Successful ETS Session

I was very pleased with this year’s meeting of the Pastoral Epistles group at the Evangelical Theological Society, and it was good to meet several people who are working on the Pastorals.

Randy Richards summarized some of his excellent work on letter writing and the use of secretaries (e.g., Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition and Collection) and applied it to some of Bart Ehrmans’ work (Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics & Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are). Richards agrees with Ehrman that the ancients did not condone pseudepigraphy, but argued that Ehrman does not account adequately for the common role of secretaries in the ancient world.

Tim Swinson argued that the gospel of Luke is being directly quoted (by Paul) as scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18. This thesis has significant implications for our understanding of the development of the canon. Swinson’s argument will be included in his monograph, ΓΡΑΦΗ in the Letters to Timothy, which is forthcoming from Wipf & Stock.

Our panel discussion dealt with a number of issues, including the need for more work which fully integrates the Pastoral Epistles into Pauline studies and work which examines similarities between the Pastorals and the accepted Paulines.

If you are interested in possibly presenting a paper at a future meeting of the Pastoral Epistles group send us an abstract at pastoralepistles at gmail dot com.

Assessing Schleiermacher on the Authorship of 1 Timothy

Friedrich Schleiermacher’s  “Concerning the so-called first Letter of Paul to Timothy; a critical open letter to J. C. Gass” (1807) was a watershed piece in the history of the interpretation of the Pastoral Epistles, as he led the way in questioning the Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy. He argued particularly from the difference in vocabulary between 1 Timothy and other Pauline letters and from what he saw as an incoherent and discontinuous train of thought in 1 Timothy. Schleiermacher argued that 1 Timothy was created by drawing from 2 Timothy and Titus, whose authenticity he did not dispute.

In 1999 Hermann Patsch published a very helpful article which briefly summarized Schleiermacher’s arguments and how Schleiermacher’s work was received at the time.[1] Patsch summarizes all the significant contemporary reviews as well as the reviews of Heinrich Planck’s book which was written as a response to Schleiermacher.[2] I was pleased to discover the article is available online.

It was interesting to read that the early reviews of Schleiermacher were consistently negative. In fact, according to Patsch, Schleiermacher’s book was “more or less clearly torn to pieces, attacked in monographs.” De Wette was critical of several of Schleiermacher’s arguments but said: “He has seen what as yet no one saw: he demonstrates that the first letter to Timothy was not written by Paul.”

The debate seen in these reviews contains most of the same talking points found in the same debate today.

If you are doing any work on history of interpretation of the PE or the authorship question, this is a helpful article.

[1] Hermann Patsch, “The Fear of Deutero-Paulinism: The Reception of Friedrich Schleiermacher’s ‘Critical Open Letter’ concerning 1 Timothy,” Journal of Higher Criticism 6 (1999): 3-31

[2] Heinrich Ludwig Planck, Bemerkungen über den ersten Paulinischen Brief an den Timotheus in Beziehung auf das kritische Sendschreiben von Hrn. Prof. Fr. Schleiermacher (Göttingen: Röver, 1808).

The Importance of the Authorship Question

The question of the genuineness and authorship of the Pastoral Epistles affects not only the facts of S. Paul’s life in its later stages, but such important questions as the origin and development of the Christian ministry and Church government, the beginnings of Christian heresies, and the application of Christian principles to practical life and the cure of souls. Dr. Harnack, for instance, writes: “…. Any one, for example, who admits the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles will reach quite different conclusions from one who regards them as non-Pauline, and relegates them to the second century.” It is not too much to say that “the question of the genuineness of the Pastorals is vital to our entire conception of the Apostolic Church.”

J. D. James, Genuineness & Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1906), 1-2.

Join us in the Pastoral Epistles study group next month at ETS as we discuss the authorship issue.

History of Baptist Interpretation of Titus

After about a 5 year hiatus, the Journal of Baptist Studies has relaunched with a new website and an issue devoted entirely to the history of interpretation of the letter to Titus among Baptists. The Journal of Baptist studies is a peer-reviewed journal, published electronically and edited by Anthony Chute and Matthew Emerson. There is no charge for accessing the journal.

Here is the table of contents for the current issue (not including the book reviews):

Baptists, Pastors, and Titus 1: A History of Interpretation

By Ray Van Neste……………………………………………………………4


The Legality of Slavery in the Sight of God: Baptists and Their Use of Titus 2 to Defend Slavery

By Jeff Straub………………………………………………………………36


Reception History of Titus 3 in Baptist Life

By Anthony Chute………………………………………………………….64


Selected Baptist Bibliography on Titus

By Matthew Y. Emerson ……………………………………………………91


I think this issue will be of interest to scholars working on the Pastorals even if they are not Baptists. The essays trace the way one group of Christians have interpreted and applied this letter over the years. The focus is not simply on academic writing but how the texts were applied in the life of the church.

In my essay I was intrigued to find shifts in the way Baptist leaders interpreted references to plurality of pastors/elders, the use of alcohol, and the ‘believing” or “faithful” children in Titus 1:6.

I am interested in any thoughts readers have on these essays. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments.