First Timothy and P.Tebt. 703

If you read many recent commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles (particularly Witherington, though Johnson and probably Towner and Marshall), and if you have read the section on First Timothy in Carson’s New Testament Introduction and also in Frank Theilman’s New Testament Theology, you’ve heard of P.Tebt. 703.


P.Tebt. 703 is one of the Tebtunis Papyri. It is a letter dated “after 208 BC”. It is described as:



Copy of an official memorandum probably from the dioiketes to probably the oikonomos, giving instructions concerning agriculture, transport, royal revenues and monopolies, official correspondence, and behavior of royal officials.


Many folks look to P.Tebt. 703 as an example of a superior writing instructions to his lieutenant concerning administration of an area/group and see similarities with what Paul is writing to Timothy in First Timothy (and, similarly what Paul writes to Titus in the epistle to Titus).


I’ve been looking for a full translation of P.Tebt. 703 for a few days (well, thinking about looking) and this morning I finally remembered that I could hit APIS (Advanced Papyrological Information System) and probably find it pretty quickly. It’s better than I’d thought. The APIS entry has images, verso and recto, of all the extant leaves of the letter along with summary description and translation.


I’d thought I would have to instead find the 1933 Tebtunis volume in a library somewhere, but this is so much better. I had to blog it quick; first so I could find the reference easily when I really want it later on; and secondly so y’all could be aware of it.

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