Papers from ETS Group Published in Journal

img_3602We had a great session at the Pastoral Epistles study group at ETS last week with four strong papers. I was pleased to announce in our session that the latest issue of the Southeastern Theological Review has been released and is devoted to the Pastoral Epistles. Most of the articles came from papers previously presented in our study group. Editor, Ben Merkle, has done a wonderful job bringing these together. Here are the contents:

“Kinship, Christian Kinship, and the Letters to Timothy and Titus,” Charles J. Bumgardner

“Divergent, Insurgent or Allegiant? 1 Timothy 5:1-2 and the Nature of God’s Household,” Gregory A. Couser

“Paul’s Family of God: What Familial Language in the Pastorals Can and Cannot Tell Us about the Church,” Gregory J. Stiekes

“Πιστος ὁ λόγος: An Alternative Analysis,” L. Timothy Swinson

“Paul’s Letters to Timothy and Titus: A Literature Review (2009-2015),” Charles J. Bumgardner

“Interview with Ray Van Neste of Union University”

Several of the papers deal with the household and family language of the Pastorals, and I found them particularly helpful. Tim Swinson challenges the typical way of understanding Paul’s use of the phrase “πιστoς ὁ λόγος.” If you’ve been reading this site, you are already aware of Bumgardner’s bibliographic grasp, and his literature review here is quite helpful.

I had the privilege of doing an interview on how the Pastoral Epistles discussing how they have impacted my life, noting some ongoing work and pointing to various ways the church needs the Pastorals specifically today.

Southeastern posts the full journal free online, so I expect it will appear at their website soon.

Update: This issue is now available online. I have also linked the first reference to the journal above to this issue. The website provides a link to the full issue as well as to specific articles.


Fred Sanders, Moral Beauty in the Pastoral Epistles

Fred Sanders, well known for his work on the Trinity, has been recently working with the Pastoral Epistles and his post, “Moral Beauty in the Pastoral Epistles,” is well worth reading. He reflects on Chapter 5 of Ceslaus Spicq’s 1963 The Trinity and our Moral Life, a book which I must confess I have not read. Sanders notes how richly Spicq draws from the the Pastorals in his discussion of the beauty of the moral life  and suggests this ethical discussion may be part of the reason for the distinct vocabulary of the Pastorals.

Sanders writes:

This is the gospel expressed not just with the change of a few words into a more hellenistic moral vocabulary, but in a way that actually lays hold of and commandeers what is best in that ancient pagan tradition. The unique vocabulary that Paul used in these letters to his deputies, the half-gentile Timothy and the fully-gentile Titus, is a bold missionary appropriation of Greek ethics.

The full post is well worth reading.

Summary of recent Dutch Dissertation on Ethical Instruction in the PE

Klinker-De Klerk, Myriam. Herderlijke regel of inburgeringscursus? Een bijdrage aan het onderzoek naar de ethische richtlijnen in 1 Timoteüs en Titus [Pastoral Rule or Lesson on Assimilation? A Contribution to the Research on the Ethical Instructions in 1 Timothy and Titus]. Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum Academic, 2013.


Students of the Pastoral Epistles who do not read Dutch will be glad to know that an English-language summary of this dissertation has been provided in Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters 3.2 (2013): 263-67. Here, I’ll merely provide a summary of the summary. Page references are to the summary in JSPL, not the dissertation itself.

In her dissertation, Klinker-De Klerk addresses the common assumption that the PE witness to a christliche Bürgerlichkeit, a “bourgeois Christianity” that encourages an accommodation to prevailing social conventions as Christians hunker down for a stay in this present world which is longer than first expected. Reading the PE as authentically Pauline, she examines the ethical instructions in 1 Timothy and Titus, focusing on the area of male-female relationships. First, she works “internally,” examining the regulations of 1Tim/Titus against prevailing social conventions. Along the way, she gives particular attention to the stated motives behind the regulations. Second, she works “externally,” comparing the regulations in question with those in an undisputed Pauline letter, 1 Corinthians.

Her findings:

(1) “The examined instructions in 1 Timothy and Titus correspond highly to the prevailing ethics at the time.” (264)

(2) “The motives that accompany the regulations in 1 Timothy and Titus are diverse,” and include both internally and externally oriented motives. (264-65)

(3) “The idea of the church preparing for a long-term stay in this world is nowhere explicitly stated.” (265)

(4) Comparing 1Tim/Tit to 1Cor highlights marital fidelity (1 Tim 3:2, 12; 5:9; Titus 1:6; 1 Cor 7:1-7) and subordination of the wife to the husband (1 Tim 2:8—3:1a; Titus 2:4-5; 1 Cor 11:2-16; 14:33b-36). In this regard, “1 Timothy and Titus do not point to an increased adaptation to social conventions.” (265)

(5) Motivational parallels exist between 1Tim/Tit and 1Cor. “In both cases, the apostle provides for an ‘ontological’ reasoning by recalling the story of creation. Further, in both cases there is a ‘practical’ reasoning that has to do with the ‘internal’ concern for the orderly course of the Christian meetings on the one hand and with the ‘external’ concern for the attractiveness of Christianity to outsiders on the other hand.” (265)

(6) Although both 1Tim/Tit and 1Cor highlight the male-female relationship from an “outer” perspective—“what is said about the relationship is viewed within a broader social perspective”—1 Cor also gives particular attention to the “inner” perspective, emphasizing reciprocity. (265)

(7) Differences between 1Tim/Tit and 1Cor are most notable as regards motivation. (a) The “ontological” reasoning is applied to women and men (i.e., more “equally”) in 1Cor. (b) Honor/shame discourse is stronger in 1Cor. (c) Motivations to marital fidelity vary, due to the varying contexts of the instruction: in 1Tim/Tit, the context is the need for irreproachable conduct for various groups in the church, which conduct is “in turn, motivated by reasons of community stability and the public image of the Christians”; in 1Cor, the motive for marital fidelity is “the desire to prevent sin.” (265-66)

(8) Understanding the PE as actual Pauline letters to co-workers provides a reasonable explanation for the points of contrast between 1Tim/Titus and 1Cor.

All in all, there are significant points of contact between the ethical instructions in view in 1Tim/Titus and 1Cor, while “the differences can be accounted for by the different audiences and the practical orientation of the letters.” (266) Klinker-De Klerck is rather narrowly focused in her treatment, so rightly notes that her results do not in themselves invalidate the christliche Bürgerlichkeit hypothesis. All the same, her findings do not support it.

[Guest post from Chuck Bumgardner]

New Items from Reggie Kidd

Reggie Kidd, a leading scholar on the Pastorals, has reflected on what the letter to Titus can say to us in an election year. 

You can also find a three part lecture series of his on the topic, “How Pauline are the Pastoral Epistles?” here.

(HT: James Grant)