Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fundamental Facts - Provenance of Philippians

Hawthorne helpfully notes key issues we must address when discussing the provenance of Philippians.

There are certain fundamental factors that must be considered before even a tentative conclusion as to place and date can be reached. Some of these include (1) the fact that Paul was in prison when he wrote (Phil 1:7, 13, 17); (2) the fact that Paul faced a trial that could end in his death (1:19-20, 2:17) or acquittal (1:25; 2:24); (3) the fact that from wherever it was that Paul wrote there was the praetorium (1:13), and there were “those who belonged to Caesar’s household” (4:22); (4) the fact that Timothy was with Paul (1:1; 2:19-23); (5) the fact that extensive evangelistic efforts were going on around Paul at the time he wrote to Philippians (1:14-17); (6) the fact that Paul soon planned to visit Philippi if he were acquitted (2:24), and (7) the fact that several trips were made back and forth between Philippi and the place from which Paul wrote Philippians – all within the time-span of his imprisonment: (a) news travelled to Philippi of Paul’s arrest, (b) the Philippians therefore sent Epaphroditus to Paul with a gift to aid him in his distress, (c) news of Epaphroditus’ illness was sent back to Philippi, (d) word that the Philippians were greatly concerned about Epaphroditus reached Paul (See 2:25-30) and (e) Paul hoped to send Timothy to the Philippians and get encouragement back from them through him before he himself set off for Philippi (2:19, 24).

Hawthorne, Philippians, pg. xxxvii

Overall, I'm beginning to favour a Roman provenance, against Hawthorne who unusually advocates a Caesarean origin (See Acts 23:23-26:32). While I think Rome is probable, we must admit a certain epistemic humility in our judgements as the evidence is ambiguous and incomplete.

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