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There are those who suggest that chapter 16 is a later addition to an originally shorter epistle to the Romans.

It strikes me that arguments against the originality of Romans 16 based upon what we do/don't know about the individuals mentioned therein are arguments that beg the question they are supposed to be answering; I also am unaware of any manuscript evidence for this theory (but please point out any if I've missed it!).

The end of chapter 15 is a somewhat fitting concluding thought though--should this be understood to be the conclusion?

That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen. (Romans 15:32-33)

There follows the commendation of Phoebe, numerous greetings, some final counsel, and:

To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. (Romans 16:27)

Questions

  • What evidence suggests Romans 16:27 was the original ending?
  • Why do some claim that 16:27 is not the original ending?
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    I agree that "arguments against the originality of Romans 16 based upon what we do/don't know about the individuals mentioned therein are arguments that beg the question they are supposed to be answering". I think you have answered your own question.
    – Dottard
    Apr 14, 2021 at 1:30
  • Thanks @Dottard - what about evidence going the other direction - affirming the originality of chapter 16? Apr 14, 2021 at 18:45
  • The acceptance of any part of the Bible into the canon of Scripture is a complex question but it mostly boils down to the early and continued acceptance by the early church PLUS its consistency with the rest of of scripture. (All pseudepigraphons are fairly easy to recognize.) By this standard, Rom 16 is canonical.
    – Dottard
    Apr 14, 2021 at 20:18
  • There is also a theory, however, that ch. 16 is authentically Pauline but not originally part of the main letter. May 8, 2023 at 21:55

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In favor of chapter 16 being part of the original letter, the NABRE says

....the evidence favors the view that [it was] included in the original. Paul endeavors through the long list of greetings (Rom 16:3–16, 21–23) to establish strong personal contact with congregations that he has not personally encountered before.

The evidence of tradition also favors this view, as the letter was accepted by the Church Fathers seemingly without objection.

Evidence that Romans 16 was a later addition include:

  • The chapter seems unrelated chapter 15.
  • It is unlikely that Paul knew so many people--more than mentioned in any other letter--in a church he had never visited.
  • No word of greeting to the officers of the church.
  • Scrutiny of the names indicates a location other than Rome.
  • Variation in manuscripts points to confusion about the identity of these people, who should have been well known at Rome.

The above is summarized from the commentary on Romans by Edwin Cyril Blackman in the Interpreter's One Volume Commentary on the Bible.

It should be noted that many of those who hold these objections actually think the chapter is authentically Pauline, but not originally part of Romans. See "A Short Note on Romans 16" by Karl Paul Donfried in the Journal of Biblical Literature

Regarding the final verses and the manuscript tradition, a note in the NABRE says:

16:25–27 This doxology is assigned variously to the end of Rom 14; 15; 16 in the manuscript tradition. Some manuscripts omit it entirely. Whether written by Paul or not, it forms an admirable conclusion to the letter at this point.

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  • On the "knowing people" point; if these were merchants trading between Rome and the Aegean, Paul could have met them at the eastern end of their routes. May 8, 2023 at 22:01
  • And if the community had grown up informally, it might not yet have any officers. If Paul was ready to visit it, he can't have regarded it as "another man's foundation". May 8, 2023 at 22:04
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The oldest extant biblical source document containing ROM 16 (𝔓⁴⁶, leaf 12v, c. 175-224 CE) shows that verses 24, 25, 26, and 27 are absent and, ergo, apocryphal; i.e., of questionable authenticity.enter image description here

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  • Thanks for this response! Could you clarify how absence from 1 specific early manuscript renders a passage apocryphal? Would you conclude that the oldest extant manuscript is always the most reliable? May 11, 2023 at 4:37
  • The oldest extant record; e.g., 𝔓⁴⁶, is the closest available copy of either the original nonextant text at ROM 16:23, or to a copy from which 𝔓⁴⁶ was itself copied, and is less likely to have been incorrectly copied by the 𝔓⁴⁶ scribe. There are at least 4 reasons for ROM 16:24-27 being apocryphal: 1) not seen in exemplar; 2) omitted in earlier copy(-s); 3) lack of supporting patristic opinions, and 4) the double lines following ΑΔΕΛΦΟϹ (brother) mark where ROM 16:23 ends and HEB 1 begins. Who later added vss 24-27 to early Bible MSS? IDK. Ask the Catholic Church who did that? May 12, 2023 at 19:51

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