First Timothy Was Written To Timothy

[[NB: I blogged briefly about this in December 2006 with Who were the Pastoral Epistles written to? though I made no conclusions there.]]


That may not seem like much of a headline, but it’s the conclusion I’ve come to after reading three articles by Jeffrey T. Reed:



Reed, Jeffrey T. “Cohesive Ties in 1 Timothy: In Defense of the Epistle’s Unity”, Neotestamentica 26/1: 192-213. 1992.


—– “To Timothy or Not? A Discourse Analysis of 1 Timothy” in S.E. Porter and D.A. Carson (eds.) Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics: Open Questions in Current Research (JSNTSup 80; Sheffield: JSOT Press): 90-118. 1993.


—– “Discourse Features in New Testament Letters, with Special Reference to the structure of 1 Timothy”, Journal of Translation and Textlinguistics 6: 228-52. 1993.


There are two basic options when one considers intended audience of First Timothy: Timothy (as the letter states) or the Ephesian church. If you would’ve asked me two or three years ago, I’d have told you that I thought that First Timothy, though explicitly addressed to Timothy, was really intended for the Ephesian church and was primarily a way for Paul to disseminate information about church structure and the like. This is the same way that Dibelius and Conzelmann (Hermeneia) approach First Timothy; as well as Barrett, Hanson, and Spicq (If I’m understanding Reed 1993a, p. 91 note 2 properly).


But in reading Reed’s stuff (particularly 1993a, though the others have things to say about it) I’m convinced otherwise. Why? The short list:



  • There are no second person plural verbs in First Timothy.

  • There is only one second person plural pronoun in First Timothy, and that is Paul’s somewhat formulaic end of “Grace be with you (pl.)”

  • The Ephesian church is not a named participant within the text of the letter.

  • The second person singular verbs logically resolve to Timothy as subject.

  • The first person singular verbs logically resolve to Paul as subject, and typically occur in exhortations to the addressee (Timothy).

In other words, I really do think that First Timothy is a personal letter, both in structure/address and in reality. Paul wrote the letter to Timothy to tell him to do things, and provided some background for those things. Would others have benefitted from reading the letter? Sure; there is stuff in there that would benefit, say, elders of the church. But the only one who would benefit or receive instruction from the whole of the letter is Timothy.


If you’re wondering about all of this, or if you’re unconvinced, I’d recommend Reed 1993a above (“To Timothy or Not?”).

Discourse Reading List (with a focus on the Pastoral Epistles)

I’m gearing up to do a home-group Bible study on First Timothy in the “winter” quarter (so, Jan-March/April 2008) for my church. I intend to use it as an excuse to look at First Timothy from the perspective of discourse analysis. I think too often home-group studies of NT epistles devolve into “word study” sessions (“The Greek word means … “) and the larger perspective of the actual message of the letters is lost. I’m hoping to stay away from that. There are places where studies on words are useful, but my goal will be to come to a better understanding of First Timothy as a letter; not an understanding of pieces of it.


I should say straight up that anyone interested in discourse and the Pastoral Epistles needs to read, learn and love Ray Van Neste’s $amz(0567083373 Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles). I’m not just saying that because Ray blogs for PastoralEpistles.com—I’m saying it because it’s that good. Get ye to the library and checketh it out (unless you want to drop $150 on the book). I’ll probably use Ray’s sections and units as the basis of segmentation of the books for my study.


Apart from that, there’s a bunch of other stuff to read. Most of these I’ve read at least once, but I plan on reading them again before I dig in on formal preparation/writing.


There is one article that has proven difficult for me to locate:



Reed, Jeffrey T. “Discourse Features in New Testament Letters, with Special Reference to the structure of 1 Timothy”, Journal of Translation and Textlinguistics 6: 228-52. 1993.


I know that an index for the Journal of Translation and Textlinguistics is on the web (at SIL’s site), but the article itself isn’t. If anyone can point me to the article, or knows a library that actually carries the periodical, I’d appreciate the info.


Here’s the short list of stuff I’ll be re-examining:

Articles / Essays

Reed, Jeffrey T. “To Timothy or Not? A Discourse Analysis of 1 Timothy” in S.E. Porter and D.A. Carson (eds.) Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics: Open Questions in Current Research (JSNTSup 80; Sheffield: JSOT Press): 90-118. 1993.


—– “Cohesive Ties in 1 Timothy: In Defense of the Epistle’s Unity”, Neotestamentica 26/1: 192-213. 1992.


—– “The Cohesiveness of Discourse: Towards a Model of Linguistic Criteria for Analyzing New Testament Discourse” in S.E. Porter and J.T. Reed (eds.), Discourse Analysis and the New Testament: Approaches and Results (JSNTSup 170; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press): 28-46. 1999.


—– “Identifying Theme in the New Testament: Insights from Discourse Analysis” in S.E. Porter and D.A. Carson (eds.), Discourse Analysis and Other Topics in Biblical Greek (JSNTSup 113; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press): 75-101. 1995.


—– “Discourse Features in New Testament Letters, with Special Reference to the structure of 1 Timothy”, Journal of Translation and Textlinguistics 6: 228-52. 1993.


Levinsohn, Stephen H. “Some Constraints on Discourse Development in the Pastoral Epistles” in S.E. Porter and J.T. Reed (eds.), Discourse Analysis and the New Testament: Approaches and Results (JSNTSup 170; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press): 316-333. 1999.


—– “A Discourse Study of Constituent Order and the Article in Philippians” in S.E. Porter and D.A. Carson (eds.), Discourse Analysis and Other Topics in Biblical Greek (JSNTSup 113; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press): 60-74. 1995.


Wendland, Ernst R. “‘Let No One Disregard You!’ (Titus 2.15): Church Discipline and the Construction of Discourse in a Personal, ‘Pastoral’ Epistle” in S.E. Porter and J.T. Reed (eds.), Discourse Analysis and the New Testament: Approaches and Results (JSNTSup 170; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press): 334-351. 1999.

Books

Guthrie, George. The Structure of Hebrews: A Text-Linguistic Analysis (NovT Sup 73; Leiden: Brill). (also reprinted by Baker Books, which is the copy I have, though I don’t have the citation handy)


Miller, J.D. The Pastoral Letters as Composite Documents (SNTSMS 93; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). 1997.


Reed, Jeffrey T. A Discourse Analysis of Philippians, Method and Rhetoric in the Debate over Literary Integrity (JSNTSUp 137; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press). 1997.


Van Neste, Ray. Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles (JSNTSup 280; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press). 2004.


That oughta do it. Note Miller’s book is (at least for me) frustrating to read because I absolutely don’t agree with it. Ray responds directly to many of the issues raised by Miller; which is why it is helpful to examine both books. If you can only choose one, go with Ray.


There are some specialized studies I’ll probably also read and work through (e.g. Heckert on $amz(1556710410 Discourse Function of Conjoiners in the Pastoral Epistles)), but don’t appear on the list. I’m not trying to be comprehensive with the above list; think of it more like a shotgun approach: maximum info in minimum reading. Do you have another article or book to add to the list? Let me know via the comments.


I will likely blog sporadically about this study, hopefully to work through an approach to discourse. But I may not — it all depends on how I feel while I’m in the process.


Update (2007-09-17): I’ve had a few folks offer to send me the article. Y’all are incredible! Thanks very much!

Interpreting the Bible: A Handbook of Terms and Methods

Interpreting the Bible: A Handbook of Terms and Methods, Randolph Tate


(Hendrickson, 2007)


 


This is an interesting and useful book from a bit more of a critical perspective.  My reason for commenting on it here is Tate’s evaluation of the Pastoral Epistles in his entry for “Epistolary Literature”.  In this entry Tate refers to the “Undisputed Pauline Letters”, the “Disputed (Deutero-)Pauline Letters” and the “Pseudo-Pauline Letters.”  These are fairly standard categories.  What is unusual is that for Tate the Pastorals are the “Disputed” letters and Ephesians and 2 Thessalonians are the “Pseudo-Pauline”!  Every other source I have ever read which uses these three categories places the Pastorals in the lowest category, the least Pauline.  Ephesians and other letters are typically labeled “Deutero-Pauline.”  The reversal of categories is so complete that I wonder if it was a mistake.  If not, does Tate see the Pastorals as more Pauline than Ephesians?  That would be interesting.  His treatment of the Pastorals does not seem to suggest a higher view of the letters however (indeed he does not seem to be aware of some research that has seriously challenged older criticisms of the Pastorals).


 


Any thoughts form others?