One way of thinking anthropologically about the Bible is to remember that many of the familiar terms and concepts that we use to characterize Christian praxis today–though derived from the New Testament–meant something prior to 2000 years of debates and developments.
It is also important to remember that the First Century was not free of debate or development either. In fact, it was an especially dynamic period of intention, innovation, and imitation.
This last point is going to be especially important to us as we examine the practice of pseudepigraphy or falsely-attributed writings. Now today, were one to write a work under the name of another author, we might refer that act by the Greek-derived word plagiarism (meaning “kidnapping”).
But Hellenistic and Jewish literatures both have a pseudepigraphic tradition. Pseudepigraphy was a way to make one pay attention to a writing (e.g. One would pay attention to teachings associated with the name of a revered prophet.) Pseudepigraphy was a way to write in the lineage, tradition, or school of thought of a prior thinker. And yes, pseudepigraphy was a way to siphon authority from a well-known figure.
And though this very exercise may seem to be contradictory to the aims of faith and trust, it also presupposes their importance to the rise of early collectives. More on this later. For now, define the following terms:
- threskos (p. 168)
- pistis (pp. 170-174),
- fides (pp. 170-174)
- Holy Spirit
- religion (pp. 170-171).
Write a paragraph in which you compare your understanding of New Testament faith prior to this reading and your understanding after the fact.