New Article on Coptic Papyrus Fragments of 2 Timothy & Titus

Brice Jones has published an article titled, “Three New Coptic Papyrus Fragments of 2 Timothy and Titus (P.Mich. inv. 3535b),” [full text in pdf] in the latest issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature. The article publishes for the first time the extant remains of a Sahidic Coptic papyrus codex containing portions of 2 Timothy 1–4 and Titus 1 along with paleographical analysis and commentary.


The manuscript . . .

The manuscript for my commentary, Reading Paul’s Letters to Individuals: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Letters to Philemon, Titus, and Timothy, is officially in the mail to Smyth and Helwys.

S&H expects the commentary to be available in October, just in time for SBL. Maybe I’ll need to go to Boston after all.

This is the commentary that Glenn Hinson was supposed to write, then Marty Soards. Both ended up not filling the contract. Then Hulitt Gloer wrote a manuscript, but was not able to finish it for health reasons.

So in January–you may recall–the editor of the series, Charles Talbert (who was my doctorfather at Baylor) asked if I could finish Gloer’s manuscript.  And I’ve spent the last few months doing so.

I’d originally hoped to have 300 – 325 double spaced pages, and ended up with 425: OUCH! Did I type all that stuff?

What’s innovative or fresh about the commentary? Two things, off the top of my head:

First, it is a scholarly commentary, interacting extensively with primary sources (Philo and Josephus, especially) and cutting-edge secondary sources (e.g., Bruce Winter’s work on the new Roman woman), BUT the exposition is aimed at preachers and teachers. This would be the first commentary I would recommend for people who want to preach these letters.

Second, this is the first commentary on the Pastorals to take into account the role that succession plays in these letters.

More on P.Tebt. 703

I blogged about this now nearly a month ago; in the end of the post I wrote:

I’d thought I would have to instead find the 1933 Tebtunis volume in a library somewhere, but this is so much better. I had to blog it quick; first so I could find the reference easily when I really want it later on; and secondly so y’all could be aware of it.

In the meantime, a friend went up to the library at Trinity Western, and he retrieved the information on P.Tebt 703 from the printed edition for me. I thought it would be 10 pages at most, consisting mainly of transcription and translation.

I was wrong.

The information on P.Tebt 703 runs for 36 pages. There are seven pages of background and discussion, followed by a six-part table of contents (!) before the transcription begins. Following the transcription is the standard translation/notes section that runs for 20 pages!

While there are some similarities in content between P.Tebt 703 and First Timothy and Titus, I think the jury is still out on them sharing genre. But if you’re looking to study this, the information in the Tebtunis Papyri, Vol 3 Part 1, for P.Tebt 703, is well worth looking up and studying.

First Timothy and P.Tebt. 703

If you read many recent commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles (particularly Witherington, though Johnson and probably Towner and Marshall), and if you have read the section on First Timothy in Carson’s New Testament Introduction and also in Frank Theilman’s New Testament Theology, you’ve heard of P.Tebt. 703.

P.Tebt. 703 is one of the Tebtunis Papyri. It is a letter dated “after 208 BC”. It is described as:

Copy of an official memorandum probably from the dioiketes to probably the oikonomos, giving instructions concerning agriculture, transport, royal revenues and monopolies, official correspondence, and behavior of royal officials.

Many folks look to P.Tebt. 703 as an example of a superior writing instructions to his lieutenant concerning administration of an area/group and see similarities with what Paul is writing to Timothy in First Timothy (and, similarly what Paul writes to Titus in the epistle to Titus).

I’ve been looking for a full translation of P.Tebt. 703 for a few days (well, thinking about looking) and this morning I finally remembered that I could hit APIS (Advanced Papyrological Information System) and probably find it pretty quickly. It’s better than I’d thought. The APIS entry has images, verso and recto, of all the extant leaves of the letter along with summary description and translation.

I’d thought I would have to instead find the 1933 Tebtunis volume in a library somewhere, but this is so much better. I had to blog it quick; first so I could find the reference easily when I really want it later on; and secondly so y’all could be aware of it.

Classen on Titus

At SBL I finally managed to find a reasonably priced copy of Carl Joachim Classen’s Rhetorical Criticism of the New Testament (Brill, 2000).  This book is a collection of papers and articles previously given and published.  His first two essays are useful on the question of the legitimacy of using categories of classical rhetoric in analyzing Paul’s letters.  Classen is a classicist rather than a biblical scholar so he brings a valuable perspective to the question.


The third essay is the one that directly concerns the Pastoral Epistles and is entitled, “A Rhetorical Reading of the Epistle to Titus.”  Though I differ from Classen on the structure of the letter, I benefitted from reading his analysis while working on my own.  He does conclude that the letter is carefully written (in contrast to many) and that the author did not follow the directions of any of the classical handbooks on rhetoric.  Any examination of the structure of Titus ought to interact with Classen.


(You can see my differences with Classen either by comparing his work with my monograph or a brief article, “Structure and Cohesion in Titus,” published in The Bible Translator 53:1 (Jan 2002):118-33.)

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).