Amanuensis.  Paratheke.

I really need to stop trying to type while I’m asleep.

A Handful of Thoughts on Authorship

Of the papers from Washington, Wayne Brindle’s and Jens Herzer’s have given me the most food for thought. 

FIRST, Herzer’s work (along with Trobisch’s) has pushed me further along toward abandoning the term “pseudonymity” in regard to the PE.  If the letters were deceptively written in Paul’s name, then call the darn things FORGERIES.  No other term fits the bill.  Ultimately, “pseudonymity” is a euphemism, a “weasel-word.”

SECOND, Brindle (page 6), when summarizing Marshall’s work on authorship, briefly describes three mediating positions between direct Pauline authorship and out and out forgery.  They are:

  1. a free amenuensis;
  2. “someone may have edited and published several of Paul’s writings after his death” (emphasis added)
  3. Marshall’s allonymity, where “someone close to [Paul] may have continued to write as he would have done, perhaps completing some works that Paul had begun.”

Brindle’s paper is an argument against #3 in favor of #1. 

My own position is a modified version of #2.  The PE are the published editions of Paul’s teachings (tradition, i.e., both oral and written material), posthumously published.  The member of Paul’s circle most likely to edit and publish these materials in this way is Timothy himself.  He is acting as Paul’s tradent, the keeper of Paul’s diatheke, in much the same way as Plato served as Socrates’s tradent.

Reflections on Requiring My Own Book

In the previous post, I wrote that last Spring semester, I required my undergrad Pastoral Epistles class to purchase and write book reports on my book, Leadership Succession in the World of the Pauline Circle.  I want to unpack my comment.

I came to KCU in fall 2003.  I have taught the Pastoral Epistles to undergrads (300-level) every spring since then.  I have also taught these letters in an online graduate seminar.

The graduate seminar students had few problems with my book.  They understood it, were able to summarize the contents, and even offered a few helpful criticisms. 

The Spring 2006 class: half the class was completely lost.  One of the problems was that I had several second-semester Freshmen in the class.  Freshmen should not take 300- or 400-level Bible classes.  (Of course, ONE of the Freshmen actually did handle the book pretty well.)

I did not require the book in Spring 2004 or 2005, because it had not been released yet.  But my impression of my students in those semesters was that they would have been able to handle the book, and would have benefitted from it even as they struggled with it. 

My observations:

  1. The quality of students in a given class can fluctuate wildly from
    semester to semester.  This is frustrating for those of us professors
    who really want our students to understand and benefit from the
    material we try to teach them.
  2. This is also one of the attendant joys of trying to teach serious Biblical studies classes in a Liberal Arts setting.  In some of my Bible classes, I’ll have 30-40% of the students who are ministry majors.  I may teach the same class the next year, but have only 10% of the students majoring in Bible or ministry.
  3. I tried to aim the book so that educated ministers, church leaders, etc., could benefit from it.  It was not just written for eggheads like me.  Most semesters, my Pastoral Epistles classes would have gotten it.
  4. I should quit beating myself up for requiring the book, and just chalk it up to experience. 
  5. Will I require future undergraduate classes to purchase and use my book?  Yes, but I’ll check the majors of preregistered students, etc., to determine ahead of time if they can handle the book. 

What I’m Doing with My Christmas Vacation

So what am I doing over my Christmas break?

BIG TASK #1: generating syllabi for not one but TWO Pastoral Epistles-related classes for the spring. 

  1. FIRST is a 300-level class in the Pastorals.  I’ve taught this class every spring since I’ve been at KCU and have NOT been happy with it, ever.  Previously, I’ve taught it where the students had to write several small research papers on issues like authorship, women in the PE, etc.  I’ve also done it with other types of projects and papers.  THIS SEMESTER, I’m going to have students make group presentation on the hot topics (women in the church, church discipline, etc.)
  2. SECOND is a class in expository preaching, which I’m teaching because our preaching professor left and hasn’t been replaced.  I’m going to focus on exegesis and sermon development, and the Pastorals will be our primary text.

What books are we using?  Towner’s new commentary; Luke Johnson’s offering from the Knox Preaching Guides, which I’ve had reprinted; Mark Harding’s What Are They Saying about the Pastoral Epistles?; I think that’s it.

Last spring, I required students in the undergrad class to purchase and write a book report on my book, Leadership Succession in the World of the Pauline Circle.  It was a disaster.  I felt guilty about requiring my students to spend $85 on my book, and it was WAY too far over their heads.

So now I only require it for my graduate seminar in the Pastorals. 

Other things I’m doing, non-Pastorals related:

  • BIG TASK #2: Installing Pergo on the top floor of our house.  It’s a
    Christmas present for both me and my wife.  Honestly, it’s more a
    present for my wife, but I’ve always wanted it too!
  • Doing all kinds of church and ministry related stuff;
  • Doing all kinds of family stuff–Christmas concerts, basketball practice, daddy’s taxi service, shopping and cleaning up;
  • Teaching an online class (200-level Gospel of Luke) from 15 December through the end of January.  I’ve got a ton of emails and online discussion posts to read every day.  (We’re using SAKAI, btw, and it ain’t great.)
  • And (of course) watching football and eating way too much.

More on Pseudepigraphy

Rob Bradshaw, of the ever-helpful, has recently posted the following article:

Donald Guthrie, “The Development of the Idea of Canonical Pseudopigraphy in New Testament Criticism,” Vox Evangelica 1 (1962): 43-59.

With the necessity to consider the view that the Pastoral Epistles are pseudepigraphal (or perhaps “allonymical”?), the article — which I have not read — sounds like one to read.

Note that Guthrie is the author of the Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles.

Update (2006-12-12): I’ve read the article now and can recommend it. Guthrie unsurprisingly concludes that those who support a theory of canonical pseudepigrapha have built upon a shoddy foundation. Well worth the reading.

Updates and News

As you’ve likely noticed, there have been several changes here at

The biggest change is that there is now more than one blogger. In addition to Rick Brannan (yours truly), Perry L. Stepp, Lloyd Pietersen and Ray Van Neste have agreed to begin posting to

Perry is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Kentucky Christian University. He’s recently had a book published by the Sheffield Phoenix Press, Leadership Succession in the World of the Pauline Circle. He’s also presented papers at SBL in the Disputed Paulines group. It’s great to have him aboard.

There will likely be at least one more blogger added to the team; more information on that in a future post.

Lloyd is a Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies  at the University of Bristol. Here’s some further information on Dr. Pietersen from his web site:

Dr Lloyd Pietersen obtained his PhD from the University of Sheffield. His thesis has been published as The Polemic of the Pastorals: A Sociological Examination of the Development of Pauline Christianity (JSNTSup 264; London/New York: T & T Clark International, 2004). He is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bristol and is co-chair of the Social World of the New Testament Seminar at the British New Testament Conference.

Ray is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies and Director of the R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University. He is also author of Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles (JSNTSup 280; Lonon/New York: T&T Clark International, 2004). And he has his own personal blog too.

What is this site all about, then?

Well, it’s about the Pastoral Epistles. Folks who blog here have a more-than-average interest in the Pastorals. We’ll blog about stuff like:

  • Quick reviews of books, articles, chapters, etc. that we read that have to do with the Pastorals. The same book or article may be discussed by multiple authors on the site.
  • Extended reviews.
  • Reviews of or interaction with conference presentations or papers.
  • Interaction with other web sites, blog posts, etc. that mention things that primarily or tangentially refer to the Pastoral Epistles.
  • Thoughts, musings and whatnot. We’ll feel free to use the blog as a scratch pad of sorts as we think through topics or exegetical points having to do with the Pastoral Epistles.
  • Whatever else seems interesting to us, as long as we can relate it back to the Pastorals.

If you’re familiar with the older site, it is still available at Content may or may not migrate over to the new site.

Anyway, thanks for your support of the site. Please bear with us while we get the place set up. And please do update your RSS / Feed reader links. The new link is You can use this in any feedreader/aggregator or online tool such as BlogLines.

Tell your friends!