The phenomenon of co-senders in Ancient Greek letters and the Pauline Epistles
This thesis contributes to the debate regarding the frequency with which letters with co-senders occurred in the Graeco-Roman world. While a number of scholars have noted the presence of co-senders in the Pauline letters, there is currently no agreement regarding the frequency of this phenomenon in the wider Graeco-Roman world and so no agreement regarding whether the Pauline practice of regularly including co-senders is unique or simply reflects a letter-writing convention of the time. An examination of a selection of ancient Greek letters from a variety of milieux – published works, papyri and inscriptions – and ranging in date from the second century B.C.E. to the fourth century C.E., suggests that letters with co-senders occurred with reasonable frequency, in the Graeco-Roman world, mainly in official and administrative correspondence. This in turn suggests that the Pauline letters are not especially unusual in their inclusion of co-senders in the letter prescript and are utilising an established convention. By identifying a significant body of extra-Biblical letters with co-senders, this thesis also aims to provide a broadly contemporary material with which the Pauline letters can be compared, to ascertain whether they follow the same conventions as other letters with co-senders. Such a comparison suggests firstly, that letters from multiple senders are often from co-workers, as in the case of the Pauline epistles; secondly, that the prescripts of the Pauline epistles present Paul as the primary sender; thirdly that the Pauline epistles are unusual in the frequency with which they use the first person singular, so referring to only one of the senders, in letters apparently from multiple senders. This thesis argues that the contribution of a co-sender to a letter can vary considerably from contributing to the creation of the letter to simply providing support for its contents. Therefore, both in the case of the Pauline epistles and more generally, each letter needs to be considered independently to ascertain the reasons for the inclusion of the co-sender(s) and their role within the letter.