A Synopsis of Galatians and Romans

A Synopsis of Galatians and Romans: Its Relevance for the Interpretation of the Synoptic Parallels Between 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Between Colossians and Ephesians, in: Let God Be True: Perspectives on Romans 3, Hg. J. Kok u.a., Georgias Biblica Studies 73, Piscataway: Georgia Press, 2023, 271-301:

„Surprisingly in the critical analysis of the synoptic parallels between 1 and 2 Thessalonians and between Colossians and Ephesians, the synoptic parallels between Galatians and Romans have rarely been considered. This is an unfortunate shortcoming since according to an undisputed methodological rule (at least in theory) all 13 Pauline letters must be measured against the same critical standards. The undisputed letters of Paul must not be left out of consideration or examined less strictly than the disputed ones. Double standards are not acceptable.

As my simple Greek synopsis of Galatians and Romans reveals, the arguments against the authenticity of 2 Thessalonians and Ephesians, which are based on their synoptic parallels with 1 Thessalonians and Colossians respectively apply as well to the synoptic parallels between Galatians and Romans. While scholars have often interpreted substantial repetition, a considerable amount of verbal agreement, conflations of two or more passages, repeated borrowings from the same passages, and the reuse of words and phrases with a different meaning as clear indications of inauthenticity, in his Letter to the Romans Paul used all these literary strategies.

It follows that if according to these criteria 2 Thessalonians and Ephesians must be regarded as unauthentic, for the same reasons Romans cannot be the work of Paul. Or vice versa, if these criteria cannot be applied to test and disprove the authenticity of Romans, then neither may they be used to test and disprove the authenticity of 2 Thessalonians and Ephesians. Frankly, for obvious reasons, I prefer the second option. As a matter of course, the observations in this article do not settle the question whether 2 Thessalonians and Ephesians are authentic or not, but they imply that for methodological reasons the arguments from the synoptic parallels between the disputed Pauline letters which have been developed and applied by William Wrede, Leslie Mitton, E. P. Sanders, and many others must be abandoned. They simply are not reliable critical instruments.“