Solevåg, “Perspectives from Disability Studies in the Pastoral Epistles”

In a new Brill volume, Anna Rebecca Solevåg has produced a chapter that examines children in the Pastorals from the perspectives of intersectionality and disability studies. Because of its focus on the Pastorals, we are highlighting it here as an addition to the scholarly literature on the letters.

Solevåg, Anna Rebecca. “Perspectives from Disability Studies in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 177–95 in Children and Methods: Listening To and Learning From Children in the Biblical World. Edited by Kristine Henriksen Garroway and John W. Martens. Brill’s Series in Jewish Studies 67. Leiden: Brill, 2020.

Abstract: “The article introduces intersectionality and disability studies as tools for the study of children in the Bible, and applies these tools to a reading of the Pastoral Epistles. The framework of intersectionality shows that the place(s) of children in a society must be seen in relation to other identity categories, such as race, class, gender, etc. Hierarchical relations should be studied in their complexity and also their particularity. The concept of kyriarchy is useful for studying the particularities of intersectional identity in the New Testament, as is the method of “asking the other question.” Concerning disability studies, three insights are introduced that overlap with theoretical reflections from childhood studies. The first concerns questions of agency and voice, the second points to the fluctuality of identity categories, and the third is about metaphorical uses of identity categories.

“The chapter then applies these tools to the Pastorals. In these letters, children are never addressed directly. Nevertheless, they are the object of instructions, and the recipients are framed as metaphorical children. The chapter argues that this approach on the one hand reveals structures of power and silences in the text, and on the other supports the childist quest for children’s active role through a creative imagination of the lived experiences and blurred boundaries of everyday life.”

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.

Soon-to-come 2019 Publications and 2020 Forthcoming Lists

Have you published something in a scholarly venue that engages the Pastoral Epistles in some significant manner? Or do you have such a publication forthcoming? We are compiling our 2019 list of scholarly publications on the Letters to Timothy and Titus (here’s last year’s), to be posted in about a month, and we’d love to hear from you if you have something that should be included. The list is up to 56 items, and we’re doubtless still missing some!

As well, if you have produced (or will be producing) a scholarly publication engaging the Pastorals due for publication in 2020, we’d love to hear from you as well as we compile our “forthcoming” list for 2020 (here’s last year’s).

In either case, you can email me at chuckbumgardner (at) with information about your academic Pastorals-related publications.

Review of Hutson, First and Second Timothy and Titus (Paideia)

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Paul S. Jeon, Lecturer in NT at Reformed Theological Seminary, has reviewed the recently published Pastorals commentary by Christopher Hutson. The review is exclusive to this blog and may be accessed here.

de Wet, Slavery and Asceticism in 1 Timothy

Chris de Wet, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Studies at the University of South Africa (Academia page), has produced a new article of potential interest to students of the Pastorals:

Chris L. de Wet, “Slavery and Asceticism in 1 Timothy,” Neotestamentica 53.2 (2019): 395-419.

Abstract: “This article examines the statements about slavery in 1 Timothy in the context of early Christian asceticism. While these statements about slavery have been subjected to numerous scholarly evaluations, the possible relationship between slavery and asceticism in 1 Timothy is yet to be investigated. Along with providing a status quaestionis related to asceticism in 1 Timothy, the study first delineates aspects about early Jewish-Christian asceticism that form the backdrop to 1 Timothy. Thereafter, ascetic dispositions towards slavery are analysed in detail, with special attention given to groups like the Essenes and Therapeutae, gnostic ascetic groups and especially Marcionite views about slavery. The main point that is then argued is that 1 Timothy represents an alternative ascetic discourse and practice, according to which the status of slaves, along with that of women, is not negated. Rather, 1 Timothy provides a vision of Christian asceticism that is popular, moderate and domestic in nature. Slaves do play a role in this form of asceticism, but like the women in the community, slaves are relegated mostly to subservient positions, without any probable change in their social status and circumstances of daily life.”

Van Nes, “Who are ‘Our People’ (οἱ ἡμέτεροι) in Titus 3,14?”

Jermo van Nes has produced a brief article for ETL which will be of interest to students of the Pastorals:

Jermo van Nes, “Who are ‘Our People’ (οἱ ἡμέτεροι) in Titus 3,14?” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 95.4 (2019): 661–65.

Abstract: ” All but one contemporary commentator on Titus interprets οἱ ἡμέτεροι in 3,14 as referring to all Christ-believers. Endorsing yet modifying the minority view, the present study on the basis of exegetical considerations suggests that the phrase more likely refers to Artemas, Tychicus, Zenas, and Apollos mentioned in 3,12-13.”

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).

Hylen, “Women διάκονοι and Gendered Norms of Leadership”

Susan E. Hylen has produced an article on the γυναῖκες of 1 Tim 3:11: “Women διάκονοι and Gendered Norms of Leadership.” Journal of Biblical Literature 138.3 (2019): 687–702. This article follows work done in connection with women, and in connection with the Pastorals, in her monographs A Modest Apostle: Thecla and the History of Women in the Early Church (OUP, 2015) and Women in the New Testament World (OUP, 2019). I offer the following simply as a summary without evaluation, for the benefit of interested readers.

Here is the abstract: “Interpreters generally acknowledge that the syntax of 1 Tim 3:1–13 points to the presence of women διάκονοι. Many of these interpreters, however, are tentative or deny the presence of women διάκονοι because of their assumptions about gendered social norms of the period. I argue that early readers of 1 Timothy would understand the ideals represented in the qualifications for διάκονοι as applying to women as well as to men. I assess social norms and practices of the period, especially in and around Ephesus, including the gendered virtues used to honor high-status women of the time. I conclude that the women introduced in 3:11 would likely have been understood as women holding the same titles as the male διάκονοι, just as women held many of the same civic and religious titles as their male peers.”

I’ll paraphrase and expand on that a bit: Hylen understands the διάκονοι, both male and female, to be community leaders of some sort (and this is not a novel understanding, particularly since John Collins’s Diakonia [1990]). Many scholars are influenced by the syntax and structure of 1 Timothy 3 to understand the “women” of 1 Tim 3:11 to be female διάκονοι equivalent to the male διάκονοι in the preceding verses, not (necessarily) their wives. However, because they read 1 Tim 3 in light of the restrictions of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (particularly regarding women’s speech), and what they understand to be the restrictive social norms for NT-era women in Ephesus, they then reject the understanding that the “women” could have held leadership roles.

Hylen argues to the contrary that this line of thinking misunderstands the complex nature of the social roles of the time. Women were understood as “inherently inferior to men” (690), yes, but this was not necessarily considered a deal-breaker as regards leadership roles. Hylen adduces evidence that both married and unmarried women independently owned and controlled property, acted as patrons, held religious and civic office, and spoke out when appropriate. Therefore, Hylen argues, the virtues often applied to them should not (always) be read and translated in ways that suggest passivity and subordination, but in ways which reflect this active participation (e.g., σωφροσύνη as “self-control” rather than “modesty”). Hylen argues further that “multiple norms shaped the social world in this period” (697), such that on the one hand “women were expected to be subordinate to men who were their social peers” but were also viewed favorably in some cases when they were involved in public speaking or leadership roles.

Given this background, Hylen does not read the qualifications for the “women” of 1 Tim 3:11 in terms of subordination and passivity, but as connected with leadership roles. In this context, she takes a position on 1 Tim 3:12 which to my knowledge is unique: while arguing that male διάκονοι are addressed in vv. 8-10, and female διάκονοι are addressed in v. 11, she finds that both male and female διάκονοι are addressed in v. 12. To the anticipated objection that the “one-woman man” qualification of v. 12 could hardly apply to women, Hylen argues that “[i]t was common to speak of a mixed-gender group using vocabulary that indicated men alone” (699).

In sum, Hylen does not argue “that men and women were considered equal, for this would certainly have been anachronistic in the Roman period. … Nevertheless, women’s capacities to own property and act as patrons were also enshrined in law and social practice. Women of the period negotiated complex social norms that encouraged both deference and leadership” (702).

Lookadoo reviews Theobald, Israel-Vergessenheit in den Pastoralbriefen

Michael Theobald is a German academic who published rather extensively on the Pastorals in his later career. To my knowledge, however, all of his work on the letters is in German (save for the just-published entry on Titus in The Paulist Bible Commentary), and so English-speaking students of the Pastorals may not be as familiar with his scholarship.

The single monograph Theobald produced on the Pastorals was published in 2016: Israel-Vergessenheit in den Pastoralbriefen: Ein neuer Vorschlag zu ihrer historisch-theologischen Verortung im 2. Jahrhundert. n. Chr. unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Ignatius-Briefe [Forgetting Israel in the Pastoral Letters: A New Proposal for Their Historical-Theological Location in the 2nd Century A.D. with Special Consideration of the Ignatius Letters]. In this work, he examines the origination of the Pastorals through the lens of the topic of Israel. He is particularly concerned to compare the engagement with Israel in Romans (another book in which he specializes) over against what he finds to be a lack of engagement with Israel in the Pastorals. He ends up dating the letters to c. 140 AD.

Jonathan Lookadoo has served English-speaking students of the Pastorals well by reviewing Theobald’s monograph for RBL, and has graciously agreed to upload the review to Academia, allowing general access. In his review, he notes Theobald’s valuable highlighting of connections between Romans and the Pastorals, and appreciates the case Theobald makes for reading Titus as the first of the Pastorals. Lookadoo notes, “Those who argue for authentically Pauline Pastoral Epistles or for another first-century date will likely take issue with some of Theobald’s arguments, but this does not take away from the value of his study. “

Use this link to read the entire review.