Author: perry (Page 3 of 4)

Centennial Edition, Scofield Study Bible

I recently received a review copy of the Scofield Study Bible released in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the first publication of this study Bible (in 1909).  Though I am not a dispensationalist, one must acknowledge the impressive impact the Scofield Study Bible has had in its time.

My point here though is to note, with disappointment, that the study Bible still lists “Church Order” as the “Theme” of 1Timothy and Titus.  The notes in these letters are quite dated even in this update.

The Pastoral Epistles Through the Centuries

While at SBL I discovered the Blackwell Bible Commentaries series and picked up a review copy of one volume, The Pastoral Epistles Through the Centuries, by Jay Twomey.  This is a fascinating series.  According to the “Series Editors’ Preface:

The Blackwell Bible Commentaries series, the first to be devoted primarily to the reception history of the Bible, is based on the premise that how people have interpreted, and been influenced by, a sacred text like the Bible is often as interesting and historically important as what it originally meant.

The commentaries then do not seek to expound the text but to reveal how the texts have been understood and used.   I don’t know any other source that provides this in as extensive a manner.  We do have commentary series that survey patristic writers or reformation writers, but this series samples more broadly taking in general literature as well as explicitly theological writings.  Thus, in the Pastorals volume Twomey interacts with Chrysostom and Calvin but also Cervantes and Chaucer.


So far I have found this volume to be very interesting.  I will look to comment more in the future as I get further into the book.  This whole series will be one to watch.

New Monograph on 1 Tim 2:1-7

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.

Towner on Christology in the PE

I have just recently read Phil Towner’s “Christology in the Letters to Timothy and Titus” in Contours of Christology in the New Testament, edited by Richard Longenecker (Eerdmans, 2005).  Towner discusses the key Christological passages in the three letters interacting with recent scholarship and synthesizing the Christology found in each letter.  It is the sort of careful work we have come to expect from Towner and, therefore, is a good entry way into this area of study.  Towner continues (rightly I believe) to stress the fact that, while these letters have some significant commonality, they also have their distinct emphases.

Though I agree with most of the essay, for the sake of conversation I will here point out two smaller things I question.  The first has to do with discerning the background of some of the Christological language.  Discussing the “epiphany” language, Towner asserts,

Undoubtedly … epiphany language must have been deliberately chosen to engage the dominant religious-political discourse of the day and to force a rethinking of these categories by the proclamation of God’s story in Hellenistic dress.” (225; emphasis mine)

I think this may be overstated.  Since, as Towner notes, this language appears in the Septuagint describing “Yahweh’s interventions in the world” then the use in the PE could arise for a number of reasons.  Towner mentions emperor worship elsewhere so I wonder if that is what he has in mind here.  I am not convinced that emperor worship is in view.  I want to be cautious when trying to establish specific background connections.

Secondly, Towner refers to Timothy’s “dwindling courage and lagging commitment” in 2 Timothy (238).  This is a common assertion, but I think it reads too much into 2 Timothy 1.  Simply because Paul calls on him to stir up his gift (1:6) does not mean he is failing.  The fact that Paul exhorts him not to be timid (1:6) or ashamed (1:8) does not mean that he is being these things.  It is, rather, what is to be expected by a father figure as he exhorts his “son” to face hardship well.  Paul is simply exhorting Timothy to “strap it on”, wade into the fray and take his lumps in the “good fight.”  The similarities between this letter and letters from commanding officers to their subordinates would seem to support my reading as well.

These are not major points in Towner’s essay, and as I noted the essay as a whole is very profitable.  These two points are ones I see in other essays so I raise my critique here to see if a profitable discussion might be raised.

Aquinas on the Pastorals

Saint Augustine Press has published a new English translation of Thomas Aquinas’ Commentaries on St. Paul’s Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pb., 222 pp).  The commentaries are actually lecture notes which are briefer than typical commentaries. However, this is a significant source for those involved in the academic study of these letters, precisely because so many of his concerns and our concerns are different.  This is C. S. Lewis’ point in urging us to read old books- to judge the balance of our concerns by comparison with the thoughts of those in previous days.


So far I have dipped into various places and have been intrigued.  Aquinas’ comments on 1 Timothy 2 will shock many modern readers.  He seems to have no problem with bishops being married in his discussion of 1Timothy 3.  One value of these notes is all the quotes from the OT, Apocrypha, and Greek philosophers which Aquinas supplies.  This could be a real help to those seeking background parallels.

Conference Exposition of 2 Timothy

On a more popular level, I notice that the Gospel Coalition conference next Spring will focus on an exposition of 2 Timothy.  The conference theme is “Entrusted with the Gospel: Living the Vision of Second Timothy.”  You can follow the link to see the speakers and which text each one will have.  The sessions work progressively through the letter.

This sounds like a good conference and it is encouraging to see such a setting mining the riches of this wonderful letter.

HT: James Grant

Entrusted with the Gospel

I am honored to be participating in a new book from B&H Academic entitled Entrusted with the Gospel:  Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles.  It will be a collection of essays focusing on specific aspects of the Pastorals written by scholars who have been working on these letters for some time.  Contributors include Howard Marshall, Andreas Kostenberger, and Terry Wilder.  Work is just beginning but I thought readers of this blog would be interested to know of the project.

Negative on the Pastorals

One thing that has driven some of my research in the Pastoral Epistles has been the very negative ‘press’ these letters have received in last century or so.  I was stunned when I first began academic study of the Pastoral Epistles by the cavalier, condescending attitude of many scholars toward the Pastorals.  Along the way I have collected some representative quotes, and for my paper at ETS I particualrly went back to get more from A. T. Hanson.


So, first, here is Hanson.  The condescending attitude is astounding.

“He does not have any doctrine of his own, but makes use of whatever comes to him in the sources which he uses.” Hanson notes that Paul also used pre-formed materials but says Paul integrated these pieces into his own argument.  “Not so with the Pastorals.  Here the material is simply presented with its implied christology and no attempt is made to work it into a consistent doctrine.

            The consequence is that we find several different ways of expressing the significance of Christ in the Pastorals, not all consistent with each other.”[1]


“There seems to be nothing very distinctive about Titus, unless it be the negative feature that it has no Pauline transposition and no scriptural midrash.  This is why one is led to suspect that Titus was written last of all and that the author was beginning to run short of material.”[2]


“He is no profound theologian ….”[3]


“To the author’s simple mind, heretics are sinners.”[4]


“The author of the Pastorals could not do much at the intellectual level, but he could and did help to strengthen the institution [the church].”[5]


But at least, according to Hanson, the author of the Pastorals is “less moralistic, less unfortunately ambitious in his use of Scripture” than Clement of Rome.[6]


Lest, this be too positive though, Hanson goes on to state: “there is little evidence that the author of the Pastorals would himself be very competent if he were ever to be required to prove or defend the Christian tradition from Scripture….”[7]



Hanson is a key representative of this view but the view is not limited to him or his era.  In an essay just published, German scholar, Gerd Häfner, wrote:

“it seems clear that the author of these letters is no expert in Scripture-based reasoning”[8]


Others, while not so negative, still have failed to see any coherence to the argumentation.  These quotes show up in my book which seeks to counter this impression.


‘There is no sustained thought beyond the limits of the separate paragraphs; from paragraph to paragraph- and sometimes even within paragraphs (e.g., 1 Tim 2:8ff)- the topic changes without preparation and sometimes apparently without motive.’[9]


‘There is a lack of studied order, some subjects being treated more than once in the same letter without apparent premeditation . . . These letters are, therefore, far removed from literary exercises.’[10]


‘In this sort of writing, however, there is no need to labor to discover logical order or subtle lines of thought supposed to provide coherence.’[11]


‘The Pastorals are made up of a miscellaneous collection of material.  They have no unifying theme; there is no development of thought.’[12]


‘Not only is the theology generally seen to be a collection of traditions, but it is also usually treated as a fairly arbitrary, inconsistent, unthought-out amalgam with little coherence.’[Young is summarizing the common view of the Pastorals at the time not neessarily giving her opinion][13] 


‘Organization and development of thought are expected from an author, but the Pastorals are characterized by a remarkable lack of both.’ [14]


‘the letters have no driving concern, no consistent focus of interest; instead they read like an anthology of traditions, many arranged mechanically together by topic, some simply juxtaposed.’[15] 


Perhaps these quotes will be ueful and stimulating to toehrs as they have been to me.

[1] Hanson, The Pastoral Epistles, 38-39.

[2] Ibid., 47.

[3] Ibid., 50.

[4] Ibid., 144.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., 51.

[8] Häfner, “Deuteronomy in the Pastoral Epistles,” in Deuteronomy in the New Testament, ed. Moyise and Menken (T&T Clark, 2007), 137.

[9] Burton Scott Easton, The Pastoral Epistles (London: SCM Press, 1948), 14.

[10] Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 18.

[11] Gealy, 457, in discussion of 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

[12] A. T. Hanson, The Pastoral Epistles (London: Marshall, Morgan, and Scott Publishers Ltd., 1982), 42.

[13] Frances Young, The Theology of the Pastoral Letters (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 47.

[14] Miller, 139.

[15] Ibid., 138.  See similar statements, pp. 9, 11, 13, 17, 59-60, 80, 82, 86, 91, 100, 101, 129, 130, 132, 135, 139.

Classen on Titus

At SBL I finally managed to find a reasonably priced copy of Carl Joachim Classen’s Rhetorical Criticism of the New Testament (Brill, 2000).  This book is a collection of papers and articles previously given and published.  His first two essays are useful on the question of the legitimacy of using categories of classical rhetoric in analyzing Paul’s letters.  Classen is a classicist rather than a biblical scholar so he brings a valuable perspective to the question.


The third essay is the one that directly concerns the Pastoral Epistles and is entitled, “A Rhetorical Reading of the Epistle to Titus.”  Though I differ from Classen on the structure of the letter, I benefitted from reading his analysis while working on my own.  He does conclude that the letter is carefully written (in contrast to many) and that the author did not follow the directions of any of the classical handbooks on rhetoric.  Any examination of the structure of Titus ought to interact with Classen.


(You can see my differences with Classen either by comparing his work with my monograph or a brief article, “Structure and Cohesion in Titus,” published in The Bible Translator 53:1 (Jan 2002):118-33.)

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2024 Pastoral Epistles

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑