Keener, “Greek vs. Jewish Conceptions of Inspiration and 2 Timothy 3:16”

Craig Keener has an article in the current issue of JETS which will be of interest to students of the Letters to Timothy and Titus:

Keener, Craig S. “Greek Versus Jewish Conceptions of Inspiration and 2 Timothy 3:16.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 63.2 (2020): 217–31.

Abstract: Second Timothy 3:16 speaks of Scripture as θεόπνευστος, “God-breathed,” “inspired.” What would ancient audiences who heard such a claim assume that it entailed regarding accuracy? For many Greek hearers, inspiration entailed divine authority, including on basic historical matters, although some Greek thinkers allowed poetic inspiration without such accuracy. Jewish application of inspiration language to Scripture, however, apparently always entailed its authority and accuracy. Although Jewish interpreters applied various approaches to reconcile or even sidestep apparent conflicts in biblical narratives, their understanding of its inspired authority entailed reliance on Scripture’s truthfulness on all matters that it addressed.

Couser, “The Believer’s Judgment in 2 Timothy”

Greg Couser has produced a two-part article of interest for students of the Pastorals:

Couser, Gregory A. “The Believer’s Judgment in 2 Timothy, Part 1.” Bibliotheca Sacra 176.703 (2019): 312–26.

________. “The Believer’s Judgment in 2 Timothy, Part 2.” Bibliotheca Sacra 176.704 (2019): 444–58.

Abstract: Paul’s discussion with Timothy in 2 Tim makes multiple references to the eschatological assize (1:12, 15-18; 2:11, 15; 4:1-5, 8, 14, 18).   Along with the frequency of Paul’s references, its importance is emphasized by the central role it plays in motivating and shaping Timothy’s response to the dynamics of the Ephesian situation.   This suggests that the letter has the potential to offer significant insights on Paul’s understanding of the nature of the believer’s future judgment and, thus, on his understanding of the nature of the Christian life in the present.  My investigation attempts to set out the prominent contemporary options on the significance of the believer’s judgment for Paul and then work through the passages in 2 Tim in order to eventually compare and contrast Paul’s extensive treatment of the topic here with the contemporary scholarly options.  In the end, we hope to demonstrate that Paul clearly intimates that the believer’s judgment has more complexity and texture than merely confirming their status as a believer and clearing their way for a full enjoyment of the full consummation of their salvation.  Paul also expects to be recompensed by the Lord in a manner corresponding to his service to him. Paul confidently looks forward to standing before God unashamed having kept his charge (4:17).  However, the potential to maximize one’s faithfulness to Christ as Paul also leaves space for standing before the judge with shame at not doing so, something clearly implied by 2:15.  There is certainly some impact on the believer’s experience of their final salvation in the consummated Kingdom that arises from the character of their service in this life.  There seems to be something to lose should Timothy not fulfill his service to Christ, even as there is something to gain.

Marossy, “The Rule of the Resurrected Messiah: Kingship Discourse in 2 Timothy 2:8–13”

In the forthcoming edition of Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Michael David Marossy has produced an article of interest to students of the Pastorals: “The Rule of the Resurrected Messiah: Kingship Discourse in 2 Timothy 2:8-13,” CBQ 82.1 (2020): 84-100.

Abstract: “This article contributes to recent discussion on the role of kingship discourse in shaping Pauline participation in Christ by analyzing the role of kingship discourse in the neglected text that most clearly ties together the themes of kingship discourse and participatory soteriology in the Pauline corpus, namely, 2 Tim 2:8–13. In response to Joshua Jipp’s argument that Paul utilized and adapted the metaphorical framework of kingship discourse in the Scriptures to present participation in Christ as participation in the kingdom of “Christ the King,” I argue that in 2 Tim 2:8–13, the metaphorical framework of kingship discourse is employed to describe Jesus as the resurrected Davidic Messiah-king, whose reign is characterized by the narrative of his victory over death.”

Mission in the Pastoral Epistles: Two Newly Available Resources

In the twentieth century, the influential German commentary of Martin Dibelius (revised by Hans Conzelmann), Die Pastoralbriefe (4th ed.; HNT 13; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1966) was mediated to the English-speaking world in the Hermeneia series as The Pastoral Epistles (trans. Philip Buttolph and Adela Yarbro; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972). One of the key points of influence was the christliche Bürgerlichkeit proposal popularized in the commentary. This idea of the “good Christian citizen” traded on the notion that the Pastorals were written in light of decreased expectation of the parousia, and that in order to survive a hostile world, believers were going to have to learn to settle in for the long haul. In Dibelius’s reading of the Pastorals, “settling in” meant “fitting in,” and the letters were concerned to help Christians maintain a low profile, so to speak, by living in such a way that the surrounding culture would look on with at least a measure of approval. Dibelius’s proposal was heavily grounded in 1 Tim 2:1-2, and found support in the concern with the perception of outsiders found throughout the letters.

The christliche Bürgerlichkeit proposal received significant pushback, however, when the mission-oriented nature of the letters was given its due. The monograph of Philip Towner, The Goal of Our Instruction: The Structure of Theology and Ethics in the Pastoral Epistles (JSNTSS 34; Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic, 1989; repr., Bloomsbury Academic Collections; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), provided an important response to Dibelius, which was later mediated through his influential NICNT commentary, The Letters to Timothy and Titus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006).

Towner, however, is not the only one who has emphasized the mission-oriented nature of the letters, and two works in the same vein have recently come to be available.

Chiao Ek Ho’s Aberdeen dissertation, “Do the Work of an Evangelist: The Missionary Outlook of the Pastoral Epistles” (2000), written under I. Howard Marshall, was unfortunately never published as a monograph, though its core substance was made available in “Mission in the Pastoral Epistles,” in Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles (ed. Andreas J. Köstenberger and Terry L. Wilder; Nashville: B&H: 2010), 241‒267. The dissertation itself may now be accessed at EThOS (here is the link, along with an abstract), and to my understanding has only recently been available. All students of the Pastorals should obtain it.

Additionally, Andreas J. Köstenberger has just produced an article-length treatment: “An Investigation of the Mission Motif in the Letters to Timothy and Titus with Implications for Pauline Authorship.” BBR 29.1 (2019): 49–64 (abstract and full article available here). This article is grounded in (and goes beyond) the biblical-theological work done on mission in the Pastorals as set forth in Köstenberger’s recent Commentary on 1‒2 Timothy & Titus (BTCP; Nashville, TN: Holman, 2017).

Synopsis of the PE Group at ETS 2017

We had a great meeting for the Pastoral Epistles study group at ETS last week, with strong attendance for four helpful papers.

For our first paper we invited Fred Sanders, one of the leading systematic theologians in evangelicalism today. I had noticed a few years ago that Sanders was doing some work on the Pastorals. I contacted him and found out that he was teaching on the letters for a lay institute. He was making shrewd observations on social media, so I was intrigued to see what insight a careful theologian might bring to our question of how serious engagement of the Pastorals might impact our view of Paul.

Sanders titled his paper, “Grace the Civilizer: Paul Undomesticated in the Pastoral Epistles.” He argued that the sheer oddness of the PE gives important information on Paul and that to ignore the Pastorals would be to domesticate Paul. This is a great point and well put, since the typical charge is that the PE tame down the robust Paul. However, today, people seem to shy away from embracing the claims on the PE.

Sanders described the vocabulary of the PE as “a bold, missionary appropriation of Hellenistic moral vocabulary.”  Focusing particularly on Titus, he highlighted the letters concern for form, beauty and order. He argued that Paul’s point was that the grace civilizes people, not merely in a bourgeois fashion leading to dull lives, but in a missional fashion leading to lives of moral beauty which honor God and attract others to the gospel.

Eckhard Schnabel, with a nod to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, presented 40 theses on “Paul and the Next Generation of Christian Leaders: The Contribution of the Pastoral Epistles to New Testament Ecclesiology.” In bullet point fashion, Schnabel drew key points for ministry which are found in the PE. Quite appropriately in light of the letters in view, Schnabel practically preached certain potions, urging the necessity of personal evangelism, prayer, and endurance. Noting how Paul roots his labors in the saving work of Christ, Schnabel said, referring the work of Christ, “there are some things Christian leaders never stop talking about.”

Greg Couser, from Cedarville University and co-chair of the PE study group, presented “The Judgment of Believers in 2 Timothy: What is Judged and What is the Outcome?” Couser noted that not much work has been done on the numerous references to final judgement in 2 Timothy. Taking the various opinions on the final judgement of believers listed in Schreiner and Caneday (The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance), Couser asked which position seems best to fit the evidence in 2 Timothy. Along the way Couser demonstrated that 2 Timothy has much to say about this important topic even though works on Pauline theology tend to neglect this data. Here is an excerpt where Couser states his basic conclusion:

From what Paul seems to say in 2 Tim, his view of the believer’s judgment fits most easily into the “loss of rewards” category. The warnings are more than just rhetorical devices and they are for believers. There is something to lose, though reprobation is not in view. Nonetheless, Paul also reflects an inner-dynamic of the Christian life that makes it impossible to envision any acts of unfaithfulness by a believer as anything more than lapses from an otherwise progressive movement toward greater delight in Christ and service to him.

Marty Feltham, who is finishing his PhD at Macquarie University in Sydney, concluded the session with his paper, “Carefully Crafted or a Clumsy Imitation? Assessing the Argument of 1 Timothy 2:1-7.” One of the things I have been particularly pleased with in our study group has been the opportunity to hear such good papers from younger scholars who are just finishing or just recently finished their doctoral work. Feltham maintained that tradition with a strong argument for the coherence of the theological argument in 1 Timothy 2:1-7 and the connection of this section with the rest of the letter. Following the argument of his recent article in Tyndale Bulletin, Feltham demonstrated that 2:5-6 was a Christological reworking of the Shema (Deut 6:4-5). Contrary to those who have long said the PE lacked anything more than clumsy theological imitation, Feltham argued that 1 Timothy 2:5-6 was a thoughtful and well-worked piece of theological argumentation “perfectly tailored to the rhetorical and polemical needs of the letter.” I thought this was a fascinating paper and I am excited to learn of one more able scholar working in the Pastoral Epistles.

 

Pastoral Epistles ETS Study Group, Next Week

If you are coming to ETS next week in San Antonio, I hope you will join us for our study group on the Pastorals. We have a great line up of papers again this year as you can see from the schedule below. I have included the room, date, time, speakers and titles. Jermo Van Nes will not be able to join us, but he has sent me his paper and I will read it in his stead.

SESSION INFORMATION
11/16/2016

8:30 AM-11:40 AM
Hyatt — Bowie C

Moderator
Ray Van Neste, Union University

8:30 AM—9:10 AM
Ardel Caneday, University of Northwestern- St. Paul
“Save Yourself and the People Who Hear You: An Authentic Pauline Exhortation”

9:20 AM—10:00 AM
Jermo Van Nes, Evangelische Theologische Faculteit
“Motif-Semantic Differences in Paul? A Question to Advocates of the Pastorals’ Plural Authorship”

10:10 AM—10:50 AM
Andreas Köstenberger, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“An Investigation of the Mission Motif in the Letters to Timothy and Titus with Implications for Pauline Authorship”

11:00 AM—11:40 AM
Gordon Franz, Christian Information Ministries
“The Archaeological Background to the Epistle of Titus and the First-Century church on the Island of Crete”

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.

Worship and the Risen Jesus

I have just realized that Tony Costa, in his book Worship and the Risen Jesus in the Pauline Letters (Peter Lang, 2013) incorporates the Pastorals in his analysis. He acknowledges the debate surrounding authorship, but announces at the outset that he will include all the letters attributed to Paul in his investigation. I have only been able to scan the book online, but it looks like the Pastorals show up fairly often.

I am encouraged to see this as we, in this space and in our ETS study group, are investigating how the typical neglect of the Pastorals impacts our view of Paul.

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.

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.