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.

New Edition of Calvin’s Sermons on 1 Timothy

Calvin sermons coverI have finally published the new edition of Calvin’s sermons on 1 Timothy which Brian Denker and I worked on for so long. Due to its size (330,000+ words) the digital format seemed a good way to go, so it is published through Amazon for Kindle. The cost is only $2.99 for all 54 sermons.

These sermons reveal Calvin’s pastoral heart, his evangelistic fervor, and his devotion to the word of God. I have posted my introduction and a sample sermon for free so you can get a feel for the book.

I have pasted in below the commendations for the book which I have received. Howard Marshall has enthusiastically responded to my email saying he wanted to write a commendation, but sadly he passed away before being able to write it. Howard commented on how Andrew Walls read from these sermons (directly from the French original) at one of the early InterVarsity meetings he attended as a student.

I hope these sermons can encourage, challenge, and bless others as they have me.

“In this new edition of Calvin’s sermons on the Pastoral Epistles we meet the Reformer at his liveliest and most compelling. The subject matter lends itself to practical application, and here we see Calvin at the height of his pastoral powers. This new edition brings the original to life for our generation and we must hope that it will be widely read and used by preachers everywhere.”

  • Gerald Bray, Research Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

“So many think of John Calvin as a theologian, as one who lived separate from the people writing theological books in splendid isolation. But Calvin was a pastor who was involved in the rough and tumble of everyday life. Above all else, he was a preacher, one who proclaimed the word of God to the people of God. We see in these sermons the heart of a preacher as he exhorts and instructs his congregation. Calvin’s theology was not abstract to him; it was meant to be believed and lived out in the home and in the market place. In these sermons on 1 Timothy we see Calvin the pastor at work as he proclaims God’s word for the church of Jesus Christ. Read and be instructed, challenged, encouraged, convicted, and changed.”

  • Tom Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Ray Van Neste has done English readers a great service by making John Calvin’s sermons on 1 Timothy readily accessible. The 1579 English translation is simply too intimidating for many modern readers to tackle leaving the theological and pastoral wisdom of the reformer in these sermons virtually locked away. This edition is completely retyped using modern words and phrases to maintain the original English meaning. Where serious questions remained these then were checked against the original French in which the sermons first appeared. A helpful introduction which includes a suggested approach to reading the sermons makes this work all the more valuable. Those who know Calvin only as a theologian will discover in these sermons that he was a first and foremost a tender, compassionate and evangelist pastor. I hope this book gains a wide reading.”

  • Tom Ascol, Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Cape Coral, FL

“Today’s preachers have much to gain by reading and studying sermons from past masters of the pulpit. Unfortunately, some great preachers of the past are relatively inaccessible because of differences of language. Thus, Ray Van Neste and Brian Denker have done us a great service by editing and updating the 1579 English edition of Calvin’s Sermons on 1 Timothy, making them accessible to 21st century readers. In these 54 sermons, Calvin is revealed not to be the austere theologian of modern caricatures, but a loving, caring pastor who wanted his people to understand the truth of God’s Word. This significant collection will be of interest not only to students of Calvin but to any reader interested in better understanding Paul’s inspired first letter to his protégé Timothy.”

  •   Michael Duduit, Executive Editor, Preaching magazine, and Dean of the College of Christian Studies & Clamp Divinity School, Anderson University, Anderson, SC

 

1 Timothy at International SBL 2015

The upcoming 2015 International Meeting of SBL lists three papers on the 1 Timothy. The first looks like the most interesting to me. It would be interesting to see how Graham’s work compares to that of Tim Swinson. Tamez’s title sounds like it may be drawn from her monograph which was not impressive. Thanks to Chuck Bumgardner for pointing out these titles and abstracts.

Graham, Brett M. “The Intertextuality of 1 Timothy: A Comparison of the Allusions to the Septuagint and the Jewish Pseudepigrapha in the Epistle.” Paper presented at the International Meeting of the SBL, Buenos Aires, 22 July 2015.

Abstract: The Pastoral Epistles extol the Holy Scriptures as being foundational for Christian living (2 Tim 3:15-16; cf. 1 Tim 4:13), but there is only one actual citation of these Scriptures (1 Tim 5:18) in all three of the letters. Even when the handful obvious quotations are considered, there is still not the level of engagement that might be expected from the writings described as ‘useful for every good work’ (2 Tim 3:16). Meanwhile, the quotation from Epimenides in Tit 1:12 suggests that the author of the Epistles may have also had a number of other sources to draw upon. This paper seeks to investigate the way that the first of the Pastoral Epistles, 1 Timothy, engages with external sources. Particular attention will be given to the influence of both the Septuagint and the Jewish (or O.T.) Pseudepigrapha, including a comparison of the manner and extent that these two sets of documents are referenced. In this process, a distinction will be drawn between simple idioms, influences and allusions. In simple idioms, the Epistle will share vocabulary or ideas with a possible source text but there will be no apparent reason, or benefit, of referring to that text. In contrast, the source text for an influence or allusion will provide an answer to unresolved problem in the Epistle. By applying such categories consistently throughout the whole of 1 Timothy, a clear picture of the importance of these extant documents will be evident.

Houwelingen, Rob van. “Meaning and Significance of the Instruction about Women in 1 Timothy 2:12-15.” Paper presented at the International Meeting of the SBL, Buenos Aires, 23 July 2015.

Abstract: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet”. Many Christians of the 21st century feel rather uncomfortable with the instruction about women from 1 Timothy 2. On the basis of his particular passage many church leadership positions have been reserved for men. But how should it be handled? First, I will make some remarks about the meaning of 1 Timothy 2. In regard to the vulnerable male/female relationship within the Christian congregation, the text refers back to the beginning of mankind: the creation, the fall and the redemption of the first human couple, Adam and Eve. The Genesis narrative tells a story of human weakness. In short: Eve was created after Adam; the woman let herself be fooled by Satan and therefore fell into transgression. She, however, would find salvation in her motherhood (1 Tim.2:15a should be translated: “she”, i.e. Eve). After that, I will discuss the significance of this passage for today. It is hermeneutically important to be aware of some key differences between our present context and that of the apostolic church. Let me mention only the central issue. The stipulation that women ought to be silent in the church is consistent with the accepted and prevailing social situation of those days. In our time, however, this command runs counter to the accepted social situation. We should consider that the instruction of 1 Timothy 2 aims to preserve the established order, both in the church and in society. Still, the overall message from 1 Timothy 2 seems to be that peaceful living is essential. Therefore, Christians are supposed to live a ‘normal’ life. Church leadership should empower them, without abusing authority and taking into account the male/female relationship.

Tamez, Elsa. “Struggles for Power in Early Christianity: The Case of 1 Timothy.” Paper presented at the International Meeting of the SBL, Buenos Aires, 21 July 2015. (no abstract)

 

2014 ETS Section Overview

We had a great meeting in the Pastoral Epistles study group at ETS this year, with good attendance and discussion.

The first paper was by David Pao of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School who is currently working on a commentary on the Pastoral Epistles for the Brill Exegetical Commentary series. His paper was titled, “Let No One Despise Your Youth: Church and the World in the Pastoral Epistles”. Examining the cultural background of honor and shame, Pao argued that in 1Timothy Paul’s stance is neither accommodation to the culture nor subversion; “instead he calls for a transformation that both transcends the accepted ideals that Christians could share with the dominant culture and challenges practices and social norms that Christians should abandon.” This was a careful study which helpfully pushes back against those who see in the Pastorals merely cultural accommodation or who think the only other option is complete cultural subversion. This paper is scheduled to appear in JETS soon. Look for it.
Greg Beale from Westminster Theological Seminary adapted a portion of his biblical theology for his paper, “The Origin of the Office of Elder and Its Relationship to the Inaugurated Eschatological Tribulation.” Beale gave a particularly rousing presentation. He argued that the office of elder is rooted in the foretold rise of false teaching in the last days. Elders are part of God’s provision to help the church endure. I appreciated the biblical theological connection and was glad to hear him clarify in the Q&A that the office also had roots in Jewish synagogue practice. Without that clarification, it sounded like he was saying the office arose without precedent.

Dillon Thornton, who has just finished writing his dissertation at the University of Otago, presented his paper titled, “Satan as Adversary and Ally in the Process of Ecclesial Discipline: The Use of the Prologue to Job in1 Cor 5:5 and 1 Tim 1:20.” Thornton argued that in the two passages in view Paul drew from the prologue of Job portraying Satan an enemy of God who can nevertheless play a role in the process of church discipline. I had never thought of a connection with Job in these texts and was skeptical at first. However, Thornton made a compelling case with helpful implications and applications. We will look for more from Thornton in days ahead.

Mark Overstreet from T4 Global, a frontier mission organization, presented a paper titled, “Διδακτικόν: Rethinking the Qualification of Elders after Years in the Bush: Theological Education Among Peoples Who Have No Access to the Written Scriptures.” This was a helpful concluding paper from a practical theology angle. Literacy is assumed in the way we think of education, but what does it look like to equip elders in existing churches in settings where no one has access to written Scriptures? While affirming the great blessing of literacy, Overstreet presented a method of oral instruction being used to equip and serve the church in such settings.

We are currently working on plans for next year’s session. If you would be interested in presenting a paper sometime contact us at pastoralepistles at gmail dot com. And join us for the conversation next year in Atlanta.

New Book on “Scripture” in the PE

I am pleased to announce that Tim Swinson’s book, What Is Scripture?: Paul’s Use of Graphe in the Letters to Timothy (Wipf & Stock) is now available (Amazon, publisher’s site). I was honored to write the foreword for this compelling book which argues that graphe in each instance in 1 & 2 Timothy includes in its reference at least some of the apostolic writings.

Here is the book summary from the publisher:

 Analysis of the literary scheme of the letters to Timothy suggests that graphe, as it is employed in each letter, may legitimately be understood to include some of the apostolic writings that now appear in the New Testament. In affirming the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles, Swinson argues that a form of the Gospel of Luke stands as the source of the second referent of graphe in 1 Tim 5:18. Second, Swinson contends that pasa graphe in 2 Tim 3:16 includes the apostolic writings extant in Paul’s day, specifically Luke’s Gospel and some of Paul’s own writings. These parallel lines of analysis demonstrate that Paul ascribes to his own writings and to those of his coworkers an authoritative standing equal to that of the sacred writings (ta hiera grammata) found in the Old Testament. While many questions surrounding biblical authority and the biblical canon remain, Paul’s use of graphe in 1 and 2 Timothy nevertheless advances a high view of both Old Testament and New Testament Scripture.

Bob Yarbrough has also written a warm commendation:

“This study takes a fresh, critical, and comprehensive look at evidence and arguments often either overlooked or facilely dismissed. The happy result is a better factual foundation for consideration of vital historical questions regarding Christian origins and the role that Scripture played from the church’s inception. Especially welcome are [Swinson’s] careful exegesis, philological rigor, and charitable candor in interaction with other contemporary scholarship.”

 

Lastly, here is the concluding portion of the foreword I wrote:

If his arguments hold (as I think they do), this book has significant implications in several areas. First, this is an important contribution to scholarship on the Pastoral Epistles. The careful exegesis, the discourse and semantic analysis, and the lexical study, not to mention his challenge to the typical reading of γραφη, make this a valuable resource for anyone working in these letters. Then, his thesis that apostolic writings were already recognized in the first century as “Scripture” on par with the Law, the Prophets and the Writings has major implications for our understanding of canon and current debates in that realm.

Careful, detailed and swimming against the tide, this is a bold, compelling book with significant conclusions for scholarship and the church. I have been privileged to encounter Tim’s work in presentations at scholarly conferences along the way and was immediately drawn to the substance and manner of his work- conscientious, cautious and charitable. I am excited that this work will now be available to a wider audience. This book has challenged and helped me, and I commend it to you.

Jack Barentsen’s Emerging Leadership in the Pauline Mission

Just judging from the title, one may not realize that Jack Barentsen’s Emerging Leadership in the Pauline Mission: A Social Identity Perspective on Local Leadership Development in Corinth and Ephesus (Pickwick, 2011) deals extensively with the Pastoral Epistles. In fact in the nine chapters one deals exclusively with 1 Timothy and another with 2 Timothy.

Bartensen is concerned to trace cultural leadership patterns through the Corinthian correspondence, Ephesians and 1-2 Timothy since in a fairly close proximity (between Corinth and Ephesus) you have this many letters written to churches over the span of Paul’s ministry. This reading, of course, depends on Pauline authorship of each of these letters and Bartensen provides a good brief defense of Pauline authorship of the 1-2 Timothy.

I cannot here summarize all of the implications of PE study, but Bartensen’s reading of the situation in 1 Timothy makes good sense of the letter as an example of mandata principis. Paul’s more formal address to Timothy is expected to be overheard by the church particularly the wealthy home owners who would presumably host the church.

This is a helpful contribution to the Pastoral Epistles literature, and I didn’t want anyone to miss it since the Pastorals aren’t mentioned in the title.

The PE at SBL

There were a number of papers on the Pastorals at SBL this year including a full session of the Disputed Paulines study group being devoted to them.

The best paper on the Pastorals which I heard came from Jens Herzer of Leipzig. His paper was titled, “Language and Ideas of the Pastoral Epistles in Light of the Papyri.” Herzer, while not affirming Pauline authorship, has a positive view of these letters and presented solid work on the papyri. He argued for maintaining the individuality of the three letters (rather than simply lumping them together, as is too common), supported the idea of 1 Timothy as mandata principis, and made several other suggestions. Herzer seems to be working on a larger project on the Pastorals, so I will be watching for more from him.

The papers from the Disputed Paulines Section were less constructive and less helpful. The Monday morning session of this group had the theme, “New Methods and the Pastoral Epistles.” I will list each presenter and paper title with a brief interaction.

Ilaria Ramelli, Catholic University of Milan, “Tit 2:1-4, Women Presbyters, and a Patristic Interpretation”

Ramelli essentially argued that Origen affirmed women “elders.” However, even the evidence cited had Origen stating clearly that these women were neither to teach men nor to teach publicly in church. It was not clear to me that “elders” were clearly in view, rather than Origen simply affirming the role of women teaching and encouraging younger women as stated in Titus 2. AS the paper progressed it was not really rooted in Titus 2 but referred to wide ranging sources which alluded to women in ordained ministries. These references were primarily cited but not explained or defended. This paper was similar to her article “Theosebia: A Presbyter of the Catholic Church,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 26.2 (2010): 79-102.

Elsa Tamez, United Bible Society, “The Rhetorical Strategy in 1 Tim 2:8-3:1”

Tamez’s paper followed a similar approach as that found in her book on 1 Timothy. She cited some verbal parallels in this text, though her point was not entirely clear to me. She argued for a basic A, B. A’ structure in various places- some of which has been commonly noted in the literature. She did argue that this text prohibits women from certain ministry but suggested it is not necessarily binding, stating, “There have been men and women who have refused to heed this text.”. She stated, in what may have been an off hand comment, “So the only way out for women is rebellion.”

Marianna Kartzow, University of Oslo, “An Intersectional Approach to the Pastoral Epistles”

Kartzow, author of the recent Gossip and Gender: Othering of Speech in the Pastoral Epistles, essentially approached the Pastorals on the assumption that they are written as late as three generations after Paul and asked “Who needed this memory of Paul?” She was concerned with how different groups- particularly marginalized or oppressed groups- would have “remembered” the ideas contained in the letter. She stated that she did not think the Pastorals were reflections of reality and said we ought to pay as little attention to the Pastoral Epistles as possible because they contain dangerous hierarchies and are texts of terror. She noted, with apparent disappointment that she found little destabilizing ideas in the Pastoral Epistles, i.e. they were socially conventional.

Gail Streete, Rhodes College, “The Pastorals in Rehab; Why They Are Important to Feminism (And It’s Now What You Think)”

Streete is the author of several books, including The Strange Woman: Power and Sex in the Bible. I did not catch why, in her opinion, the Pastorals are important to feminism, though that failure is probably mine due to having listened to too many academic papers in a row. 🙂 She was pessimistic about the possibility of discovering meaning in these letters. She confessed, “I have never learned to love the Pastoral Epistles,” and referred to Deborah Krause’s portrayal of the Pastorals as the “grumpy old uncle” whom you learn to tolerate. She also affirmed the statement of Linda Maloney (in Fiorenza’s Feminist Commentary) that the author of the Pastorals was “a frightened would-be authority on the defensive.”

Comfort, Metzger, Omanson, NET and Westcott & Hort

[NB: Cross-posted from my personal blog, ricoblog. — RB]

In a post on my personal blog I threatened to do some comparisons between Comfort, Metzger, Omanson’s rewrite of Metzger and (where applicable) Westcott & Hort’s "Notes on Selected Passages". First, the list of books:

  • Comfort: $amz(141431034X New Testament Text and Translation Commentary) (Tyndale, 2008)
  • Omanson: $amz(1598562029 A Textual Guide to the New Testament) (German Bible Society, 2006) This is a "geared towards translators" edition of Metzger’s Textual Commentary.
  • Metzger: $amz(1598561642 A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition) (United Bible Societies, 1994)
  • NET: $amz(0737500611 NA27/NET Diglot) (Biblical Studies Press, 2004). I realize that the non-diglot NET has more notes and may have greater coverage, but the diglot is the only edition I have to hand at present.
  • Westcott & Hort: $amz(159244198X The New Testament in the Original Greek: Introduction and Appendix) (Vol. 2). (MacMillan & Co., 1896)

In this post, I’ll provide a list of readings covered in the book of First Timothy. I may expand upon some of the readings in subsquent posts. In this list, the following abbreviations are used: C = Comfort; O = Omanson; M = Metzger; NET = NET Bible TC notes; WH = Westcott & Hort

  • 1Ti 1.1: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 1.4a: C O M
  • 1Ti 1.4b: C O M NET WH
  • 1Ti 1.12: C
  • 1Ti 1.15: O M
  • 1Ti 1.17a: C O M
  • 1Ti 1.17b: C M NET
  • 1Ti 2.1: C O M
  • 1Ti 2.7a: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 2.7b: C
  • 1Ti 3.1 segmentation: O
  • 1Ti 3.1: C M WH
  • 1Ti 3.3: C M
  • 1Ti 3.16 segmentation: O
  • 1Ti 3.16: C O M NET WH
  • 1Ti 4.3: WH
  • 1Ti 4.10: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 4.12: C M
  • 1Ti 5.4: C
  • 1Ti 5.5: C
  • 1Ti 5.16: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 5.18: C O M
  • 1Ti 5.19: M WH
  • 1Ti 5.21: C
  • 1Ti 6.3: C M
  • 1Ti 6.5: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 6.7: C O M NET WH
  • 1Ti 6.9: C O M
  • 1Ti 6.13: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 6.17: C O M
  • 1Ti 6.19: C O M
  • 1Ti 6.21a: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 6.21b: C O M
  • 1Ti subscription: C M

Interesting standouts: First, Comfort’s coverage is most thorough in number of variations handled. Outside of the "segmentation" issues only noted by Omanson, Comfort misses 1Ti 1.15; 4.3; 5.19. These are areas that are of some text-critical interest, but not necessarily where differences arise in translation. Items that Comfort alone handles include 1Ti 1.12; 2.7b; 5.4, 5, 21.

Westcott and Hort don’t intend to be comprehensive (they only have 140 pages for the whole NT), but it is interesting that in 2 of the 5 places they show up, Comfort is silent: 1Ti 4.3; 5.19. The discussion in 1Ti 5.19 is about how a phrase in the Greek text is not found in some extant Latin witnesses. In the case of 1Ti 4.3, it is simply difficult extant text. While these are issues, it is pretty obvious that these sorts of things don’t really fit the target that Comfort (and Omanson) are trying to hit. W&H give text-critical information to text critics; Comfort and Omanson translate the text-critical information for a larger audience. Metzger sort of sits in the middle of both.

I may dig further into some of these, particularly those that have examples in every listed source (perhaps 1Ti 1.4b or 1Ti 6.7? 1Ti 3.16 is so well-known as to be over-analyzed), just to compare the level of discussion and style of notes each edition has. Let me know if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

First Timothy Written to Timothy?

Yep, back on this horse again (see here). The pastor of the church I attend has begun a series on First Timothy. This week we were on 1Ti 1.3-9, but during the sermon I drifted a bit (not much, don’t worry) to think about the intended recipient.

Many people say that First Timothy was written not really to Timothy, but primarily to the church in Ephesus. That is, there is so much in the letter that likely would’ve been elementary to Timothy (who had been Paul’s right-hand man for years by this point) the only reason for it being in there is for Paul to communicate to the church at Ephesus what he had in store for them — what Timothy was going to do — so that Timothy would then be in the clear, authority-wise, to go ahead and do it. (Or something like that)

But, if you look at the overall structure of the grammar in the letter, particularly person/number quality of verbs, it really does sound like it was written to Timothy and not to a group that included Timothy as leader.

In church today, I realized (duh) that communication today is much different than communication in the early Christian era. I agree that Timothy likely knew what his job was, and what Paul expected him to do. But with Paul gone, and for all intents and purposes out of reliable, regular contact; what better form for Timothy to have with him then a letter that clearly, plainly spelled out what Timothy was to do in order to get the Ephesian church back in line?

While Timothy knew the task, what would he do when he was challenged, say, six months into the task, by the false-doctrine purveyors he was attempting to extricate from the church? He could re-consult the letter, and say, "No, Paul really does want me to do this. It really is important. It really is tough. But he’s clear, this is what I’m to do."

This has much in common with P.Tebt.703 (and also here), which was a letter written from a superior to his lieutenant. In simple language it laid out clearly and plainly the expectations the superior has for his underling. The underling surely knew what he was supposed to do, but (as with First Timothy) the letter could also be consulted in the midst of the task to clarify or recall those long-since-forgotten (or at least hazily-remembered) instructions of the superior. After all, he couldn’t send an email, make a phone call, or do a google search to remind himself.

I’m not saying this is exactly the sort of purpose for which First Timothy was written. But it does help me (at this point, anyway) make more sense of the grammar and tone of the letter which seems to say so many things that would be so obvious to Timothy, at least at the time of writing. I’ll have to re-check some commentaries (particularly Witherington and Towner, which as I recall reference P.Tebt.703) to recall once again how the bring P.Tebt.703 into the discussion.

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.