Randolph Richards on Secretaries and Ancient Letters (revised Oct 7, 2011)

Darrell L. Bock's picture

I debated Bart Ehrman a few weeks ago on NT authorship issues. I have since heard from Randolph Richards. He wrote a fine monograph on secretaries and their use in the NT (Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition and Collection).

He wrote me to thank me for defending his look at the use of secretaries in the NT and noting that Bart Ehrman really has not discussed his position correctly in talking about his work. In our discussion Ehrman claimed that there is no solid, widespread evidence of secretaries having a major writing role in the works of others. He claims only Cicero is put forward as giving such evidence. The issue is important. We know secretaries were used in certain letters and the idea one goes to the trouble of using a secretary but not using their skills in doing so makes no cultural sense. Richards is clear that Josephus used collaborators to help him with his Greek (Josephus, Against Apion 1.50). Cicero knew a letter from Pompey had the help of a secretary, Sestius (Att 15:3). Richards cites many such examples in his work (Letter Writing, 74-77).  Richards notes examples in the Michgan papyri as well (especially book 8)

So this short note simply observes that in this case an author complains about how Ehrman engages his material.

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