What do you think about the recently discovered Christian letter? I learned about this through Fox News. The article is titled "1,700-year-old recently discovered Christian letter offers clues into how faithful lived centuries ago." Here is the link. I thought the earliest disciples didn’t get involved in politics, but this seems to contradict that claim. –E.F.
Guest responder David Bercot writes:
This reminds me of the type of hype that National Geographic created for the Gospel of Judas, as though it were a discovery with earth-shaking significance for Christianity. In the end, it was something Christians already knew about, and it is just one more Gnostic gospel in a long line of spurious gospels.
Either this professor has been misquoted, or else he or she does not know much about early Christianity. The letters of Ignatius, Clement of Rome, and Polycarp all pre-date this letter by over a century. So this is no remarkable discovery. In fact, there seems to be little to connect this letter to Christianity. Even if the letter contains says the phrase “in the Lord,” that would not establish it as a Christian letter. It could be a Jewish letter. Or it could be a letter from a Gnostic—and there were plenty of Gnostics in Egypt.
I don't know how common the name Paulus was in Roman Empire, but we read about Sergius Paulus in Acts 13. So it was hardly an unknown name outside of Christian circles.
What puts the nail in the coffin, however, are the words: "Our lady mother is well and salutes you as well as your wives." That would hardly have been written by an orthodox Christian, since the early church did not allow polygamy.
In short, this professor is claiming a lot based on virtually nothing.
E.F. expresses gratitude: This is excellent. Thank you so much for researching this. It is amazing how quickly we can build a school of thought around a faulty foundation if we are not careful!