Sunday, December 09, 2012

Richard Graves on the Authenticity and Genuineness of the Epistles of Paul

“It may not, perhaps, be useless to my younger readers to observe on this part of my subject, that the very circumstances which contribute to this species of obscurity in the epistles [of Paul], form at the same time the strongest internal proofs of the genuineness of these compositions, and of the truth of all the transactions on which the proof of Christianity depends.

Such a variety of references to particular times, and places, and persons; and above all, appeals to individuals as to facts which they knew, and conversations they had heard, answers evidently given to letters that had been received, and inquiries that had been made; appeals and answers, such as would be clear and intelligible, if we suppose the facts alluded to real, and these letters to have been before the writer of the epistles, and these inquiries to have been made, but which could have no conceivable object or meaning otherwise—such particulars never find place in the artful texture of forged and fictitious compositions. These always avoid unnecessary references to circumstances, which would only make their detection easy and certain; they deliver their doctrines unconnected with facts; they guard as much as possible against objection; they every where betray marks of reserve and caution, of artifice and design.

Far different are the epistles of St. Paul: every line of them speaks the language of a man intent on present, real, urgent business, addressing others equally engaged in the same transactions, and anxious to influence, and to direct them in some particular mode of conduct. In a word, we see in the epistles of this great apostle nothing of the fictions of imposture, nothing of the visions of fanaticism; every thing bespeaks reality and truth.”

—Richard Graves

Essay on the Character of the Apostles and Evangelists, in Richard Hastings Graves, ed., The Whole Works of Richard Graves, vol. 1 (Dublin: William Curry Jun. and Co., 1840), pp. 116-17.