Stenschke, “‘Einer Frau gestatte ich nicht, dass sie lehre’ (1 Timotheus 2:12): Exegese – Hermeneutik – Kirche”

Christoph Stenschke, professor at the University of South Africa, has published a new article on 1 Timothy 2:12, available online:

Stenschke, Christoph W. “‘Einer Frau gestatte ich nicht, dass sie lehre’ (1 Timotheus 2:12): Exegese – Hermeneutik – Kirche.” HTS Theological Studies 75.3 (2019): 1–14.

The abstract is provided in English: “This article is an exercise in combining the exegesis, hermeneutical issues and application of 1 Timothy 2:12 in ecclesial contexts where this prohibition is still taken seriously as a Pauline injunction or, at least, as part of the canon of the Church. It surveys representative proposals in New Testament studies of dealing with this least compromising assertion regarding the teaching of women in early Christianity. It discusses the hermeneutical issues involved in exegesis and application and how one should relate this prohibition to other New Testament references to women and their role in the early Christian communities. In closing, the article discusses whether and how this assertion can still be relevant in contemporary contexts when and where women have a very different role in society and church.”

Pastoral Epistles session at SBL 2019

I was quite pleased this year to see that the Disputed Paulines session at SBL would meet on Saturday this year since that meant I would be able to attend. I hope they continue in this slot.

Jens Herzer, “Epicurus, Plutarch, and Paul: The Philosophical Discourse on Public Life and the Transformation of Pauline Ethics in 1 Timothy”

I always appreciate hearing from Herzer. In this paper he argued that the “good citizenship” ethic in 1 Timothy bears striking resemblance to Epicurean ideas. He demonstrated several parallel texts, and suggested that the author (not Paul in Herzer’s mind) was developing a Christian view of life by appropriation of Epicurean ideals. It seemed that his point was that the use of these ideals lead to a perspective different from the accepted Pauline letters (the abstract refers to a “socially accommodated Christianity”), but in the discussion afterward this point was muted.

In the end, these are interesting parallels showing that similar ideas were in view outside the New Testament. However, it is not enough to convince me that the author was intentionally drawing on Epicurean ideas.

James Buchanan Wallace, “1 Timothy and Universal Salvation”

Wallace’s paper considered whether a universalist reading of 1 Timothy might be correct. He opened with interaction with David Bentley Hart, who in his recent translation of the NT argues for universalism pointing to 1 Timothy but without exegetical argumentation.

Wallace engaged patristic interpreters who argued for universalism and those who argued against noting how they used 1 Tim (if they did). Most significant I thought was his treatment of μάλιστα exegetically and how Greek fathers understood it. I am not convinced of a universalist reading, due at least partially to the fact that I still read these letters as a whole with Paul and expecting coherence of thought.

Lyn Kidson, “Saving the Woman in 1 Timothy 2: Childbirth, Women’s Bodies, and the ‘Other Instruction’”

Kidson’s paper built on her 2018 paper in this same section. She argued that 1 Timothy 2:15 should be understood as saying that a woman’s body will be “healed or kept safe through the normal processes of intercourse, pregnancy, and childbirth that the advocates of the other instruction oppose.” Thus, she argues that σώζω in 2:15 means “preserve” rather than referring to eschatological salvation.

Kidson does find a coherent argument for a challenging text, linking 2:15 with the forbidding of marriage in 4:1-5. I did not always follow the argument in the oral presentation.

Christopher Hutson, “Lifting the Yoke of Slavery: Infrapolitics and Advice to Enslaved Persons in the Pastoral Epistles”

Hutson was very engaging (even providing a song!) as he argued that the comments on slaves in 1 Timothy 6 and Titus 2 were intentionally framed to seem like they affirmed standard Greco-Roman views on the submission of slaves all the while actually hinting at a subversive sub-text. Some people write off these texts as hopelessly compromised and demeaning to slaves, but Huston sought in his line of argument to present them in a more positive light.

Myriam Klinker-De Klerck, “Lois, Eunice, and Timothy: The Rhetorical Strategy in 2 Timothy in the Light of Social Exclusion of the First Christians”

Klinker examined the role of honor/shame in 2 Timothy suggesting a rhetorical strategy in the letter that aims to encourage Timothy to endure possible negative social consequences of his belonging to the Christ group. This is connected to the reorientation the letter gives to the idea of suffering (as an honorable token of loyalty [πίστις] to Christ) and the family identity mentioned with Lois and Eunice. Her arguments suggest further ways the letter coheres and makes sense in its historical setting.

Pastorals Section at ETS 2019

We had a good meeting of the Pastoral Epistles Study Group at ETS last week. Stan Porter was unable to attend due to health issues, so we missed his paper. We were glad to hear, though, that he is on the mend.

David Yoon presented his paper, “The Register of Paul in 1 Timothy: Why the Pastorals May Differ in ‘Style’ than the Hauptbrief,” which summarized the linguistic category of “register” which covers what people generally refer to as “style” when they say that the style of the PE differ so much from the accepted Pauline epistles. In the end, Yoon argued there is not enough evidence to establish what an acceptable variance would be, and thus that difference in register is slim basis for any argument concerning authorship. Yoon’s analysis then agrees with the significant recent monograph by Jermo Van Nes, Pauline Language and the Pastoral Epistles: A Study of Linguistic Variation in the Corpus Paulinum (Linguistic Biblical Studies 16; Leiden: Brill, 2018).

My paper came second and was a revision of the paper I presented at the Mainz conference a couple of months earlier. My central contention was that according to the text of Titus, the ethical admonitions in the letter are not culturally driven but are rooted in the gospel itself. The ethical instruction is presented as necessary entailments of the gospel, such that to reject them is to show that one does not know God (1:16). A final version is to be published in a volume with the other essays from the Mainz conference.

Our last paper, “Salvation History in Six Lines: Reading 1 Timothy 3:16b as an Interconnected Whole,” was by John Percival who is working on a PhD at Cambridge under the supervision of Simon Gathercole. Percival noted the long-standing debate about how to read the six lines of this verse and argued that they should be read in order as following chronologically. Key to such an argument is arguing that the last line “taken up in glory” refers not to the ascension (as is often thought) but to the final enthronement of Christ. I found the argument quite persuasive. This will be part of his completed thesis, and hopefully will be published on it’s won as an article soon.

We are planning for next year, so if you are interested in presenting a paper next year or some time feel free to contact me at rayvanneste at

Mounce, “Character Matters: Qualifications for Ministry in the Pastoral Epistles”

Bill Mounce, author of the massive WBC volume on The Pastoral Epistles, presented over two hours worth of material on qualifications for ministry in the Pastorals. He was speaking at Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, AL, 15 April 2019. The video of his presentation is available on YouTube:

Part 1 Part 2

Mission in the Pastoral Epistles: Two Newly Available Resources

In the twentieth century, the influential German commentary of Martin Dibelius (revised by Hans Conzelmann), Die Pastoralbriefe (4th ed.; HNT 13; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1966) was mediated to the English-speaking world in the Hermeneia series as The Pastoral Epistles (trans. Philip Buttolph and Adela Yarbro; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972). One of the key points of influence was the christliche Bürgerlichkeit proposal popularized in the commentary. This idea of the “good Christian citizen” traded on the notion that the Pastorals were written in light of decreased expectation of the parousia, and that in order to survive a hostile world, believers were going to have to learn to settle in for the long haul. In Dibelius’s reading of the Pastorals, “settling in” meant “fitting in,” and the letters were concerned to help Christians maintain a low profile, so to speak, by living in such a way that the surrounding culture would look on with at least a measure of approval. Dibelius’s proposal was heavily grounded in 1 Tim 2:1-2, and found support in the concern with the perception of outsiders found throughout the letters.

The christliche Bürgerlichkeit proposal received significant pushback, however, when the mission-oriented nature of the letters was given its due. The monograph of Philip Towner, The Goal of Our Instruction: The Structure of Theology and Ethics in the Pastoral Epistles (JSNTSS 34; Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic, 1989; repr., Bloomsbury Academic Collections; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), provided an important response to Dibelius, which was later mediated through his influential NICNT commentary, The Letters to Timothy and Titus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006).

Towner, however, is not the only one who has emphasized the mission-oriented nature of the letters, and two works in the same vein have recently come to be available.

Chiao Ek Ho’s Aberdeen dissertation, “Do the Work of an Evangelist: The Missionary Outlook of the Pastoral Epistles” (2000), written under I. Howard Marshall, was unfortunately never published as a monograph, though its core substance was made available in “Mission in the Pastoral Epistles,” in Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles (ed. Andreas J. Köstenberger and Terry L. Wilder; Nashville: B&H: 2010), 241‒267. The dissertation itself may now be accessed at EThOS (here is the link, along with an abstract), and to my understanding has only recently been available. All students of the Pastorals should obtain it.

Additionally, Andreas J. Köstenberger has just produced an article-length treatment: “An Investigation of the Mission Motif in the Letters to Timothy and Titus with Implications for Pauline Authorship.” BBR 29.1 (2019): 49–64 (abstract and full article available here). This article is grounded in (and goes beyond) the biblical-theological work done on mission in the Pastorals as set forth in Köstenberger’s recent Commentary on 1‒2 Timothy & Titus (BTCP; Nashville, TN: Holman, 2017).

Belleville, “Lexical Fallacies in Rendering αὐθεντεῖν in 1 Timothy 2:12”

Linda Belleville, “Lexical Fallacies in Rendering αὐθεντεῖν in 1 Timothy 2:12: BDAG in Light of Greek Literary and Nonliterary Usage,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 29.3 (2019): 317–41.

On the basis of the studies of George Knight (1984) and Leland Wilshire (1988) in NTS, the 2000 edition of BDAG eliminated “domineer over” as a meaning of the Greek word αὐθεντέω and substituted “assume a stance of independent authority,” thereby calling into question lexicons dating from AD 1st-century Harpocration and translations of 1 Tim 2:12 dating back to the Old Latin, which render the phrase οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός negatively as “nor to domineer over a man” or “nor to usurp authority over a man.” Indeed, examination of αὐθεντ- forms in Classical and Hellenistic literary and nonliterary materials shows that modern translations of αὐθεντεῖν as “to exercise authority” or “assume authority over” have no basis in the Greek of antiquity. Instead, “to murder” or “perpetrate a murder” surface exclusively in the literary materials, and “to domineer” or “to originate” appear without exception in the nonliterary materials.

This article follows two SBL presentations which discuss the same material: “What’s a Woman to Do? An Examination of authentein in 1 Timothy 2:12 in Light of Hellenistic Non-Literary Materials” (presentation at SBL Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, 20 November 2005) (abstract:; “A Translation Fallacy in Rendering αὐθεντεῖν in 1 Timothy 2:12: BDAG in Light of Greco-Roman Literary and Non-Literary Usage,” (presentation at SBL Annual Meeting, San Francisco, 21 November 2011) (abstract:

The article follows a good bit of work done by Belleville on this and related passages, both in her 2009 Cornerstone commentary contribution on the Pastorals, as well as the following (chronologically): “1 Timothy,” in The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary (ed. Catherine Clark Kroeger and Mary J. Evans; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002), 734‒747; “Exegetical Fallacies in Interpreting 1 Timothy 2:11–15,” Priscilla Papers 17.3 (2003): 3–11; “Teaching and Usurping Authority: 1 Timothy 2:11–15,” in Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy (ed. Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004), 205–223; “Women in Ministry: An Egalitarian Perspective,” Pages 19‒104 in Two Views on Women in Ministry (ed. James R. Beck; 2nd edition; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005).

Cook, “μαλακοί and ἀρσενοκοῖται: In Defence of Tertullian’s Translation”

Recently, John Granger Cook published an article on the oft-debated terms μαλακοί and ἀρσενοκοῖται found in 1 Cor 6:9. Because the latter term, ἀρσενοκοῖται, is also found in 1 Tim 1:10, Cook’s work is of significance for students of the Pastorals.

John Granger Cook, “μαλακοί and ἀρσενοκοῖται: In Defence of Tertullian’s Translation.” New Testament Studies 65.3 (2019): 332–52

Here is the abstract: “The debate over the translation of μαλακοί and ἀρσενοκοῖται in 1 Cor 6.9 can and should be settled by a non-polemical and complete survey of the material now that comprehensive databases of ancient texts are available. The translation of ἀρσενοκοῖται by Tertullian, several Vetus Latina MSS and the Vulgate has the best evidential foundation. To establish the meaning of this term one has to turn to etymology and usage, a semantic domain of terms for sexual intercourse, and patristic and classical texts. Once the semantics of ἀρσενοκοίτης is better grounded, the ancient Latin translation of μαλακοί becomes the most probable.”

Cook’s article is the latest of numerous treatments which address the meaning of ἀρσενοκοῖται. Earlier bibliography includes the following:

John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 341–53; Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983); David F. Wright, “Homosexuals or Prostitutes? The Meaning of ἀρσενοκοίται (1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10),” Vigiliae Christianae 38.2 (1984): 125–53; William L. Petersen, “Can ἀρσενοκοίται Be Translated by ‘Homosexuals’? (I Cor. 6.9; I Tim. 1.10),” Vigiliae Christianae 40 (1986): 187–91; David F. Wright, “Translating ἀρσενοκοίται (1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10),” Vigiliae Christianae 41 (1987): 396–98; Henry Mendell, “ΑΡΣΕΝΟΚΟΙΤΑΙ” (unpublished paper, California State University, Los Angeles), 1990?; James B. De Young, “The Source and NT Meaning of ἀρσενοκοίται, with Implications for Christian Ethics and Ministry,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 3 (1992): 191–215; Dale B. Martin, “Arsenokoitês and Malakos: Meanings and Consequences,” in Biblical Ethics and Homosexuality: Listening to Scripture, ed. R. L. Brawley (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996), 117–36; Raymond F. Collins, Sexual Ethics and the New Testament: Behavior and Belief (New York: Crossroad, 2000), 89–90; James B. De Young, Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2000), 175–203; Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001), 312–36; John H. Elliott, “No Kingdom of God for Softies? Or, What Was Paul Really Saying? 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 in Context,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 34.1 (2004): 17–40; G. R. Jepsen, “Dale Martin’s ‘Arsenokoités and Malakos’ Tried and Found Wanting,” Currents in Theology and Mission 33.5 (2006): 397–405; Linda Belleville, “The Challenges of Translating αρσενοκοι̂ται and μαλακοί in 1 Corinthians 6.9: A Reassessment in Light of Koine Greek and First-Century Cultural Mores,” Bible Translator 62.1 (2011): 22–29; Roy E. Ciampa, “‘Flee Sexual Immorality’: Sex and the City of Corinth” in The Wisdom of the Cross: Exploring 1 Corinthians (ed. Brian S. Rosner; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2011), 100–133; Milton L. Torres, “A Evidência Linguística e Extralinguística para a Tradução de arsenokoitai.” Revista Hermenêutica (Cachoeira-BA) 12.2 (2012): 25–49; S. Donald Fortson III and Rollin G. Grams, Unchanging Witness: The Consistent Christian Teaching on Homosexuality in Scripture and Tradition (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2016), 294–98; Simon Hedlund, “Who Are the ἀρσενοκοίται and Why Does Paul Condemn Them?,” Svensk Exegetisk Årsbok 82 (2017): 116–53; George M. Hollenback, “An Overlooked Backdrop to the Coining of ἀρσενοκοίτης,” Early Christianity 8.2 (2017): 269–73.

Hylen, “Women διάκονοι and Gendered Norms of Leadership”

Susan E. Hylen has produced an article on the γυναῖκες of 1 Tim 3:11: “Women διάκονοι and Gendered Norms of Leadership.” Journal of Biblical Literature 138.3 (2019): 687–702. This article follows work done in connection with women, and in connection with the Pastorals, in her monographs A Modest Apostle: Thecla and the History of Women in the Early Church (OUP, 2015) and Women in the New Testament World (OUP, 2019). I offer the following simply as a summary without evaluation, for the benefit of interested readers.

Here is the abstract: “Interpreters generally acknowledge that the syntax of 1 Tim 3:1–13 points to the presence of women διάκονοι. Many of these interpreters, however, are tentative or deny the presence of women διάκονοι because of their assumptions about gendered social norms of the period. I argue that early readers of 1 Timothy would understand the ideals represented in the qualifications for διάκονοι as applying to women as well as to men. I assess social norms and practices of the period, especially in and around Ephesus, including the gendered virtues used to honor high-status women of the time. I conclude that the women introduced in 3:11 would likely have been understood as women holding the same titles as the male διάκονοι, just as women held many of the same civic and religious titles as their male peers.”

I’ll paraphrase and expand on that a bit: Hylen understands the διάκονοι, both male and female, to be community leaders of some sort (and this is not a novel understanding, particularly since John Collins’s Diakonia [1990]). Many scholars are influenced by the syntax and structure of 1 Timothy 3 to understand the “women” of 1 Tim 3:11 to be female διάκονοι equivalent to the male διάκονοι in the preceding verses, not (necessarily) their wives. However, because they read 1 Tim 3 in light of the restrictions of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (particularly regarding women’s speech), and what they understand to be the restrictive social norms for NT-era women in Ephesus, they then reject the understanding that the “women” could have held leadership roles.

Hylen argues to the contrary that this line of thinking misunderstands the complex nature of the social roles of the time. Women were understood as “inherently inferior to men” (690), yes, but this was not necessarily considered a deal-breaker as regards leadership roles. Hylen adduces evidence that both married and unmarried women independently owned and controlled property, acted as patrons, held religious and civic office, and spoke out when appropriate. Therefore, Hylen argues, the virtues often applied to them should not (always) be read and translated in ways that suggest passivity and subordination, but in ways which reflect this active participation (e.g., σωφροσύνη as “self-control” rather than “modesty”). Hylen argues further that “multiple norms shaped the social world in this period” (697), such that on the one hand “women were expected to be subordinate to men who were their social peers” but were also viewed favorably in some cases when they were involved in public speaking or leadership roles.

Given this background, Hylen does not read the qualifications for the “women” of 1 Tim 3:11 in terms of subordination and passivity, but as connected with leadership roles. In this context, she takes a position on 1 Tim 3:12 which to my knowledge is unique: while arguing that male διάκονοι are addressed in vv. 8-10, and female διάκονοι are addressed in v. 11, she finds that both male and female διάκονοι are addressed in v. 12. To the anticipated objection that the “one-woman man” qualification of v. 12 could hardly apply to women, Hylen argues that “[i]t was common to speak of a mixed-gender group using vocabulary that indicated men alone” (699).

In sum, Hylen does not argue “that men and women were considered equal, for this would certainly have been anachronistic in the Roman period. … Nevertheless, women’s capacities to own property and act as patrons were also enshrined in law and social practice. Women of the period negotiated complex social norms that encouraged both deference and leadership” (702).

Lookadoo reviews Theobald, Israel-Vergessenheit in den Pastoralbriefen

Michael Theobald is a German academic who published rather extensively on the Pastorals in his later career. To my knowledge, however, all of his work on the letters is in German (save for the just-published entry on Titus in The Paulist Bible Commentary), and so English-speaking students of the Pastorals may not be as familiar with his scholarship.

The single monograph Theobald produced on the Pastorals was published in 2016: Israel-Vergessenheit in den Pastoralbriefen: Ein neuer Vorschlag zu ihrer historisch-theologischen Verortung im 2. Jahrhundert. n. Chr. unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Ignatius-Briefe [Forgetting Israel in the Pastoral Letters: A New Proposal for Their Historical-Theological Location in the 2nd Century A.D. with Special Consideration of the Ignatius Letters]. In this work, he examines the origination of the Pastorals through the lens of the topic of Israel. He is particularly concerned to compare the engagement with Israel in Romans (another book in which he specializes) over against what he finds to be a lack of engagement with Israel in the Pastorals. He ends up dating the letters to c. 140 AD.

Jonathan Lookadoo has served English-speaking students of the Pastorals well by reviewing Theobald’s monograph for RBL, and has graciously agreed to upload the review to Academia, allowing general access. In his review, he notes Theobald’s valuable highlighting of connections between Romans and the Pastorals, and appreciates the case Theobald makes for reading Titus as the first of the Pastorals. Lookadoo notes, “Those who argue for authentically Pauline Pastoral Epistles or for another first-century date will likely take issue with some of Theobald’s arguments, but this does not take away from the value of his study. “

Use this link to read the entire review.

Nijay Gupta on Pastorals Commentaries

Over at the Logos Academic Blog, Nijay Gupta has been posting a series titled “Best Commentaries on Paul.” In his latest installation, he discusses what he finds to be the best modern technical (*Johnson, Marshall, Towner), semi-technical (*Dunn, Kelly, Spencer, Wall/Steele), and non-technical (*Fee, Oden, Towner) commentaries on the Pastorals, adding Trebilco’s Asia Bible Commentary contribution on 1 Timothy as a “hidden gem.”