Monday, December 13
by Peter Combes on Sun 12 Dec 2010 07:44 PM EST
In order to get an impression of the style of the "genuine" Seneca, we read part of one of his Moral Epistles, "On Learning Wisdom in Old Age". This gives a good idea of Seneca's approach to Stoicism, with its emphasis on the behavioral aspects of philosophy. We discussed the implied belief in a natural law, and compared this with CS Lewis' treatment of the same subject in "Mere Christianity".
We read the remainder of the Paul-Seneca correspondence, much of which, oddly, is taken up by a discussion of the order of names in the address. To some of us, the very trivial nature of the discussions was a mark of authenticity, since a forger would surely give a positively Christian bias to Paul's letters, at least.
We were left with a hung jury.
Sunday, December 5
by Peter Combes on Sun 05 Dec 2010 07:17 PM GMT
We noted that Seneca the Younger was a noted Roman philosopher, writer, and politician. His date of birth is uncertain, but may have been between 4 BCE and 1CE. His death, by judicial suicide, was in 68 CE, perhaps six years after Paul's execution.
The Paul-Seneca correspondence was accepted by Jerome and Augustine. Tertullian refers to "our Seneca". In recent times the letters have almost unanimously been declared fictitious. However, some of the arguments put forward for falsity, such as vocabulary counts, have recently be shown to be erroneous.
We looked at the first seven items in the "Paul-Seneca" correspondence.
We notes that the extant manuscripts are in Latin, and there was little evidence that Paul spoke or wrote Latin. However, at one point he writes of "hearing" Seneca's letters, which may indicate the use of a translator, since Paul could and did write in Greek.
We had some difficulty in placing the letters in Paul’s life; he appears to be able to move freely in Rome, though the end of Acts shows him under house arrest in Rome. Equally, if he were under arrest by imperial forces, Seneca should have had no difficulty in commanding his appearance. However, there is a (minority) view that Paul survived his first arraignment, and that he went to Spain. If this be so, there could have been a period when he was at liberty in Rome.
The reference to Poppaea, Nero’s wife, is interesting. Poppaea is known to have been a Jewess, and the comment that she was angry at Paul’s presentation would have been in character.