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Pseudepigraphy: Forgery or Fan Fiction?

Season 2: Episode 50
Pseudepigraphy: Forgery or Fan Fiction?
Date Aired: 1/22/2024

Ancient authors had no problem writing texts in other people’s names, and that includes plenty of biblical writers. If Paul only wrote seven of the thirteen Pauline epistles, for example, who wrote the other six, and why did they stamp Paul’s name on them? The practice is called pseudepigraphy—from the Greek for “false inscription”—and a lot of biblical scholars will tell you it’s straight-up forgery. But were ancient authors really trying to deceive their readers? Or were they using a standard literary practice in the ancient world of writing in the name of beloved figures (Paul, Peter, Moses, Enoch) to add new layers of meaning to their texts? Our guest Kelsie Rodenbiker argues that pseudepigraphy in the Bible has more in common with fan fiction than forgery.

Listen to the episode on the Biblical Time Machine website or wherever you get your podcasts.

Disclaimer: The Society of Biblical Literature is not responsible for the content of this podcast. The opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect those of the Society of Biblical Literature, its members, or its staff.

  • The Biblical Time Machine Podcast is hosted by Helen Bond and Dave Roos. Helen Bond is professor of Christian origins at Edinburgh University. She is the author of Women Remembered: Jesus’s Female Disciples, The First Biography of Jesus: Genre and Meaning in Mark’s Gospel, and The Historical Jesus: A Guide for the Perplexed. Her research focuses on the social and political history of first century Judaea, the historical Jesus and the canonical gospels. Dave Roos is a journalist and writer who contributes to, HowStuffWorks and the popular podcast Stuff You Should Know. Dave has a degree in religious studies from Duke University.