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

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)

Papers for the 2018 ETS Annual Meeting

The draft for the schedule of the 2018 annual meeting of ETS has been released, including the slate of papers for the Pastoral Epistles session which will meet on Wednesday morning. I have pasted in the details below.

8:30 AM-11:40 AM

Moderator: Ray Van Neste (Union University)

8:30 AM—9:10 AM
Terry Wilder (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
A Pauline Theology of the Holy Spirit in the Letters to Timothy and Titus

9:20 AM—10:00 AM
Jeff Cockrell (Welch College)
The Good Deposit in 2 Timothy: Its Content and Trust

10:10 AM—10:50 AM
L. Timothy Swinson (Liberty University)
1 Timothy as a Matrix for the ‘Lawful’ Use of the Law

11:00 AM—11:40 AM
David Chapman (Covenant Theological Seminary)
The Pastoral Epistles and the Legacy of the Hauptbriefe Discussion

Synopsis of the PE Group at ETS 2017

We had a great meeting for the Pastoral Epistles study group at ETS last week, with strong attendance for four helpful papers.

For our first paper we invited Fred Sanders, one of the leading systematic theologians in evangelicalism today. I had noticed a few years ago that Sanders was doing some work on the Pastorals. I contacted him and found out that he was teaching on the letters for a lay institute. He was making shrewd observations on social media, so I was intrigued to see what insight a careful theologian might bring to our question of how serious engagement of the Pastorals might impact our view of Paul.

Sanders titled his paper, “Grace the Civilizer: Paul Undomesticated in the Pastoral Epistles.” He argued that the sheer oddness of the PE gives important information on Paul and that to ignore the Pastorals would be to domesticate Paul. This is a great point and well put, since the typical charge is that the PE tame down the robust Paul. However, today, people seem to shy away from embracing the claims on the PE.

Sanders described the vocabulary of the PE as “a bold, missionary appropriation of Hellenistic moral vocabulary.”  Focusing particularly on Titus, he highlighted the letters concern for form, beauty and order. He argued that Paul’s point was that the grace civilizes people, not merely in a bourgeois fashion leading to dull lives, but in a missional fashion leading to lives of moral beauty which honor God and attract others to the gospel.

Eckhard Schnabel, with a nod to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, presented 40 theses on “Paul and the Next Generation of Christian Leaders: The Contribution of the Pastoral Epistles to New Testament Ecclesiology.” In bullet point fashion, Schnabel drew key points for ministry which are found in the PE. Quite appropriately in light of the letters in view, Schnabel practically preached certain potions, urging the necessity of personal evangelism, prayer, and endurance. Noting how Paul roots his labors in the saving work of Christ, Schnabel said, referring the work of Christ, “there are some things Christian leaders never stop talking about.”

Greg Couser, from Cedarville University and co-chair of the PE study group, presented “The Judgment of Believers in 2 Timothy: What is Judged and What is the Outcome?” Couser noted that not much work has been done on the numerous references to final judgement in 2 Timothy. Taking the various opinions on the final judgement of believers listed in Schreiner and Caneday (The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance), Couser asked which position seems best to fit the evidence in 2 Timothy. Along the way Couser demonstrated that 2 Timothy has much to say about this important topic even though works on Pauline theology tend to neglect this data. Here is an excerpt where Couser states his basic conclusion:

From what Paul seems to say in 2 Tim, his view of the believer’s judgment fits most easily into the “loss of rewards” category. The warnings are more than just rhetorical devices and they are for believers. There is something to lose, though reprobation is not in view. Nonetheless, Paul also reflects an inner-dynamic of the Christian life that makes it impossible to envision any acts of unfaithfulness by a believer as anything more than lapses from an otherwise progressive movement toward greater delight in Christ and service to him.

Marty Feltham, who is finishing his PhD at Macquarie University in Sydney, concluded the session with his paper, “Carefully Crafted or a Clumsy Imitation? Assessing the Argument of 1 Timothy 2:1-7.” One of the things I have been particularly pleased with in our study group has been the opportunity to hear such good papers from younger scholars who are just finishing or just recently finished their doctoral work. Feltham maintained that tradition with a strong argument for the coherence of the theological argument in 1 Timothy 2:1-7 and the connection of this section with the rest of the letter. Following the argument of his recent article in Tyndale Bulletin, Feltham demonstrated that 2:5-6 was a Christological reworking of the Shema (Deut 6:4-5). Contrary to those who have long said the PE lacked anything more than clumsy theological imitation, Feltham argued that 1 Timothy 2:5-6 was a thoughtful and well-worked piece of theological argumentation “perfectly tailored to the rhetorical and polemical needs of the letter.” I thought this was a fascinating paper and I am excited to learn of one more able scholar working in the Pastoral Epistles.