Paul and Pseudepigraphy, ed. Porter and Fewster

[Editor's note: Here is another guest post from Chuck Bumgardner. Overviews fo recent volumes like this can be especially helpful. I have for some time questioned why it was acceptable to dismiss the historicity of Acts and then criticize the Pastorals for failing to line up with Acts. so, I am glad to see this point made in this volume.]

I recently perused Paul and Pseudepigraphy (ed. Stanley E. Porter and Gregory P. Fewster; Pauline Studies 8; Leiden: Brill, 2013). As would be expected from the title, this just-published volume contains a good bit of material which connects either directly or very closely with the Pastoral Epistles.

The opening article by Stanley Porter and Gregory Fewster, “On Pauline Pseudepigraphy: An Introduction,” sets the stage for current issues in pseudepigraphy, and very briefly summarizes the contributions of each of the authors of the volume.

Porter’s essay, “Pauline Chronology and the Question of Pseudonymity of the Pastoral Epistles,” overviews the chronology of PE authorship vis-à-vis the chronology of Acts, providing a helpful survey of major theories and summary of pertinent evidence. Of note: “There is what appears to be a strong irony involved in the arguments put forward [for post-Pauline authorship of the PE]. The long-standing tradition of German criticism of Acts and the PE is to doubt the historical veracity of Acts and to dismiss fairly summarily the authentic authorship of the PE. However, one of the major bases for dismissing authenticity of the PE . . . is with regard to supposed incompatibilities with the book of Acts. If Acts is not a reliable source anyway, or if reliable is at best a later source (second century), then how is it that incompatibility between Acts and the PE constitutes grounds for dismissing authenticity of the PE and positing pseudonymous authorship? This appears to be special pleading of the most egregious sort” (84-85).

Armin Baum’s article, “Authorship and Pseudepigraphy in Early Christian Literature: A Translation of the Most Important Source Texts and an Annotated Bibliography,” provides fresh translations of quite a bit of source material related to pseudepigraphy and includes an annotated bibliography that is solid gold.

Andrew Pitts, in “Style and Pseudonymity in Pauline Scholarship: A Register Based Configuration,” sets forth a new methodology to judge the likelihood that a given work associated with a corpus is pseudonymous or not.

Jermo van Nes, in “The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles,” purposes to drive the final nail into the coffin lid of the fragment authorship theory, first given definitive shape by P. N. Harrison.

Linda Belleville’s essay, “Christology, Greco-Roman Religious Piety, and the Pseudonymity of the Pastoral Letters,” provides the latest treatment of the Christology of the PE, arguing that the differences between the PE’s Christology and that of the rest of the NT can be explained (at least in part) by viewing the Christological statements in Timothy as polemical, given the religious environment of Ephesus.

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Summary of recent Dutch Dissertation on Ethical Instruction in the PE

Klinker-De Klerk, Myriam. Herderlijke regel of inburgeringscursus? Een bijdrage aan het onderzoek naar de ethische richtlijnen in 1 Timoteüs en Titus [Pastoral Rule or Lesson on Assimilation? A Contribution to the Research on the Ethical Instructions in 1 Timothy and Titus]. Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum Academic, 2013.


Students of the Pastoral Epistles who do not read Dutch will be glad to know that an English-language summary of this dissertation has been provided in Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters 3.2 (2013): 263-67. Here, I’ll merely provide a summary of the summary. Page references are to the summary in JSPL, not the dissertation itself.

In her dissertation, Klinker-De Klerk addresses the common assumption that the PE witness to a christliche Bürgerlichkeit, a “bourgeois Christianity” that encourages an accommodation to prevailing social conventions as Christians hunker down for a stay in this present world which is longer than first expected. Reading the PE as authentically Pauline, she examines the ethical instructions in 1 Timothy and Titus, focusing on the area of male-female relationships. First, she works “internally,” examining the regulations of 1Tim/Titus against prevailing social conventions. Along the way, she gives particular attention to the stated motives behind the regulations. Second, she works “externally,” comparing the regulations in question with those in an undisputed Pauline letter, 1 Corinthians.

Her findings:

(1) “The examined instructions in 1 Timothy and Titus correspond highly to the prevailing ethics at the time.” (264)

(2) “The motives that accompany the regulations in 1 Timothy and Titus are diverse,” and include both internally and externally oriented motives. (264-65)

(3) “The idea of the church preparing for a long-term stay in this world is nowhere explicitly stated.” (265)

(4) Comparing 1Tim/Tit to 1Cor highlights marital fidelity (1 Tim 3:2, 12; 5:9; Titus 1:6; 1 Cor 7:1-7) and subordination of the wife to the husband (1 Tim 2:8—3:1a; Titus 2:4-5; 1 Cor 11:2-16; 14:33b-36). In this regard, “1 Timothy and Titus do not point to an increased adaptation to social conventions.” (265)

(5) Motivational parallels exist between 1Tim/Tit and 1Cor. “In both cases, the apostle provides for an ‘ontological’ reasoning by recalling the story of creation. Further, in both cases there is a ‘practical’ reasoning that has to do with the ‘internal’ concern for the orderly course of the Christian meetings on the one hand and with the ‘external’ concern for the attractiveness of Christianity to outsiders on the other hand.” (265)

(6) Although both 1Tim/Tit and 1Cor highlight the male-female relationship from an “outer” perspective—“what is said about the relationship is viewed within a broader social perspective”—1 Cor also gives particular attention to the “inner” perspective, emphasizing reciprocity. (265)

(7) Differences between 1Tim/Tit and 1Cor are most notable as regards motivation. (a) The “ontological” reasoning is applied to women and men (i.e., more “equally”) in 1Cor. (b) Honor/shame discourse is stronger in 1Cor. (c) Motivations to marital fidelity vary, due to the varying contexts of the instruction: in 1Tim/Tit, the context is the need for irreproachable conduct for various groups in the church, which conduct is “in turn, motivated by reasons of community stability and the public image of the Christians”; in 1Cor, the motive for marital fidelity is “the desire to prevent sin.” (265-66)

(8) Understanding the PE as actual Pauline letters to co-workers provides a reasonable explanation for the points of contrast between 1Tim/Titus and 1Cor.

All in all, there are significant points of contact between the ethical instructions in view in 1Tim/Titus and 1Cor, while “the differences can be accounted for by the different audiences and the practical orientation of the letters.” (266) Klinker-De Klerck is rather narrowly focused in her treatment, so rightly notes that her results do not in themselves invalidate the christliche Bürgerlichkeit hypothesis. All the same, her findings do not support it.

[Guest post from Chuck Bumgardner]

Abraham Malherbe and the Pastoral Epistles (Guest Post)

This is a guest post from Chuck Bumgardner, who is currently working on a PhD in New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

At the time of his passing in 2012, Abraham Malherbe was working on a commentary on the Pastoral Epistles that was to replace Dibelius/Conzelmann in the Hermeneia series (as of last August when I checked, Fortress had not chosen a new author). His contribution to the literature would have been most welcome, given his scholarly acumen and his previous Pastorals research. I wanted to note here that most of his already-published engagement with the Pastorals, which was scattered rather widely, has been gathered into the first volume of a just-published collection of his essays:
Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity. Collected Essays, 1959-2012, by Abraham J. Malherbe. Edited by Carl R. Holladay, John T. Fitzgerald, Gregory E. Sterling, and James W. Thompson. 2 volumes. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 150. Leiden: Brill, 2014. (ISBN 978-90-04-25339-1)
The following essays are in Light from the Gentiles. I’ve provided original publication data.

“‘Christ Jesus Came into the World to Save Sinners’: Soteriology in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 331-58 in Salvation in the New Testament: Perspectives on Soteriology. Edited by Jan G. van der Watt. Novum Testamentum Supplements 121. Leiden: Brill, 2005.

“Godliness, Self-Sufficiency, Greed, and the Enjoyment of Wealth. 1 Timothy 6:3-19: Part I.” Novum Testamentum 52 (2010): 376-405.

“Godliness, Self-Sufficiency, Greed, and the Enjoyment of Wealth. 1 Timothy 6:3-19: Part II.” Novum Testamentum 53 (2011): 73-96.

“How to Treat Old Women and Old Men: The Use of Philosophical Traditions and Scripture in 1 Timothy 5.” Pages 263-90 in Scripture and Traditions: Essays on Early Judaism and Christianity in Honor of Carl R. Holladay. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 129. Leiden: Brill, 2008.

“‘In Season and Out of Season’: 2 Timothy 4:2.” Journal of Biblical Literature 103 (1982): 23-41.

“Medical Imagery in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 19-35 in Texts and Testaments: Critical Essays on the Bible and Early Church Fathers. Edited by W. E. March. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1980.

“Overseers as Household Managers in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 72-88 in Text, Image, and Christians in the Graeco-Roman World: A Festschrift in Honor of David Lee Balch. Edited by Aliou Cissé Niang and Carolyn Osiek. Princeton Theological Monograph Series 176. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2012.

“Paraenesis in the Epistle to Titus.” Pages 297-317 in Early Christian Paraenesis in Context. Edited by James Starr and Troels Engberg-Pederson. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 125. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2004.

Paulus Senex.” Restoration Quarterly 36 (1994): 197-207.

“The Virtus Feminarum in 1 Timothy 2:9-15.” Pages 45-65 in Renewing Tradition: Studies in Texts and Contexts in Honor of James W. Thompson. Edited by Mark W. Hamilton, Thomas H. Olbricht, and Jeffrey Peterson. Princeton Theological Monograph Series 65. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2007.

We Expect at Least Some Useful Information

While pursuing information on an older work on the Pastorals I stumbled across Spurgeon’s comment on a treatment of these letters by Henry Raper Slade. Spurgeon stated simply, “Utter rubbish. Dear [expensive] at a gift.” That is such a devastating comment, that I searched for more information on this book. Apparently others shared Spurgeon’s assessment. Here is the review from The Church of England Quarterly Review:

Wow! This is the worst Pastoral Epistles review I’ve seen. It is so bad that it’s funny; and, it is an encouragement to make sure in my writing to provide “at least some useful information.”

Thornton Review of Wall & Steele

“The Pastoral Epistles are often treated as canonical delinquents, forced to sit silently in the corner.”

With this sentence, which echoes one of my central concerns, Dillon Thornton opens his review of the recent commentary on the Pastorals by Robert Wall and Richard Steele. Thornton provides a nice, evenhanded overview and assessment of this volume. While acknowledging interpretive differences, Thornton appreciates the theological treatment but regrets the lack of exegetical depth required in the series format. This is a helpful review and I encourage you to give it a look.

The Marginalization of the Pastoral Epistles

I have found 1 Timothy Reconsidered (edited by K. P. Donfried; Peeters, 2008) to be a very helpful resource in Pastoral Epistles studies. I drew from it quite a bit for our recent ETS session on 1 Timothy. The book contains “the presentations and deliberations of the nineteenth meeting of the Colloquium Oecumenicum Paulinum, a distinguished group of some thirty-five international and ecumenical Pauline scholars, held at the Abbey of Saint Paul in Rome during September, 2006” (drawn from Peeters’ website). You can see the table of contents here. The book contains one essay devoted to each chapter of 1 Timothy as well as a few essays on the letter as a whole.

What I found most interesting at this time was Luke Timothy Johnson’s challenging of the marginalization of 1 Timothy and Donfried’s agreement that 1 Timothy has been marginalized. Johnson has, of course been making this point, but his essay here is a good condensing of the issue. Johnson writes, “If not Pauline, then the letters were not considered authoritative, and were increasingly moved to the edge or even out of the canon of Scripture” (p. 22). Noting how modern interpreters of Paul commonly give no attention to the Pastorals although they do interact with Gnostic writings and apocryphal writings, Johnson quips, “Out of Paul means out of canon, and even out of mind!”(p. 22, n. 11). It was particularly interesting to see Karl Donfried, not a supporter of Pauline authorship, affirm Johnson’s point. Donfried noted that the Pastorals have been “disenfranchised” in much of mainline Protestantism and suggested this process has been “facilitated by much feminist biblical scholarship” (p. 154). Donfried even pointed to Brevard Childs who said attempts to interpret the PE in light of a fictitious setting “rendered mute” the “kerygmatic witness of the text.”[1]

In his concluding essay Donfried wrote, “As one today looks at the literature dealing with the so-called ‘pastoral epistles’ one finds a state of utter disarray” (p. 179). He continues saying “their [the Pastorals’] alleged ideological bias has for many undermined their credibility and their canonical function has virtually ceased” (p. 179-180). This is a significant issue for a broad range of Christians, and I am glad to see it addressed in such a significant setting. The functional removal of a portion of the canon is serious and is an issue evangelicals and Catholics should both be concerned about.

Lastly, Donfried went further suggesting this was part of a larger problem in biblical studies.

too much biblical scholarship is performed in an individualistic and non-collaborative manner, thus leading to a situation where many theses emerge that have not been properly tested, sifted and critically discussed with a wider group of diversely competent scholars. This leads to publications with perspectives that not only sharply contradict each other, often in the name of a historiography that masks tendentious superficiality, and that are published with such rapidity that scholars and students are often more busy keeping up with the “latest” in biblical scholarship than in wrestling with the texts and their respective contexts (p. 180).


Donfried goes on to call for more collaboration, centering our efforts on properly understanding the texts rather than simply producing more publications. Accomplishing this will be difficult, but as Donfried suggests the way forward is probably to start on the small scale in developing communities of scholarly collaboration.

This is a valuable volume with stirring challenges and humble suggestions as we move forward with biblical studies and study of the PE specifically.

[1] Brevard Childs, The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 383.

Successful ETS Session

I was very pleased with this year’s meeting of the Pastoral Epistles group at the Evangelical Theological Society, and it was good to meet several people who are working on the Pastorals.

Randy Richards summarized some of his excellent work on letter writing and the use of secretaries (e.g., Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition and Collection) and applied it to some of Bart Ehrmans’ work (Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics & Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are). Richards agrees with Ehrman that the ancients did not condone pseudepigraphy, but argued that Ehrman does not account adequately for the common role of secretaries in the ancient world.

Tim Swinson argued that the gospel of Luke is being directly quoted (by Paul) as scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18. This thesis has significant implications for our understanding of the development of the canon. Swinson’s argument will be included in his monograph, ΓΡΑΦΗ in the Letters to Timothy, which is forthcoming from Wipf & Stock.

Our panel discussion dealt with a number of issues, including the need for more work which fully integrates the Pastoral Epistles into Pauline studies and work which examines similarities between the Pastorals and the accepted Paulines.

If you are interested in possibly presenting a paper at a future meeting of the Pastoral Epistles group send us an abstract at pastoralepistles at gmail dot com.

Assessing Schleiermacher on the Authorship of 1 Timothy

Friedrich Schleiermacher’s  “Concerning the so-called first Letter of Paul to Timothy; a critical open letter to J. C. Gass” (1807) was a watershed piece in the history of the interpretation of the Pastoral Epistles, as he led the way in questioning the Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy. He argued particularly from the difference in vocabulary between 1 Timothy and other Pauline letters and from what he saw as an incoherent and discontinuous train of thought in 1 Timothy. Schleiermacher argued that 1 Timothy was created by drawing from 2 Timothy and Titus, whose authenticity he did not dispute.

In 1999 Hermann Patsch published a very helpful article which briefly summarized Schleiermacher’s arguments and how Schleiermacher’s work was received at the time.[1] Patsch summarizes all the significant contemporary reviews as well as the reviews of Heinrich Planck’s book which was written as a response to Schleiermacher.[2] I was pleased to discover the article is available online.

It was interesting to read that the early reviews of Schleiermacher were consistently negative. In fact, according to Patsch, Schleiermacher’s book was “more or less clearly torn to pieces, attacked in monographs.” De Wette was critical of several of Schleiermacher’s arguments but said: “He has seen what as yet no one saw: he demonstrates that the first letter to Timothy was not written by Paul.”

The debate seen in these reviews contains most of the same talking points found in the same debate today.

If you are doing any work on history of interpretation of the PE or the authorship question, this is a helpful article.

[1] Hermann Patsch, “The Fear of Deutero-Paulinism: The Reception of Friedrich Schleiermacher’s ‘Critical Open Letter’ concerning 1 Timothy,” Journal of Higher Criticism 6 (1999): 3-31

[2] Heinrich Ludwig Planck, Bemerkungen über den ersten Paulinischen Brief an den Timotheus in Beziehung auf das kritische Sendschreiben von Hrn. Prof. Fr. Schleiermacher (Göttingen: Röver, 1808).

The Importance of the Authorship Question

The question of the genuineness and authorship of the Pastoral Epistles affects not only the facts of S. Paul’s life in its later stages, but such important questions as the origin and development of the Christian ministry and Church government, the beginnings of Christian heresies, and the application of Christian principles to practical life and the cure of souls. Dr. Harnack, for instance, writes: “…. Any one, for example, who admits the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles will reach quite different conclusions from one who regards them as non-Pauline, and relegates them to the second century.” It is not too much to say that “the question of the genuineness of the Pastorals is vital to our entire conception of the Apostolic Church.”

J. D. James, Genuineness & Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1906), 1-2.

Join us in the Pastoral Epistles study group next month at ETS as we discuss the authorship issue.