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Paul's Letter Collection: Tracing the Origins Paperback – January 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: Quiet Waters Publications (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966396677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966396676
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,393,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tom Dykstra on February 10, 2009
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Even if you are not convinced by every aspect of the author's argument, this is an excellent book, one of the very best examples of how to present scholarly research for a general audience. The book advances a carefully reasoned, thoroughly researched thesis about the origin and purpose of the NewTestament collection of Paul's epistles. It explains clearly, avoids academic jargon, and even includes illustrations showing what the ancient manuscripts look like and what a modern critical edition of the New Testament looks like.

Trobisch's thesis is that Paul himself initiated the collection of his epistles by creating a literary unit consisting of Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and Galatians, with Romans chapter 16 as its "cover note." The current form of the text is not the way the letters were originally sent but reflects their state after Paul edited them for publication. After Paul's death, his disciples expanded this collection by adding nine more, and at some point Hebrews was added as the 14th epistle.

The thesis has profound implications for how we understand these New Testament texts, the New Testament canon, and the development of early Christianity. Trobisch argues that Paul created the original package of four books primarily as his testament against the Jerusalem Christian leaders (including James and Peter) and their insistence that Jewish Law observance including circumcision is necessary for Christians. This dispute is intricately tied to the collection Paul was taking up for Jerusalem, which he was afraid would be rejected along with his anti-circumcision message. As Trobisch puts it when he proposes this interpretation, "The whole story takes on a macabre tone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By robert johnston on December 2, 2012
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Trobisch delivers a thoroughly readable piece of scholarship here. He identifies the quirks in Paul's collection and provides a thorough survey and reference supporting his set of theses.

What we have from across extant manuscripts is what we have. The oldest is a transcription that a best might be generationally considered as `father witness to son' or at least `grandfather witness to grandson'. That the 8 basic codex sets that are used in modern translation vary not a theological wit from there sources from around the Mediterranean is for this reader the most fascinating evidence.

The nuances of the collection that would include Hebrews in Paul's collection is indeed a fascinating speculation. Trobisch extends his analysis to hundreds of contemporary secular letters to deliver a sense of temporal letter style context. The use of the images of the 8 codices compared to contemporary letters in the hand of the likes of Cicero and then unknown letter writers makes for a fascinating story on many levels.

The matter of contextual anomalies can never be answered without finding other surviving codices to explore. This is a very interesting work for the deep diver to explore.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Chuang Wei Ping on June 26, 2012
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This 1994 monograph is robust research that has not had attention it deserves. It is a great help to understand the world's most popular book, which is regrettably, is also the least read, and even less understood.

Scarcity of writing material meant that scripture had to be squeezed into scrolls, with understandable preference to have longer manuscripts copied first - to avoid a book being split up by the ending of a scroll. Thus the longest epistle, Romans [34,410 characters], inevitably follows the Gospels in all extant surviving manuscripts. On the Chester Beatty P46 papyrus, the epistles are arranged by length, except for the Hebrews. Hebrews follows Romans, to avoid inserting Hebrews [26,382] between 1st Corinthians [32,767] and 2nd [22,280].

Acts of the Apostles originally immediately preceded the General Epistles of the Apostles, James Peter and John. If one could not afford a whole New Testament, the NT was available in 4 standard parts, priced according to length: Gospels 45%, Pauline letters 28%, Acts/General Epistles 20%, and Apocalypse of John 7%.

The 4 oldest manuscripts in book (Codex) form are:
(A02) Codex Alexandrinus, presented to King Charles I by Kyrillos Lukaris, Patriarch of Alexandria, and is in the British museum today,
(C04) Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, interesting history, now in Paris,
(Alef 01) Codex Sinaiticus, one of the great treasures of the British Museum, and
(B03) Codex Vaticanus, which ended up in the Vatican library, along with a large number of other manuscripts.

David Trobisch highlights that all four contain Hebrews. All 4 have 14 Pauline epistles. Trobisch is a manuscript scholar. He does not go into detail of the politics of why Hebrews went in and out of the tentative Biblical canon.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris Albert Wells on June 29, 2014
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Scholars usually assume that Marcion was Paul's letter collector.

Looking into ancient letter collections, Tobrisch finds that the author is usually also the collector. He assumes that Paul followed the same scheme.

More interesting is how letters were assembled into a codex and published. His analysis of Corinthians, comprising several letters secondarily joined is also well worthwhile discovering.

Readers are bound to find significant information in this study.
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