Paul and co-workers

This blog, by Richard Fellows, discusses historical questions concerning Paul's letters, his co-workers, Acts, and chronology. You can visit my web pages here, but note that they are not kept up-to-date.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Barnabas is female in P46 Gal 2:1

At Gal 2:1 Paul says he went to Jerusalem with Barnabas, having taken (μετὰ Βαρναβᾶ συμπαραλαβὼν) Titus with him. While Paul wrote "ΒΑΡΝΑΒΑ", which is the normal genitive form of the name, P46, the oldest manuscript of Paul's letters, adds a sigma to the end of the name to make: "ΒΑΡΝΑΒΑΣ".

Royse writes that this is “presumably an unusual genitive in –ας, for which there seems to be no parallel” (1). However, he must mean that there is no male parallel, for it is an ordinary genitive of a first declension feminine name (2).

The name is otherwise unattested as a female name, and the male form was extremely rare, with only two cases listed in the Lexicon of Greek Personal Νames, for example. It is therefore plausible that the scribe of P46 (or a predecessor) did not know whether to expect a male name or a female name, but they would know to expect a genitive. They would therefore know that if the name was female there would be a sigma following the final alpha, and there would be no such sigma if the name was male. It seems that, on finding the sigma they then naturally assumed that the name was female and took the word to end after the sigma, not realising that the sigma was the initial letter of the following word. The doubling of the sigma is therefore explicable if the scribe had no prior knowledge of Barnabas's gender.

Edgar Battad Ebojo did not consider the possibility that the scribe thought he was writing a female name, and wrote that the error resulted from "a visual difficulty with initial sigma immediately following an open vowel"(3). He cites 1 Cor 2:4 as another case where P46 doubles the sigma to create a text that makes no sense. However, this textual variant does not demonstrate a tendency of P46 since it is in the other early manuscripts as well. The only other example of P46 doubling an initial sigma is at 1 Cor 16:19, where the female name, Prisca, is changed to the (unattested?) male name, Priscas. As I mentioned in my last blog post, the name Prisca has an ambiguous gender in Rom 16:3 since it is in the accusative. Prisca there is mentioned before Aquila and is highly praised so a scribe might have made the sexist assumption that Prisca was male (even though it is a well attested female name) and, when reaching 1 Cor 16:19, the scribe would have been primed to read the sigma of σὺν as the last letter of Prisca's name, which precedes it.

There is therefore no tendency in P46 to double sigmas to make text that the scribe would have considered nonsense. We can therefore assume that at Gal 2:1 a scribe thought he/she was writing a woman's name, and at 1 Cor 16:19 a scribe thought he/she was writing a man's name. An interesting implication of this is that in neither case could the scribe have been familiar with the Acts of the Apostles, where the genders of the two people are unambiguous. The influence of Acts presumably explains why these errors are not seen in other manuscripts (all of which are later).

Barnabas's gender is unambiguous at Gal 2:13, but P46 has a textual variant there and things get complicated.

(1) James R. Royse, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri, NTTSD 36 (Leiden: Brill, 2008) 332.
(2) Compare, for example, ΜΑΡΙΑΣ (Matt 1:16; John 11:1; Acts 12:12).
(3) A scribe and his manuscript: an Investigation into the Scribal Habits of Papyrus 46 (P. Chester Beatty II – P. Mich. Inv. 6238). PhD thesis. 275-7.

Monday, October 1, 2018

P46 presented Prisca and Junia as men

There seems to be a consensus that early scribes subtly altered the text of the New Testament to diminish the authority of women in the church. Back in 1984 Ben Witherington explored this phenomenon in the western text of Acts.[1] P46 is our earliest text of Paul’s letters and dates from around 200 CE and Edgar Battad Ebojo has recently shown that P46 has some textual variants at 1 Cor 11:9; 1 Cor 16:19, Gal 3:28; and Eph 5:24 that subtly reduce the standing of women in the church.[2] Dominika A. Kurek-Chomycz did a helpful study of the anti-Priscan tendency in the manuscripts.[3] Surprisingly, a comprehensive study of the phenomenon is lacking. In this blog post I will not attempt such a huge task, but will focus on Prisca and Junia in P46.

Name order reversals that demoted women

There are just 11 occasions in the NT when a woman is listed along with one or more men. On 4 of these occasions the woman is named last; “Aquila and Prisca” (1 Cor 16:19); “Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris” Acts (17:34); “Andronicus and Junia” (Rom 16:7); Eubulus and Pudens and Linus and Claudia (2 Tim 4:21). There are 7 cases where the woman is named ahead of at least one man:

1.     “Mary and Joseph” (Luke 2:16)
2.     “Prisca and Aquila” (Rom 16:3)
3.     “Prisca and Aquila” (2 Tim 4:19)
4.     “Priscilla and Aquila” (Acts 18:18)
5.    “Priscilla and Aquila” (Acts 18:26)
6.    “Philolous, Julia, Nereus and his sister …” (Rom 16:15)
7.     “Philemon … Aphia … Archippus” (Philem 2)

The Center for New Testament Restoration ( collates all manuscripts dating to before about 400 CE. They show only four cases of names being reversed in order:

1.     W – Codex Washingtonianus places Elijah before Moses at Matt 17:4. There is a simple explanation: after writing the phrase μιαν και, the scribe’s eye skipped to the second instance of the phrase and therefore he wrote the second name first.
2.     The same text promotes Andrew ahead of James and John at Mark 3:18, presumably to conform the text to that of Luke and/or Matthew, or to place Andrew with his brother.
3.    D – Bezae places Priscilla behind Aquila at Acts 18:26, where Priscilla (according to the original text) takes the lead in teaching Apollos, an educated man.

4.    P46 reverses Julia and Nereus at Rom 16:15, as well as Patrobas and Hermas at Rom 16:14 (see below).

It is surely no coincidence that 2 of these 4 reversals are among the 7 cases in the NT where women precede men, and that these two cases occur in manuscripts that are known for their misogyny. There are about one hundred opportunities for name switches in the NT so it is clear that woman have been demoted by the process disproportionately compared to men. I will discuss Julia in more detail below.

Women becoming men

In the text of Vaticanus, among, others, Col 4:15 sends greetings to “Nympha and the church in her house”. Νυμφαν και την κατ οικον αυτης εκκλησιαν. Most other manuscripts, however, change αυτης (her) to αυτων (their) or αυτου (his). It is very likely that the transmitters of the texts were uncomfortable with the idea that a woman led a house church, so they took Νυμφαν to be the accusative of the male name Νυμφς and altered the pronoun accordingly. Here is the text in Sinaiticus:
The Index apostolorum discipulorumque, ascribed to Epiphanius, identifies both Junia and Prisca as men (Ἰουνίας and Πρίσκας). Attempts to change the gender of Prisca were doomed to failure since Acts 18:2 is very explicit that Priscilla was a woman. However, P46, being a collection of Paul’s letters, contained no text of Acts and we do not know whether Acts was known to those who transmitted this text. At 1 Cor 16:19 P46 adds a sigma to the name Πρισκα making Πρισκας, which is masculine in form.
Prisca appears in Paul’s letters elsewhere only at Rom 16:3 and 2 Tim 4:19, but in both places the name is in the accusative (Πρισκαν) so its gender is ambiguous. The effect of the Πρισκας variant at 1 Cor 16:19 in P46 is therefore to make Prisca a man not only there but also at Rom 16:3.

In Romans Paul acclaims Prisca very highly and greets her ahead of her husband and indeed before anyone else. This would have been uncomfortable for misogynist transmitters of the text and they solved their problem in P46 by the simple addition of a sigma to Prisca’s name at 1 Cor 16:19. They may have assumed that Πρισκαν in Rom 16:3 must have been a man and, primed to read Πρισκας at 1 Cor 16:19, they may have been encouraged to do so by the sigma at the start of the following word (συν).

Kurek-Chomycz points out that the manuscripts are fairly evenly split over whether the name should be Prisca or Priscilla at 1 Cor 16:19. This demands an explanation since nowhere in Acts did the scribes change Priscilla to Prisca, and none of them change Prisca to Priscilla at 2 Tim 4:19. Even at Rom 16:3, where we are given a lot of information about Prisca, she is not changed to Priscilla until the seventh century, as far as we know. Why then is the form of the name at 1 Cor 16:19 so disputed among the early manuscripts? Kurek-Chomycz struggles with this question, but a possible answer can be offered. The Πρισκας textual variant at 1 Cor 16:19 would not have lasted long when the communities started to use Acts extensively, for it directly contradicts the clear statement of Acts 18:2. Scribes would replace Πρισκας with Πρισκιλλα or Πρισκα to remove that contradiction. I do not know whether the original text read Πρισκιλλα or Πρισκα, and it matters little. My point is that if the Πρισκας textual variant was widespread in the early decades of the church, it could have given rise to the even split that we see between the Πρισκιλλα and Πρισκα forms of the name. Is there a better explanation?

Another male version of the name Prisca is found in Sinaiticus, which has Πρισκον instead of Κρισπον at 1 Cor 1:14. Πρισκον is the accusative of the common male name Πρισκος (Latin Priscus).[4] It is hard to know how to interpret this variant. A second hand has corrected it by placing two letters above the line.

Junia and Julia
If the misogynists behind P46 were embarrassed by Prisca, were they also embarrassed by Junia, who was prominent among the apostles and was in Christ before Paul?
Whereas most manuscripts read οι και προ εμου γεγοναν, P46 reads ος και προ εμου γεγονεν. Thus, while the original text stated that Andronicus and Junia were in Christ before Paul, P46 says that only Andronicus was in Christ before Paul. James Royse writes, “Perhaps we have here a reluctance to include a woman among those who were “in Christ” before Paul.”[5] But there is more. P46 also changes Ιουνιαν to Ιουλιαν (Julia), and this is significant, as we will see, because this manuscript also messes with Ιουλιαν at Rom 16:15.

P46 has the names Ιουλιαν and Νηρεα reversed. It has also replaced the first letter of Ιουλιαν with an alpha and the first letter of Νηρεα with a beta. This corruption of the two names has recently been convincingly explained by Royse.[6] “In the exemplar the names were marked for transposition by the use of the letters A and B, as is known from other manuscripts.” The scribe then saw the letters A and B written above the start of the two names and misunderstood the intent of the corrector. He then replaced the initial letters of the two names with the A and B (just as someone copying Sinaiticus would convert Πρισκον to Κρισπον – see above). P46 also reverses the names Patrobas and Hermas two lines above, and it seems to me that we now have a likely explanation. The corrector who wrote the A and B, or someone else, wrote “switch the names” in the margin. A scribe did not know that this referred (only) to the names Julia and Nereus so he swapped Patrobas and Hermas as well as (or instead of) Julia and Nereus. The exchange of the names Patrobas and Hermas is likely collateral damage from an attempt (successful or otherwise) to switch Julia and Nereus. I am undecided whether the corrector who wrote the A and B was trying to move Julia behind Nereus or return her to her original position. Nor do I know whether he placed the A over the name that he wanted to come first or incorrectly over the other name (which could have caused the scribe’s confusion). In any case, at some time someone made (or intended to make) a manuscript that read Ιουλιαν και την αδελφην αυτου (Julias and his sister). The pronoun αυτου is gender specific and makes the claim that Ιουλιαν is the accusative of a man’s name (presumably Julias). By simply transposing the names Julia and Nereus someone has turned Julia into a man. This is important because it would have cast doubt on the gender of Junia of 16:7 (who has been transformed into Ιουλιαν by P46). Misogynists would have been able to say, “Andronicus’s partner was probably a man because his name appears later in the text as a man’s name. Even if it refers to a different person of the same name, it shows that it was a man’s name in Paul’s day and in Paul’s accent/spelling.” In their determination to cast Prisca and Junia as men, they were, it seems, undeterred by the fact that the masculine names Priscas and Julias were rare or unattested. In much the same way, some, to this day, see Junia(s) as a man, undeterred by the fact that it is unattested as a male name.


P46 made subtle changes to the text to cast doubt on the gender of both Prisca and Junia, who were the two women who most offended patriarchal assumptions. P46 could, theoretically, have added the sigma to Prisca at 1 Cor 16:19 by accidental dittography, but we should no longer give it the benefit of the doubt since the exchange of the names Julia and Nereus can only have been an attempt at deliberate deceit, because name switches did not happen without good reason.

[1] Ben Witherington III, “Anti-Feminist Tendencies of the ‘Western’ Text in Acts”, JBL 103 (1984), 82-84.
[2] Edgar Battad Ebojo, “Sex, Scribes, and Scriptures: Engendering the Texts of the New Testament” Journal of Biblical Text Research vol 36, 367-94. Here 386-7.,%20Scribes,%20and%20Scriptures%20(Edgar).pdf
[3] “Is There an “Anti-Priscan” Tendency in the Manuscripts? Some Textual Problems with Prisca and Aquila”, JBL 125.1 (2006) 107-127.
[4] The name is attested 228 times in the Trismegistos People database.
[5] James R. Royse, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri (2008) 322 n690.
[6] Scribal Habits 333-4.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Euodia and Syntyche

Alistair Stewart and I have an article in the latest issue of ZNW, titled "Euodia and Syntyche and the Role of Syzygos: Phil 4:2–3". You can read this paper for free on the ZNW web site here. Alistair blogged about it here.

Enemies were trying to intimidate the believers in Philippi (Phil 1:27-30) so it was very important that they should stand united. However, their lack of humility towards each other was threatening this unity (Phil 2:1-5). Paul therefore called the Philippians to stand firm (Phil 4:1), and to stand shoulder to shoulder with their leaders (episkopoi), Euodia and Syntyche, in the same way that these two women had stood shoulder to shoulder with him (Phil 4:3). The phrase γνήσιε σύζυγε, often translated "true yokefellow" does not appoint someone to mediate a supposed dispute between Euodia and Syntyche. Rather it is a piece of "idealised praise" intended to cajole the congregation into being true yokefellows toward their two leaders.

Use the comments section if you have any feedback or questions on the paper.

The inspiration for my own work on Phil 4:3 goes back to a (no longer extant) blog post by Doug Chaplin, who proposed that "yokefellow" was not being called to arbitrate a dispute.

It is very probable that Euodia was the leadership name that was given to Lydia (Acts 16:15-16, 40). See here.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Vaticanus paragraphoi and 1 Cor 14:34-35

Philip Payne has a recent NTS paper, titled "Vaticanus Distigme-obelos Symbols Marking Added Text, Including 1 Corinthians 14.34-5". It can be read for free online here. The media have reported on this paper, and Larry Hurtado and Scot McKnight have spoken favourably of it. However, the specialists at Evangelical Textual Criticism (ETC) are very skeptical.

Vaticanus has many horizontal bars that extend into the margin. An example is shown to the left. It is agreed that most or all indicate paragraphs, hence the term paragraphoi. The margins also contain distigmai (pairs of dots), such as shown to the right, and Payne counts nearly 800 such cases in Vaticanus.

He has shown that the dots tend to correspond to textual variants and Peter Head has argued that they were added in the sixteen century (see here and here). Payne finds 28 places where the two dots and a bar appear together. He then argues that, in such cases, the bars fall into two categories. He finds 20 "undisputed paragraphoi", and 8 "characteristic bars". The "primary graphic distinction" of the "characteristic bars" is that they extend further into the margin, he claims. Of the 28 cases, he finds 10 that correspond to locations where NA28 identifies a "multi-word variant". Now, Payne's 8 "characteristic bars" all belong to the group of 10 cases that have "multi-word variants". He shows that this could not happen by chance, and concludes that 1 Cor 14:33-4, which is one of the 8, marks the beginning of added text. This would then support the view that Paul did not write 1 Cor 14:34-35, the text that many take to mean that Paul did not allow women to speak in church.

The purpose of this blog post is not to assess the whole paper (I am not qualified to do that), but merely to comment on the bar measurements and the statistical argument about the correlation between the bar measurements and presence of a multi-word variant.

Using online images, I measured the extension into the margin of the bars in all 28 cases. I measured them three times each and took the average (I then adjusted all the values down by the same amount to make my definition of the margin consistent with Payne's). The results are plotted below. Here the cases have been placed in ascending order of the number of added words in the textual variants, as given by Payne in his comments on the ETC blog. Thus, the first six points, on the left, have no added words (and are in a random order), and the 28th point, on the right, represents 1 Cor 14:33-4, where 36 words may have been added. The order, with Vaticanus locations is Col 3:18 (1505B), Matt 24:6 (1268A), Col 2:15 (1504B), Acts 13:16 (1401B), Mark 3:5 (1280C), Jas 4:4 (1428C), 2 John 8 (1442C), Luke 22:58 (1345B), Matt 21:3 (1262C), Luke 21:19 (1342C), Col 3:20 (1505B), Acts 14:13 (1403A), John 9:41 (1365A), 1 Cor 10:24 (1470A), Matt 3:9 (1237B), Rom 16:5 (1460B), Phil 2:24 (1500C), John 7:39 (1361A), Mark 5:40 (1284C), Luke 1:28 (1305A), Matt 13:50 (1253B), Mark 14:70 (1301B), Acts 14:18 (1403B), Luke 14:24-5 (1332C), Acts 2:47 (1385B), Matt 18:10, 12 (1259A), Acts 6:10 (1390A), 1 Cor 14:33-4 (1474A).

As you can see, the data demonstrate no particular relationship between extension into margin and size of textual variant. To avoid bias I took the measurements without knowing which images were associated with textual variants. That is to say, when measuring the Y-value of each point, I was blind to its X-value. (I should mention that there is some ambiguity about the bar at Matt 18:10, 12, shown to the right. Payne includes the dot as part of the bar, but I did not).

So how does Payne arrive at the conclusion that "The standard probability test shows that the likelihood of such a stark difference occurring at random is far less than one in 10,000."? Well, he kindly shared his own data in the comments section of the blog post at ETC. The graph below shows Payne's measurements together with mine.

We see immediately that Payne gets smaller measurements for all 20 "undisputed paragraphoi", and he gets greater measurements for all but one of the "characteristic bars". With his measurements he is able to claim that the 8 "characteristic bars" "extend on average almost twice as far into the margin as these twenty undisputed paragraphoi."

Payne also discusses bar length, so I have pasted the graph for bar length below. Note that bars that extend far into the margin are naturally often long (they are not statistically independent variables).

We see again that, with my data, there is no strong correlation. In general, Payne gets longer "characteristic bars" than I do, and shorter "undisputed paragraphoi".
Let us compare, for example, Matt 21:3 (the 9th point in the graph), with 1 Cor 14:33-34 (the last point in the graph). Payne measures the bar at 1 Cor 14:33-34 to be 20% longer than the bar at Matt 21:3, but the image to the right shows that they are the same. Payne's numbers come from his comment on the ETC blog, and he gives them to one decimal place. However 13 of his 28 length measurements, including at 1 Cor 14:33-34, are whole numbers, as you can see above. We would expect just 3 and the probability of getting 13 or more is less then one in a million. He has clearly favoured whole numbers and it does appear that he has shown a bias in his decisions about which numbers to round down or up.

With Payne's measurements there is no "characteristic bar" that is shorter than any of the "undisputed paragraphoi".

Philip tells me that it is a combination of features that define "characteristic bars", so here is the plot of extension into the margin against length.

I suppose we could define a "characteristic bar", according to the line shown, by length + extension into margin/2.7 > 5.2mm, but I can't imagine a scribe using such an equation, and there would still be 4 cases of "multi-word variants" that do not make the cut.

In his paper Payne claims that "All eight combine noticeably greater extension into the margin with noticeably greater length than the other twenty." This is just not true, however we interpret it.

There is no bi-modal distribution of extensions into the margin or lengths: the points do not fall into two categories, even with Payne's measurements. He uses arbitrary thresholds to define a "characteristic bar" and a "multi-word variant", but uses a statistical test that is appropriate only when  the categories are distinct.

Payne claims in his paper (section 3) that only one paragraphos in 1 Cor extends as far into the margin as the bar at 14:33-4, but I did not have to look far to find another (at 1468B).

So, there are serious flaws in Payne's data, and in his use of those data. What lessons can we draw from this?

We cannot conclude, of course, that Paul wrote 1 Cor 14:34-35, still less that he silenced women there. This text remains a mystery to me. It is almost certain that Paul gave leadership roles to women. I have argued that Paul gave Lydia the "leadership name", Euodia. See page 254 of the Tyndale Bulletin paper embedded here.

What we can conclude is that the peer review process has failed us yet again. The measurement errors and questionable statistical method should have been spotted by reviewers.

We can also conclude that online discussion can make much faster progress then peer reviewed journals. The blog posts and comments on the ETC blog have advanced the debate, in large part because Philip Payne and others have been so willing to share their ideas and data. He has also exchanged multiple emails with me. If only all scholars were as willing to engage in online and offline discussion!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Tyndale Bulletin paper on name giving by Paul and the destination of Acts

Tyndale Bulletin has published a paper that I wrote on "Name Giving by Paul and the Destination of Acts". With their permission I have posted the paper below. I recommend Tyndale Bulletin to prospective authors because of their open access policy, all but the most recent issues being available online here.

I am hoping that this paper will spark interest in the wider phenomenon of renaming in the early church, as well as the historicity of Acts. You can post feedback in the comments section here, as well as on the Tyndale Bulletin blog, which also accepts comments, or you can just send me an email.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Richard Last on Gaius as a guest (Rom 16:23)

Rom 16:23 reads
Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you.
Richard Last, however, translates ξένος as "guest" instead of "host". See pages 62-71, most of which are available on Google books hereThe Pauline Church and the Corinthian Ekklesia: Creco-Roman Associations in Comparative Context (SNTSMS 164; Cambridge: CUP, 2015).  He finds that ξένος does not mean "host" in texts concerning associations, and this argument is not without weight. However, his theory creates more problems than it solves:

1. The name "Gaius" is a Latin praenomen (first name), and such names were reserved almost exclusively for intimate friends and family members. It is unlikely that a guest would be a close friend of either Paul or the members of the church of Rome. If Gaius was a guest we would expect Paul to use his cognomen rather than his praenomen.

2. Gaius was not a guest because he was already baptized (1 Cor 1:14). Richard Last counters that 1 Cor 1:14 might refer to a different Gaius:
Steven Friesen provides reason to think that this is not the same Gaius as in 1 Cor 1:14: he observes that the supposed household of Gaius, the ξένος (Rom 16:23), is never mentioned in the Corinthian letter and that 'it is odd that Paul said he baptized Stephanas' whole house (1 Cor 1.16) but he did not say he baptized Gaius's whole house (1 Cor 1.14).' Moreover, I would add, it is peculiar that Paul never commends Gaius's service as a host in the Corinthian correspondence, where he praises other service providers (1 Cor 3:1; 16:15-18).
These are valuable observations, but they do not show that we are looking at two Gaiuses. They simply illustrate that "Gaius" was merely Stephanas's praenomen. Indeed, Last himself perceptively suggests that "Stephanas and other Corinthian service providers were crowned or honoured with inscriptions or proclamations" (p158), so he came close to realizing that Gaius had been named "Stephanas", meaning "crowned".

3. The believers in Rome would find it odd that a mere guest would choose to send greetings to them. Then, as now, people sent greetings to those with whom they had a strong connection. All, or nearly all, of the other greeters in Paul's letters had travelled on church business. A guest would not fit that pattern.

4. Paul would have little motive for sending greetings from a guest. Last proposes that Paul mentioned a guest to show the church of Rome that he (Paul) was able to bring in money by recruiting a fee-paying guest. However, for this to be plausible, Last would need to show that guests at all (or nearly all) association events actually subsidized the association. As far as I can tell, the examples that Last cites do not show that the guests paid for more than the food and wine that they consumed. Last also proposes that Paul mentioned the guest to show his addressees that he was able to recruit new members. However, if Paul wanted to display his ability to recruit, he would have mentioned actual converts, rather than a guest, who was merely a potential future convert.

5. The greeters in Rom 16:21-23 seem to be mentioned in a deliberate order. Paul gives priority to those who have been in the faith for longest and/or have traveled most widely for the gospel. Gaius is mentioned ahead of Erastus, who was already a believer (Acts 19:22), so Gaius was already a believer.

For these reasons I think we can be confident that Gaius was the host, not a guest.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Vicky Balabanski on the destination of Philemon

Here I review Vicky Balabanski, "Where is Philemon? The Case for a Logical Fallacy in the Correlation of the Data in Philemon and Colossians 1.1-2; 4.7-18" JSNT 38(2) 131-150 (2015).

Balabanski argues that Philemon was not a resident of Colossae, as is normally supposed. She then goes on to suggest, more controversially, that this view is consistent with the view that Paul wrote Colossians. She imagines Paul writing, from Rome, to Philemon, whom she locates in or near Rome. Then she imagines Paul writing to the Colossians, from Rome, a year or two later.

The problems Balabanski seeks to solve
She collects a few interesting arguments against the usual assumption that both letters were (putatively or actually) written at the same time and sent by the same letter carrier (Tychicus) to the same city (Colossae):

1. Onesimus was a new Christian in Phlm 10, but Col 4:9 seems to take it for granted that the recipients already knew that Onesimus was a believer.

2. Philemon fails to mention Tychicus. "If these letters had been drafted and sent together, one would expect some words about Tychicus as the letter bearer and as the one responsible for the return of Onesimus." (p136)

3. Philemon's home seems closer to Paul than Colossae was to Paul. In Philemon it seems that Onesimus has sought out Paul as a mediator and it is unlikely that he would travel far. Also, if Philemon was written from Rome to Colossae, Paul would not have planned to visit Philemon (Phlm 22) because his intention was to go west to Spain. Col 4:7-9, by contrast, implies that Colossae had a "greater isolation" from Paul (p143).

4. In Col 4:10 Aristarchus is Paul's fellow-prisoner, but in Phlm 23 Epashras has the role.

5. "Archippus is among the recipients of Phlm (Phlm. 2), whereas he is not expected to be among the direct recipients of Col (Col. 4.17)." Perhaps.

6. She writes, "If Philemon were the patron of the Colossian house-church, why would Paul - or a pseudepigraphical author of the greetings we find in Col. 4 - fail to include greetings in Col. 4 to Philemon, and also Apphia?" (p134). I find this argument week. We have no evidence that Philemon was a particularly prominent Christian leader, so his absence from Colossians is not surprising. It is true that Paul mentions "the assembly in your house" (Phlm 2), but that assembly probably consisted of just Philemon's household. See the discussion here. It is also true that Paul calls Philemon his "co-worker", but this should not be taken literally, for it is just a piece of "idealized praise" designed to cajole him into behaving like a co-worker (see Phlm 17).

These are some of the difficulties of correlating Philemon and Colossians. To these we can add the fact that Paul seems to know Philemon well (Phlm 1, 17, 19, 22), but had not been to Colossae.

Problems with Balabanski's solution
1. The greeters in Philemon are Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke. Colossians sends greetings from the same people (as well as the mysterious "Jesus called Justus". This implies that these five men knew both Philemon and the Colossians, which strongly suggests that Philemon lived in or near Colossae. Greetings, in the ancient world, as today, are sent by people who know the recipients. If the two letters were sent to very different locations, it would be a remarkable coincidence that the same five men knew both sets of recipients. If Philemon was in or near Rome and Colossians is genuine, why does Paul not send greetings to Philemon from anyone in Rome who had no special interest in the Colossians?

2. Archippus was in or near Colossae (Col 4:17) and he was also with Philemon (Phlm 2). Balabanski (p137-8) suggests that Archippus may have been sent by Paul to Colossae (or nearby) in the interval between the writing of the two letters. This would be another remarkable coincidence.

3.  Col 4:9 has Onesimus travel to Colossae, and Phlm 12 sends Onesimus to Philemon. Onesimus was Philemon's slave and Col 4:9 presents him as a Colossian ("one of you"). Balabanski (p138-41) suggests, without evidence, that Onesimus may have been a resident of Colossae at an earlier time than his residence with Philemon near Rome. Another remarkable coincidence.

So, all 7 men who are associated with Philemon (Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, Archippus, and Onesimus) were also associated with Colossae in Colossians. We can therefore be confident that Philemon was in or near Colossae, if Colossians was written by Paul.

4. The 7 volumes of the Lexicon of Greek Personal names lists 62 women called Apphia between 100BC and 200AD. All but 4 of these are in the two volumes that cover coastal Asia minor (inland Asia minor is not yet available). Colossae itself has not been excavated, but from nearby Aphrodisias we know of 89 women in the time period, and 13 of them were called Apphia. That is a staggering 15%. Lightfoot wrote, "It is impossible to doubt that Apphia is a native Phrygian name." The spacial distribution of the name Apphria is a further connection between Philemon and Colossae, or at least its province.

I cannot think of a way to overcome these 4 problems simultaneously, but perhaps someone else can.