“Jesus’s Testimony before Pilate in 1 Timothy 6:13” by Michel Gourgues

The latest issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature contains Michel Gourgues’s article, “Jesus’s Testimony before Pilate in 1 Timothy 6:13” (JBL 135:3 [2016]: 639-48)- the abstract can be viewed here. Gourgues notes the fact that outside of the Gospels and Acts, 1 Timothy is the only other place Pilate is mentioned. Arguing from the context and structure of the passage in 1 Timothy 6 and verbal parallels with the account of Jesus’s trial in John, Gourgues argues that 1 Timothy 6:13 draws from John’s gospel (or traditions behind John’s gospel). He sees this as confirming a later date for the composition of 1 Timothy.

I appreciated Gourgues’s attention to the context and structure of 1 Timothy 6. He mentions but dismisses (rightly, I think) those who explain this text as simply pre-formed material inserted into the letter. He notes that the pieces fit together reasonably so that if pre-formed material is used it has been shaped to fit the context.

I think most would agree with his point that the confession of Jesus in 6:13 parallels the confession called for from Timothy in 6:12. I agree and think that the historical appeal to the example of Jesus is meant to bolster Timothy in an analogous situation. Gourgues argues that this confession of Timothy’s was most likely a baptismal confession. This is reasonable, though I’m not sure it can be proven. The idea of this being a baptismal confession is then the basis for looking for traditional material which could provide the basis for the language in 6:13. Gourgues then notes several verbal parallels between 1 Timothy and John’s gospel. These are interesting and potentially significant parallels, but the article ends abruptly stating that these parallels “suggest” 1 Timothy 6:13 alludes to “the Johannine version of Jesus’s appearance before Pilate” (648). This then “suggests” a late date for 1 Timothy.

I find the conclusion of the article disappointing. There is some interesting information here, but he hurries to a conclusion where I thought it needed more reflection and reasoning. I am not convinced that enough evidence was marshalled to make a strong case for literary borrowing from John’s gospel. Furthermore, though he briefly acknowledges the possibility of drawing from traditions pre-dating the writing of John’s gospel, he does not adequately consider that this could undo his thesis.

So, this is an interesting article worth reading, though I am unconvinced of his thesis in the end. Hopefully Gourgues will show us elsewhere some more of his thinking on this data.

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.

“Almsgiving and ‘the Commandment’ in 1 Timothy 6:14”

Last year in New Testament Studies Nathan Eubank provided what is, I believe, a new interpretation of “the commandment” (η εντολη) in 1 Timothy 6:14. His article is titled “Almsgiving is ‘the Commandment’: A Note on 1 Timothy 6.6–19.”

Eubank argues that “the commandment” was a common idiom in Rabbinic Judaism for almsgiving. He provides several supportive texts, though the dates of some are uncertain. This, it is suggested, solves the problem of 1 Timothy 6:11-16 (an exhortation to Timothy) protruding between two paragraphs which deal with money issues (6:6-10 & 6:17-19). On this reading the exhortation to Timothy is also about money. 6:6-10 urges contentment and warns against the love of money. In 6:11-16 Timothy is told to flee this love of money, pursue righteousness and to give alms (v. 14). Then, those who already have money are warned not to look to wealth as their security.

This is a well-argued article and worthy of attention from anyone working on 1 Timothy. I appreciate Eubank’s interest in finding cohesion in the argument and flow of thought in the letter. However, I am not yet convinced. I am not concerned here to give a full rebuttal but simply to note a few things.

Eubank notes some possible difficulties with some of his rabbinic examples if you have an early date for 1 Timothy (which is my position). Beyond that, I am not sure that a reference to almsgiving in 6:14 solves the perceived problem with 6:11-16. Those who see disunity are likely still to wonder about these six verses “interrupting” the flow. If we recognize the regular movement back and forth from focus on Timothy to focus on opponents and/or the congregation in the letter, then we are not surprised to see it in chapter 6 as well. 6:11-16, then, does not need to address wealth in order to cohere. The flow of thought would then be something like this: Timothy is to teach truth (6:2-3) unlike the opponents who are caught up in greed (6:4-10). In contrast to these opponents Timothy is to pursue righteousness as he awaits Christ’s return (6:11-16). Then Timothy is to warn the rich in the congregation not to follow the ways of the opponents but to pursue eternal things as they also await the “future” (6:17-19).

Eubank is to be thanked for raising this possibility, pointing out this rabbinic background and making a plausible argument. His argument is more involved than what would be summarized here. I commend the article to you and welcome your thoughts in the comments.

First Timothy 6.7, Job 1.21, and Palladas

This morning Michael Gilleland, at Laudator Temporis Acti, had a post called “Born Bare, Buried Bare”, reviewing several different translations of Palladas’ statement, “Naked I alighted on the earth, and naked I shall go beneath it” (Palladas, Greek Anthology 10.58, tr. W.R. Patton).

He (of course) ties it to Job 1.21, “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return thither.”

I immediately thought of 1Ti 6.7, “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” (ESV)

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.

Literary Translation of 1Ti 6.8-10

I’m a little late in mentioning this, but I wanted to point folks to John Hobbins’ blog Ancient Hebrew Poetry. John is an amazing guy. He posted this rather lengthy article on Literary Translation using 1Ti 6.8-10 as an example.

So do check it out.

First Timothy and Intended Recipient

I’ve blogged about this a few times previously (here and here).

In working through the end of 1Ti 6, one comes across vv. 17-19. These are instructions to Timothy about those who are "rich in this present age":

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1Ti 6.17-19, ESV)

If Paul is generally writing to the Ephesian community, why is he instructing Timothy to instruct those "rich in this present age"? If the letter is intended to be read to the community at large, wouldn’t these people be present at the reading?

Eternal Life and the Pastoral Epistles

In studying $esv(1Ti 6.12), I was looking further into the phrase “eternal life” (here ‘τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς‘). I’m sure this is noted in commentaries (which I haven’t checked yet) but has anyone else noticed that there may be inclusios using ‘eternal life’ in both First Timothy and Titus?


First Timothy:



1.16 ἀλλὰ διὰ τοῦτο ἠλεήθην, ἵνα ἐν ἐμοὶ πρώτῳ ἐνδείξηται Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς τὴν ἅπασαν μακροθυμίαν πρὸς ὑποτύπωσιν τῶν μελλόντων πιστεύειν ἐπʼ αὐτῷ εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον. (1Ti 1.16, NA27)
1.16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1Ti 1.16, ESV)


6.12 ἀγωνίζου τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς πίστεως, ἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς, εἰς ἣν ἐκλήθης καὶ ὡμολόγησας τὴν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν ἐνώπιον πολλῶν μαρτύρων. (1Ti 6.12, NA27)
6.12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1Ti 6.12, ESV)


Titus:



1.2 ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι ζωῆς αἰωνίου, ἣν ἐπηγγείλατο ὁ ἀψευδὴς θεὸς πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, (Tt 1.2, NA27)
1.2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began (Tt 1.2, ESV)


3.7 ἵνα δικαιωθέντες τῇ ἐκείνου χάριτι κληρονόμοι γενηθῶμεν κατʼ ἐλπίδα ζωῆς αἰωνίου.
3.7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.


The phrase is not super-frequent in the Pastorals. And, at least in First Timothy, I’ve noticed a few other things that seem to tie the benediction at the end of chapter 1 and the end of chapter 6 together, perhaps as an inclusio for the whole thing (which would speak toward the unity and cohesion of the whole letter). The most obvious is the shared metaphor “wage the good warfare” (1Ti 1.18) and “fight the good fight” (1Ti 6.11), but there may be others.


I know inclusios should have more going for them than shared words, but has anyone else noticed this going on? I’ll have to check some commentaries later and see if they say anything.


Bonus Question: For you word order / discourse grammar folks out there, is there any significance to the change in word order for the phrase “eternal life” between 1Ti 1.16 (πιστεύειν ἐπʼ αὐτῷ εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον) and 6.12 (ἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς)? The 1Ti 6.12 instance seems to be the only time in the NT that αιωνιος occurs first in the phrase.


 

The Pastoral Epistles in Ignatius, Part II

[This post is part of a series on The Pastoral Epistles in the Apostolic Fathers. RWB]


Ign. Poly 4.3 || 1Ti 6.2



(3) δούλους καὶ δούλας μὴ ὑπερηφάνει· ἀλλὰ μηδὲ αὐτοὶ φυσιούσθωσαν, ἀλλʼ εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πλέον δουλευέτωσαν, ἵνα κρείττονος ἐλευθερίας ἀπὸ θεοῦ τύχωσιν. μὴ ἐράτωσαν ἀπὸ τοῦ κοινοῦ ἐλευθεροῦσθαι, ἵνα μὴ δοῦλοι εὑρεθῶσιν ἐπιθυμίας. (Ign. Poly. 4.3)
(3) Do not treat slaves, whether male or female, contemptuously, but neither let them become conceited; instead, let them serve all the more faithfully to the glory of God, that they may obtain from God a better freedom. They should not have a strong desire to be set free at the church’s expense, lest they be found to be slaves of lust. (Ign. Poly. 4.3)
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (196, 197). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


2 οἱ δὲ πιστοὺς ἔχοντες δεσπότας μὴ καταφρονείτωσαν, ὅτι ἀδελφοί εἰσιν, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον δουλευέτωσαν, ὅτι πιστοί εἰσιν καὶ ἀγαπητοὶ οἱ τῆς εὐεργεσίας ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι. Ταῦτα δίδασκε καὶ παρακάλει. (1Ti 6.2, NA27)
2 But those having believers as masters must not be disrespectful because they are brothers, rather they must serve more, because the ones who benefit from their good work are believers and beloved. Command and teach these things. (1Ti 6.2, my own translation)


In both passages, the attitude of believing slaves toward their masters is dealt with. Slaves must serve their masters respectfully (that is, not conceitedly) to bring glory to God.


Contact in this passage is primarily topical, though some lexical similarity is present:



  • Ign. Poly. ἀλλὰ μηδὲ αὐτοὶ φυσιούσθωσαν // neither let them become conceited ==> 1Ti μὴ καταφρονείτωσαν // must not be disrespectful

Here the contact is topical. The warning to the slave is essentially the same; Ignatius urges Polycarp that slaves should not become conceited. That is, slaves are to not consider their equality in Christ to adversely affect their relationship with their masters. They are still in a relationship of submission to their master, to subvert that would be to subvert the station they are in. Paul urges Timothy in much the same way; slaves who are believers (and therefore equal in Christ’s eyes with their believing masters) are not to suddenly disrespect their masters because they are brothers in Christ. In both cases the underlying sentiment is similar though the words used to describe the sentiment are different.



  • Ign. Poly. ἀλλʼ … πλέον δουλευέτωσαν // let them serve all the more faithfully ==> 1Ti ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον δουλευέτωσαν // rather they must serve more.

Here the contact is both syntactic and lexical. Both clauses use the conjunction ἀλλὰ to provide a logical contrast with what precedes. Instead of being disrespectful, Ignatius writes, slaves are to serve even more faithfully. Equality in Christ is no reason to serve less and to disrespect one’s master; it is instead a powerful argument to serve one’s master even better than before. In both Ign. Poly. and 1Ti, the verb is δουλεύω occurring in the present active imperative 3d plural δουλευέτωσαν. Both texts make the same contrast with roughly the same language.


However, one aspect that may argue against Ignatius’ alluding to First Timothy is the context of the passage. In Ign. Poly., the text is directed to the masters of the slaves. But First Timothy is directed to the slaves themselves.


One further interesting item in this context, however, is Ignatius’ displayed knowledge of the book of Ephesians in his next sentences. In Ign. Poly. 5.1, we find:



Flee from wicked practices; better yet, preach sermons about them. Tell my sisters to love the Lord and to be content with their husbands physically and spiritually. In the same way command my brothers in the name of Jesus Christ to love their wives, as the Lord loves the church.
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (197). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


This language mirrors that of Eph 5.25, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church”. In some way, Ignatius had knowledge of Ephesians.* This knowledge is displayed in close proximity to our passage which has affinity with First Timothy.


Based on the lexical and syntactic similarity of the contrasting phrase and the somewhat radical idea that slaves should serve their masters more as a result of being brothers in order to properly honor and glorify God, I think it possible that Ignatius displays knowledge of this passage in First Timothy.


Next up: Ign. Rom. 9.2 || 1Ti 1.13





* Understandably knowledge of Ephesians does not prove knowledge of any of the Pastoral Epistles. But there are several possible points of contact between Ignatius’ writings and Paul’s epistles (9+ pages of links in the Oxford Committee’s work). Logic dictates that they can’t all be chance, coincidence, or based on some Q-like earlier common source material.

First Timothy 5.3-6.2: Honoring Means What?

This whole passage has been in the back of my mind for some time. In it are the following three premises:



  • Honor widows who are truly widows ($esv(1Ti 5.3-16))
  • Double honor for elders who “lead well” ($esv(1Ti 5.17-25)); those in error are to be corrected
  • Slaves are to honor their masters ($esv(1Ti 6.1-2))

Sure, that’s all fine and dandy — until you ask the question, “What does it mean to honor?” In the case of widows and elders, the text makes it fairly clear this means taking care of them materially. Widows are to be provided for, and elders who rule well are to be doubly provided for (5.18, with its OT quotes, makes this fairly plain).


And slaves are to “honor” their masters. But surely this doesn’t mean that slaves are to provide materially for their masters, does it? What really does 6.1-2 say?



1 All who are under a yoke as slaves, let them consider their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and our teaching might not be maligned. 2 But those having believers as masters must not be disrespectful because they are brothers, rather they must serve more, because the ones who benefit from their good work are believers and beloved. (my own translation)


This all comes down to “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” which, as some of my co-workers will tell you, pervades my very being. I suppose my basic problem is that the same terminology is used for “honor” throughout the passage whether it is discussing widows, elders or slaves/masters. But in context it doesn’t mean exactly the same thing in each instance, even though all three exist in close succession and in an overall similar context. But can it mean such different things in such close succession? Why wouldn’t the third instance of “honor” carry similar meaning to the first two?


Is the difference because the “honor” explained in detail in the first two (widows/elders), and left unmodified/specified in the last? That is, the method of honor itself is not fully explicated, though the effects of having the honor are?


(gotta go, but that sums up my basic thoughts as I’ve mulled over this text for the past months) 


Update (2007-03-08): Of course, if slaves submit to their masters and do what they are told, then the master will benefit materially (assuming the master is acting in his own interest and has some sensibility … perhaps too much to assume?). The end of 6.2 alludes to this, ” …  the ones who benefit [masters] from [the slaves’] good work are believers and beloved”. And by “serving more” if their master is Christian, then the master benefits more. So maybe there is some sort of connection with material gain here?