Story of Israel: A Biblical Theology. He is the author of Paul and First-Century Letter Writing and The Secretary in the Letters of Paul in the Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament series.

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By C. Price VINE VOICE on April 4, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Paul and First Century Letter Writing is a valuable contribution to any study of Paul the apostle. Because so much of what we know about Paul we learn from his letters, understanding the practice of letter writing in his culture is vital to understanding Paul. This is not only true for understanding the meaning of his letters, but also for the issues that bother some academics-did Paul write Ephesians? Is 2 Corinthians one letter? Or two or three combined into one?

Though commentaries on Pauline letters or biographies of Paul may discuss aspects of these issues, full treatments of the issue of ancient letter writing and its implications for the study of Paul's letters are harder to find. Here, Richards offers just such a book. He describes the materials involved in drafting letters, how ancient letter writers used sources, the procedure of letter writing, the time involved, the use of secretaries, the detection of interpolations, the use of letter carriers, and the distances and means of travel of those carriers. Richards then draws out the practical effect of this knowledge. For example, he explains why letter writing was so expensive and does a convincing job of determining the cost in present-value dollars. He also explains the significance of co-authorship on Paul's letters. Though many of Paul's letters were co-authored, many scholars seem to all but ignore this fact in their study of the theology and language of Paul's letters. This is a mistake. A co-author of a letter would have had a substantial impact on the content and theme of "Paul's" letters. The use of different secretaries and even letter carriers too may have affected the content of Paul's letters, though to a lesser degree.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Charles J. Bumgardner on January 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
I received this volume a month ago, and have been eagerly devouring it bit by bit. I was enthusiastic about obtaining it, and more enthusiastic after reading it. This is the sort of NT studies volume which I love: one that thoroughly examines some aspect of the historical/cultural context of the NT and brings the results of that research to bear on text and theology, resulting in plausible solutions to challenging questions.

In his volume, Richards minutely examines the practice of letter-writing in the first-century Greco-Roman world. Among other conclusions, he finds that (1) Paul's "co-senders" were in reality "co-authors" (although Paul's was the prominent voice), and this may account for differences in style and content within a letter or among letters; (2) Paul almost certainly utilized drafts and revisions of most of his letters; (3) Paul very likely retained copies of his letters (and used previous material in new epistles), which informs proposals of pseudonymity based on close similarity between two letters (e.g., 1 & 2 Thessalonians).

Much more awaits the reader of this volume. I only regret that I was not aware of this work when it was first published.
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By b58dso on December 28, 2011
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This a book describing how letters, written data and books were generated, who created the text, what the medium was and how much influence the author had in the content of a missive. Although written in terms of the Apostle Paul. The information was relevent to all in the late BCE and early CE time frame. Enjoyable reading to those interested in this discipline.
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By warren on July 19, 2014
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makes a mockery of those who still say that the first christian centuries were a time of oral traditions, and therefore the bible is unreliable (ie: Bart Ehrman et el.) lots of footnotes, riases possibilities of shorthand being used by scribes who trailed Jeus with the Pharisees. Easily readable for a layperson.
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1 of 22 people found the following review helpful By drfiddler1 on February 28, 2011
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I expected this book to give insights into Paul's letters. Instead, the book focuses on writing materials, etc. For example, there is a whole page devoted to whether or not people used writing desks or wrote on their laps.
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