Jesus as Mediator: Politics and Polemics in 1Timothy 2:1-7, Malcolm Gill
(Peter Lang, 2008), pb., 196 pp.
This is the published version of a PhD dissertation done at Dallas Theological Seminary. Gill’s main thesis is that 1Timothy 2:1-7 should be read as a polemic against the claim of Roman Emperor’s to be the “mediator” between the gods and humans.
Much has been written in recent years about the impact of the imperial cult on the New Testament, and Gill seeks to apply this to 1Timothy. In doing this he surveys the research previously done on the prominence of the imperial cult in Asia Minor (chapter 2) and investigates the possible backgrounds of the word mesites, translated as “mediator” in 1 Tim 2:5 (chapter 4).
I think one of the more useful parts of this book is his survey of research on the imperial cult in Asia Minor. However, I found myself unconvinced by the overall thesis. Gill argues for a Graeco-Roman background to the passage and its key vocabulary and against Jewish background. His arguments seem forced at places. I found myself more taken with the opposite argument put forward in a recent PhD dissertation done at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary by Chuck Hetzler titled, “Our Savior and King: Theology Proper in 1 Timothy.” Though unaware of Gill’s work (since it has just appeared), Hetzler provides more compelling evidence for Old Testament context for the vocabulary used of God in 1 Timothy. I hope Hetzler’s work will soon appear in published form so others can compare the arguments.
Gill’s book could have used another round of editing as well. It had numerous surveys of options which did not always contribute to the point of the argument. Also there were very many errors from spelling, to missing words, wrong words, etc. This detracted from the work.