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.

Additions to our list of 2014 PE publications

Thanks to those who have pointed out items we have missed. Each of these items have been added to the 2014 publications post, but I thought it might be useful to include this separate post announcing their inclusion. If you see others we’ve missed, please send them our way at pastoralepistles at gmail dot com. Also, if you publish something on the Pastorals this year, feel free to send us a notice so we can include it in this year’s list and perhaps review it.

Barentsen, Jack. “Stereotyping and Institutionalization as Indications of Leadership Maintenance in the Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy as a Test Case.” Pages 389-406 in T&T Clark Handbook to Social Identity in the New Testament. Edited by J. Brian Tucker and Coleman A. Baker. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2014.

Bolt, Peter and Tony Payne, ed. Women, Sermons and the Bible: Essays interacting with John Dickson’s Hearing Her Voice. Matthias Media, 2014.

Hylen, Susan E. “Modest, Industrious, and Loyal: Reinterpreting Conflicting Evidence for Women’s Roles.” Biblical Theology Bulletin 44 (2014): 3-12.

Jones, B. C. “Three New Coptic Papyrus Fragments of 2 Timothy and Titus (P.Mich. inv. 3535b).” Journal of Biblical Literature 133 (2014): 389-97.

Mbamalu, Abiola I. “‘The Woman Was Deceived and Became a Sinner’: A Literary-Theological Investigation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15.” HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 70 (2014). doi: 10.4102/hts.v70i3.2062

Paya, C. “Note exégetique: ‘L’exercise corporel est utile à peu de choses . . .’ (1 Tm 4.8).” Théologie Évangélique [Vaux-sur-Seine—Montreal] 13 (2014): 49-61.

Westfall, Cynthia Long. “The Meaning of αὐθεντέω in 1 Timothy 2.12.” Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 10 (2014): 138-73.

Pauline Communities as ‘Scholastic Communities’: A Study of the Vocabulary of ‘Teaching’ in 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus

scholastic communitiesSteve Walton has written a helpful review of Claire Smith’s monograph, Pauline Communities as ‘Scholastic Communities’: A Study of the Vocabulary of ‘Teaching’ in 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, WUNT 2/335 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012). The monograph is a revision of her PhD thesis which was supervised by Peter Bolt.

It sounds like this book will be useful for PE studies. Her choice of the Pastorals along with 1 Corinthians is quite intriguing as is her defense. Apparently she does not take a position on the authorship issue but in the end suggests the similarities between the PE and 1 Corinthians which she finds should at least cause pause for those assuming non-Pauline authorship.

Additionally, with the significance of teaching in the PE, the amount of data gathered here (the book is 555 pages!) promises to be helpful for PE research.

Smith affirms the earlier evaluation of E. Judge that the earliest Christian communities were marked particularly by learning. In the end, while affirming the idea of Judge she says his phrase “scholastic communities” does not communicate as well (missing the relational aspects of teaching found in these letters, for example) and suggests a better phrase would be “learning communities.” Interestingly, this is the very phrase used by J I Packer, in a popular piece, which I mentioned previously.