Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who wrote Romans?

An old question, with an unexpected answer: 'Tertius' (according to Rom 16.22).

Ian J. Elmer, 'I, Tertius: Secretary or Co-Author of Romans' ABR 56 (2008), 45-60.

Elmer offers a useful survey of scholarship on Tertius and his role, but challenges the general assumption that his role was only passive - taking down Paul's dictation. He argues that professional secretaries played a greater role in the composition of a letter than we customarily assume. 2 Cor 10.10 suggests that the secretary may have played an important role in 'strengthening' his letters when compared with his speech. He (in my view rightly) takes 'in the Lord' in 16.22 to modifying the writing of the letter, and hence expresses something of Tertius' perception of his role as a Christian ministry to the Roman Christians. He further suggests that Tertius was actually from Rome, a Roman Christian who could inform Paul about the situation in Rome.
'Tertius' previous association wiht the recipients would have been utilised at various stages in drafting the letter so as to make the content both germane and personal to the Roman congregation.' (p. 59)

An interesting argument, perhaps a little over-dependent on Cicero (via Richards) for examples, but raising an interesting issue. I am not really persuaded that Tertius is from Rome, but the general point about the need for drafting, wax tablets, re-drafting etc. of a long letter like Romans is well taken.

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