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Citation for Sources

Citation styles are based on the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Ed., and the MLA Style Manual, 2nd Ed..


"Sources." In The Catholic Study Bible. Oxford Biblical Studies Online. Oct 25, 2021. <http://www.oxfordbiblicalcstudies.com/article/book/obso-9780195282801/obso-9780195282801-div1-144>.


"Sources." In The Catholic Study Bible. Oxford Biblical Studies Online, http://www.oxfordbiblicalcstudies.com/article/book/obso-9780195282801/obso-9780195282801-div1-144 (accessed Oct 25, 2021).


We learn about Paul's life from his own letters and from Luke's account in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. Acts 9, 1–30; 11, 1–28, 31 ). There are some discrepancies between what Paul says and what Luke records about certain incidents of Paul's career: for example, Luke and Paul do not agree about whether the Council of Jerusalem, around AD 50, stipulated that the Gentiles should keep some aspects of the Jewish Law (see Acts 15 and Galatians 2, 1–10 ). We must remember that when Luke writes about Paul's life, his account is a secondary source: it was written more than a generation after Paul (about AD 85), at a time when the major issue of non‐Jewish converts was no longer as pressing. Luke minimizes the tensions involved in integrating the Gentiles into the church.

The Epistles of Paul

There are thirteen letters or epistles ascribed to Paul, but most commentators recognize only seven of these as definitely written by the apostle; the others are attributed to disciples of Paul. The seven letters certainly written by Paul himself are Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. The remaining six letters (that is, Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus) are often called “Deutero‐Pauline.” Among the latter group, the Pauline authorship of 2 Thessalonians and Colossians is most disputed. For various reasons commentators believe that these six letters were not actually written by Paul but instead were written by later Christians familiar with his teachings. Disciples could have claimed to be writing in Paul's name in order to gain authority for their own adaptations of his teaching, an accepted practice among the ancients. In the New Testament, the Pauline writings are arranged in two groups: first, letters to communities; second, letters to individuals. Within each group they run roughly from the longest to the shortest. The letters are not arranged in the order in which they were written.

Letters and Epistles

Paul's letters follow the fairly simple structure of a letter in Greek or Roman culture. Such letters were not placed in envelopes, so the address is given right at the start. Then follows the body of the letter; finally, the conclusion contains personal greetings and instructions. Some scholars have suggested a distinction between more formal, systematic “epistles” and informal “letters.” In this way of thinking, Romans would be an example of a formal epistle, whereas Philemon or Titus would be examples of an informal letter. Even some of those letters supposedly written to individuals may really be formal “epistles” intended for wider circulation. Many interpreters have also noted a fundamental structure discernible in many of Paul's writings, but most clearly in Romans. Paul first outlines his most basic teachings in a section sometimes called the doctrinal or “indicative” part. This is followed by an application of these teachings in Paul's exhortations to the community, a section called the “imperative” or “parenetical” (that is, exhortatory) part of the body of the letter.

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