Kelsie G. Rodenbiker

Looking for Gold in Mud

Pseudepigraphy and the Ancient Christian Rhetoric of Attribution

Section: Articles
Early Christianity (EC)

Volume 14 () / Issue 4, pp. 495-511 (17)
Published 04.01.2024

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Pseudepigraphy is a feature, not a bug, of the generation of the New Testament canon. It is argued here that the common production but unfavorable reception of pseudepigraphy in the early centuries of Christianity and the detection and production of pseudepigraphical literature are all facilitated by the principles of ancient authenticity criticism. Even if the concern shown by ecclesiastical writers over the authentic attribution of works incorporated into an authoritative scriptural collection eventually appears to be overtaken by the centrality of apostolic association, pseudepigraphal or not, a rhetoric of anxiety surrounding pseudepigraphy – with much of its vocabulary drawn from classical authenticity criticism – remains a central aspect of the Christian debate over textual authority and canonicity. Pseudepigraphical practices both impede and drive the canonical process, while pseudepigrapha are both produced and detected by skills learned through ancient educational practices.

Kelsie G. Rodenbiker Born 1987; 2009 BA Seattle Pacific University; 2013 MA Seattle Pacific University; 2021 PhD Durham University; Research Associate at the University of Glasgow.