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Anonymous Secretary (Gal. 6:11)


Role: Secretary; Shorthand Writer


Gender: Unknown


Date: 50-60 CE


Place: Unknown


Language:  Greek


Literary Genre: Letter


Title of Work: Galatians

Reference:  Gal. 6:11


Original Text:

Ἴδετε πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί.  (NA28 Gal. 6:11)


English Translation:

See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! (Gal 6:11)


Commentary: 


The majority of Paul’s letter to the Galatians was composed by an anonymous, likely enslaved secretary. Towards the end of the letter, Paul remarks on his handwriting, inviting his audience to see the size of his letters made in his “own hand” (Gal. 6:11). The statement suggests that the preceding text was written by someone else and that what follows is written in the author’s own hand (See 1 Cor. 16:21; Col. 4:18; Cf. 2 Thess 3:17). Dictation was a standard practice for Paul, who co-authored or collaboratively authored his letters with other named and unnamed individuals.


Very little can be said about the anonymous secretary. If the letter was composed in Ephesus, as many have thought, then perhaps this was their place of origin. Noting a number of  bookish double entendres in the letter that are unique to Galatians (e.g. Gal 2:9; 4:3, 9), one scholar has suggested that some of the bibliophile interest in the work stems from the anonymous secretary.[1] 



Keywords: Christian; Dictation; Ephesus; Galatia; Literate Worker; New Testament; Paul; Secretary


Bibliography:


Keith, Chris. “‘In My Own Hand’: Grapho-Literacy and the Apostle Paul.” Bib 89 (2008): 39-58.


Moss, Candida R. “What Large Letters: Invisible Labor, Invisible Disabilities, and Paul’s Use of Scribes.” Pages 105-121 in Divided Worlds? Interdisciplinary and Contemporary Challenges in Classics and New Testament Studies. Edited by Tat-Siong Benny Liew, Caroline Johnson Hodge and Timothy Joseph. Semeia Studies. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature Press, 2023. 


Reece, Steve.  Paul’s Large Letters: Paul’s Autographic Subscriptions in the Light of Ancient Epistolary Conventions. LSNT 561; London: T&T Clark, 2018.


Richards, E. Randolph. The Secretary in the Letters of Paul. WUNT II/42. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1991.

———Paul and First-Century Letter Writing. Secretaries, Composition and Collection. Westmont, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2004.


How to Cite:

Moss, Candida R.. “Anonymous Secretary (Gal 6:11).” Ancient Enslaved Christians. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR. <URL>.



Notes:


1 Moss, God’s Ghostwriters 87: “Paul’s anonymous secretary, who would have been familiar with the fact that enslaved workers were hired by the line and enslaved to the alphabet, found a way to capture Paul’s meaning while also inserting themselves into the letter.”




 

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