First Pass on First Timothy Complete

Since Perry has been giving some updates on his writing endeavors, I figured I’d update too since I recently hit a milestone.

If you know me, you know I’ve been working on my writing project, in my free time, for (I think) five years now. The working title, as of right now, is Word Studies in Context: First Timothy.

Basically, I’ve been working through First Timothy, phrase by phrase, looking at similar-sense word usage (as indicated by lexicons like BDAG, LSJ, Louw-Nida, TDNT) in the Pastorals, in the Epistles, and in the NT; but also in the LXX, Apostolic Fathers, Josephus, Philo, Pseudepigrapha and some other stuff (Papyri, Corpus Hermiticum, even stuff like the third century "Life of Polycarp" in a few instances) to determine/further understand how words and concepts are used in First Timothy.

The idea has always been to lay the groundwork for further study, likely a discourse analysis of First Timothy. I’m not done with the word level portion (I have much revision to do, I need to rewrite the intro and first chapter, and I have literally hundreds of handwritten notes in a kinkos-bound draft of chapters 1-5 to review and integrate).

But it is a big step. The PDF is 464 pages — not double spaced but with wide margins for notes and edits (if/when I print it out). The paper is 8.5×11, but the text would fit in a relatively standard sized book page. An earlier sample (10 pages covering 1Ti 5.17-19) is available if you’re interested in peeking.

When will I finish? I don’t know. But getting through the first pass (some portions are much more polished than other portions) is a big deal, at least to me. Chances are I’ll start digging into discourse issues before I completely finish tweaking/rewriting the word studies portion.

Why does it take so long? Well, since I’ve started I’ve met, courted and married the woman I love; and we’ve started a family (our daughter is nine months old!). These things take time and rightly upstage the writing project. But my wife is a saint and, by the grace of God, understands and encourages me in the writing project, so it will continue. And hopefully, sometime in the next few years, it’ll be at a state where it can be further shared or perhaps even self-published. If the sample interests you, let me know!

First Timothy and Intended Recipient

I’ve blogged about this a few times previously (here and here).

In working through the end of 1Ti 6, one comes across vv. 17-19. These are instructions to Timothy about those who are "rich in this present age":

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1Ti 6.17-19, ESV)

If Paul is generally writing to the Ephesian community, why is he instructing Timothy to instruct those "rich in this present age"? If the letter is intended to be read to the community at large, wouldn’t these people be present at the reading?


We’ve been on Winter Break (Thursday and Friday off, no school), so I’ve been able to do some writing. 

When I started on the project in January, I tried to work my way through Philemon.  I thought I could get that letter finished and then move on to the PE.  I rewrote / restructured / supplemented all the materials on slavery in the NT world, but got really bogged down when I reached the materials dealing with classical rhetoric–NOT my area.

So I’ve set Philemon aside, and now I’m writing the introduction to the PE.  Yesterday, I outlined about 35 pages (double-spaced) of material.  About 40% of that material needs to be written from scratch.  Well, I got TEN PAGES of the “from scratch” part written today.  I’m feeling pretty good about the project right now.

Of course, there are midterms and pregistration and prof reviews and taxes to do and a fuel filter to change and . . .

I’m Back!!

After some time away, I’m working in the Pastorals again.  Here’s a rather disjointed series of thoughts on what I’m doing.

The time away: last spring, I was named the Dean of the Sack School of Bible and Ministry at Kentucky Christian University, the school where I’ve taught for five years.  Administration has left me with almost no time to write, especially since our Youth and Family Ministries professor left without warning in June.

Writing again: my doktorvater, Charles Talbert, has invited me to finish the commentary on the Pastorals and Philemon in the Smyth and Helwys Reading the New Testament series.  This particular volume, which will be published under the title Reading Paul’s Letters to Individuals, has a checkered past.  Several NT scholars have had the contract at one time or another.  I’ll be completing work that Hulit Gloer was not able to finish due to health reasons.

My deadline: 4 July, which is growing nearer every day.

How it’s going: I made the mistake, when I first started writing, of trying to tackle Philemon first.  But I don’t know Philemon as well as I know the PE, so I’ve gotten a bit bogged down.  So I’ve started writing on the PE again.

Little projects that make up the big project:

  • In April, I’ll be presenting a paper at the Stone Campbell Journal conference, at Cincinnati Christian University.  The paper will deal with 1 Timothy 2.
  • The commentary will build on the reading of the PE from my monograph, Leadership Succession, and on the papers that I’ve read at SBL in Philadelphia (a narrative reading of the PE, using Aristotle’s Poetics as my primary lens) and Washington.
  • In the commentary, I will treat the letters in the order Titus – 1 Timothy – 2 Timothy – Philemon.

Merkle on Elders and Overseers

On my way back from Nepal I finally read Ben Merkle’s book, $amz(0820462349 The Elder and Overseer: One Office in the Early Church) (Peter Lang, 2003). It is a revision of his doctoral dissertation. Merkle provides a good overview of the scholarly discussion and of the relevant background material. He makes a good case for the use of the term ‘elder’ referring to an office and not simply to age. I agree with his thesis—that elder and overseer refer to the same office—and thought he did a good job defending it. He also deals with the idea that Paul’s churches had no structure/authority but were loosely led by ‘charismatics.’ This view shows up not only in more critical schools of thought but can be found in evangelical settings as well. Merkle clearly shows that concern for official leadership is clear in Paul and Acts. There is no aversion to ‘office’ in Paul and there is more concern with authority than is sometimes acknowledged (for example see Robert Banks, “Church Order and Government” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters). Merkle rightly demonstrates that this view is rooted in an approach which prioritizes 1 Corinthians to the exclusion of Paul’s other letters.

I had been thinking for some time that a rebuttal of these ‘no structure, no authority’ views need to be written. Now I know Merkle has done it and done it well.