Philip Towner on 1Ti 2.11-15

Michael Bird summarizes Philip Towner’s approach to 1Ti 2.11-15 in Towner’s recently published volume in the NICNT commentary series, The Letters to Timothy and Titus.

Here’s the link to Michael’s summary.

Actively-editing Amanuensis vs. Pseudepigraphy?

How would an actively-editing amanuensis be different from a pseudepigraphist?

Say, for instance, the notion of Paul discussing and working through the epistle with an amanuensis and then trusting the amanuensis to write down the result (based, of course, on notes and discussion). Paul retains veto/final edit power.

How is that different from the claims of benign pseudepigraphy or even allonymity by a Pauline disciple (apart from the specific and active involvement by Paul in the amanuensis scenario)?

I guess I’m asking: are the two really that far apart? I know what I think (er … conceptually yes, they’re different) but I’m asking not about the terminology but about the mechanism.

In the realm of mechanics of composition, would a pseudepigraphist working within “Pauline tradition” really be that much different than an epistle composed with the active help, intervention and feedback from an amanuensis?

(Really, I’ll post about non-authorship stuff in the future. Really I will!)

Update (2007-01-23): Why did I write this post? It’s because I’ve been reading Paul and First Century Letter Writing by E. Randolph Richards. And, based on some of the information presented in that book, I’m wondering how the use of an active amanuensis would differ from the “devoted Paulinist” as author of the PE apart from the direct, active and approving role of Paul in the first scenario.

Check out the very last footnote in Richards’ book:

For example, the ideas in this book contribute one more straw on the back of an apparently collapsing camel carrying the theories that some of Paul’s letters were written by disciples after Paul’s death. We have seen that many of the arguments used to support htis iew (pseudonymous authorship) can be explained by common procedures in first-century letter writing. Any discussion must seriously consider the role of coauthors and secretaries, as well as the heavy use of preformed traditional material in the Pastorals. … I further question the usual assertions that pseudonymous letters were (a) common, (b) written as a compliment to the author and (c) usually composed by his friends/followers. I see no evidence to support this. These assumptions about psuedonymity have led to a myth of innocent apostolic Psuedepigrapha; see E.E. Ellis, “Traditions”, pp. 237-53. A letter should be termed “Pauline” or “Psuedo-Pauline”. The euphesimistic or conciliatory “Deutero-Pauline” label seems unsubstantiated. In fact, the term “pseudonymity” needs more clarification as demonstrated by Kent Clarke, “The Problem of Psuedonymity in Biblical Literature and Its Implications for Canon Formation,” The Canon Debate, pp. 440-68 and Terry Wilder, Psuedonymity. (Richards, 232, note 1)

Richards also deals with interpolations and makes the helpful note that one must consider if such proposed textual interruptions are post-Pauline. That is, such textual interruptions could have arisen in the editing process before the letter was dispatched. He concludes “Without external evidence (manuscript attestation), material injected by a coauthor into a letter would be indistinguishable from a post-Pauline interpolation.” (Richards 231). Earlier, Richards suggested that perhaps Sosthenes (the cosender of 1 Corinthians) was responsible for 1Co 14.33b-35, a passage so many scholars have trouble with (Richards 111-115).

Anyway, Richards’ book helped focus my mind on some questions I’d been mulling over regarding the Pastorals. I’d long wondered about how letters were composed in the first century, and how that composition process (role of amanuensis, solo vs. group writing, role of coauthors, editing/revision process) might reflect the sorts of things that stylometrists and other scholars tend to focus on as non-Pauline characteristics. If you have some questions along those lines, I’d recommend Paul and First Century Letter Writing.

Why the Pastoral Epistles?

Sometimes I’m asked why I have an interest in the Pastoral Epistles. I’ve been fascinated by them for a long time. Here are some reasons:

  • 1Ti 4.12-16:

    Let no one treat you with contempt due to your youth, but you yourself become an example of the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. Until I come occupy yourself with public reading of Scripture, with encouragement, and with teaching. Do not neglect the gift in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands of the elder council. Practice these things, be immersed in them, so that your progress might be visible to all. Take pains with yourself and your teaching, persist in them: for in doing this you will deliver both yourself and your hearers. (1Ti 4.12-16, my own translation)

    I can remember reading these verses in Junior High and being astounded by the whole “youth” thing. Here Paul was telling someone perceptibly younger but still in a leadership position to stick to his guns and do the job he was entrusted with. That’s always stuck with me.

  • If you ascribe to Pauline authorship (and I do) then these are the last things we have from the mind of Paul. It’s his views on stuff nearer to the close of his ministry than the start of it. It isn’t systematic, but it does provide insight. How did Paul’s views develop over time? How did he see the church?
  • These are, ostensibly (though see this post and comments) letters to people, not to churches.
  • The Pastoral Epistles (and First Timothy, in particular) touch on some hot-button issues. You know: role of men and women in the fellowship, how to discern and handle false teachers, God desiring “all people to be saved” … you get the gist.
  • Titus 2.11-15:

For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men instructing us, so that having renounced impiety and worldly desires, we might live self-controlled and justly and godly in this present age, looking forward to the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and deliverer of us, Jesus Christ, who gave himself on behalf us, so that he himself might redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for himself a chosen people, zealous for good works. These things speak and exhort and set forth with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Tt 2.11-15, my own translation)

I treasure these words; they are both humbling and motivating. They remind me that I am saved, that Jesus Christ is the source of my salvation, and that He will come again to take us home. Marana tha!

There is more, but those are the biggies.


Amanuensis.  Paratheke.

I really need to stop trying to type while I’m asleep.

A Handful of Thoughts on Authorship

Of the papers from Washington, Wayne Brindle’s and Jens Herzer’s have given me the most food for thought. 

FIRST, Herzer’s work (along with Trobisch’s) has pushed me further along toward abandoning the term “pseudonymity” in regard to the PE.  If the letters were deceptively written in Paul’s name, then call the darn things FORGERIES.  No other term fits the bill.  Ultimately, “pseudonymity” is a euphemism, a “weasel-word.”

SECOND, Brindle (page 6), when summarizing Marshall’s work on authorship, briefly describes three mediating positions between direct Pauline authorship and out and out forgery.  They are:

  1. a free amenuensis;
  2. “someone may have edited and published several of Paul’s writings after his death” (emphasis added)
  3. Marshall’s allonymity, where “someone close to [Paul] may have continued to write as he would have done, perhaps completing some works that Paul had begun.”

Brindle’s paper is an argument against #3 in favor of #1. 

My own position is a modified version of #2.  The PE are the published editions of Paul’s teachings (tradition, i.e., both oral and written material), posthumously published.  The member of Paul’s circle most likely to edit and publish these materials in this way is Timothy himself.  He is acting as Paul’s tradent, the keeper of Paul’s diatheke, in much the same way as Plato served as Socrates’s tradent.

Van Neste First Post

Having now survived the end of term, I am finally going to provide some posts.  I am very pleased to be participating in this project.  I hope to post some reviews of books related to the Pastoral Epistles, some interaction with some recent articles, links to recent reviews of monographs on the Pastoral Epistles.

Kudos to Rick for putting this together!