The Church as Learning Community

In J. I. Packer’s recent book, Finishing Our Course with Joy: Guidance from God for Engaging with Our Aging, he turns to the Pastorals frequently. In the following quote he gives a helpful, practical picture of the church in the PE

The Pastoral Letters in the New Testament all indicate, one way or another, that the church must expect to be constantly infected by misbelief as well as misbehavior. And congregations in every age must see themselves as learning communities in which gospel truth has to be taught, defended, and vindicated against corruptions of it and alternatives to it. Being alert to all aspects of the difference between true and false teaching, and of behavior that expresses the truth as distinct from obscuring it, is vital to the church’s health.

This definition is useful to all of us regardless of age (as his book is also useful in many ways, regardless of age).

Book Notice: Men & Women in the Household of God


Korinna Zamfir Men and Women in the Household of God: A Contextual Approach to Roles and Ministries in the Pastoral Epistles (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013)

Korinna Zamfir is Associate Professor at the faculty of Roman Catholic Theology of the Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj in Romania, and she has published several works on the Pastoral Epistles. This is a very thorough monograph which will demand attention from those doing future work in the Pastorals. By “contextual” Zamfir means the social and cultural context from which the text emerged, and by “roles and ministries’ she means the authorization of people to serve in various ways and the roles expected of various groups, particularly men and women. Zamfir draws from Abraham Malherbe regarding social and cultural context.

The book assumes non-Pauline authorship written in the third generation of Christianity and that the NT preserves perspectives from competing strands of Christianity. This is not uncommon in more critical work, though the assumption of competing strands of Christianity seems, to me, to be too readily accepted with slim basis. Zamfir also sees the Pastorals as documents which are attempting to move a community towards a more culturally conservative perspective. She stresses the directives of the letters do not represent what is really happening in these churches but what the author wants to happen- which is probably different from the current reality.

Although I do not share many of the basic assumptions with which Zamfir works, this book is worthy of careful attention. She develops the idea of the church as oikos, noting that although this has often been thought of as a private family the metaphor is also used of larger public groups like the polis. The key texts on gender roles also receive significant attention.

New Coptic Fragments of 2 Timothy & Titus

In the most recent Journal of Biblical Literature, Brice C. Jones has published an article on three new Coptic papyrus fragments that witness text of the Pastoral Epistles.

Brice C. Jones, “Three New Coptic Papyrus Fragments of 2 Timothy and Titus (P.Mich. inv. 3535b)”. Journal of Biblical Literature, no 2 (2014): 389–397.

The article provides discussion and transcriptions of the fragments. Text on the fragments are:

  • Fragment 1: 2 Tim 2:14–18; 2:26–3:3
  • Fragment 2: 2 Tim 1:6–11; 1:18–2:6
  • Fragment 3: 2 Tim 4:18–20; Titus 1:7–9

Jones hesitates to provide dates any more specific than “sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries” (392).

I have yet to really read the article, but any time fragments of NT text are located, it is an important thing. Thanks to Brice C. Jones (see his blog) for his work in publishing these fragments.

Jack Barentsen’s Emerging Leadership in the Pauline Mission

Just judging from the title, one may not realize that Jack Barentsen’s Emerging Leadership in the Pauline Mission: A Social Identity Perspective on Local Leadership Development in Corinth and Ephesus (Pickwick, 2011) deals extensively with the Pastoral Epistles. In fact in the nine chapters one deals exclusively with 1 Timothy and another with 2 Timothy.

Bartensen is concerned to trace cultural leadership patterns through the Corinthian correspondence, Ephesians and 1-2 Timothy since in a fairly close proximity (between Corinth and Ephesus) you have this many letters written to churches over the span of Paul’s ministry. This reading, of course, depends on Pauline authorship of each of these letters and Bartensen provides a good brief defense of Pauline authorship of the 1-2 Timothy.

I cannot here summarize all of the implications of PE study, but Bartensen’s reading of the situation in 1 Timothy makes good sense of the letter as an example of mandata principis. Paul’s more formal address to Timothy is expected to be overheard by the church particularly the wealthy home owners who would presumably host the church.

This is a helpful contribution to the Pastoral Epistles literature, and I didn’t want anyone to miss it since the Pastorals aren’t mentioned in the title.

Publications on the PE in 2013 &2014

Keeping up with new publications on a certain topic can be quite a challenge. Howard Marshall once told me that when he began teaching it was possible to read everything that came out on the New Testament. He went on to comment on how hard it is now just to keep up with one specific area.

Chuck Bumgardner has helpfully passed along the following bibliography of items which deal specifically at some length with the Pastorals which have been published in 2013 or so far in 2014. I found it to be a thorough list, adding only a few items myself. If you know of others please mention it by emailing us at pastoralepistles at gmail dot com.


Broer, Ingo. “Täuschungsabsicht in den kanonischen Schriften? Ein Problembericht.” Pages 233-52 in Lukas—Paulus—Pastoralbriefe: Festschrift für Alfons Weiser zum 80. Geburtstag. Edited by Rudolfe Hoppe and Michael Reichardt. Stuttgarter Bibelstudien 230. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 2014.

Collins, Raymond F. Accompanied by a Believing Wife: Ministry and Celibacy in the Earliest Christian Communities. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2013.

Downs, David J. “The God Who Gives Life That Is Truly Life: Meritorious Almsgiving and the Divine Economy in 1 Timothy 6.” Pages 242-60 in The Unrelenting God: God’s Action in Scripture: Essays in Honor of Beverly Roberts Gaventa. Edited by David J. Downs and Matthew L. Skinner. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013.

Dragutinović, Predrag. “Bischofsamt und Ehe in 1 Tim 3,2.” Biblische Notizen 158 (2013): 119-34.

Ehrman, Bart G. Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Goodrich, John K. “Overseers as Stewards and the Qualifications for Leadership in the Pastoral Epistles.” Zeitschrift fur die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der alteren Kirche 14 (2013): 77–97.

Harding, Mark. “The Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 328–52 in All Things to All Cultures: Paul among Jews, Greeks, and Romans. Edited by Mark Harding and Alanna Nobbs. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013.

Herzer, Jens. “Den guten Kampf gekämpft: Das Ende des Paulus im Spiegel des Zweiten timotheusbriefes und der frühchristlichen Überlieferung.” Pages 339-69 in Lukas—Paulus—Pastoralbriefe: Festschrift für Alfons Weiser zum 80. Geburtstag. Edited by Rudolfe Hoppe and Michael Reichardt. Stuttgarter Bibelstudien 230. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 2014.

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

Krumbiegel, Friedemann. Erziehung in den Pastoralbriefen: Ein Konzept zur Konsolidierung der Gemeinden. Arbeiten zur Bibel und ihrer Geschichte 44. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2013.

Lappenga, Benjamin J. “‘Zealots for Good Works’: The Polemical Repercussions of the Word ζηλωτήςin Titus 2:14.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 75 (2013): 704-18.

Lips, Hermann von. “Paulus als ‘Erster’ in Sünde und Gnade: Überlegungen zu 1 Tim 1,15f.” Pages 303-14 in Lukas—Paulus—Pastoralbriefe: Festschrift für Alfons Weiser zum 80. Geburtstag. Edited by Rudolfe Hoppe and Michael Reichardt. Stuttgarter Bibelstudien 230. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 2014.

Maier, Harry O. Picturing Paul in Empire: Imperial Image, Text and Persuasion in Colossians, Ephesians and the Pastoral Epistles. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013.

Malina, Bruce J. and John J. Pilch. Social-Science Commentary on the Deutero-Pauline Letters. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013

Martin, Brice. “1 Timothy 3:16—A New Perspective.” Evangelical Quarterly 85 (2013): 105–20.

Nullens, Patrick. “Theologia caritatis and the Moral Authority of Scripture: Approaching 2 Timothy 3:16-17 with a Hermeneutic of Love.” European Journal of Theology 22 (2013): 38-49.

Oberlinner, Lorenz. “Paulus als Garant der Kontinuität in der diskontinuität christlichen Glaubenslebens des 1. Jh.: Zum Anspruch des pseudepigraphischen Verfassers der Pastoralbriefe.” Pages 253-70 in Lukas—Paulus—Pastoralbriefe: Festschrift für Alfons Weiser zum 80. Geburtstag. Edited by Rudolfe Hoppe and Michael Reichardt. Stuttgarter Bibelstudien 230. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 2014.

Pate, C. Marvin. “The Pastorals: Hellenistic Religion, the Imperial Cult, Philonic Mystical Exegesis, and Paul’s Inaugurated Eschatology.” Pages 257-292 in Apostle of the Last Days: The Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2013.

Pietersen, Lloyd K. “2 Timothy 3:10-17 and a Spirituality of Persecution.” Pages 233-52 in The Bible and Spirituality: Exploratory Essays in Reading Scripture Spiritually. Edited by Andrew T. Lincoln, J. Gordon McConville, and Lloyd K. Pietersen. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2013.

Rosner, Brian S. Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God. New Studies in Biblical Theology 31. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2013.

Schreiner, Thomas R. “‘Problematic Texts’ for Definite Atonement in the Pastoral and General Epistles.” Pages 375–97 in From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective. Edited by David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.

Spencer, Aida Besançon. 1 Timothy. New Covenant Commentary Series. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2013.

Spencer, Aida Besançon. 2 Timothy and Titus. New Covenant Commentary Series. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2014.

Spurgeon, Andrew B. “1 Timothy 2:13-15: Paul’s Retelling of Genesis 2:4-4:1.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 56:3 (September 2013): 543-556.

Stewart, Alistair. The Original Bishops: Office and Order in the First Christian Communities. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2014.

Stiekes, Gregory J. “Liturgy in the Pastoral Epistles.” Artistic Theologian 2 (2013): 37–50.

Theobald, Michael. “Eucharistische Anspielungen in der Weisung an die Reichen 1 Tim 6,17-19: Anfrage an ihre ‘individualethische’ Deutung.” Pages 315-38 in Lukas—Paulus—Pastoralbriefe: Festschrift für Alfons Weiser zum 80. Geburtstag. Edited by Rudolfe Hoppe and Michael Reichardt. Stuttgarter Bibelstudien 230. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 2014.

________. “Israel- und Jerusalem-Vergessenheit im Corpus Pastorale? Zur Rezeption des Römerbriefs im Titus- sowie im 1. und 2. Timotheusbrief.” Pages 317-412 in Ancient Perspectives on Paul. Edited by Tobias Nicklas, Andreas Merkt, and Joseph Verheyden. Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus 102. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013.

________. “Von den Presbytern zum Episkopos (Tit 1,5–9): Vom umgang mit Spannungen und Widersprüchen im Corpus Pastorale.” Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 104 (2013): 208–237.

Twelftree, Graham. “The Remembered Paul.” Pages 272-303 in Paul and the Miraculous: A Historical Reconstruction. Grand Rapids, 2013.

Weidemann, Hans-Ulrich. “‘Jedoch, ich fand Erbarmen . . .’ (1Tim 1,13). Bekehrung und Indienstnahme des Paulus in den Pastoralbriefen.” Pages 59-95 in Ancient Perspectives on Paul. Edited by Tobias Nicklas, Andreas Merkt, and Joseph Verheyden. Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus 102. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013.

________. “Selbstbeherrschte Hausherren: Beobachtungen zur rhetorischen Funktion des Maskulinitätsideals in den Pastoralbriefen.” Pages 271-301 in Lukas—Paulus—Pastoralbriefe: Festschrift für Alfons Weiser zum 80. Geburtstag. Edited by Rudolfe Hoppe and Michael Reichardt. Stuttgarter Bibelstudien 230. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 2014.

Wilder, Terry L. “Does the Bible Contain Forgeries?” Pages 166–181 in In Defense of the Bible: A Comprehensive Apologetic for the Authority of Scripture. Edited by Steven B. Cowan and Terry L. Wilder. Nashville: B&H, 2013.

Zamfir, Korinna. Men and Women in the Household of God: A Contextual Approach to Roles and Ministries in the Pastoral Epistles. Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus / Studien zur Umwelt des Neuen Testaments 103. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013.


New Article on Coptic Papyrus Fragments of 2 Timothy & Titus

Brice Jones has published an article titled, “Three New Coptic Papyrus Fragments of 2 Timothy and Titus (P.Mich. inv. 3535b),” [full text in pdf] in the latest issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature. The article publishes for the first time the extant remains of a Sahidic Coptic papyrus codex containing portions of 2 Timothy 1–4 and Titus 1 along with paleographical analysis and commentary.


Stott on 2 Timothy, Free!

John Stott’s exposition of 2 Timothy, published just over 40 years ago, remains one of the best pastoral expositions of this letter available. And, now you can get an ebook copy of this commentary for free from IVP! Go to this link, sign up and then you can download the commentary. Thanks to IVP for making such a wonderful resource available in this way.


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]