Synopsis of the PE Group at ETS 2017

We had a great meeting for the Pastoral Epistles study group at ETS last week, with strong attendance for four helpful papers.

For our first paper we invited Fred Sanders, one of the leading systematic theologians in evangelicalism today. I had noticed a few years ago that Sanders was doing some work on the Pastorals. I contacted him and found out that he was teaching on the letters for a lay institute. He was making shrewd observations on social media, so I was intrigued to see what insight a careful theologian might bring to our question of how serious engagement of the Pastorals might impact our view of Paul.

Sanders titled his paper, “Grace the Civilizer: Paul Undomesticated in the Pastoral Epistles.” He argued that the sheer oddness of the PE gives important information on Paul and that to ignore the Pastorals would be to domesticate Paul. This is a great point and well put, since the typical charge is that the PE tame down the robust Paul. However, today, people seem to shy away from embracing the claims on the PE.

Sanders described the vocabulary of the PE as “a bold, missionary appropriation of Hellenistic moral vocabulary.”  Focusing particularly on Titus, he highlighted the letters concern for form, beauty and order. He argued that Paul’s point was that the grace civilizes people, not merely in a bourgeois fashion leading to dull lives, but in a missional fashion leading to lives of moral beauty which honor God and attract others to the gospel.

Eckhard Schnabel, with a nod to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, presented 40 theses on “Paul and the Next Generation of Christian Leaders: The Contribution of the Pastoral Epistles to New Testament Ecclesiology.” In bullet point fashion, Schnabel drew key points for ministry which are found in the PE. Quite appropriately in light of the letters in view, Schnabel practically preached certain potions, urging the necessity of personal evangelism, prayer, and endurance. Noting how Paul roots his labors in the saving work of Christ, Schnabel said, referring the work of Christ, “there are some things Christian leaders never stop talking about.”

Greg Couser, from Cedarville University and co-chair of the PE study group, presented “The Judgment of Believers in 2 Timothy: What is Judged and What is the Outcome?” Couser noted that not much work has been done on the numerous references to final judgement in 2 Timothy. Taking the various opinions on the final judgement of believers listed in Schreiner and Caneday (The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance), Couser asked which position seems best to fit the evidence in 2 Timothy. Along the way Couser demonstrated that 2 Timothy has much to say about this important topic even though works on Pauline theology tend to neglect this data. Here is an excerpt where Couser states his basic conclusion:

From what Paul seems to say in 2 Tim, his view of the believer’s judgment fits most easily into the “loss of rewards” category. The warnings are more than just rhetorical devices and they are for believers. There is something to lose, though reprobation is not in view. Nonetheless, Paul also reflects an inner-dynamic of the Christian life that makes it impossible to envision any acts of unfaithfulness by a believer as anything more than lapses from an otherwise progressive movement toward greater delight in Christ and service to him.

Marty Feltham, who is finishing his PhD at Macquarie University in Sydney, concluded the session with his paper, “Carefully Crafted or a Clumsy Imitation? Assessing the Argument of 1 Timothy 2:1-7.” One of the things I have been particularly pleased with in our study group has been the opportunity to hear such good papers from younger scholars who are just finishing or just recently finished their doctoral work. Feltham maintained that tradition with a strong argument for the coherence of the theological argument in 1 Timothy 2:1-7 and the connection of this section with the rest of the letter. Following the argument of his recent article in Tyndale Bulletin, Feltham demonstrated that 2:5-6 was a Christological reworking of the Shema (Deut 6:4-5). Contrary to those who have long said the PE lacked anything more than clumsy theological imitation, Feltham argued that 1 Timothy 2:5-6 was a thoughtful and well-worked piece of theological argumentation “perfectly tailored to the rhetorical and polemical needs of the letter.” I thought this was a fascinating paper and I am excited to learn of one more able scholar working in the Pastoral Epistles.

 

3rd edition of Women in the Church

In 2016 a third edition of Women in the Church: An Interpretation and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner was published. Although Baker published the first two editions, this version is published by Crossway. Scott Baldwin’s chapter on αὐθεντέω has been replaced with a chapter by Al Wolters on the same word. Dorothy Patterson’s chapter has been replaced by a roundtable discussion.

The chapter summaries below are taken from the introduction, with permission from Crossway.

The team of contributors, all leading experts in their respective fields, scrutinize in the following pages the various aspects of a responsible interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:9–15: the historical background of first-century Ephesus; the meaning of the word αὐθεντεῖν; the Greek syntax of v. 12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man”; the exegesis of 1 Timothy 2:9–15; the cultural context for applying the passage; matters of Bible translation; and vigorous, spirited interaction on the implications of the reading offered here for women’s roles in the life of the church today.

In chapter 1, S. M. Baugh discusses the first-century background. For more than a century, excavators have been digging in the city of Ephesus, and in the course of that time, archaeologists and ancient historians have unearthed, examined, and evaluated a very large amount of original source material, which makes a fairly intimate knowledge of the city and its inhabitants possible. Unfortunately, this material is not always easily accessible, and misunderstandings sometimes continue for people who look for accurate explanations of the Ephesian background to interpret texts such as 1 Timothy. Hence, while the earlier forms of this essay provided much technical information, this version has been revised to make the subject matter clearer to the nonspecialist. The overall goal is to draw an accurate, brief portrait of the institutions of Ephesus as they relate specifically to the interpretation of 1 Timothy 2 and illumine its message.

In chapter 2, Al Wolters examines the meaning of the verb αὐθεντέω, which occurs in 1 Timothy 2:12 and is commonly translated “have authority.” His main point is that the verb here does not have a pejorative meaning (as in “domineer”) or an ingressive meaning (as in “assume authority”), although in recent decades a number of scholars, versions, and lexica have ascribed these connotations to it. An exhaustive survey of all known occurrences of the verb in ancient and medieval Greek shows that actual usage does not support these lexicographical innovations. While the translation “assume authority” (or the like) is sometimes justified, this is the case only where an ingressive aorist is used, not in other tense forms of the verb, such as the present tense in this passage.

In chapter 3, I examine the essential syntax of what is probably the most contentious section of 1 Timothy 2:9–15: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man” (v. 12 ESV). In particular, based on syntactic parallels in both Scripture and ancient Greco-Roman literature, I argue that the two activities joined by the conjunction οὐδέ in 1 Timothy 2:12 (teaching and exercising authority over men) must be, in Paul’s consideration, either both positive or both negative. Paul’s positive view of διδάσκω (teaching) as an activity thus points to his positive view of αὐθεντέω ἀνδρός (exercising authority over a man) as an activity, over against interpreters who have assigned to αὐθεντέω ἀνδρός a negative meaning. In addition, I argue that the two activities of teaching and exercising authority, while related, ought not to be merged into a single idea that is more restrictive than either one is separately (e.g., “seizing authority to teach a man”), an interpretation that some scholars have strenuously advanced in recent years.

In chapter 4, Thomas Schreiner sets forth an interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:9–15. While not every contributor would agree with everything argued for in this essay—especially the interpretations offered for 1 Timothy 2:14–15—the interpretation proposed draws upon the conclusions reached in other chapters of this book (especially Baugh, Wolters, and Köstenberger) and interacts extensively with existing scholarship.

In chapter 5, Robert Yarbrough deals with the hermeneutics of this passage and what the interpretation means for church practice. He denies that this passage asserts the abolition, prevention, or curtailment of women’s leadership in church or society, or women’s exclusion from all teaching and ministry in any capacity whatsoever. Rather, this chapter explores the meaning of the biblical precedent and precept of men’s primary leadership responsibility as pastoral teachers and overseers (cf. Paul’s “teach” and “exercise authority” in 1 Tim. 2:12) in God’s household, the church.

In chapter 6, Denny Burk investigates the claim, advanced by Linda Belleville, that a nonpejorative rendering of αὐθεντεῖν is an innovation of English Bibles produced in the twentieth century. He also examines the shift in translation of αὐθεντεῖν from “have authority” in the NIV 1984 and TNIV 2002 to the ingressive “assume authority” in the TNIV 2005 and NIV 2011. Is the NIV translators’ explanation for the new rendering compelling? Or is it potentially misleading in light of Philip Payne’s pejorative understanding of “assume authority,” which the findings of Al Wolters and Andreas Kӧstenberger in the present volume contravene?

Chapter 7 is devoted to the application of the teaching of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 to women’s and men’s roles in the church today. To this end, we gathered a virtual roundtable of several women and men with a proven track record of speaking out intelligently and knowledgeably on this issue. While diverse in background, these women and men concur in their essential interpretation of the passage as laid out in the present volume. At the same time, while the original meaning of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 is firm, the significance of Paul’s teaching in this passage is multifaceted. The various participants in the roundtable provide a series of perceptive observations on the text and its application as women and men strive to apply the teaching of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 to their lives today.

 

Taken from Women in the Church: An Interpretation and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 by by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner, © 1995, 2005, 2016, pp. 21-23. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

Review of a Recent Monograph Epistolography & the PE

Chuck Bumgardner has pointed out a helpful review (in English) of a recent monograph on the Pastorals which we listed in a previous post on recent dissertations on the Pastorals.

Korinna Zamfir has reviewed for RBL this monograph:

Luttenberger, Joram. Prophetenmantel oder Bücherfutteral? Die persönlichen Notizen in den Pastoralbriefen im Licht antiker Epistolographie und literarischer Pseudepigraphie. Arbeiten zur Bibel und ihrer Geschichte 40. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2012.

Her review will at least familiarize the English-language PE student with Luttenberger’s work.

Korinna Zamfir, review of Joram Luttenberger, Prophetenmantel oder Bücherfutteral? Die persönlichen Notizen in den Pastoralbriefen im Licht antiker Epistolographie und literarischer PseudepigraphieReview of Biblical Literature (2016).

The link will take you to a page with a brief abstract of the book, but for the full review you have to log in with SBL membership information since  RBL reviews are only publicly available to SBL members.

Pastoral Epistles Study Group this week at ETS

If you are coming to ETS this week, I hope you will plan to come to our Pastoral Epistles session. We have a great slate of papers once again this year.

Here is the information on our session.

11/16/2017
8:30 AM-11:40 AM
Convention Center — Room 550 A

Pastoral Epistles
Impact of the Pastorals on our View of Paul

Moderator
Ray Van Neste, Union University

8:30 AM—9:10 AM
Fred Sanders, Biola University
“Grace the Civilizer: Paul Undomesticated in the Pastoral Epistles”

9:20 AM—10:00 AM
Eckhard Schnabel, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
“Paul and the Next Generation of Christian Leaders: The Contribution of the Pastoral Epistles to New Testament Ecclesiology”

10:10 AM—10:50 AM
Greg Couser, Cedarville University
“The Judgment of Believers in 2 Timothy: What is Judged and What is the Outcome?”

11:00 AM—11:40 AM
Marty Feltham, Macquarie University (in Sydney)
“Carefully Crafted or a Clumsy Imitation? Assessing the Argument of 1 Timothy 2:1-7”