The PE at SBL

There were a number of papers on the Pastorals at SBL this year including a full session of the Disputed Paulines study group being devoted to them.

The best paper on the Pastorals which I heard came from Jens Herzer of Leipzig. His paper was titled, “Language and Ideas of the Pastoral Epistles in Light of the Papyri.” Herzer, while not affirming Pauline authorship, has a positive view of these letters and presented solid work on the papyri. He argued for maintaining the individuality of the three letters (rather than simply lumping them together, as is too common), supported the idea of 1 Timothy as mandata principis, and made several other suggestions. Herzer seems to be working on a larger project on the Pastorals, so I will be watching for more from him.

The papers from the Disputed Paulines Section were less constructive and less helpful. The Monday morning session of this group had the theme, “New Methods and the Pastoral Epistles.” I will list each presenter and paper title with a brief interaction.

Ilaria Ramelli, Catholic University of Milan, “Tit 2:1-4, Women Presbyters, and a Patristic Interpretation”

Ramelli essentially argued that Origen affirmed women “elders.” However, even the evidence cited had Origen stating clearly that these women were neither to teach men nor to teach publicly in church. It was not clear to me that “elders” were clearly in view, rather than Origen simply affirming the role of women teaching and encouraging younger women as stated in Titus 2. AS the paper progressed it was not really rooted in Titus 2 but referred to wide ranging sources which alluded to women in ordained ministries. These references were primarily cited but not explained or defended. This paper was similar to her article “Theosebia: A Presbyter of the Catholic Church,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 26.2 (2010): 79-102.

Elsa Tamez, United Bible Society, “The Rhetorical Strategy in 1 Tim 2:8-3:1”

Tamez’s paper followed a similar approach as that found in her book on 1 Timothy. She cited some verbal parallels in this text, though her point was not entirely clear to me. She argued for a basic A, B. A’ structure in various places- some of which has been commonly noted in the literature. She did argue that this text prohibits women from certain ministry but suggested it is not necessarily binding, stating, “There have been men and women who have refused to heed this text.”. She stated, in what may have been an off hand comment, “So the only way out for women is rebellion.”

Marianna Kartzow, University of Oslo, “An Intersectional Approach to the Pastoral Epistles”

Kartzow, author of the recent Gossip and Gender: Othering of Speech in the Pastoral Epistles, essentially approached the Pastorals on the assumption that they are written as late as three generations after Paul and asked “Who needed this memory of Paul?” She was concerned with how different groups- particularly marginalized or oppressed groups- would have “remembered” the ideas contained in the letter. She stated that she did not think the Pastorals were reflections of reality and said we ought to pay as little attention to the Pastoral Epistles as possible because they contain dangerous hierarchies and are texts of terror. She noted, with apparent disappointment that she found little destabilizing ideas in the Pastoral Epistles, i.e. they were socially conventional.

Gail Streete, Rhodes College, “The Pastorals in Rehab; Why They Are Important to Feminism (And It’s Now What You Think)”

Streete is the author of several books, including The Strange Woman: Power and Sex in the Bible. I did not catch why, in her opinion, the Pastorals are important to feminism, though that failure is probably mine due to having listened to too many academic papers in a row. 🙂 She was pessimistic about the possibility of discovering meaning in these letters. She confessed, “I have never learned to love the Pastoral Epistles,” and referred to Deborah Krause’s portrayal of the Pastorals as the “grumpy old uncle” whom you learn to tolerate. She also affirmed the statement of Linda Maloney (in Fiorenza’s Feminist Commentary) that the author of the Pastorals was “a frightened would-be authority on the defensive.”

Bob Yarbrough on 1 Tim 2 at ETS

Bob Yarbrough, now at Covenant Seminary, gave a wonderful paper at ETS titled, “The Empowerment of Women in 1 Timothy 2”.  He discussed how the truths of this text have impacted the lives of members of a church in a largely non-Christian, overseas setting where he has been ministering for many years.

Seeing this text through the eyes, so to speak, of believers in another setting as well as being reminded of the hostility and suffering they face was moving.  Particularly, Yarbrough showed how the complementarian reading was not received as oppressive in this situation but as freeing and indicative of God’s care.

I hope he is able to publish this paper in the future.

Recent Commentary Reviews

The latest issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (53:2, June 2010) contains two reviews of commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles. My positive review of George Montague’s commentary (initial volume of the new Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) appears in this issue. I have mentioned this book positively on this blog before.

Bob Yarbrough provides a very helpful and thorough review of Samuel Ngewa’s 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, the inaugural volume of the Africa Bible Commentary Series. Yarbrough notes strengths of the commentary in pastoral reflection but points out significant weaknesses in the actual exegetical work. Yarbrough stated that the book has “more of a Christian education feel and less the heft of a work of NT exegesis and scholarship proper” (418).

Review of Biblical Literature also contains a recent review of Ngewa’s volume, written by Teresa Okure who is in Nigeria. This reviewer provides a view of the commentary from Africa. She notes many helpful points about the commentary but registers some critiques similar to Yarbrough’s.

These two reviews of Ngewa’s work will be helpful to those engaging this commentary.

New Dissertation on the Pastorals

I am currently reading Tim Swinson’s dissertation “GRAFH in the Letters to Timothy” recently passed at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I was eager to read it after hearing a number of good papers from Tim at ETS meetings along the way. I am only into the second chapter but already find this to be a well done, useful work. Swinson is more conversant with French, German, and Spanish sources than is common in American PhD’s. His writing is clear and forthright. His brief argument for Pauline authorship is well done and gathers a lot of helpful information.

I am eager to finish the reading. If you are working on the Pastorals concerning authorship or the references to scripture (1 Tim 5:18; 2 Tim 3:16), you would do well to check with the library at TEDS for this dissertation.

More negative on the Pastorals

I have previously posted a list of quotes on the negative view of the Pastorals.
Just today I came across another to add to the list. Henry Sheldon in his 1922 New testament Theology covered Pauline theology and then added a brief piece on the Pastorals, opening with this statement:
The Pastoral Epistles add so little of theological subject-matter to the content of the other epistles bearing the name of Paul that it will not be necessary to devote to them more than a few sentences. (266)

Hopefully current work (including this book:http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/academic/books.asp?p=9780805448412) is disproving this dismissive assessment.

Africa Bible Commentary Series

Just this week I received an advanced copy of the inaugural volume of the Africa Bible Commentary series, and this volume is on the Pastoral Epistles! I have not had time to read much of it yet, but I wanted to go ahead and mention this volume to others.

The series grew out of work on the one volume Africa Bible Commentary. The introduction for the series states:
The contributors are Anglophone or Francophone African scholars, all of whom adhere to the statement of faith of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa.
The series is aimed at pastors and sermon preparation with more technical issues handled in footnotes. It is also self-consciously aimed at the African context- illustrations are drawn from life there and the current concerns of churches in Africa are addressed. Study questions at the end of each section raise specific issue current in African churches. One of the key aims of the series is then to be more directly accessible by African readers. Of course, for those of us in North America or Europe, it offers us the opportunity to hear from the church in Africa, to see how they are wrestling with the scripture in their context. I am particularly interested to read how the issues discussed in the Pastorals are being dealt with by my African brothers and sisters. This looks like a promising series.

Ken Myers on Titus and Cultural Engagement

In the recent issue of Touchstone Magazine Ken Myers’ article “Waiting for Epimenides” draws from the letter to Titus lessons for cultural engagement.  Myers’ article is a good example in a non-technical article of drawing proper applications.


This is a good article both in its handling of Titus and in its observations of the current church scene.  Here si one quote:



“St. Paul’s letter to Titus is a bracing rebuke to much of the vague talk about cultural engagement one hears in so many Christian settings. … It recognizes that cultural moods and styles can be enemies of faithfulness.” (11)


If you are not a subscriber to Touchstone, I would encourage you to try out the magazine.


Reviews of Fiore’s New Commentary

Two reviews of Benajmin Fiore’s recent commentary The PE: First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus (Sacra Pagina) have recently been posted at RBL. I found Matthew Montonini’s review particularly helpful in summarizing the book.


New Article on the Structure of Titus

 

Google is amazing!  Yesterday I was completing a writing project and using “Google books” to track down a few stray references.  On one page Google linked to an article by Kevin Gary Smith titled “The Structure of Titus: Criss-cross Chiasmus as Structural Marker.”  I had never heard of this article so I followed the link.  I discovered that this article is from volume 3 (March 2007): 99-110, of Conspectus the online, refereed journal of South African Theological Seminary.

 

 Smith interacts with my article and monograph on the structure of Titus as well as an article by Clark.[1]  Smith accepts the chiastic structural suggestions made by Banker[2] and myself but wants to press them further.  There is little point in me here summarizing the argument when the article is readily available and only 12 pages in length.

 

 I am pleased to see ongoing reflection on the structure of the Pastorals, and I agree with Smith that Titus “may well be the most delicately structured of all Paul’s letters” (99).  In the end Smith says his argument “confirms, with minor adjustments” my own proposal (109).  I think this is true, though I am not convinced by the adjustments. He mentions his intention to publish a follow up article with supporting linguistic evidence.  I will be eager to see that article as well.

 

I would be quite interested to hear from others what they think of Smith’s argument.  It is good to see this conversation continue.

UPDATE: Elias Fairfield has kindly pointed me to the link for Smith’s dissertation online:

http://www.sats.edu.za/content/bible-translation-and-relevance-theory-translation-titus

Thanks, Elias!


[1] Ray Van Neste, ‘Structure and Cohesion in Titus,’ Bible Translator  53.1 (January 2002): 118-33; Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles (London: T&T Clark, 2005); D. J. Clark, “Discourse Structure in Titus,” Bible Translator  53.1 (January 2002): 101-17.

 

[2] John Banker, Semantic Structure Analysis of Titus (Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1987).

 

 

 

Review of Aageson’s Recent Book

David Downs has provided a helpful review of Aageson, James W.Paul, the Pastoral Epistles, and the Early Church at Review of Biblical Literature.