Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What if the Pauline letters were labelled after their sender?

Since we are towards the end of the semester, I am at that point in my NT intro course where we are looking at the (so-called) Catholic Epistles.  It occurred to me yesterday that the genius of Paul's epistles is that they have nice memorable, catchy individual names like "Philippians" and "Galatians".  There is only one sequel  (2 Corinthians), possibly two (2 Thessalonians).

But what if Paul's letters were were named after their sender rather than his audiences?  Would Romans have worked as well if it were called 6 Paul?  Or 1 Corinthians if it were 2 Paul?  It's difficult to imagine, somehow.

It's a bit like the Bond films.  Would On Her Majesty's Secret Service have been as appealing if it were called James Bond 6?  Or Die Another Day if it were James Bond 20?  I doubt it.


Anonymous said...

Die Another Day was appealing?

Oh, and about 2 Thessalonians: Repent, heretic.

Chuck Grantham

Mark Goodacre said...

I have an open mind :)

DummySean said...

Interesting point. Naming by recipient is a kind of sweet spot on the spectrum of possible labels: sender-recipient-subject. It's specific enough to be memorable yet general enough to feel timeless. There's a double edge though because it obscures the fact that Paul's commands were often quite parochial.

Imagine Galatians being titled "Sticking it to Cephas" or 1 Thess titled "How to prep for Christ's certain return in the next few years"


Anonymous said...

Perhaps it should all be patterned after Friends.

The one where Paul gets snippy with Peter.
The one where the church's worship is chaotic.

Mind you, we'd probably have to call Die Another Day "The one with the really bad CGI"

Trenchfoot said...

Shakespeare seemed to manage ok with sequels. I think Henry V is one of his best.

Stephen C. Carlson said...

Or we can go the other way:

"To the Twelve Tribes"
"To the Exiles"
"To Those Who Have Received a Faith as Precious as Ours"
"That Which We Heard"
"To The Elder and the Elect Lady"
"To Gaius"
"To Those Who are Called"

2 Peter wins on points.

Mark Goodacre said...

Nice thought, Stephen. Not quite so memorable, are they? Quite like the idea of 3 John being called "Gaius", though.

Anonymous said...

I entirely like the thought of naming it by theme, especially 'Sticking it to Cephas'!

Which ones are the 'Catholic' Epistles? We didn't call them that in my class. We had the Pastorals, Pauline, and Deutero-Pauline.

EarlyChristianityBlog said...

I like 'Sticking it to Cephas'. While we are at it, can we have the Gospel of Mark renamed to 'Sticking it to Peter' ?

Anonymous said...

How about "Jesus and the Stupids", which can either be a gospel or a band?

Chuck Grantham