|The first column of Colossians|
from the Codex Sinaiticus
I vividly remember reading Colossians in Greek during my seminary studies in Prague. Right away the first chapter is just 6 Greek sentences. Very, very, very long and convoluted complex sentences. Each sentence is a paragraph long and one has as many as 158 words! Any normal modern attempt for translation had to divide those 6 sentences into smaller chunks.
That language is simply not from Paul, NO WAY! Paul’s own sentences are usually half as long, pointed, argumentative, with a drive and his grammar and syntax were also different.
These are all features of language which do not change easily - you can change your style for artistic reasons but it would be strange not to say contra-productive in a letter. In a letter it is desirable to come across as recognizable by the recipient(s).
Of course this suspicion of biblical forgeries is nothing new. There were ancient doubts about some of the writings (Hebrews) and from the end of the 18th century there is ever growing and persuasive arguments in that direction.
But it is one way to hear about it and read about it and it is something different to experience it first hand. From this early experience I have been convinced that Colossians, Ephesians, 2 Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus and of course Hebrews were not written by apostle Paul. They are pious forgeries. (Well, Hebrews does not claim to be by Paul - so it is not really this kind of an intentional forgery.)
And that is something you might not know about the bible and quite likely something you have hardly ever heard in a church.
Biblical forgeries will be our theme next Sunday. This Sunday will be about the genuine Pauline letters, but even they have some interesting and profound surprises.