The Pastorals at SBL 2015

I was unable to attend SBL this year, but Chuck Bumgardner was kind enough to gather titles and abstracts for PE related papers at SBL from the helpful abstracts page on the SBL site.

Here is what was listed. It is encouraging to see this much work being done on these letters.

The Cretan Quote of Titus 1:12: Why Paul Appears to Be Such a Bigot 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Isaiah Luke Allen, Asbury Theological Seminary

Conventional readings of Titus 1:12-13 present real grammatical and contextual problems. Taken at face value, the apostle Paul addresses Titus and quotes Epimenides, a (5th-6th Century BCE) Cretan poet, in a descriptive and highly disfavorable moral assessment of the Cretans that Paul himself shares. This paper exposes some of the literary-contextual, grammatical, and semantic problems with this reading and suggests an interpretation that coheres with the NT portrayal of the canonical Paul and Titus, the grammar of the passage, and the context of the argument in the letter to Titus. Rather than being a bigot, Paul is exposing and attacking bigotry in the church.

Satan: The Author of False Teaching in the Pastoral Epistles 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Derek Brown, Lexham Press

The Pastoral Epistles reveal a number of intriguing developments within the Pauline tradition. One area which has not received sufficient attention is the references to the devil within Pastoral Epistles. Both 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy mention the malevolent figure— whether by the well known term satanas (1 Tim 1:20; 5:15), diabolos (1 Tim 3:6, 7; 2 Tim 2:26), or even ho antikeimai (“the opponent” or “the enemy,” 1 Tim 5:14; cf. 1 Clem. 51.1; Mart. Pol. 17.1)—but the collective importance of these references is rarely discussed in scholarly literature. The present paper will explore the nature of the allusions to Satan within the Pastorals by considering their function within their epistolary context, the theology of Satan which they imply, and their relationship to references to Satan in the other Pauline letters (both undisputed and disputed; see Brown, The God of this Age: Satan in the Churches and Letters of the Apostle Paul [Mohr Siebeck], forthcoming 2015). It will be argued that although the Pastoral Epistles sometimes reflect, or perhaps mimic, the earlier Pauline references to Satan (e.g., 1 Tim 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 5:5), the references to Satan in 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy aim to establish a direct connection between false teaching and Satan that is intended to warn and prevent the readers of the letters from subscribing to teaching that would separate them from the truth of the gospel and the community of faith.

Kinship and Leadership in 1 Timothy: A Study of Filial Framework and Model for Early Christian Communities in Asia Minor 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Daniel K. Darko, Gordon College

This paper examines kinship framework and language in the directives for leadership in early Christianity communities of Ephesus, aiming to curb the influence of false teachers and bolster mutual support in the membership. It investigates direct appeal to responsible household management, portraits of natural and fictive kinship, and group dynamics couched in filial parlance in the leadership correspondence (1 Timothy). The Greek text will be examined carefully against the background of Greco-Roman conventions on kinship and use of kinship lexemes in relation to leadership. The study of the household code alongside other references to kinship in the prism of Christian leadership will lead to new and perhaps alternate insights regarding how we read the institutional structure of the house churches, even the notion of monarchical leadership. The manner in which fictive and natural kinship are utilized will receive critical attention in the quest also to answer the question: Does fictive kinship override natural kinship or are there interface of the two to harness group identity and group dynamics?

“Apocalyptic Rhetoric” in the Pastoral Epistles 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Mark Harding, Australian College of Theology

The Apostle Paul is rightly termed an apocalypticist not only because his message originated in an apocalypse (Gal 1:12, 16), but also because he continued to receive visions and revelations. He imparted these to his hearers. The post-Pauline authors of Ephesians and Colossians mediate Paul’s apocalypticism chiefly through the discourse of “mystery.” Although it has been fashionable to downplay the apocalypticism of the Pastoral Epistles (PE), the letters do subscribe to this worldview. In the PE, Paul’s apocalypticism is encountered not only in their espousal of apocalyptic eschatology but also in their discourse of the finality of the mystery and revelation uniquely received and authoritatively mediated by the Apostle. This discourse—rooted as it is in revelation—is aptly termed “apocalyptic rhetoric.” This is a term that was first applied to the rhetoric of the New Testament Apocalypse by Adela Yarbro Collins and Barry Brummett in the early 1980s. The term can be applied to the rhetoric of the PE, although the PE (like the Pauline corpus as a whole) are letters and not apocalypses. In this discourse, the authority of the Apostle in the highly contested context of the PE is grounded in the epiphany of Christ and the moral and creedal implications that are in accord with that epiphany and to which his ministry, and the ministry of those he commissions, finally, infallibly and exclusively bears witness. The apostolic “deposit” vouchsafed to Paul and through him to his delegates and their successors is full, perfect and sufficient, such that teaching that is not in accord with it is a betrayal of the Pauline heritage. In this way, the PE are testimonies of the power of speech grounded in revelation and mediated by a writer who uniquely articulated the apostle’s authority.

The Rhetoric of PIETAS: First Timothy and the Negotiation of Roman Imperial Pietas 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Chris Hoklotubbe, Harvard University

This paper provides a postcolonial reading to 1 Timothy that attends to how the author negotiates the imperial situation in his appeal to piety (eusebeia) within the context of instructing the community to offer prayers on behalf of imperial authorities (1 Tim 2:1–2) and how women and widows ought to behave within the household of God (1 Tim 2:9–15). Scholars including Mary Rose D’Angelo and Angela Standhartinger convincingly argue that 1 Timothy’s instructions on prayer and admonitions for women to marry, bear children, and remain subordinate to their husbands accommodate to conservative social values promoted in imperial legislation and propaganda. However, scholars like Ben Witherington and Phillip Towner insist that these passages are not indicative of accommodation, but rather a missiological approach that Christianized secular virtues and even resisted imperial culture. I argue that a postcolonial optics is helpful for moving beyond a dichotomy of accommodation/resistance and allows us to better observe how both elements are present within the author’s negotiation of imperial social values and Christian doctrine within the scope of his construction of a hybrid Christian identity and piety. This paper will also succinctly contextualize 1 Timothy’s appeals to piety within the prevalence of rhetorical claims to piety (pietas/eusebeia) that occur in Roman poetry, monumental inscriptions, and coins in order to clarify the cultural significance of this virtue for how both elite Romans and provincial subjects, including the author of 1 Timothy, conceptualized imperial power and their relation to it. I argue that both claims to piety that pervaded the imperial propaganda of Trajan and Hadrian as evidenced in coins, reliefs, panegyrics, and building campaigns as well as elite Roman discourses that contrasted Roman pietas against foreign superstitio textualized the structures that comprised the imperial situation of 1 Timothy’s and illuminate its rhetoric of piety.

Timothy in Ephesus? First Timothy, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Acts of Timothy Reconsidered 
Program Unit: Ancient Fiction and Early Christian and Jewish Narrative
Meira Z. Kensky, Coe College

This paper will analyze the way Timothy’s association with Ephesus is remembered and constructed in early Christian literature. While 1 Timothy imagines Timothy as an Ephesus-based administrator, and Eusebius tells us that the tradition holds Timothy as the first bishop of that city (Eus., Hist. Eccl. 3.4), other texts are ambiguous at best on this issue. The lack of a clear association between Timothy and Ephesus in the Acts of the Apostles is particularly striking. In addition to having ambiguous presence throughout Acts 19, Timothy is not located in Ephesus during the riot (19:23-41), and is also not named as present in the speech to the Ephesian elders in 20:17-38. Since many people think that Acts might have been written in Ephesus, Timothy’s absence during the Ephesian ministry is even more notable. Should we infer from Timothy’s absence that he was not really associated with Ephesus at all, and that this is a later invention by the author of 1 Timothy? The Acts of John, also set in Ephesus, is entirely silent not only on the presence of Timothy, but on the presence of any early Christian there before John, erasing the record of Pauline presence in the city. Ephesus is thus contested territory. And while the early tradition is ambiguous, the Acts of Timothy, a late addition to the corpus of Apocryphal Acts, details exactly how Paul ordained Timothy as Ephesus’ first bishop, and then narrates Timothy’s violent death during a pagan festival there. The text also talks about John’s activities in the city, and thus represents an attempt to harmonize early Christian traditions about this crucial center of early Christianity, who was working there at the same time, and what their relationship was to each other. Studying the way the Acts of Timothy paints its portrait of Timothy’s leadership and violent death in the city can shed light both on the memory of this crucial tradent as well as the memory of the city itself. What is gained in 1 Timothy by locating Timothy in Ephesus? And what is gained by having him die there in the Acts of Timothy?

Insisting on a Gospel of Resurrection in the Face of Suffering: An Initial Exploration of the Intersection of Religion and Politics in the Context in 2 Tim 2:8 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Edward Pillar, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David

The writer of 2Timothy is presented as imprisoned, chained like a criminal, and suffering ‘for the gospel.’ Thus the writer asserts that his crime is inextricably linked with his gospel, and it seems apparent that his suffering is not only considerable (2:9), but some have suggested that it may well be linked to the severe, brutal, and cruel persecutions recorded by Tacitus of the Neronian era. The writer appears to be seeking to encourage Timothy not to be afraid to commit more fully to the gospel and thus perhaps inevitably to enter into the prospect of suffering (1:8). The gospel, which has led to such vicious persecution and inhumane suffering, is precisely and succinctly articulated in 2:8, ‘Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, out of the seed of David.’ In this paper we will explore the political nature of the gospel that is not simply an intersection of politics and religion, but appears to create an inexorable conflict with imperial politics. We will consider the thesis that in this letter the context of severe persecution and suffering is crucial in this instance to understand how religion and politics intersect. Jesus, as the Christ, is thus God’s alternative emperor or king. ‘Jesus Christ’, uniquely ordered at this point in the letter, taken alongside ‘out of the seed of David’ suggests an ancient narrative as an alternative to the imperial story that perpetuated the tyranny of the emperor. Further, the insistence of an alternative gospel – itself a challenge to empire – in proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus following crucifixion at the hands of the Romans Empire is both a challenge to imperial assertions of supreme power but also subverts this power in the act of resurrection.

 

Worship and the Risen Jesus

I have just realized that Tony Costa, in his book Worship and the Risen Jesus in the Pauline Letters (Peter Lang, 2013) incorporates the Pastorals in his analysis. He acknowledges the debate surrounding authorship, but announces at the outset that he will include all the letters attributed to Paul in his investigation. I have only been able to scan the book online, but it looks like the Pastorals show up fairly often.

I am encouraged to see this as we, in this space and in our ETS study group, are investigating how the typical neglect of the Pastorals impacts our view of Paul.

The Pastorals at the 2015 ETS Annual Meeting

The Pastoral Epistles were given significant attention at this year’s Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. First, we had an excellent session in the Pastoral Epistles Group.

Chuck Bumgardner began our session with a paper titled, “Kinship, Fictive Kinship, and the Letters to Timothy and Titus.” Bumgardner compared what these letters say about family relationships and relationships within the body of Christ (Bumgardner used the phrase “fictive kinship” because it is the standard phrase used to refer to social relationships which are seen or described as familial though there is no blood relation ). He argued that Paul’s use of such language in the PE is not incompatible with his use of it in his other letters, and it does not necessarily indicate that the church is moving from an egalitarian stage to a hierarchical one. His paper also provided an initial sounding of the intersection between Christian family and social family roles in the PE, suggesting that Paul navigates such intersections with a missionary concern for outsiders.

Dillon Thornton was snowed in and, therefore, unable to attend. However, he emailed me his paper, and I was able to read it. The paper,“’Saying What They Should Not Say’: Reassessing the Gravity of the Problem of the Younger Widows (1 Tim 5:9-16),” argued that the younger widows were aligned with the false teachers. Paul’s instruction left them three possibilities: 1) to remain with the false teachers and thus under judgment, 2) to marry unbelievers, thus parting ways with the false teachers (who forbid marriage), and still remaining under judgment, or 3) to remarry in the faith, thus parting ways with the false teachers and realigning with the Pauline church. This answers some of the knotty issues of this passage and gives more attention to many of the specifics than I have seen elsewhere.

Greg Couser’s paper, “The Church as Family: The Nature of the Household of God in 1 Timothy,” argued that the relationships within the church are not merely “fictive” but are in fact more real than blood relations, as Jesus himself said (Matt 12:46-49). Couser provided a robust argument that the ethics of 1 Timothy are not based in cultural accommodation but in the gospel itself. This is a crucial point for understanding the PE since their ethics are so often dismissed or overturned because they are seen as culturally bound.

​Peter Walker closed the session with his paper,  “1 Timothy & Titus Relocated: Reimagining the Connections.”​ Walker argued for placing the PE within the framework of the book of Acts. He has made this argument in print previously, but in this paper he discussed implications of this view including connections between these letters and 1-2 Corinthians and Romans. He also argued this would remove several common critiques of the PE. While, in the end, I was not convinced, Walker made many good challenging points which helped me think more clearly about the dating of the letters.

In addition to our session, several other papers related to the Pastorals were presented. Thanks to Chuck Bumgardner for gathering this list.

Bryan Blazosky (Central Baptist Theological Seminary) “Why 1 Timothy 1:8-11 Ought to be Used in Paul and the Law Studies”

Christopher R. Bruno (Cedarville University) “One God, One People, One Mediator: The Use of the One God Formula in the Disputed Pauline Epistles”

Jamin Hübner (John Witherspoon College) “The Evolution of Complementarian Exegesis” (This is equivalent to Jamin Hübner, “The Evolution of Complementarian Exegesis,” Priscilla Papers 29/1 (Winter 2015), 11-13.

Chris S. Stevens (McMaster Divinity College) “Titus in P32 and Sinaiticus: Textual Reliability and Scribal Design”

Gregory J. Stiekes (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) “Paul’s Family of God: What Familial Language in the Pastorals Can and Cannot Tell Us about the Church”

Also, the book this panel discussed had a chapter on the PE:

Panel Discussion: Review of Margaret Y. MacDonald, The Power of Children: The Construction of Christian Families in the Greco-Roman World

Reviewers: Lynn Cohick (Wheaton College); E. Randolph Richards (Palm Beach Atlantic University); Karelynne Ayayo (Palm Beach Atlantic University); F. Alan Tomlinson (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary).

Response Margaret Y. MacDonald