Best sentences I’ve read today

From Matthew Brook O’Donnell, $amz(1905048114 Corpus Linguistics and the Greek of the New Testament), p. 388:

It seems unlikely that by simply counting words it is possible to differentiate between authors. While a particular author may have a core or base vocabulary, as well as an affinity for certain words (or combination/collocation of words), there are many factors, for instance, age, further education, social setting, rhetorical purpose and so on, that restrict or expand this core set of lexical items. In spite of this, New Testament attribution studies and many commentaries (sadly, some rather recent ones at that) have placed considerable weight on counting the number of words found in one letter but not found in a group of letters assumed to be authentic. (O’Donnell, 388)

I can’t tell you the times that I’ve read authorship discussions on the Pastorals in commentaries where the argument boils down to "read P.N. Harrison’s Problem of the Pastoral Epistles, he got it right". This pawning the argument off on what is essentially a misdirected attempt at stylometry through hapax-legomena counting. Statistics are not easy to understand, and when someone makes a statistical case that sounds good it is easy to accept, point to, and never think about again. "So-and-so has all sorts of numbers, statistics, math and tables that I don’t fully understand, so it must be right."

I’m not saying that all commentaries, monographs and such that dispute Pauline authorship do this. Some do not, and they are well worth reading because they’re really wrestling with the stylistic issues. But if your reason for discounting Pauline authorship rests solely on comparative proportions of hapax legomena between two different slices of a corpus … well, you’re not standing on firm ground.


I have been very quiet on the PE front as I am now working on a project on the Bible and Spirituality.  However, I’d just like to mention a couple of news items.  First, my article “Women as Gossips and Busybodies? Another Look at 1 Timothy 5:13” will be published shortly in the Lexington Theological Quarterly.  Second, I shall shortly be returning to the PE as I shall be working on the notion of ‘the good life’ in the PE for the project.

Congratulations to my fellow contributors for news on projects they are engaged in.

Lloyd Pietersen

The PE in the New NLT Study Bible


I have just thumbed through the study notes on the Pastorals in the brand new $amz(0842355707 NLT Study Bible). The notes are written by Jon Laansma who teaches at Wheaton and did his PhD at the University of Aberdeen.

In the interest of full disclosure, two things could be thought to impinge on my judgment here. First, I know Jon and am working on a project with him. Second, I wrote the notes on the Pastorals for the $amz(1433502410 ESV Study Bible), which could be thought of as a competitor of this study Bible.

I was impressed with these study notes. They were thoughtful, clear and ample. Honestly, as I read, particularly the introductory material, I thought, “Wow! I hope my notes come across as well as these.” In brief compass Jon advocates Pauline authorship and situates the letters after the close of Acts (positions with which I agree). He describes 1 Timothy and Titus as similar to the mandatis principis and does not directly address the genre of 2 Timothy. He does a good job of briefly dispelling the idea that these letters are church manuals and points to their great concern for the gospel shaping life.

On 1 Timothy 2:11-15 there is an extended essay which describes three major positions without embracing any of the three.

These notes are well done. For me the only drawback is the use of the NLT for in depth study. I appreciate the NLT but for in depth study I encourage people to use a more literal translation. Jon’s notes, however, are good resource for briefly explaining these letters.

New Items from Reggie Kidd

Reggie Kidd, a leading scholar on the Pastorals, has reflected on what the letter to Titus can say to us in an election year. 

You can also find a three part lecture series of his on the topic, “How Pauline are the Pastoral Epistles?” here.

(HT: James Grant)

Upcoming Commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles

Apart from’s own Perry Stepp, who has a volume on the Pastoral Epistles coming out in Smith & Helwys’ Reading the New Testament series, Baker/Brazos has the following commentaries in queue for Fall 2008 and "sometime in 2009":

Anyone know of any other publishers releasing commentaries on the Pastorals?

Also, if you’re a publisher and would like your Pastoral Epistles commentary (or any other related books) reviewed on this site, please contact us for information.

Andreas Köstenberger on 1Ti 2.12

The Between Two Worlds blog has an interview with Andreas Köstenberger about $esv(1Ti 2.12). Much of it has to do with Köstenberger’s book, $amz(080102904X Women in the Church).

Check it out.