New Book on “Scripture” in the PE

I am pleased to announce that Tim Swinson’s book, What Is Scripture?: Paul’s Use of Graphe in the Letters to Timothy (Wipf & Stock) is now available (Amazon, publisher’s site). I was honored to write the foreword for this compelling book which argues that graphe in each instance in 1 & 2 Timothy includes in its reference at least some of the apostolic writings.

Here is the book summary from the publisher:

 Analysis of the literary scheme of the letters to Timothy suggests that graphe, as it is employed in each letter, may legitimately be understood to include some of the apostolic writings that now appear in the New Testament. In affirming the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles, Swinson argues that a form of the Gospel of Luke stands as the source of the second referent of graphe in 1 Tim 5:18. Second, Swinson contends that pasa graphe in 2 Tim 3:16 includes the apostolic writings extant in Paul’s day, specifically Luke’s Gospel and some of Paul’s own writings. These parallel lines of analysis demonstrate that Paul ascribes to his own writings and to those of his coworkers an authoritative standing equal to that of the sacred writings (ta hiera grammata) found in the Old Testament. While many questions surrounding biblical authority and the biblical canon remain, Paul’s use of graphe in 1 and 2 Timothy nevertheless advances a high view of both Old Testament and New Testament Scripture.

Bob Yarbrough has also written a warm commendation:

“This study takes a fresh, critical, and comprehensive look at evidence and arguments often either overlooked or facilely dismissed. The happy result is a better factual foundation for consideration of vital historical questions regarding Christian origins and the role that Scripture played from the church’s inception. Especially welcome are [Swinson’s] careful exegesis, philological rigor, and charitable candor in interaction with other contemporary scholarship.”

 

Lastly, here is the concluding portion of the foreword I wrote:

If his arguments hold (as I think they do), this book has significant implications in several areas. First, this is an important contribution to scholarship on the Pastoral Epistles. The careful exegesis, the discourse and semantic analysis, and the lexical study, not to mention his challenge to the typical reading of γραφη, make this a valuable resource for anyone working in these letters. Then, his thesis that apostolic writings were already recognized in the first century as “Scripture” on par with the Law, the Prophets and the Writings has major implications for our understanding of canon and current debates in that realm.

Careful, detailed and swimming against the tide, this is a bold, compelling book with significant conclusions for scholarship and the church. I have been privileged to encounter Tim’s work in presentations at scholarly conferences along the way and was immediately drawn to the substance and manner of his work- conscientious, cautious and charitable. I am excited that this work will now be available to a wider audience. This book has challenged and helped me, and I commend it to you.

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