Review: Craig Smith’s New Commentary on 2 Timothy

Sitting on my desk in my “to be read” pile is the recent commentary on 2 Timothy by Craig Smith in the Readings series published by Sheffield Phoenix Press. I am keen to read this commentary because I had the privilege of meeting Craig several years ago and I know of his published thesis which argues for a different take on 2 Timothy. Regarding the letter as authentically Pauline (as I do) Craig argues that 2 Timothy is not a farewell letter but an exhortation to further ministry in which Paul expects to participate.

I was pleased to discover that although I have not yet gotten around to reading this book, Robert Wall has and has provided a review at Review of Biblical Literature. Wall praises Smith’s careful attention to the text and consistent methodology and argumentation. However, he critiques the lack of footnotes and what he finds as a lack of theological reflection on the contemporary meaning of this letter. I agree wholeheartedly with Wall that we must not hold apart exegesis and theological and ecclesial reflection, but, from what I know of Smith, he would also agree. Not having yet read the book myself, I will have to withhold judgment.

This is a helpful review, which has nudged me to get on with reading this book.


Pauline Communities as ‘Scholastic Communities’: A Study of the Vocabulary of ‘Teaching’ in 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus

scholastic communitiesSteve Walton has written a helpful review of Claire Smith’s monograph, Pauline Communities as ‘Scholastic Communities’: A Study of the Vocabulary of ‘Teaching’ in 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, WUNT 2/335 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012). The monograph is a revision of her PhD thesis which was supervised by Peter Bolt.

It sounds like this book will be useful for PE studies. Her choice of the Pastorals along with 1 Corinthians is quite intriguing as is her defense. Apparently she does not take a position on the authorship issue but in the end suggests the similarities between the PE and 1 Corinthians which she finds should at least cause pause for those assuming non-Pauline authorship.

Additionally, with the significance of teaching in the PE, the amount of data gathered here (the book is 555 pages!) promises to be helpful for PE research.

Smith affirms the earlier evaluation of E. Judge that the earliest Christian communities were marked particularly by learning. In the end, while affirming the idea of Judge she says his phrase “scholastic communities” does not communicate as well (missing the relational aspects of teaching found in these letters, for example) and suggests a better phrase would be “learning communities.” Interestingly, this is the very phrase used by J I Packer, in a popular piece, which I mentioned previously.

Paul and Pseudepigraphy, ed. Porter and Fewster

[Editor’s note: Here is another guest post from Chuck Bumgardner. Overviews fo recent volumes like this can be especially helpful. I have for some time questioned why it was acceptable to dismiss the historicity of Acts and then criticize the Pastorals for failing to line up with Acts. so, I am glad to see this point made in this volume.]

I recently perused Paul and Pseudepigraphy (ed. Stanley E. Porter and Gregory P. Fewster; Pauline Studies 8; Leiden: Brill, 2013). As would be expected from the title, this just-published volume contains a good bit of material which connects either directly or very closely with the Pastoral Epistles.

The opening article by Stanley Porter and Gregory Fewster, “On Pauline Pseudepigraphy: An Introduction,” sets the stage for current issues in pseudepigraphy, and very briefly summarizes the contributions of each of the authors of the volume.

Porter’s essay, “Pauline Chronology and the Question of Pseudonymity of the Pastoral Epistles,” overviews the chronology of PE authorship vis-à-vis the chronology of Acts, providing a helpful survey of major theories and summary of pertinent evidence. Of note: “There is what appears to be a strong irony involved in the arguments put forward [for post-Pauline authorship of the PE]. The long-standing tradition of German criticism of Acts and the PE is to doubt the historical veracity of Acts and to dismiss fairly summarily the authentic authorship of the PE. However, one of the major bases for dismissing authenticity of the PE . . . is with regard to supposed incompatibilities with the book of Acts. If Acts is not a reliable source anyway, or if reliable is at best a later source (second century), then how is it that incompatibility between Acts and the PE constitutes grounds for dismissing authenticity of the PE and positing pseudonymous authorship? This appears to be special pleading of the most egregious sort” (84-85).

Armin Baum’s article, “Authorship and Pseudepigraphy in Early Christian Literature: A Translation of the Most Important Source Texts and an Annotated Bibliography,” provides fresh translations of quite a bit of source material related to pseudepigraphy and includes an annotated bibliography that is solid gold.

Andrew Pitts, in “Style and Pseudonymity in Pauline Scholarship: A Register Based Configuration,” sets forth a new methodology to judge the likelihood that a given work associated with a corpus is pseudonymous or not.

Jermo van Nes, in “The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles,” purposes to drive the final nail into the coffin lid of the fragment authorship theory, first given definitive shape by P. N. Harrison.

Linda Belleville’s essay, “Christology, Greco-Roman Religious Piety, and the Pseudonymity of the Pastoral Letters,” provides the latest treatment of the Christology of the PE, arguing that the differences between the PE’s Christology and that of the rest of the NT can be explained (at least in part) by viewing the Christological statements in Timothy as polemical, given the religious environment of Ephesus.

Summary of recent Dutch Dissertation on Ethical Instruction in the PE

Klinker-De Klerk, Myriam. Herderlijke regel of inburgeringscursus? Een bijdrage aan het onderzoek naar de ethische richtlijnen in 1 Timoteüs en Titus [Pastoral Rule or Lesson on Assimilation? A Contribution to the Research on the Ethical Instructions in 1 Timothy and Titus]. Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum Academic, 2013.


Students of the Pastoral Epistles who do not read Dutch will be glad to know that an English-language summary of this dissertation has been provided in Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters 3.2 (2013): 263-67. Here, I’ll merely provide a summary of the summary. Page references are to the summary in JSPL, not the dissertation itself.

In her dissertation, Klinker-De Klerk addresses the common assumption that the PE witness to a christliche Bürgerlichkeit, a “bourgeois Christianity” that encourages an accommodation to prevailing social conventions as Christians hunker down for a stay in this present world which is longer than first expected. Reading the PE as authentically Pauline, she examines the ethical instructions in 1 Timothy and Titus, focusing on the area of male-female relationships. First, she works “internally,” examining the regulations of 1Tim/Titus against prevailing social conventions. Along the way, she gives particular attention to the stated motives behind the regulations. Second, she works “externally,” comparing the regulations in question with those in an undisputed Pauline letter, 1 Corinthians.

Her findings:

(1) “The examined instructions in 1 Timothy and Titus correspond highly to the prevailing ethics at the time.” (264)

(2) “The motives that accompany the regulations in 1 Timothy and Titus are diverse,” and include both internally and externally oriented motives. (264-65)

(3) “The idea of the church preparing for a long-term stay in this world is nowhere explicitly stated.” (265)

(4) Comparing 1Tim/Tit to 1Cor highlights marital fidelity (1 Tim 3:2, 12; 5:9; Titus 1:6; 1 Cor 7:1-7) and subordination of the wife to the husband (1 Tim 2:8—3:1a; Titus 2:4-5; 1 Cor 11:2-16; 14:33b-36). In this regard, “1 Timothy and Titus do not point to an increased adaptation to social conventions.” (265)

(5) Motivational parallels exist between 1Tim/Tit and 1Cor. “In both cases, the apostle provides for an ‘ontological’ reasoning by recalling the story of creation. Further, in both cases there is a ‘practical’ reasoning that has to do with the ‘internal’ concern for the orderly course of the Christian meetings on the one hand and with the ‘external’ concern for the attractiveness of Christianity to outsiders on the other hand.” (265)

(6) Although both 1Tim/Tit and 1Cor highlight the male-female relationship from an “outer” perspective—“what is said about the relationship is viewed within a broader social perspective”—1 Cor also gives particular attention to the “inner” perspective, emphasizing reciprocity. (265)

(7) Differences between 1Tim/Tit and 1Cor are most notable as regards motivation. (a) The “ontological” reasoning is applied to women and men (i.e., more “equally”) in 1Cor. (b) Honor/shame discourse is stronger in 1Cor. (c) Motivations to marital fidelity vary, due to the varying contexts of the instruction: in 1Tim/Tit, the context is the need for irreproachable conduct for various groups in the church, which conduct is “in turn, motivated by reasons of community stability and the public image of the Christians”; in 1Cor, the motive for marital fidelity is “the desire to prevent sin.” (265-66)

(8) Understanding the PE as actual Pauline letters to co-workers provides a reasonable explanation for the points of contrast between 1Tim/Titus and 1Cor.

All in all, there are significant points of contact between the ethical instructions in view in 1Tim/Titus and 1Cor, while “the differences can be accounted for by the different audiences and the practical orientation of the letters.” (266) Klinker-De Klerck is rather narrowly focused in her treatment, so rightly notes that her results do not in themselves invalidate the christliche Bürgerlichkeit hypothesis. All the same, her findings do not support it.

[Guest post from Chuck Bumgardner]

We Expect at Least Some Useful Information

While pursuing information on an older work on the Pastorals I stumbled across Spurgeon’s comment on a treatment of these letters by Henry Raper Slade. Spurgeon stated simply, “Utter rubbish. Dear [expensive] at a gift.” That is such a devastating comment, that I searched for more information on this book. Apparently others shared Spurgeon’s assessment. Here is the review from The Church of England Quarterly Review:

Wow! This is the worst Pastoral Epistles review I’ve seen. It is so bad that it’s funny; and, it is an encouragement to make sure in my writing to provide “at least some useful information.”