Worship and the Risen Jesus

I have just realized that Tony Costa, in his book Worship and the Risen Jesus in the Pauline Letters (Peter Lang, 2013) incorporates the Pastorals in his analysis. He acknowledges the debate surrounding authorship, but announces at the outset that he will include all the letters attributed to Paul in his investigation. I have only been able to scan the book online, but it looks like the Pastorals show up fairly often.

I am encouraged to see this as we, in this space and in our ETS study group, are investigating how the typical neglect of the Pastorals impacts our view of Paul.

The Pastorals at the 2015 ETS Annual Meeting

The Pastoral Epistles were given significant attention at this year’s Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. First, we had an excellent session in the Pastoral Epistles Group.

Chuck Bumgardner began our session with a paper titled, “Kinship, Fictive Kinship, and the Letters to Timothy and Titus.” Bumgardner compared what these letters say about family relationships and relationships within the body of Christ (Bumgardner used the phrase “fictive kinship” because it is the standard phrase used to refer to social relationships which are seen or described as familial though there is no blood relation ). He argued that Paul’s use of such language in the PE is not incompatible with his use of it in his other letters, and it does not necessarily indicate that the church is moving from an egalitarian stage to a hierarchical one. His paper also provided an initial sounding of the intersection between Christian family and social family roles in the PE, suggesting that Paul navigates such intersections with a missionary concern for outsiders.

Dillon Thornton was snowed in and, therefore, unable to attend. However, he emailed me his paper, and I was able to read it. The paper,“’Saying What They Should Not Say’: Reassessing the Gravity of the Problem of the Younger Widows (1 Tim 5:9-16),” argued that the younger widows were aligned with the false teachers. Paul’s instruction left them three possibilities: 1) to remain with the false teachers and thus under judgment, 2) to marry unbelievers, thus parting ways with the false teachers (who forbid marriage), and still remaining under judgment, or 3) to remarry in the faith, thus parting ways with the false teachers and realigning with the Pauline church. This answers some of the knotty issues of this passage and gives more attention to many of the specifics than I have seen elsewhere.

Greg Couser’s paper, “The Church as Family: The Nature of the Household of God in 1 Timothy,” argued that the relationships within the church are not merely “fictive” but are in fact more real than blood relations, as Jesus himself said (Matt 12:46-49). Couser provided a robust argument that the ethics of 1 Timothy are not based in cultural accommodation but in the gospel itself. This is a crucial point for understanding the PE since their ethics are so often dismissed or overturned because they are seen as culturally bound.

​Peter Walker closed the session with his paper,  “1 Timothy & Titus Relocated: Reimagining the Connections.”​ Walker argued for placing the PE within the framework of the book of Acts. He has made this argument in print previously, but in this paper he discussed implications of this view including connections between these letters and 1-2 Corinthians and Romans. He also argued this would remove several common critiques of the PE. While, in the end, I was not convinced, Walker made many good challenging points which helped me think more clearly about the dating of the letters.

In addition to our session, several other papers related to the Pastorals were presented. Thanks to Chuck Bumgardner for gathering this list.

Bryan Blazosky (Central Baptist Theological Seminary) “Why 1 Timothy 1:8-11 Ought to be Used in Paul and the Law Studies”

Christopher R. Bruno (Cedarville University) “One God, One People, One Mediator: The Use of the One God Formula in the Disputed Pauline Epistles”

Jamin Hübner (John Witherspoon College) “The Evolution of Complementarian Exegesis” (This is equivalent to Jamin Hübner, “The Evolution of Complementarian Exegesis,” Priscilla Papers 29/1 (Winter 2015), 11-13.

Chris S. Stevens (McMaster Divinity College) “Titus in P32 and Sinaiticus: Textual Reliability and Scribal Design”

Gregory J. Stiekes (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) “Paul’s Family of God: What Familial Language in the Pastorals Can and Cannot Tell Us about the Church”

Also, the book this panel discussed had a chapter on the PE:

Panel Discussion: Review of Margaret Y. MacDonald, The Power of Children: The Construction of Christian Families in the Greco-Roman World

Reviewers: Lynn Cohick (Wheaton College); E. Randolph Richards (Palm Beach Atlantic University); Karelynne Ayayo (Palm Beach Atlantic University); F. Alan Tomlinson (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary).

Response Margaret Y. MacDonald


Protection from the Pastorals

[Originally posted at my personal site]

The recently published Fortress Commentary on the Bible: New Testament contains 22 pages of commentary, written by Deborah Krause, devoted to each of the Pastoral Epistles. With Fortress one expects a more critical direction from the commentary. The introduction to the whole volume makes this explicit with its endorsement of feminist, liberation and queer interpretation.

Krause begins with the assumption of non-Pauline authorship, and then most often explains why the exhortations found in these letters are not binding. She wrongly asserts that these are not proper letters but are simply vehicles for enforcing a certain church structure. These letters fit well within the models of letter writing in the first century (scholarship here has been clear). Furthermore, as the last several decades of scholarship has noted, these letters cannot be reduced to concerns about church structure.

After briefly laying out the perspective of non-Pauline authorship, Krause acknowledges, “it is important to remember that for the vast majority of the church’s history, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus” were not seen as just one of various ways of appropriating the Pauline message. “Rather, the writings have been seen as authentic communication between Paul and his closest companions in ministry.” This is an important piece to remember, though it gives no pause to the author. She does acknowledge, though, that since the church has for so long believed these letters were actually from Paul, “these writings have been remarkably successful in achieving their original intent- to influence and direct the Pauline tradition as it has informed the life and ministry of the church” (590). Despite what we “know” now, Scripture has had its intended effect.

Of course, 1 Timothy 2 is of particular interest. While the prohibition on women teaching men “may sound antiquated, it is remarkable to see how broadly this text is cited as an authority in current manuals of church administration and polity” (595). What is remarkable to me is that one would think it remarkable for clear statements of Scripture (in keeping with the manner in which the Church has interpreted them through most of its history) to serve as authority in church polity. And, the apparent reason why this should amaze us is that this statement of Scripture sounds “antiquated.”

One might argue for a different interpretation of these letters in general and of 1 Timothy 2 in particular. But we ought not be surprised that Scripture serves as a norm for churches today no matter how “old” its teaching may sound. And we ought to be careful about so lightly and so completely disregarding the consistent witness of our forebears.

In the end, this commentary on the Pastorals seems to be concerned primarily with protecting readers from the actual message of these letters.

Keener on Acts & The Pastorals

In the third volume of Craig Keener’s massive Acts commentary, he has a long excursus on the relationship between Acts and the Pastorals (pp. 3023-3026). Probably the most significant part of the excursus is the thorough chart listing the itineraries (people, places and events) of the Pastorals, Acts and the earlier Pauline letters side by side. This is very helpful. In the end, Keener is convinced of a second imprisonment for Paul which is described in 2 Timothy- the traditional explanation.

2015 ETS Session on the Pastoral Epistles

The draft of the program for the annual meeting of ETS has just been released. Here is the program for our Pastoral Epistles group. I hope a number of you will join us.

Wednesday 8:30 AM-11:40 AM
Marriage & Family in the Pastorals
Hilton — 208

Moderator: Ray Van Neste (Union University)
8:30 AM—9:10 AM

Chuck Bumgardner (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Kinship, Fictive Kinship, and the Letters to Timothy and Titus

9:20 AM—10:00 AM
Dillon Thornton (University of Otago)
“Saying What They Should Not Say”: Reassessing the Gravity of the Problem of the Younger
Widows (1 Tim 5:9-16)

10:10 AM—10:50 AM
Greg A. Couser (Cedarville University)
The Church as Family: The Nature of the Household of God in 1 Timothy

11:00 AM—11:40 AM
Peter Walker (Trinity School for Ministry)
1 Timothy & Titus Relocated: Reimagining the Connections

Fred Sanders on Most Helpful PE Resources

After teaching a semester-long Bible Institute class on the Pastorals (“congregational-level teaching plus homework,” he said), well-known systematic theologian, Fred Sanders, has posted a list of commentaries are resources which he found most useful. I almost always find it helpful and interesting to read about what others found useful, and this list does not disappoint. Sanders not only list the titles but explains what he found useful (or not useful) about each item. He also graciously put in a good word about this blog. I am glad he found it helpful.

1 Timothy at International SBL 2015

The upcoming 2015 International Meeting of SBL lists three papers on the 1 Timothy. The first looks like the most interesting to me. It would be interesting to see how Graham’s work compares to that of Tim Swinson. Tamez’s title sounds like it may be drawn from her monograph which was not impressive. Thanks to Chuck Bumgardner for pointing out these titles and abstracts.

Graham, Brett M. “The Intertextuality of 1 Timothy: A Comparison of the Allusions to the Septuagint and the Jewish Pseudepigrapha in the Epistle.” Paper presented at the International Meeting of the SBL, Buenos Aires, 22 July 2015.

Abstract: The Pastoral Epistles extol the Holy Scriptures as being foundational for Christian living (2 Tim 3:15-16; cf. 1 Tim 4:13), but there is only one actual citation of these Scriptures (1 Tim 5:18) in all three of the letters. Even when the handful obvious quotations are considered, there is still not the level of engagement that might be expected from the writings described as ‘useful for every good work’ (2 Tim 3:16). Meanwhile, the quotation from Epimenides in Tit 1:12 suggests that the author of the Epistles may have also had a number of other sources to draw upon. This paper seeks to investigate the way that the first of the Pastoral Epistles, 1 Timothy, engages with external sources. Particular attention will be given to the influence of both the Septuagint and the Jewish (or O.T.) Pseudepigrapha, including a comparison of the manner and extent that these two sets of documents are referenced. In this process, a distinction will be drawn between simple idioms, influences and allusions. In simple idioms, the Epistle will share vocabulary or ideas with a possible source text but there will be no apparent reason, or benefit, of referring to that text. In contrast, the source text for an influence or allusion will provide an answer to unresolved problem in the Epistle. By applying such categories consistently throughout the whole of 1 Timothy, a clear picture of the importance of these extant documents will be evident.

Houwelingen, Rob van. “Meaning and Significance of the Instruction about Women in 1 Timothy 2:12-15.” Paper presented at the International Meeting of the SBL, Buenos Aires, 23 July 2015.

Abstract: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet”. Many Christians of the 21st century feel rather uncomfortable with the instruction about women from 1 Timothy 2. On the basis of his particular passage many church leadership positions have been reserved for men. But how should it be handled? First, I will make some remarks about the meaning of 1 Timothy 2. In regard to the vulnerable male/female relationship within the Christian congregation, the text refers back to the beginning of mankind: the creation, the fall and the redemption of the first human couple, Adam and Eve. The Genesis narrative tells a story of human weakness. In short: Eve was created after Adam; the woman let herself be fooled by Satan and therefore fell into transgression. She, however, would find salvation in her motherhood (1 Tim.2:15a should be translated: “she”, i.e. Eve). After that, I will discuss the significance of this passage for today. It is hermeneutically important to be aware of some key differences between our present context and that of the apostolic church. Let me mention only the central issue. The stipulation that women ought to be silent in the church is consistent with the accepted and prevailing social situation of those days. In our time, however, this command runs counter to the accepted social situation. We should consider that the instruction of 1 Timothy 2 aims to preserve the established order, both in the church and in society. Still, the overall message from 1 Timothy 2 seems to be that peaceful living is essential. Therefore, Christians are supposed to live a ‘normal’ life. Church leadership should empower them, without abusing authority and taking into account the male/female relationship.

Tamez, Elsa. “Struggles for Power in Early Christianity: The Case of 1 Timothy.” Paper presented at the International Meeting of the SBL, Buenos Aires, 21 July 2015. (no abstract)


More Additions to the 2014 List

Chuck Bumgardner continues to place us in his debt by digging up additional items for our 2014 bibliography of PE related publications. Here are four more, which have also been added to the original post. Thanks, Chuck!

MacDonald, Margaret Y. The Power of Children: The Construction of Christian Families in the Greco-Roman World. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2014.

Robertson, Michael S. “Neophyte Pastors: Can Titus 1 Be Used to Justify Placing New Converts in the Office of Pastor?” Southwestern Theological Journal 57 (2014): 77-86.

Schreiber, Stefan. “Häresie im Kanon? Zum historischen Bild der dritten christlichen Generation.” Biblische Zeitschrift 58 (2014): 186-210.

Weissenrieder, Annette. “What does σωθήσεθαιδὲδιὰτῆςτεκνογονίας‘to be saved by childbearing’ mean (1 Timothy 2:15)? Insights from Ancient Medical and Philosophical Texts.” Early Christianity 5 (2014): 313-36.

Another addition to the 2014 publications list

We have just added one more item to the 2014 publications post. Thanks to Chuck Bumgardner for locating the item and passing it along.

Solevåg, Anna Rebecca. “Prayer in Acts and the Pastoral Epistles: Intersections of Gender and Class.” In Early Christian Prayer and Identity Formation. Edited by Reidar Hvalvik and Karl Olav Sandnes. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 1.336. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014.


Fred Sanders, Moral Beauty in the Pastoral Epistles

Fred Sanders, well known for his work on the Trinity, has been recently working with the Pastoral Epistles and his post, “Moral Beauty in the Pastoral Epistles,” is well worth reading. He reflects on Chapter 5 of Ceslaus Spicq’s 1963 The Trinity and our Moral Life, a book which I must confess I have not read. Sanders notes how richly Spicq draws from the the Pastorals in his discussion of the beauty of the moral life  and suggests this ethical discussion may be part of the reason for the distinct vocabulary of the Pastorals.

Sanders writes:

This is the gospel expressed not just with the change of a few words into a more hellenistic moral vocabulary, but in a way that actually lays hold of and commandeers what is best in that ancient pagan tradition. The unique vocabulary that Paul used in these letters to his deputies, the half-gentile Timothy and the fully-gentile Titus, is a bold missionary appropriation of Greek ethics.

The full post is well worth reading.