Pastorals Section at ETS 2019

We had a good meeting of the Pastoral Epistles Study Group at ETS last week. Stan Porter was unable to attend due to health issues, so we missed his paper. We were glad to hear, though, that he is on the mend.

David Yoon presented his paper, “The Register of Paul in 1 Timothy: Why the Pastorals May Differ in ‘Style’ than the Hauptbrief,” which summarized the linguistic category of “register” which covers what people generally refer to as “style” when they say that the style of the PE differ so much from the accepted Pauline epistles. In the end, Yoon argued there is not enough evidence to establish what an acceptable variance would be, and thus that difference in register is slim basis for any argument concerning authorship. Yoon’s analysis then agrees with the significant recent monograph by 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).

My paper came second and was a revision of the paper I presented at the Mainz conference a couple of months earlier. My central contention was that according to the text of Titus, the ethical admonitions in the letter are not culturally driven but are rooted in the gospel itself. The ethical instruction is presented as necessary entailments of the gospel, such that to reject them is to show that one does not know God (1:16). A final version is to be published in a volume with the other essays from the Mainz conference.

Our last paper, “Salvation History in Six Lines: Reading 1 Timothy 3:16b as an Interconnected Whole,” was by John Percival who is working on a PhD at Cambridge under the supervision of Simon Gathercole. Percival noted the long-standing debate about how to read the six lines of this verse and argued that they should be read in order as following chronologically. Key to such an argument is arguing that the last line “taken up in glory” refers not to the ascension (as is often thought) but to the final enthronement of Christ. I found the argument quite persuasive. This will be part of his completed thesis, and hopefully will be published on it’s won as an article soon.

We are planning for next year, so if you are interested in presenting a paper next year or some time feel free to contact me at rayvanneste at gmail.com

Mission in the Pastoral Epistles: Two Newly Available Resources

In the twentieth century, the influential German commentary of Martin Dibelius (revised by Hans Conzelmann), Die Pastoralbriefe (4th ed.; HNT 13; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1966) was mediated to the English-speaking world in the Hermeneia series as The Pastoral Epistles (trans. Philip Buttolph and Adela Yarbro; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972). One of the key points of influence was the christliche Bürgerlichkeit proposal popularized in the commentary. This idea of the “good Christian citizen” traded on the notion that the Pastorals were written in light of decreased expectation of the parousia, and that in order to survive a hostile world, believers were going to have to learn to settle in for the long haul. In Dibelius’s reading of the Pastorals, “settling in” meant “fitting in,” and the letters were concerned to help Christians maintain a low profile, so to speak, by living in such a way that the surrounding culture would look on with at least a measure of approval. Dibelius’s proposal was heavily grounded in 1 Tim 2:1-2, and found support in the concern with the perception of outsiders found throughout the letters.

The christliche Bürgerlichkeit proposal received significant pushback, however, when the mission-oriented nature of the letters was given its due. The monograph of Philip Towner, The Goal of Our Instruction: The Structure of Theology and Ethics in the Pastoral Epistles (JSNTSS 34; Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic, 1989; repr., Bloomsbury Academic Collections; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), provided an important response to Dibelius, which was later mediated through his influential NICNT commentary, The Letters to Timothy and Titus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006).

Towner, however, is not the only one who has emphasized the mission-oriented nature of the letters, and two works in the same vein have recently come to be available.

Chiao Ek Ho’s Aberdeen dissertation, “Do the Work of an Evangelist: The Missionary Outlook of the Pastoral Epistles” (2000), written under I. Howard Marshall, was unfortunately never published as a monograph, though its core substance was made available in “Mission in the Pastoral Epistles,” in Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles (ed. Andreas J. Köstenberger and Terry L. Wilder; Nashville: B&H: 2010), 241‒267. The dissertation itself may now be accessed at EThOS (here is the link, along with an abstract), and to my understanding has only recently been available. All students of the Pastorals should obtain it.

Additionally, Andreas J. Köstenberger has just produced an article-length treatment: “An Investigation of the Mission Motif in the Letters to Timothy and Titus with Implications for Pauline Authorship.” BBR 29.1 (2019): 49–64 (abstract and full article available here). This article is grounded in (and goes beyond) the biblical-theological work done on mission in the Pastorals as set forth in Köstenberger’s recent Commentary on 1‒2 Timothy & Titus (BTCP; Nashville, TN: Holman, 2017).

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)

Van Nes, Pauline Language and the Pastoral Epistles

Cover Pauline Language and the Pastoral Epistles

Van Neste reviews van Nes. In the current issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Ray Van Neste provides a 1000-word evaluation of the recent and important 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. [Brill description; N.B.! The very valuable appendices — over 250 pages worth of data — are open access through the Brill page: “Hapax Legomena in the Corpus Paulinum“; “Lexical Richness in the Corpus Paulinum“; “Missing Indeclinables in the Corpus Paulinum“; “Interclausal Relations in the Corpus Paulinum“; “Structure Irregularities in the Corpus Paulinum.” Not to mention van Nes’s extensive bibliography.]

“It would be difficult to overstate the significance of this contribution to the study of the Pastoral Epistles.”

Read the entire review here.

Interview with Bob Yarbrough about His New Commentary

Mike Bird has posted an interview with Bob Yarbrough about his new commentary on the Pastoral Epistles which has just recently been released. It is well worth reading, imbued with the verve and insight we’ve come to expect from Yarbrough.

Here is just one example:

Paul talks a lot about guarding the faith (1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 1:14). How do we “guard” the faith that has been entrusted to us today?

Assuming we have come into a saving relationship with God through repentance and faith in Christ who died for us and rose, we have to know and be growing in the faith. I’m not talking about the experience of faith but the articles of true Christian belief. The Apostles’ Creed is a good summary. Western Christianity has notoriously often gutted Christian belief of its pillars, like Jesus’ divinity and resurrection. We don’t guard the faith when we alter it to satisfy the demands of its cultured despisers, or when we make it more about human experience than the divine verities that give religious experience its validity.

Do yourself a favor and read this brief interview.

2 Timothy written in Philippi?

At his Patheos blog, Michael Bird recently cited a lengthy portion from Helmut Koester’s History and Literature of Early Christianity where Koester argues that 2 Timothy (which he takes as pseudonymous) was written from Philippi. After mentioning the various locations Paul refers to in the latter part of the letter, Koester states, “Any glance at a map will show that he thought of Paul as imprisoned in Philippi.” He is not mildly suggesting. See the full section at Bird’s blog.

This depends on the pseudonymity of the letter, of which I am not convinced, but it is intriguing to see this argument. It would be interesting to connect this with the work of Peter Walker who has made fresh arguments for placing the PE within the chronology.

Pastoral Epistles ETS Study Group, Next Week

If you are coming to ETS next week in San Antonio, I hope you will join us for our study group on the Pastorals. We have a great line up of papers again this year as you can see from the schedule below. I have included the room, date, time, speakers and titles. Jermo Van Nes will not be able to join us, but he has sent me his paper and I will read it in his stead.

SESSION INFORMATION
11/16/2016

8:30 AM-11:40 AM
Hyatt — Bowie C

Moderator
Ray Van Neste, Union University

8:30 AM—9:10 AM
Ardel Caneday, University of Northwestern- St. Paul
“Save Yourself and the People Who Hear You: An Authentic Pauline Exhortation”

9:20 AM—10:00 AM
Jermo Van Nes, Evangelische Theologische Faculteit
“Motif-Semantic Differences in Paul? A Question to Advocates of the Pastorals’ Plural Authorship”

10:10 AM—10:50 AM
Andreas Köstenberger, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“An Investigation of the Mission Motif in the Letters to Timothy and Titus with Implications for Pauline Authorship”

11:00 AM—11:40 AM
Gordon Franz, Christian Information Ministries
“The Archaeological Background to the Epistle of Titus and the First-Century church on the Island of Crete”

The Impact of the Incoherence & Inauthenticity Argument

I just discovered that my article, “Authorship and Coherence in 1 Timothy,” was published in December in the Global Journal of Classic Theology. The article is a version of a paper originally delivered at the Pastoral Epistles study group at the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting. It is a brief examination of some of theological convictions behind the turn in academia against 1 Timothy (and the Pastorals in general). Here is the abstract:

Abstract: This brief essay surveys the move away from confidence in the Pauline authorship towards increasing marginalization of all the Pastoral Epistles today. Critics of Schleiermacher in the 1800’s warned that his arguments against 1 Timothy would lead to further drift from orthodoxy. Though those critiques were derided at the time, the warnings have proven true. We need a renewed evaluation of what has been missed in evangelical scholarship by too easily leaving the Pastoral Epistles out of our conversations on Paul.

Keener on Acts & The Pastorals

In the third volume of Craig Keener’s massive Acts commentary, he has a long excursus on the relationship between Acts and the Pastorals (pp. 3023-3026). Probably the most significant part of the excursus is the thorough chart listing the itineraries (people, places and events) of the Pastorals, Acts and the earlier Pauline letters side by side. This is very helpful. In the end, Keener is convinced of a second imprisonment for Paul which is described in 2 Timothy- the traditional explanation.

Pauline Communities as ‘Scholastic Communities’: A Study of the Vocabulary of ‘Teaching’ in 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus

scholastic communitiesSteve Walton has written a helpful review of Claire Smith’s monograph, Pauline Communities as ‘Scholastic Communities’: A Study of the Vocabulary of ‘Teaching’ in 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, WUNT 2/335 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012). The monograph is a revision of her PhD thesis which was supervised by Peter Bolt.

It sounds like this book will be useful for PE studies. Her choice of the Pastorals along with 1 Corinthians is quite intriguing as is her defense. Apparently she does not take a position on the authorship issue but in the end suggests the similarities between the PE and 1 Corinthians which she finds should at least cause pause for those assuming non-Pauline authorship.

Additionally, with the significance of teaching in the PE, the amount of data gathered here (the book is 555 pages!) promises to be helpful for PE research.

Smith affirms the earlier evaluation of E. Judge that the earliest Christian communities were marked particularly by learning. In the end, while affirming the idea of Judge she says his phrase “scholastic communities” does not communicate as well (missing the relational aspects of teaching found in these letters, for example) and suggests a better phrase would be “learning communities.” Interestingly, this is the very phrase used by J I Packer, in a popular piece, which I mentioned previously.