Received: Brazos Theological Commentary on Pastorals

Thanks to the great folks at Baker Academic / Brazos Press for a review copy of this book.

Hot off the press, this is Risto Saarinen’s work on the Pastorals, Philemon and Jude for the Brazos Theological Commentary of the Bible series published by Brazos Press. Perry Stepp will be posting about this one, so keep your eyes peeled in the upcoming weeks.

For more information on the book, here’s the back cover copy:

The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible enlists leading theologians to read and interpret scripture creedally for the twenty-first century, just as the church fathers, the Reformers, and other orthodox Christians did for their times and places. $amz(1587431548 The Pastoral Epistles with Philemon & Jude) is the seventh volume in the series. This commentary, like each in the series, is designed to serve the church–through aid in preaching, teaching, study groups, and so forth–and demonstrate the continuing intellectual and practical viability of theological interpretation of the Bible.

"Risto Saarinen’s commentary on the $amz(1587431548 Pastoral Epistles, Philemon, and Jude) does an excellent job of mediating the insights of recent large-scale works in a readable exposition that concentrates on theology, bringing in from time to time the contributions of such expositors as Chrysostom and Calvin. Helpful appendices and excursuses break new ground in situating the letters within the context of ancient teachings on moderation, mental disorders, and generosity, and the author’s background in Scandinavian Lutheranism affords a fresh perspective. Saarinen is not uncritical of what he sees as the Pastor’s misogynism and argues that following literally his tendency to accommodate church practice to contemporary social standards may achieve today the opposite effect from what was intended. His hermeneutical approach in terms of theological subjects and elucidatory predicates offers a fresh entry into the teaching of Jude. This is a stimulating study that helpfully and sympathetically challenges some traditionalist approaches without being the last word on the subject."—I. Howard Marshall, University of Aberdeen

Here’s a brief table of contents:

First Timothy

Introductory Part (1Ti 1.1-20)
Worship, Life, and Order in the Church (1Ti 2.1-3.16)
Instructions for the Pastoral Work of Timothy (1Ti 4.1-6.2)
True and False Teachers (1Ti 6.3-21)

Second Timothy

Opening of the Letter (2Ti 1.1-5)
Witness and Suffering in the Footsteps of Paul (2Ti 1.6-2.13)
False Teachers and Their Conduct (2Ti 2.14-3.9)
Concluding Advice to Timothy (2Ti 3.10-4.22)


Appointment of Elders in Crete (Titus 1.1-16)
Virtues among Christians (Titus 2.1-15)
Good Works in the Society (Titus 3.1-15)



Thanks again to Baker/Brazos!

Montague’s First and Second Timothy, Titus

Thanks again to Baker Academic who provided a copy of George T. Montague, SM’s $amz(0801035813 First and Second Timothy, Titus); which is part of Baker’s new Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series.

I’ve had a chance to poke around the book and must say I’m impressed. This commentary is designed to be used, and that’s refreshing. Here is a list, in no particular order, of some of the features of the print book.

  • The translation used is the New American Bible (NAB), which is what one would expect for a Catholic commentary.
  • Cross References. Each translation section is followed by cross references—to the Old Testament, the New Testament, and also to the Catholic Catechism (by topic and page, as shown below). References to the Lectionary (and also the "Lectionary (Byzantine)") are also made, where applicable.


  • Sidebars. There are Biblical Background sidebars and Living Tradition sidebars that frequently occur throughout the text. These bring to light different sorts of background information (literary, cultural, historical, theological) and highlight portions of later non-canonical writings (Apostolic Fathers, other Greek & Latin fathers.
  • Pictures and Maps. There are pictures. This is great for a commentary; one example is a picture of the theatre in Ephesus. Another is a picture of Schøyen MS 2649 (portions of a scroll of Leviticus that is actually relatively legible) in the context of 2Ti 4.13, "… bring me the scrolls and parchments". These sorts of things bring the setting into view of the reader and make the whole exercise a little more real.
  • Reflection and Application. At the end of each commentary section is another section titled "Reflection and Application". Here all sorts of things may be discussed, the primary task seems to be to discuss the text in the context of the present. For instance, the portion on 1Ti 2.5-7, "For there is one mediator between God and men …" discusses the Catholic practice of invoking saints in prayer, particularly Mary.
  • Glossary. There is a short glossary at the back; words in the text that occur in the glossary have a dagger† next to them. The entries are short and generally helpful (though the definition for "aorist" is not good at all, equating it with the simple past tense).
  • Indexes. There are two indices, one "Index of Pastoral Topics" and another "Index of Sidebars". A reference index would be nice, if only to catch the section cross-references in one easy-to-consult place. It would’ve also been nice to have an index with the mounds of references to writings of the Fathers and the catechism and lectionary references.
  • Greek Words. Greek words, where directly discussed, are in transliteration throughout. It would’ve been nice to have an index to the Greek words as well.

In short, I love the features of the book and the way it is put together.

If you’re Catholic and you’re studying the Pastoral Epistles, this is a no-brainer: $amz(0801035813 buy the book now), particularly if you’re not looking for some deep academic tome. If you are Catholic and looking for a deep academic tome, $amz(0801035813 you still want to buy it) (and probably $amz(0814658148 Fiore), too).

If you’re not Catholic but you’re studying the Pastoral Epistles, I’d use another commentary as a primary (pick one: $amz(0802825133 Towner), $amz(0830829318 Witherington), $amz(0849902452 Mounce), $amz(0802823955 Knight)), but I’d consider getting $amz(0801035813 Montague’s CCSS volume) simply because it is a good alternate view at understanding and applying the text.

RBL Reviews Fiore’s Pastoral Epistles (Sacra Pagina)


This is Benjamin Fiore’s $amz(0814658148 The Pastoral Epistles) in the Sacra Pagina series. The review is available on RBL, of course. On authorship, Fiore thinks the Pastorals are pseudonymous, dated between 80-90 (largely because he sees the ecclesiology of the Pastorals as somewhere between so-called ‘genuine’ Paulines and Ignatius).

I’ve read Fiore’s introduction and parts of the commentary; overall it is good though is presuppositions do flavor the commentary. As with anything, it is best to read critically.

The primary reason I’d purchased Fiore (last year at SBL) was to get a specifically Catholic commentary on the Pastorals. Since then, Baker Academic has published $amz(0801035813 Montague’s volume on the Pastorals for the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) series. If you’re looking for a volume on the Pastorals written from a Catholic perspective, I’d recommend $amz(0801035813 Montague) over $amz(0814658148 Fiore).

Received: George T. Montague, SM; First and Second Timothy, Titus(Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture)

The good folks at Baker Academic have sent along a hot-off-the-presses copy of $amz(0801035813 First and Second Timothy, Titus), from the newly-commenced commentary series Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. The text of the NAB (New American Bible) is provided in the commentary.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, a video overview is available on the series web site.

There are excerpts from the book on Baker Academic’s web site (here, here and here); there is a 16-page discussion guide designed for “Personal Reflection or Small Group Study”. This is cool stuff; Baker should be commended for putting together the whole package on the book’s web page.

Most of the blurbs in the front matter and back cover are about the series, not the book. Here’s the book blurb from

George Montague offers a Catholic pastoral commentary on the letters to Timothy and Titus in the second volume in the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (CCSS). He presents sound exegesis followed by reflection on the pastoral, theological, and practical applications of the text.

Here’s the blurb from $amz(0801035813

In the second volume of the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (CCSS), George Montague offers a Catholic pastoral commentary on the letters to Timothy and Titus, presenting sound exegesis followed by reflection on the pastoral, theological, and practical applications of the text. The CCSS offers readable, informative commentaries from the best of contemporary Catholic scholarship to help readers rediscover the Word of God as a living word in which God himself is present. Each commentary relates Scripture to life, is faithfully Catholic, and is supplemented by features designed to help readers understand the Bible more deeply and use it more effectively in teaching, preaching, evangelization, and other forms of ministry. This series is perfect for professional and lay leaders engaged in parish ministry, lay Catholics interested in serious Bible study, and Catholic students.

Yeah, pretty much the same thing though the blurb works in the series description as well.

Here’s the table of contents:

Editor’s Preface
Introduction to the Pastoral Letters

The First Letter to Timothy
Timothy’s First Charge (1 Timothy 1)
Liturgy and Conduct (1 Timothy 2)
Qualifications of Ministers (1 Timothy 3)
False Teaching and Advice to Timothy (1 Timothy 4)
Rules for Different Groups (1 Timothy 5)
Final Directives: Slaves, Truth, Riches (1 Timothy 6)

The Second Letter to Timothy
Timothy’s Gifts and Paul’s Lot (2 Timothy 1)
Counsels to Timothy (2 Timothy 2)
Meeting the Challenges of the Last Days (2 Timothy 3)
Final Charge to Timothy and Paul’s Faith amid His Loneliness (2 Timothy 4)

The Letter to Titus
Organizing the Church in Crete (Titus 1)
Virtues for Different States of Life (Titus 2)
How We Should Live—and Why (Titus 3)

Suggested Resources
Index of Pastoral Topics
Index of Sidebars

I have not had a chance to read the book yet. I will say it was designed well. And it is one of the few commentaries that I have seen that actually has pictures (black & white photos) of different areas or artifacts relevant to the discussion. That’s pretty cool.

I couldn’t contain myself, however, and peeked to see how 1Ti 1.20 is handled. You know:

18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,  19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,  20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1Ti 1.18-20, ESV)

I’ve never checked an explicitly Catholic commentary on this verse and wanted to see how the verse was related to excommunication. Well, it is directly and equivalently related: “These two Paul handed over to Satan, a technical term for excommunication.” (Montague 47, emphasis his). That doesn’t surprise me, and it doesn’t seem altogether wrong to me either. These guys were given the right boot of fellowship. It’s just that ‘protestant’ commentaries rarely ever cross the line and call it excommunication. The goal isn’t separation, the eventual goal is reconciliation, as Montague aptly concludes.

I’m looking forward to giving this one the once-over. Thanks, Baker Academic!

Towner on Christology in the PE

I have just recently read Phil Towner’s “Christology in the Letters to Timothy and Titus” in Contours of Christology in the New Testament, edited by Richard Longenecker (Eerdmans, 2005).  Towner discusses the key Christological passages in the three letters interacting with recent scholarship and synthesizing the Christology found in each letter.  It is the sort of careful work we have come to expect from Towner and, therefore, is a good entry way into this area of study.  Towner continues (rightly I believe) to stress the fact that, while these letters have some significant commonality, they also have their distinct emphases.

Though I agree with most of the essay, for the sake of conversation I will here point out two smaller things I question.  The first has to do with discerning the background of some of the Christological language.  Discussing the “epiphany” language, Towner asserts,

Undoubtedly … epiphany language must have been deliberately chosen to engage the dominant religious-political discourse of the day and to force a rethinking of these categories by the proclamation of God’s story in Hellenistic dress.” (225; emphasis mine)

I think this may be overstated.  Since, as Towner notes, this language appears in the Septuagint describing “Yahweh’s interventions in the world” then the use in the PE could arise for a number of reasons.  Towner mentions emperor worship elsewhere so I wonder if that is what he has in mind here.  I am not convinced that emperor worship is in view.  I want to be cautious when trying to establish specific background connections.

Secondly, Towner refers to Timothy’s “dwindling courage and lagging commitment” in 2 Timothy (238).  This is a common assertion, but I think it reads too much into 2 Timothy 1.  Simply because Paul calls on him to stir up his gift (1:6) does not mean he is failing.  The fact that Paul exhorts him not to be timid (1:6) or ashamed (1:8) does not mean that he is being these things.  It is, rather, what is to be expected by a father figure as he exhorts his “son” to face hardship well.  Paul is simply exhorting Timothy to “strap it on”, wade into the fray and take his lumps in the “good fight.”  The similarities between this letter and letters from commanding officers to their subordinates would seem to support my reading as well.

These are not major points in Towner’s essay, and as I noted the essay as a whole is very profitable.  These two points are ones I see in other essays so I raise my critique here to see if a profitable discussion might be raised.