Merz contra Winter

Among the many literary accomplishments of Bruce Winter, onetime warden of Tyndale House and presently professor emeritus at Queensland Theological College, is his engagement of the connection between the Pastorals and their Greco-Roman cultural context. Published works in this regard include:

“The ‘New’ Roman Wife and 1 Timothy 2:9–15: The Search for a Sitz im Leben.” Tyndale Bulletin 51.2 (2000): 285–94.

Providentia for the Widows of 1 Timothy 5.3–16.” Tyndale Bulletin 39 (1988): 83–99.

Roman Wives, Roman Widows: The Appearance of New Women and the Pauline Communities. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. [esp. pp. 97–169 on 1 Tim 2:9–15; 5:11–15; Titus 2:3–5]

“You Were What You Wore in Roman Law: Deciphering the Dress Codes of 1 Timothy 2:9–15.” SBL Forum, n.p. Online.

In Roman Wives, Roman Widows (see, e.g., this review for a general summary), Winter sets forth his understanding of the “new woman” in the Greco-Roman context of the NT, making application to Pauline passages such as 1 Tim 2:9-15 and 1 Tim 5:3-16. As a matter of definition, “The ‘new’ wife or widow in the late Roman Republic and early Empire was the one whose social life was reported to have been pursued at the expense of family responsibilities that included the complex running of households” (5). Winter lays out literary evidence from “(a) the views of contemporary writers covering the late Republic and the early second century A.D.; (b) those of the poets and playwrights; (c) and the legal moves of Augustus where he specifically legislates against this new phenomenon in the late Republican period and the early Empire” (22). He finds that this evidence supports “new mores” of the time which had implications for the social roles of women and “in some cases, endorsed [the ‘new woman’s] illicit sexual liaisons with younger, single men” (3). The “new woman” was characterized by provocative clothing and a loose lifestyle, in contrast with properly modest wives and widows.

Winter’s work has been widely engaged. It plays a significant role, for instance, in Towner’s NICNT commentary on the Pastorals. It has not been, however, uncontroversial. To that end, I point our readership to a just-published, and rather severe, critique: Annette Merz, “‘New’ Woman? Bruce W. Winters These und ihre Rezeption in der exegetischen Diskussion kritisch beleuchtet [Bruce W. Winter’s thesis and its reception in the exegetical discussion critically examined],” in Frauen im antiken Judentum und frühen Christentum (ed. Jörg Frey and Nicole Rupschus; WUNT 2/489; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019), 209-34. Merz has posted a teaser on Academia, providing her faculty email address (a.b.merz@pthu.nl) for readers to obtain a copy of the entire essay.

In her lengthy discussion, Merz contends that Winter reads the ancient evidence too uncritically; appropriates modern historians too selectively and feminist scholarship too rarely; and unduly expands a limited phenomenon of antiquity beyond historically verifiable chronological and geographical bounds. She considers his overall thesis “dubious” (“dubiose,” p. 231), indeed, an “evangelical research-myth” (“ein evangelikaler Forschungsmythos,” p. 234).

My purpose in noting Winter’s and Merz’s work here is not to evaluate either, but simply to highlight the discussion. If students of the Pastorals are leaning heavily on Winter’s work in some particular project or if Winter’s thesis undergirds their understanding of the letters to any great extent, they will at least want to be aware of Merz’s substantial critique.

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.

 

New Article on 1 Tim 5:9-16 by Dillon Thornton

I have previously mentioned the excellent paper by Dillon Thornton presented at our meeting of the Pastoral Epistles group at ETS last year. The paper, titled ” ‘Saying What They Should Not Say’: Reassessing the Gravity of the Problem of the Younger Widows (1 Tim 5:9-16)” has just been published in the most recent issue of JETS. You can see the paper here.

The Pastorals at the 2015 ETS Annual Meeting

The Pastoral Epistles were given significant attention at this year’s Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. First, we had an excellent session in the Pastoral Epistles Group.

Chuck Bumgardner began our session with a paper titled, “Kinship, Fictive Kinship, and the Letters to Timothy and Titus.” Bumgardner compared what these letters say about family relationships and relationships within the body of Christ (Bumgardner used the phrase “fictive kinship” because it is the standard phrase used to refer to social relationships which are seen or described as familial though there is no blood relation ). He argued that Paul’s use of such language in the PE is not incompatible with his use of it in his other letters, and it does not necessarily indicate that the church is moving from an egalitarian stage to a hierarchical one. His paper also provided an initial sounding of the intersection between Christian family and social family roles in the PE, suggesting that Paul navigates such intersections with a missionary concern for outsiders.

Dillon Thornton was snowed in and, therefore, unable to attend. However, he emailed me his paper, and I was able to read it. The paper,“’Saying What They Should Not Say’: Reassessing the Gravity of the Problem of the Younger Widows (1 Tim 5:9-16),” argued that the younger widows were aligned with the false teachers. Paul’s instruction left them three possibilities: 1) to remain with the false teachers and thus under judgment, 2) to marry unbelievers, thus parting ways with the false teachers (who forbid marriage), and still remaining under judgment, or 3) to remarry in the faith, thus parting ways with the false teachers and realigning with the Pauline church. This answers some of the knotty issues of this passage and gives more attention to many of the specifics than I have seen elsewhere.

Greg Couser’s paper, “The Church as Family: The Nature of the Household of God in 1 Timothy,” argued that the relationships within the church are not merely “fictive” but are in fact more real than blood relations, as Jesus himself said (Matt 12:46-49). Couser provided a robust argument that the ethics of 1 Timothy are not based in cultural accommodation but in the gospel itself. This is a crucial point for understanding the PE since their ethics are so often dismissed or overturned because they are seen as culturally bound.

​Peter Walker closed the session with his paper,  “1 Timothy & Titus Relocated: Reimagining the Connections.”​ Walker argued for placing the PE within the framework of the book of Acts. He has made this argument in print previously, but in this paper he discussed implications of this view including connections between these letters and 1-2 Corinthians and Romans. He also argued this would remove several common critiques of the PE. While, in the end, I was not convinced, Walker made many good challenging points which helped me think more clearly about the dating of the letters.

In addition to our session, several other papers related to the Pastorals were presented. Thanks to Chuck Bumgardner for gathering this list.

Bryan Blazosky (Central Baptist Theological Seminary) “Why 1 Timothy 1:8-11 Ought to be Used in Paul and the Law Studies”

Christopher R. Bruno (Cedarville University) “One God, One People, One Mediator: The Use of the One God Formula in the Disputed Pauline Epistles”

Jamin Hübner (John Witherspoon College) “The Evolution of Complementarian Exegesis” (This is equivalent to Jamin Hübner, “The Evolution of Complementarian Exegesis,” Priscilla Papers 29/1 (Winter 2015), 11-13.

Chris S. Stevens (McMaster Divinity College) “Titus in P32 and Sinaiticus: Textual Reliability and Scribal Design”

Gregory J. Stiekes (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) “Paul’s Family of God: What Familial Language in the Pastorals Can and Cannot Tell Us about the Church”

Also, the book this panel discussed had a chapter on the PE:

Panel Discussion: Review of Margaret Y. MacDonald, The Power of Children: The Construction of Christian Families in the Greco-Roman World

Reviewers: Lynn Cohick (Wheaton College); E. Randolph Richards (Palm Beach Atlantic University); Karelynne Ayayo (Palm Beach Atlantic University); F. Alan Tomlinson (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary).

Response Margaret Y. MacDonald

 

Abraham Malherbe and the Pastoral Epistles (Guest Post)

This is a guest post from Chuck Bumgardner, who is currently working on a PhD in New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

At the time of his passing in 2012, Abraham Malherbe was working on a commentary on the Pastoral Epistles that was to replace Dibelius/Conzelmann in the Hermeneia series (as of last August when I checked, Fortress had not chosen a new author). His contribution to the literature would have been most welcome, given his scholarly acumen and his previous Pastorals research. I wanted to note here that most of his already-published engagement with the Pastorals, which was scattered rather widely, has been gathered into the first volume of a just-published collection of his essays:
Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity. Collected Essays, 1959-2012, by Abraham J. Malherbe. Edited by Carl R. Holladay, John T. Fitzgerald, Gregory E. Sterling, and James W. Thompson. 2 volumes. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 150. Leiden: Brill, 2014. (ISBN 978-90-04-25339-1)
The following essays are in Light from the Gentiles. I’ve provided original publication data.

“‘Christ Jesus Came into the World to Save Sinners’: Soteriology in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 331-58 in Salvation in the New Testament: Perspectives on Soteriology. Edited by Jan G. van der Watt. Novum Testamentum Supplements 121. Leiden: Brill, 2005.

“Godliness, Self-Sufficiency, Greed, and the Enjoyment of Wealth. 1 Timothy 6:3-19: Part I.” Novum Testamentum 52 (2010): 376-405.

“Godliness, Self-Sufficiency, Greed, and the Enjoyment of Wealth. 1 Timothy 6:3-19: Part II.” Novum Testamentum 53 (2011): 73-96.

“How to Treat Old Women and Old Men: The Use of Philosophical Traditions and Scripture in 1 Timothy 5.” Pages 263-90 in Scripture and Traditions: Essays on Early Judaism and Christianity in Honor of Carl R. Holladay. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 129. Leiden: Brill, 2008.

“‘In Season and Out of Season’: 2 Timothy 4:2.” Journal of Biblical Literature 103 (1982): 23-41.

“Medical Imagery in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 19-35 in Texts and Testaments: Critical Essays on the Bible and Early Church Fathers. Edited by W. E. March. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1980.

“Overseers as Household Managers in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 72-88 in Text, Image, and Christians in the Graeco-Roman World: A Festschrift in Honor of David Lee Balch. Edited by Aliou Cissé Niang and Carolyn Osiek. Princeton Theological Monograph Series 176. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2012.

“Paraenesis in the Epistle to Titus.” Pages 297-317 in Early Christian Paraenesis in Context. Edited by James Starr and Troels Engberg-Pederson. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 125. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2004.

Paulus Senex.” Restoration Quarterly 36 (1994): 197-207.

“The Virtus Feminarum in 1 Timothy 2:9-15.” Pages 45-65 in Renewing Tradition: Studies in Texts and Contexts in Honor of James W. Thompson. Edited by Mark W. Hamilton, Thomas H. Olbricht, and Jeffrey Peterson. Princeton Theological Monograph Series 65. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2007.

New Dissertation on the Pastorals

I am currently reading Tim Swinson’s dissertation “GRAFH in the Letters to Timothy” recently passed at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I was eager to read it after hearing a number of good papers from Tim at ETS meetings along the way. I am only into the second chapter but already find this to be a well done, useful work. Swinson is more conversant with French, German, and Spanish sources than is common in American PhD’s. His writing is clear and forthright. His brief argument for Pauline authorship is well done and gathers a lot of helpful information.

I am eager to finish the reading. If you are working on the Pastorals concerning authorship or the references to scripture (1 Tim 5:18; 2 Tim 3:16), you would do well to check with the library at TEDS for this dissertation.

Update

I have been very quiet on the PE front as I am now working on a project on the Bible and Spirituality.  However, I’d just like to mention a couple of news items.  First, my article “Women as Gossips and Busybodies? Another Look at 1 Timothy 5:13” will be published shortly in the Lexington Theological Quarterly.  Second, I shall shortly be returning to the PE as I shall be working on the notion of ‘the good life’ in the PE for the project.

Congratulations to my fellow contributors for news on projects they are engaged in.

Lloyd Pietersen

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.

Reconciling 1Ti 4.3 and 1Ti 3.2

I’ve had the question of how 1Ti 4.3 and 1Ti 3.2 fit together rolling around in my head for awhile.

1Ti 4.3 is in the context of a description of the false teachers of Ephesus, noting things they (unjustly) forbid. Below is 1Ti 4.1-3:

4.1 Τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ῥητῶς λέγει ὅτι ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς ἀποστήσονταί τινες τῆς πίστεως προσέχοντες πνεύμασιν πλάνοις καὶ διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων, 2 ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων, κεκαυστηριασμένων τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν, 3 κωλυόντων γαμεῖν, ἀπέχεσθαι βρωμάτων, ἃ ὁ θεὸς ἔκτισεν εἰς μετάλημψιν μετὰ εὐχαριστίας τοῖς πιστοῖς καὶ ἐπεγνωκόσι τὴν ἀλήθειαν. (1Ti 4.1-3, NA27)

4.1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (1Ti 4.1-3, ESV)

1Ti 3.2 (along with 1Ti 3.12 and 1Ti 5.9) specify a marriage relationship for those in leadership positions in the fellowship.

3.2 δεῖ οὖν τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνεπίλημπτον εἶναι, μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, νηφάλιον σώφρονα κόσμιον φιλόξενον διδακτικόν, (1Ti 3.2, NA27)
3.12 διάκονοι ἔστωσαν μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρες, τέκνων καλῶς προϊστάμενοι καὶ τῶν ἰδίων οἴκων. (1Ti 3.12, NA27)
5.9 Χήρα καταλεγέσθω μὴ ἔλαττον ἐτῶν ἑξήκοντα γεγονυῖα, ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή, (1Ti 5.9, NA27)

3.2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (1Ti 3.2, ESV)
3.12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. (1Ti 3.12, ESV)
5.9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, (1Ti 5.9, ESV)

So, how does all of this fit together? The false teachers say that marriage is forbidden, but Paul says that those in positions in the church (Overseer, Deacons, and Widows) should be or have been married.

This popped in my head again as I’ve been reading Lloyd K. Pietersen’s $amz(0567081834 The Polemic of the Pastorals), where he mentions the "status degradation" aspect of the whole thing:

Finally, Garfinkel draws attention to the fact that, in any successful status degradation ceremony, the typical, negative characteristics of those being denounced must be appreciated by the witnesses by means of a ‘dialectical counterpart’. In this way the community cannot conceive of those denounced without reference to this positive counter conception. In the Pastorals, the qualities of bishops, elders and deacons serve as dialectical counterparts to the deeds of the opponents. Thus, for example, the injunction in 1 Tim 1.2 [sic] that the bishop should be μιας γυναικος ανδρα serves as the dialectical counterpart to the opponents who, among other things, κωλυοντων γαμειν (1 Tim 4.3). Goulder is thus right to argue that the qualifications of leadership function polemically. (Pietersen 111)

I don’t buy all of what Lloyd mentions here (specifically that the Pastorals may be "a literary version of a status degradation ceremony" (Pietersen 111)), but I do think there is significant value to noting that what the false teachers forbid (marriage) is prominent in the descriptions of those in positions of leadership and influence in the church.

Whatever your view of the polemic/paraenesis of the Pastorals, this disparity between the what the false teachers espouse (no marriage) and what Paul espouses for those in prominence in the church (marriage is not just OK, it is expected) needs to be noted.

Commentary Reviews and Other Links

A few items that may be of interest.


First, the Review of Biblical Literature (RBL) reviews two Pastoral Epistles commentaries:



  • I. Howard Marshall reviews Terrence Keegan’s slim volume on $amz(0814628680 1&2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon). I’m not familiar with this one, so can’t say much about it. This is a part of the “New Collegeville Bible Commentary” series. As I recall, Liturgical Press (the publisher) is geared toward the Catholic audience, so this could be a good little volume to get a glimpse at any uniquely Catholic views on the Pastorals.

  • Raymond F. Collins reviews Phillip Towner’s $amz(0802825133 NICNT volume on the Pastorals). I’ve read the intros and select other parts of this one and highly recommend it. I like Towner’s approach, particularly his emphasis on un-grouping the Pastoral Epistles. The letters should first be read as letters; they should not be read as a three-part corpus. Collins doesn’t quite agree with that, though. I’m not really a fan of $amz(0664222471 Collins’ commentary on the Pastorals), so you can guess I’m not really a fan of his review of Towner either.

Second, Michael Pahl talks about possibilities of Paul citing Luke’s gospel as Scripture. This is interesting because one of the possibilities is 1Ti 5.18. Michael writes



“The scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves to be paid.'” The first quotation is from Deuteronomy 25:4, and the second is word for word the same as Luke 10:7 (and not the same as the Matt 10:10 parallel).


This even has the citation formula that many think is a key to scripture citation. But it isn’t so easy, and Michael explains why. He is actually responding to a post from Richard Anderson on the same topic, which is worth checking out.