The Peculiarities of Ephesians and the Ephesian Address -- By: David Alan Black

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 02:1 (Spring 1981)
Article: The Peculiarities of Ephesians and the Ephesian Address
Author: David Alan Black

The Peculiarities of Ephesians
and the Ephesian Address

David Alan Black

An important argument in favor of the encyclical theory of the epistle to the Ephesians is based upon the peculiarities found in the epistle itself. Yet these unusual features (e.g., the lack of personal greetings, the unusual statements in 1:15 , 3:2, and 4:21, etc.) can all be satisfactorily explained in the light of an original Ephesian destination. After an examination of early scribal habits and the theme of the epistle, the author concludes that the Peculiarities of the letter are not conclusive reasons for rejecting the strong textual and historical testimony in favor of the Ephesian address.

* * *

I. Introductory Remarks

The epistle which is commonly known as “Ephesians” has in recent years been the subject of much critical discussion. The chief question about the Ephesian letter is its authenticity: Did the apostle Paul write the letter, as the epistle claims, or is it the work of an imitator? Of lesser importance, but related to the previous question, is the problem of the address of the Ephesian epistle. To whom was the letter written?

Since the second century, the letter has been universally known as the Epistle to the Ephesians. Many modern scholars, however, in view of the omission in several manuscripts of the words “in Ephesus” (ἐν =Εφέσῳ) in 1:1, have rejected the Ephesian destination. A widely held view, initially proffered by Beza and popularized by Ussher, is that the Ephesian epistle was not written to any particular church, but rather was an encyclical letter to a group of churches in Asia Minor. The apostle Paul, therefore, when he penned the letter, left a blank in the preface (1:1) which was to be filled in by Tychicus as he distributed copies to the various churches. In this scheme, the reading

of the Textus Receptus goes back to a copy sent to Ephesus, whereas the Alexandrian manuscripts P46, א, and B stem from a copy in which the blank had never been filled up. It is hypothesized that since the epistle was distributed from Ephesus, the seat of the chief church in Asia Minor, it soon came to be known as the Epistle to the Ephesians, and the words “in Ephesus” (ἐν =Εφέσῳ) subsequently found their way into the majority of manuscripts.1

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