Hylen, “Women διάκονοι and Gendered Norms of Leadership”

Susan E. Hylen has produced an article on the γυναῖκες of 1 Tim 3:11: “Women διάκονοι and Gendered Norms of Leadership.” Journal of Biblical Literature 138.3 (2019): 687–702. This article follows work done in connection with women, and in connection with the Pastorals, in her monographs A Modest Apostle: Thecla and the History of Women in the Early Church (OUP, 2015) and Women in the New Testament World (OUP, 2019). I offer the following simply as a summary without evaluation, for the benefit of interested readers.

Here is the abstract: “Interpreters generally acknowledge that the syntax of 1 Tim 3:1–13 points to the presence of women διάκονοι. Many of these interpreters, however, are tentative or deny the presence of women διάκονοι because of their assumptions about gendered social norms of the period. I argue that early readers of 1 Timothy would understand the ideals represented in the qualifications for διάκονοι as applying to women as well as to men. I assess social norms and practices of the period, especially in and around Ephesus, including the gendered virtues used to honor high-status women of the time. I conclude that the women introduced in 3:11 would likely have been understood as women holding the same titles as the male διάκονοι, just as women held many of the same civic and religious titles as their male peers.”

I’ll paraphrase and expand on that a bit: Hylen understands the διάκονοι, both male and female, to be community leaders of some sort (and this is not a novel understanding, particularly since John Collins’s Diakonia [1990]). Many scholars are influenced by the syntax and structure of 1 Timothy 3 to understand the “women” of 1 Tim 3:11 to be female διάκονοι equivalent to the male διάκονοι in the preceding verses, not (necessarily) their wives. However, because they read 1 Tim 3 in light of the restrictions of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (particularly regarding women’s speech), and what they understand to be the restrictive social norms for NT-era women in Ephesus, they then reject the understanding that the “women” could have held leadership roles.

Hylen argues to the contrary that this line of thinking misunderstands the complex nature of the social roles of the time. Women were understood as “inherently inferior to men” (690), yes, but this was not necessarily considered a deal-breaker as regards leadership roles. Hylen adduces evidence that both married and unmarried women independently owned and controlled property, acted as patrons, held religious and civic office, and spoke out when appropriate. Therefore, Hylen argues, the virtues often applied to them should not (always) be read and translated in ways that suggest passivity and subordination, but in ways which reflect this active participation (e.g., σωφροσύνη as “self-control” rather than “modesty”). Hylen argues further that “multiple norms shaped the social world in this period” (697), such that on the one hand “women were expected to be subordinate to men who were their social peers” but were also viewed favorably in some cases when they were involved in public speaking or leadership roles.

Given this background, Hylen does not read the qualifications for the “women” of 1 Tim 3:11 in terms of subordination and passivity, but as connected with leadership roles. In this context, she takes a position on 1 Tim 3:12 which to my knowledge is unique: while arguing that male διάκονοι are addressed in vv. 8-10, and female διάκονοι are addressed in v. 11, she finds that both male and female διάκονοι are addressed in v. 12. To the anticipated objection that the “one-woman man” qualification of v. 12 could hardly apply to women, Hylen argues that “[i]t was common to speak of a mixed-gender group using vocabulary that indicated men alone” (699).

In sum, Hylen does not argue “that men and women were considered equal, for this would certainly have been anachronistic in the Roman period. … Nevertheless, women’s capacities to own property and act as patrons were also enshrined in law and social practice. Women of the period negotiated complex social norms that encouraged both deference and leadership” (702).

Lookadoo reviews Theobald, Israel-Vergessenheit in den Pastoralbriefen

Michael Theobald is a German academic who published rather extensively on the Pastorals in his later career. To my knowledge, however, all of his work on the letters is in German (save for the just-published entry on Titus in The Paulist Bible Commentary), and so English-speaking students of the Pastorals may not be as familiar with his scholarship.

The single monograph Theobald produced on the Pastorals was published in 2016: Israel-Vergessenheit in den Pastoralbriefen: Ein neuer Vorschlag zu ihrer historisch-theologischen Verortung im 2. Jahrhundert. n. Chr. unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Ignatius-Briefe [Forgetting Israel in the Pastoral Letters: A New Proposal for Their Historical-Theological Location in the 2nd Century A.D. with Special Consideration of the Ignatius Letters]. In this work, he examines the origination of the Pastorals through the lens of the topic of Israel. He is particularly concerned to compare the engagement with Israel in Romans (another book in which he specializes) over against what he finds to be a lack of engagement with Israel in the Pastorals. He ends up dating the letters to c. 140 AD.

Jonathan Lookadoo has served English-speaking students of the Pastorals well by reviewing Theobald’s monograph for RBL, and has graciously agreed to upload the review to Academia, allowing general access. In his review, he notes Theobald’s valuable highlighting of connections between Romans and the Pastorals, and appreciates the case Theobald makes for reading Titus as the first of the Pastorals. Lookadoo notes, “Those who argue for authentically Pauline Pastoral Epistles or for another first-century date will likely take issue with some of Theobald’s arguments, but this does not take away from the value of his study. “

Use this link to read the entire review.

Nijay Gupta on Pastorals Commentaries

Over at the Logos Academic Blog, Nijay Gupta has been posting a series titled “Best Commentaries on Paul.” In his latest installation, he discusses what he finds to be the best modern technical (*Johnson, Marshall, Towner), semi-technical (*Dunn, Kelly, Spencer, Wall/Steele), and non-technical (*Fee, Oden, Towner) commentaries on the Pastorals, adding Trebilco’s Asia Bible Commentary contribution on 1 Timothy as a “hidden gem.”

The Pastorals at SBL International 2019

Despite the lengthy list of sessions at the SBL 2019 International Meeting, to be held in Rome this year, I noted only two which clearly engaged the Pastorals:

Dogara Ishaya Manomi, “‘Texts of Terror’ or ‘Texts of Honor’? Re-reading the ‘Household Codes’ in Titus Virtue-ethically as an Interpretive and Appropriative Paradigm.” (abstract)

Michael Scott Robertson, “Resistance to Rome in Titus.” (abstract)

(Note previous posts on Pastorals sessions scheduled for ETS 2019 and SBL 2019)


For SBL members, RBL still has copies of Bray, Yarbrough, van Nes, and Joshua for review (see previous post for volume details).

In Journal of Theological Studies 70.2 (2019), Markus Vinzent reviews Harry Maier’s Picturing Paul in Empire: Imperial Image, Text and Persuasion in Colossians, Ephesians and the Pastoral Epistles.

In Churchman 133.3 (2019), John Percival reviews Jonathan I. Griffiths, Preaching in the New Testament: An Exegetical and Biblical-Theological Study, which has a chapter devoted to 2 Timothy 3-4.

James Prothro provides a brief review of Yarbrough, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, in Religious Studies Review 45.2 (2019): 213-14.

In Bulletin for Biblical Research 29.1 (2019): 110-13, Roy Ciampa reviews Jermo van Nes, Pauline Language and the Pastoral Epistles. (pdf)

The Pastorals in NTA 63.2 (2019)

Here are the Pastorals-related items I noted in the latest edition of New Testament Abstracts (63.2 [2019]). As with the last volume of NTA, the letters are quite well represented.

(789) Janusz Wilk, “Charakterystyka Tymoteusza w 1 Tes 3,2 (The Character of Timothy in 1Thess 3,2).” Collectanea Theologica [Warsaw] 84.3 (2014): 19–30.

(790) Johannes Beutler, “Diakoninnen, Presbyter und Episkopen: Kirchliche Ämter in den Pastoralbriefen.” Stimmen der Zeit 237.1 (2019): 3–12.

(791) Paul Himes, “The Use of the Aorist Imperative in the Pastoral Epistles.” Filologia Neotestamentaria 23.43 (2010): 73‒92. [Yes, “2010” is correct!]

(792) Annette B. Huizenga, “God’s Household Management: 1 Timothy 1:4.” The Bible Today 57.3 (2019): 157–64.

(793) Marjorie J. Cooper, “Analysis and Conclusions regarding 1 Timothy 2:9–3:1a.” Presbyterion 45.1 (2019): 96–107.

(794) Timothy D. Foster, “1 Timothy 2:13–15 as Analogy.” Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters 7.1–2 (2017): 53–67.

(795) Frank F. Judd, “Ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου in 1 Timothy 6:13 and Ante-Nicene Christian Literature.” Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters 8.1–2 (2018): 62–80.

(796) Koskenniemi, Erkki. “The Famous Liar and the Apostolic Truth.” Filologia Neotestamentaria 24.44 (2011): 59‒69. [Yes, “2011” is correct!]

(pp. 363-64) Conflict Management and the Apostle Paul. Edited by Scot McKnight and Greg Mamula. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2018. This volume contains a chapter of interest by Kristen Bennett Marble and Jared Willemin: “Addressing False Teaching and Heresy: Paul as Guardian of the Gospel—1-2 Timothy and Titus” (pp. 145­–71).

(p. 365) Paul and Scripture. Edited by Stanley E. Porter and Christopher D. Land. Pauline Studies 10. Leiden: Brill, 2019. Included in this volume is a chapter by Arland J. Hultgren, “The Pastoral Epistles and the Scriptures of Israel” (pp. 372‒90).

(pp. 370-71) Ursula Ulrike Kaiser, Die Rede von “Wiedergeburt” im Neuen Testament: Ein metapherntheoretisch orientierter Neuansatz nach 100 Jahren Forschungsgeschichte.Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 413. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018. The volume contains significant discussions of Titus 3:5 vis-a-vis its use of παλιγγενεσία.

(pp. 373-74) “Make Disciples of All Nations”: The Appeal and Authority of Christian Faith in Hellenistic-Roman Times. Edited by Loren T. Stuckenbruck, Beth Langstaff, and Michael Tilly. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2/482. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019. This volume contains one of the latest offerings of Korinna Zamfir: “Eusebeia, Sōtēria and Civic Loyalty in the Pastoral Epistles” (pp. 121‒42).

(p. 382) Susan F. Hylen, Women in the New Testament World. Essentials of Biblical Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. Hylen engages 1 Timothy at a number of places in the volume; in the volume’s Scripture index, there are more passages from 1 Timothy than from any other book.

(p. 388) Veronika Niederhofer, Konversion in den Paulus- und Theklaakten: Eine narrative Form der Paulusrezeption. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2/459. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017. This volume contains a brief section on “Die Acta Pauli und die Pastoralbriefe,” pp. 25–27.

Japanese-Language Resources on the Pastorals

As challenging as it is for monolingual English speakers to learn of secondary literature on the Pastorals in other languages which look something like English, it is considerably more challenging to discover works published in languages which look nothing like English!

I provide here a list of Japanese-language resources on the Pastorals compiled by Manabu Tsuji (Academia page), Professor of Religious Studies at Hiroshima University, who has published extensively on the letters. Dr. Tsuji, who is producing a Japanese-language commentary on the letters — Bokkai Shokan [The Pastoral Epistles] (Tokyo: Shinkyo Shuppansha, forthcoming 2022) — graciously interacted about the list, provided English-language translations for the titles of the works, and indicated his willingness to share the Japanese-language articles with those interested. If you should happen to want one of the Japanese-language essays listed, please contact me at chuckbumgardner (at) gmail.com.

Click here to view the list.


Available to review:

Students of the Pastorals who are members of SBL may be interested in four volumes on the letters currently available for review at RBL:

  • Gerald Bray, The Pastoral Epistles (ITC; London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2019).
  • Nathan Nzyoka Joshua, Benefaction and Patronage in Leadership: A Socio-Historical Exegesis of the Pastoral Epistles (Carlisle, Cumbria, UK: Langham, 2018).
  • Jermo van Nes, Pauline Language and the Pastoral Epistles: A Study of Linguistic Variation in the Corpus Paulinum (Linguistic Biblical Studies 16; Leiden: Brill, 2018).
  • Robert Yarbrough, The Letters to Timothy and Titus (PNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2018).

Published reviews:

Andreas J. Köstenberger’s Commentary on 1‒2 Timothy & Titus (Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation; Nashville, TN: Holman, 2017) has been reviewed by Michael Scott Robertson at RBL (SBL member access only).

Larry J. Perkins, The Pastoral Letters: A Handbook on the Greek Text (BHGNT; Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017), has been reviewed by Paul Foster in ExpTim 130.9 (2019): 426.

Dillon Thornton’s Hostility in the House of God: An Investigation of the Opponents in 1 and 2 Timothy (BBRSup 15; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2016) has been reviewed by Craig D. Saunders, Religious Studies Review 45.1 (2019), 78.

Jermo van Nes’s Pauline Language and the Pastoral Epistles: A Study of Linguistic Variation in the Corpus Paulinum (Linguistic Biblical Studies 16; Leiden: Brill, 2018) has garnered a couple of reviews:

  • Ray van Neste in JETS 62.2 (2019): 411-12. (pdf)
  • Benjamin Laird in WTJ 81.1 (2019): 167-69.

Robert Yarbrough, The Letters to Timothy and Titus (PNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2018), has been reviewed by Mi Young Sydney Park, Presbyterion 45.1 (2019): 172-73.

The Pastorals at ETS 2019

The annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society will be held on Nov 20-22 in San Diego. We’ve collected here sessions that may be of interest to researchers in the Pastorals.

The section devoted to the study of the Pastorals has four sessions scheduled on Nov 20, 9 AM to 12:10 PM:

  • David I. Yoon, “The Register of Paul in 1 Timothy: Why the Pastorals May Differ in ‘Style’ than the Hauptbrief.”
  • Stanley E. Porter: “Arguments for and against Pauline Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles: Recent Proposals.”
  • Ran Van Neste, “Ethics in Titus.”
  • John Percival: “Salvation History in Six Lines: Reading 1 Timothy 3:16b as an Interconnected Whole.”

Note also:

  • Craig Keener, “Greek versus Jewish Conceptions of Inspiration, with Attendant Implications for Authority, and 2 Timothy 3:16.” (Nov 21, 5:30 PM)
  • David Warren, “A Husband of One Wife” (1 Tim 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6): What Does It Mean?” (Nov 22, 3:30 PM)

The Pastorals in JSNT 41.5 Booklist 2019

Each year, the Journal for the Study of the New Testament puts out an issue giving recently-published books in categories related to NT studies. The Pastoral Epistles are a distinct category in the issue each year, and usually garner two or three entries. This year, JSNT highlighted three volumes, each with two-paragraph annotations:

Külling, Heinz. Mann und Frau, Eltern und Kindern als Bewohner ihres Hauses in den Pastoralbriefen. Zurich: Theologischer Verlag Zurich, 2017. (annotation by Peter Oakes)

Perkins, Larry J. The Pastoral Letters: A Handbook on the Greek Text. Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017. (annotation by Tom de Bruin)

Van Nes, Jermo. Pauline Language and the Pastoral Epistles: A Study of Linguistic Variation in the Corpus Paulinum. Linguistic Biblical Studies 16. Leiden: Brill, 2018. (annotation by Dirk Jongkind)