Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles

Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles, ed. Andreas Köstenberger and Terry Wilder, is set to be published April 2010. I previously mentioned this book as in progress. I am honored to be a contributor to this volume and excited about its potential.

The book aims to provide an overview of recent scholarship on the Pastorals and give an overall view of the message of these letters.

The contributors and chapter titles are as follows:

  • Köstenberger- “Hermeneutical and Exegetical Challenges in Interpreting the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Wilder- “Pseudonymity, the New Testament, and the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Alan Tomlinson- “The Purpose and Stewardship Theme within the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Ray Van Neste- “Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Greg Couser- “The Sovereign Savior of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus”
  • Daniel Akin- “The Mystery of Godliness Is Great: Christology in the Pastoral Epistles”
  • George Wieland- “The Function of Salvation in the Letters to Timothy and Titus”
  • Benjamin L. Merkle- “Ecclesiology in the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Paul Wolfe- “The Sagacious Use of Scripture”
  • Thor Madsen- “The Ethics of the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Chiao Ek Ho- “Mission in the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Howard Marshall- “The Pastoral Epistles in Recent Study”

You can see further information at the publisher’s site (http://bhpublishinggroup.com/academic/books.asp?p=9780805448412).

Malherbe on sophrosyne

I recently read Abraham Malherbe’s essay, “The Virtus Feminarum in 1 Timothy 2:9-15” in Renewing Tradition and appreciated it.  He argues for a high degree of literary coherence in this passage and provides significant background for the passage in Greco-Roman philosophical writings.


Given my previous work on the coherence of the Pastorals I was particularly interested in his discussion of coherence.  Malherbe traces the train of thought briefly and concludes that “structurally, the text coheres” (50).  Then the bulk of the essay considers the various ethical ideas in this text arguing that the moral advice contained in it also coheres.  Malherbe also counters Roloff stating, “The two most extended Christological formulations in the Pastoral Epistles … are not mere appendages providing a theological sheen to rather prosaic moralizing” 52).


The bulk of the essay though is a discussion of sophrosyne and related terms in the context of Greco-Roman moral philosophy.  In this Malherbe interacts significantly with Helen North’s $amz(B000CJ3KKQ Sophrosyne: Self-Knowledge and Restraint in Greek Literature), which Malherbe calls a “magisterial study” (53)- no small praise from one of the preeminent scholars on Greco-Roman backgrounds!.  The parallels Malherbe cites here are very helpful and will be important for anyone work on the Pastorals (as these terms occur often in these letters beyond the text in the essay title). 


Malherbe does not in this essay get to the question of how this impacts one’s reading of 1 Timothy 2:9-15.  This essay he says is spade work preliminary to exegesis, which he will do in his forthcoming commentary on the Pastorals in the Hermeneia series.

The PE in the New NLT Study Bible

 

I have just thumbed through the study notes on the Pastorals in the brand new $amz(0842355707 NLT Study Bible). The notes are written by Jon Laansma who teaches at Wheaton and did his PhD at the University of Aberdeen.


In the interest of full disclosure, two things could be thought to impinge on my judgment here. First, I know Jon and am working on a project with him. Second, I wrote the notes on the Pastorals for the $amz(1433502410 ESV Study Bible), which could be thought of as a competitor of this study Bible.


I was impressed with these study notes. They were thoughtful, clear and ample. Honestly, as I read, particularly the introductory material, I thought, “Wow! I hope my notes come across as well as these.” In brief compass Jon advocates Pauline authorship and situates the letters after the close of Acts (positions with which I agree). He describes 1 Timothy and Titus as similar to the mandatis principis and does not directly address the genre of 2 Timothy. He does a good job of briefly dispelling the idea that these letters are church manuals and points to their great concern for the gospel shaping life.


On 1 Timothy 2:11-15 there is an extended essay which describes three major positions without embracing any of the three.


These notes are well done. For me the only drawback is the use of the NLT for in depth study. I appreciate the NLT but for in depth study I encourage people to use a more literal translation. Jon’s notes, however, are good resource for briefly explaining these letters.

Merkle on Elders and Overseers

On my way back from Nepal I finally read Ben Merkle’s book, $amz(0820462349 The Elder and Overseer: One Office in the Early Church) (Peter Lang, 2003). It is a revision of his doctoral dissertation. Merkle provides a good overview of the scholarly discussion and of the relevant background material. He makes a good case for the use of the term ‘elder’ referring to an office and not simply to age. I agree with his thesis—that elder and overseer refer to the same office—and thought he did a good job defending it. He also deals with the idea that Paul’s churches had no structure/authority but were loosely led by ‘charismatics.’ This view shows up not only in more critical schools of thought but can be found in evangelical settings as well. Merkle clearly shows that concern for official leadership is clear in Paul and Acts. There is no aversion to ‘office’ in Paul and there is more concern with authority than is sometimes acknowledged (for example see Robert Banks, “Church Order and Government” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters). Merkle rightly demonstrates that this view is rooted in an approach which prioritizes 1 Corinthians to the exclusion of Paul’s other letters.

I had been thinking for some time that a rebuttal of these ‘no structure, no authority’ views need to be written. Now I know Merkle has done it and done it well.

Ancient Letters and the New Testament

$amz(1932792406 Ancient Letters and the New Testament), Hans-Josef Klauck (Baylor Press, 2006)

 

Overall this is a valuable contribution to the literature on letters in the ancient world.  Klauck takes six chapters to survey the various types of letters in the ancient world (with student exercises) and then two chapters to survey epistolary issues in the New Testament.  In Chapter 7 he briefly surveys most NT letters and in Chapter 8 he deals with a few letters in more detail.  He treats the Pastoral Epistles briefly in Chapter 7.

 

His treatment of the Pastorals is disappointing.  His assumption of their pseudonymity is not surprising, but what is disappointing is the various points based on overconfidence in literary and epistolary grounds.  He states baldly, “The Pastoral Letters were conceived as a complete collection by their author, who intentionally chose the number three for effect” (324).  He goes on to argue that the author intended them to be read in the order: Titus, 1 Tim, 2 Tim.  This is not a new suggestion, but it does requite argumentation.  Nothing in the manner of letter writing demands or strongly suggests this conclusion.  In fact scholarship of the last decade has increasingly challenged the idea that these three letters should be considered as a distinct corpus.  The lengthy introduction to Titus is significant, but it is a logical leap to assert this proves the author intended Titus to serve as the intro to a three letter collection!  And what “effect” is intended by the choice of the number three as Klauck suggests?  These are just a couple of examples of problems in this section.

 

This section represents some common older assumptions about the pastorals.  It is not very up to date (e.g., none of the works on the structure of Titus are mentioned in the bibliography).  This could be due to the fact that the original German work was published in 1998.  However, Klauck in his introduction states that this book is “not a simple translation, but the text of the German edition has been thoroughly revised, updated, and also enlarged” (viii).