By Terry L. Wilder
Books in antiquity unquestionably contained forgeries, writings that were purportedly authored by someone who did not actually write them. Critical scholars today argue that not only are many ancient works forged, but so also were some books found in both the Old and the New Testaments. Terms like “pseudepigrapha,” “pseudepigraphy,” or “pseudonymity” are often used to refer to such writings. Technically, a forged or pseudonymous text is not authored by the person whose name it bears and there must be the intention to deceive, from whatever motive. Such deceptive works are written after the purported author’s death by another person or during his life by someone who is not commissioned to do so. Plenty of these writings existed in ancient times, having been created by Greek, Roman, Jewish, and even Christian writers.
Forgeries or deceptive pseudonymous writings are not the same as anonymous texts. The former works make definite bogus claims to authorship; the latter do not. Several anonymous works exist within both the Old and New Testaments. For example, the book of Judges, the Gospels, Acts, and Hebrews do not make definite claims to authorship. That is to say, the authors of these works did not specifically identify themselves, though they were surely known to their recipients.
Strictly speaking, those biblical works most often classified by scholars as forged or pseudonymous are the OT books of Daniel and Isaiah, and certain Pauline and Petrine letters and those of James and Jude in the NT—namely, Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, the Pastoral Epistles, 1 and 2 Peter, James and Jude. One might also note that several forged, pseudo-apostolic works exist outside of the NT canon—for example, 3 Corinthians, the Epistle to the Laodiceans, and the Gospel of Peter. Read the rest at Midwestern Journal of Theology.
Please consult the journal for the footnotes contained in these paragraphs. This article originally appeared in Terry Wilder's book, "In Defense of the Bible," (B&H Academic, 2013).