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Paul—Prolific Writer

From the October 2008 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Have You Ever thought of the Bible not as one book, but as a library of books? You really could, given that the Greek biblion, one of the words from which the word bible is derived, means "little books." When you hold a Bible in your hand or access it electronically, you are cradling a rich resource of prophecy, sacred history, spiritual poetry and wisdom, divine law, an apocalypse, a series of epistles or letters, and that unique genre of Christian literature, the Gospels.

Seeing the Bible in this way doesn't have to fragment our field of spiritual vision. Instead, this perspective helps us appreciate the Bible in its depth, variety, and originality. Although some of its books were written or edited by scholars, they were not written for scholars but for broader communities. Although the original audiences of the books of the Bible may have varied, each author tried to communicate something profound and real to those who would make the effort to read and understand.

The most prolific author in the New Testament, in terms of the number of books attributed to him, is the Apostle Paul. Take a moment to open a Bible and count these books, beginning with the Epistle to the Romans. Scholars vary in their estimate of how many of these letters are really by him, and most believe that at least some letters are pseudonymous—written by followers of Paul but in his name. This was not uncommon in the ancient world. In fact, writing in the name of a respected thinker was usually intended to extend and explicate his or her ideas, not to appropriate them.

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