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As pseudepigraphy ( ancient Greek ψευδεπιγραφία pseudepigraphía - literally about "the wrong attribution ", composition of ψευδής pseudēs ' fake, untrue 'and ἐπιγραφή epigraphē , name, inscription, attribution') one describes the phenomenon that a text is consciously composed in the name or falsely attributed to such. A font with a wrong statement of responsibility is called the pseudepigraph .

Reasons for pseudepigraphy

Pseudepigraphy was already widespread in ancient times . Scriptures were written and circulated both in the name of classical authors and in the name of biblical figures or authors. It is explained by the endeavor to pass on the thoughts of an authority figure of the past in a school tradition . Both the desire to give your own text a higher level of authority can be in the foreground, as well as the modesty to ascribe the written thoughts to the person from whom you have taken them over or from whom you have been inspired.

Forms of pseudepigraphy

A wrong statement of responsibility can have various reasons. Roughly one can distinguish four forms of pseudepigraphy, which can be divided into two categories.

Originator of pseudepigraphy

In the first category, the person who made the incorrect attribution is asked . A distinction is made between primary pseudepigraphy and secondary pseudepigraphy .

Primary pseudepigraphy
Primary pseudepigraphy means that the author of a work identifies a person other than himself as the author. That would be For example, the case if someone other than the apostle Paul had written the letter to the Colossians, but then identified Paul as the author of this letter in the author's statement.
Secondary pseudepigraphy
Secondary pseudepigraphy is understood to mean that a work is assigned a false statement of responsibility by another person and not by the author himself. In the New Testament, for example, this would be the case if the originally anonymous Gospels were then incorrectly attributed to people who were not their actual authors.

Intention behind pseudepigraphy

On the other hand, the question arises as to whether a wrong attribution was made intentionally or unintentionally . This question can also be combined with the first category. There can be intentional primary and intentional secondary pseudepigraphy. Only secondary pseudepigraphy can occur unintentionally. Because one can rule out that an author inadvertently names a wrong author for his own work.

Pseudepigraphy and Biblical Studies

Many contemporary historical-critical researchers assume that some biblical books or parts of them, both in the Old and in the New Testament , are pseudepigraph . For example, in the Old Testament many psalms ascribed to King David are counted as pseudepigraphs; in the New Testament some letters are counted among the pseudepigraphs, such as the letter to the Ephesians , which states that they were written by the apostle Paul of Tarsus . Further examples are the letter of James , the letter of Jude and others. a.

Other theologians dispute this point of view and refer to the statements of various ancient authors who comment on pseudepigraphic literature and criticize it as such. On the basis of various statements by Church Fathers ( Tertullian , Eusebius , Serapion ) about false authorship, they conclude that pseudepigraphic writings that would have been recognized as such did not find their way into the biblical canon. An example of this are the Acts of Paul , the author of which was removed from office when the hoax became known, according to Tertullian.

It is therefore controversial to what extent pseudepigraphic writings could have found their way into the Biblical Canon . The important question here is how intentional primary pseudepigraphy was first understood by the author and secondly accepted by the reader.

See also



  • Armin Daniel Baum : Pseudepigraphy and literary forgery in early Christianity. With selected source texts including German translation (= Scientific Studies on the New Testament. Series 2, Vol. 138). Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2001, ISBN 3-16-147591-7 .
  • Norbert Brox : Wrong author information. To explain the early Christian pseudepigraphy (= Stuttgart Biblical Studies. 79). KBW-Verlag, Stuttgart 1975, ISBN 3-460-03791-1 .
  • Norbert Brox (Ed.): Pseudepigraphy in pagan and Judeo-Christian antiquity (= ways of research . Vol. 484). Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1977, ISBN 3-534-07061-5 (formative texts of the history of research, partly in excerpts).
  • Curtis Kent Horn: Pseudonymity in Early Christianity. An Inquiry into the Theory of Innocent Deutero-Pauline Pseudonymity. sn, sl 1996 (Fort Worth TX, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dissertation, 1996).
  • Martina Janßen: Under a false name. A critical research balance sheet of early Christian pseudepigraphy (= work on religion and history of early Christianity. Vol. 14). Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 2003, ISBN 3-631-50327-X .
  • David G. Meade: Pseudonymity and Canon. An Investigation into the Relationship of Authorship and Authority in Jewish and Earliest Christian Tradition (= Scientific Studies on the New Testament. Vol. 39). Mohr, Tübingen 1986, ISBN 3-16-145044-2 .
  • Hermann Josef Riedl: Anamnesis and apostolicity. The Second Letter of Peter and the theological problem of New Testament pseudepigraphy (= Regensburg Studies on Theology. Vol. 64). Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 2005, ISBN 3-631-54557-6 (also: Regensburg, Universität, habilitation paper, 2003).
  • Terry L. Wilder: Pseudonymity, the New Testament, and Deception. An Inquiry into Intention and Reception. University Press of America, Lanham MD 2004, ISBN 0-7618-2793-5 .

Important articles

  • Kurt Aland : The problem of anonymity and pseudonymity in christian literature of the first two centuries. In: The Journal of Theological Studies. Vol. 12, No. 1, 1961, ISSN  0022-5185 , pp. 39-49, JSTOR 23957933 , (In German: The problem of anonymity and pseudonymity in Christian literature of the first two centuries. In: Kurt Aland: Studies on the transmission of the New Testament and its text (= work on New Testament text research. Vol. 2, ISSN  0570-5509 ). de Gruyter, Berlin 1967, pp. 24-34).
  • Kurt Aland: Wrong author information? On pseudonymity in early Christian literature. In: Theological Review . Vol. 75, 1979, pp. 1-10 (review on Brox, author information).
  • Kurt Aland: Again: The problem of anonymity and pseudonymity in Christian literature of the first two centuries. In: Ernst Dassmann , K. Suso Frank (Ed.): Pietas. Festschrift for Bernhard Kötting (= yearbook for antiquity and Christianity . Supplementary volume. 8). Aschendorff, Münster 1980, ISBN 3-402-07095-2 , pp. 121-139, (Also in: Kurt Aland: Supplementa to the New Testament and church-historical drafts. Published by Beate Köster, Hans Udo Rosenbaum, Michael Welte on her 75th birthday . de Gruyter, Berlin et al. 1990, ISBN 3-11-012142-5 , pp. 158-176).
  • Horst R. Balz: anonymity and pseudepigraphy in early Christianity. Reflections on the literary and theological problem of early Christian and common ancient pseudepigraphy. In: Journal for Theology and Church . Vol. 66, No. 4, 1969, pp. 403-436, JSTOR 23584455 .
  • Richard Bauckham : Pseudo-Apostolic Letters. In: Journal of Biblical Literature. Vol. 107, No. 3, 1988, pp. 469-494, doi : 10.2307 / 3267581 .
  • Armin Daniel Baum: Pseudepigraphy and literary forgery. In: Heinz-Werner Neudorfer , Eckhard J. Schnabel (ed.): The study of the New Testament. Volume 2: Exegetical and hermeneutical basic questions (= Biblical monographs. Vol. 8). Brockhaus et al., Wuppertal et al. 2000, ISBN 3-417-29462-2 , pp. 179-206.
  • Armin Daniel Baum : Literary authenticity as a canon criterion in the old church. In: Journal for New Testament Science and the Knowledge of the Older Church . Vol. 88, 1997, pp. 97-110, doi : 10.1515 / zntw . 1997.88.1-2.97 .
  • Donald A. Carson: Pseudonymity and Pseudepigraphy. In: Craig A. Evans, Stanley E. Porter (Eds.): Dictionary of New Testament Background. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL et al. 2000, ISBN 0-8308-1780-8 , pp. 857-864.
  • Jeremy Duff: A Critical Examination of Pseudepigraphy in First- and Second-Century Christianity and the Approaches to it of Twentieth-Century Scholars. Oxford 1998 (Oxford, University of Oxford, Dissertation, 1998; abstract in: Tyndale Bulletin. Vol. 50, No. 2, 1999, ISSN  0082-7118 , pp. 306-309, online ).
  • James DG Dunn : Pseudepigraphy . In: Ralph P. Martin, Peter H. Davids (Eds.): Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL et al. 1997, ISBN 0-8308-1779-4 , pp. 977-984.
  • Edward Earle Ellis: Pseudonymity and Canonicity of New Testament Documents . In: Edward Earle Ellis: History and Interpretation in New Testament Perspective (= Biblical Interpretation Series. Vol. 54). Brill, Leiden 2001, ISBN 90-04-12026-2 , pp. 17-29.
  • Martin Hengel : anonymity, pseudepigraphy and 'literary forgery' in Jewish-Hellenistic literature. In: Pseudepigrapha. Volume 1: Kurt von Fritz (ed.): Pseudopythagorica - Lettres de Platon - Littérature pseudoépigraphique juive (= Entretien sur l'Antiquité Classique. Vol. 18, ISSN  0071-0822 ). Fondation Hardt et al., Vandoeuvres-Genève et al. 1972, 231–308, (expanded in: Martin Hengel: Judaica et Hellenistica (= Martin Hengel: Kleine Schriften. Vol. 1 = Scientific studies on the New Testament. Vol. 90). Mohr, Tübingen 1996, ISBN 3-16-146588-1 , pp. 196-251).
  • Franz Laub: Wrong author information in New Testament writings. In: Trier Theological Journal. Vol. 89, 1980, ISSN  0041-2945 , pp. 228-242.
  • Bruce M. Metzger : Literary Forgeries and Canonical Pseudepigrapha. In: Journal of Biblical Literature. Vol. 91, No. 1, 1972, pp. 3-24, doi : 10.2307 / 3262916 .
  • Petr Pokorný : The Theological Problem of New Testament Pseudepigraphy. In: Evangelical Theology . Vol. 44, No. 5, 1984, pp. 486-496, doi : 10.14315 / evth-1984-0504 .
  • Martin Rist: Pseudepigraphy and the Early Christians. In: David Edward Aune (Ed.): Studies in New Testament and Early Christian Literature. Essays in Honor of Allen P. Wikgren (= Supplements to Novum Testamentum. 33). Brill, Leiden 1972, ISBN 90-04-03504-4 , pp. 75-91.
  • Eckhard J. Schnabel : The biblical canon and the phenomenon of pseudonymity. In: Yearbook for Evangelical Theology . Vol. 3, 1989, pp. 59-96.
  • Georg Schöllgen : Pseudapostolicity and Scriptural Use in the First Church Orders: Notes on the Justification of Early Canon Law. In: Georg Schöllgen, Clemens Scholten (Ed.): Stimuli. Exegesis and its hermeneutics in antiquity and Christianity. Festschrift for Ernst Dassmann (= yearbook for antiquity and Christianity. Supplementary volume. 23). Aschendorff, Münster 1996, ISBN 3-402-08107-5 , pp. 96-121.
  • Wolfgang Speyer : Religious pseudepigraphy and literary forgery in antiquity. In: Yearbook for Antiquity and Christianity. Vol. 8/9, 1965/1966, pp. 88–125, (Also in: Norbert Brox (Hrsg.): Pseudepigraphy in pagan and Judeo-Christian antiquity (= ways of research. Vol. 484). Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1977, ISBN 3-534-07061-5 , pp. 195-263).
  • Wolfgang Speyer: forgery, pseudepigraphic free invention and 'real religious pseudepigraphy'. In: Pseudepigrapha. Volume 1: Kurt von Fritz (ed.): Pseudopythagorica - Lettres de Platon - Littérature pseudoépigraphique juive (= Entretien sur l'Antiquité Classique. Vol. 18, ISSN  0071-0822 ). Fondation Hardt et al., Vandoeuvres-Genève et al. 1972, 331–366, (Also in: Wolfgang Speyer: Early Christianity in the ancient radiation field (= Scientific studies on the New Testament. Vol. 50). Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1989, ISBN 3-16- 145238-0 , pp. 100-139).
  • Angela Standhartinger : Studies on the genesis and intention of the Epistle of Colossians (= Supplements to Novum Testamentum. 94). Brill, Leiden et al. 1999, ISBN 90-04-11286-3 , Chapter 2, (At the same time: Frankfurt am Main, University, habilitation paper, 1997/1998).
  • Günter Stemberger : Pseudonymity and Canon. To the book of the same name by David G. Meade. In: Yearbook for Biblical Theology. Vol. 3, 1988, ISSN  0935-9338 , pp. 267-273.
  • Eduard Verhoef: Pseudepigraphy and Canon. In: Biblical Notes. Vol. 106, 2001, ISSN  0178-2967 , pp. 90-98.
  • Michael Wolter : The Anonymous Writings of the New Testament. Approach to a literary phenomenon. In: Journal for New Testament Science and the Knowledge of the Older Church. Vol. 79, No. 1/2, 1988, pp. 1-16, doi : 10.1515 / zntw . 1988.79.1-2.1 .
  • Ruben Zimmermann : Inauthentic - and yet true? Pseudepigraphy in the New Testament as a theological problem. In: New Testament Journal . No. 12, 2003, pp. 27-38.
  • Josef Zmijewski: Apostolic Paradosis and Pseudepigraphy in the New Testament. “Keeping alive through memory” (2 Pet 1:13; 3,1). In: Biblical Journal. NF Vol. 23, 1979, pp. 161-171.

Lexicon contributions

  • Peter Gerlitz: Art. Pseudonymity I. Religious history . In: TRE , 27 (1997), pp. 659-662.
  • Michael Wolter : Art. Pseudonymity II. Church history . In: TRE 27 (1997), pp. 662-670.
  • Petr Pokorný : Art. Pseudepigraphy I. Old and New Testament . In: TRE 27 (1997), pp. 645-655.
  • Günter Stemberger : Art. Pseudepigraphy II. Judaism . In: TRE 27 (1997), pp. 656-659.
  • Wolfgang Speyer , Martin Heimgartner: Art. Pseudepigraphy . In: Der Neue Pauly , 13 (1999), pp. 509-512.
  • Achim Hölter: Art. Forgery II.AB . In: Der Neue Pauly , 10 (2001), pp. 1076-1079.
  • James H. Charlesworth : Art. Old Testament pseudepigraphs . In: TRE 27 (1997), pp. 639-649. (Overview of individual pseudepigraphe writings)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Armin D. Baum: Literary authenticity as a canon criterion in the old church. Journal for New Testament Science 88 (1997), p. 110.