Author: Ray Van Neste (Page 5 of 11)

Ray Van Neste is a believer in Christ, husband, father, pastor, and professor. He serves as the Dean of the School of Theology & Missions and Professor of Biblical Studies at Union University, and teaches classes on New Testament, Greek, and pastoral ministry.

Dunn on the Pastoral Epistles in Neither Jew nor Greek

By Chuck Bumgardner

James D. G. Dunn, well-known New Testament scholar and Lightfoot Professor Emeritus of Divinity at Durham University, has discussed the Pastoral Epistles in numerous places in his writings, with the most focused treatment being his commentary on the letters in the New Interpreter’s Bible (ed. L. E. Keck; Nashville: Abingdon, 2000), 11:773-800. My purpose here is to summarize his take on the PE in the recently released third volume of his substantial Christianity in the Making project: Neither Jew nor Greek: A Contested Identity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015); he discusses the letters in a focused manner in §39.3(b) (85-91) and §47.2(a) (678-82).

The simple fact that Dunn places his discussion of the PE in the third volume of his project, not the second (Beginning from Jerusalem) is enough to divine his general approach to the letters, as the second volume takes the reader through 70 AD, and the third volume picks up there. Anyone familiar with Dunn’s work will not be surprised to find that his major discussion of the PE in Neither Jew nor Greek is under the heading “Paul as Depicted in Second-Generation NT Documents.” Dunn finds the best explanation of pseudepigraphy in the canonical NT to be that of Meade, who contends that “attribution is primarily a claim to authoritative tradition, not a statement of literary origin” (Pseudonymity and Canon, 102; cf. further Dunn, “Pseudepigraphy,” Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments, 977-84). In this vein, Dunn understands the PE to contemporize and promote the authoritative Pauline tradition for the following generation, and to have been accepted by that generation as “sharing in the authority of the tradition’s originator” and thus “accepted as also authoritative under his name” (85).

As typical in critical scholarship, Dunn grounds his judgment of pseudonymity in certain features of the letters: distinctive language and style, historical circumstances thought to be difficult to square with Acts and other Pauline epistles, a false teaching with no parallel in pre-70 NT literature, increasing institutionalization, and “crystallization of the faith into set forms” (86-88). “It is most probable that we should attribute [the PE] to an unknown (conservative) disciple who thought he was doing what Paul would have approved of and whose further ‘letters of Paul’ were accepted in the same spirit” (89). Dunn suggests that, though pseudonymous, the PE might just possibly have been written to Timothy and Titus, and should be dated in the 80s or 90s.

Dunn finds the most striking and distinctive features of the PE to be “increasing institutionalization” and the “crystallization of faith into set forms,” both of which he discusses as some length. As to institutionalization, Dunn uses 1 Corinthians as a foil, arguing that there Paul does not “appeal to ‘elders’ or ‘overseers’ or ‘deacons’ to exercise authority and to bring order to the disorder” (678) (but does Paul actually do this in the PE? Certainly he straightforwardly sets forth the qualifications for these positions, but it is Timothy and Titus as Paul’s delegates who receive the bulk of Paul’s instructions to take care of the problems in the churches.). Dunn finds that Paul “has become Paul the good churchman, significantly different from Paul the innovative apostle” (679).

Similarly, as to “crystallization of faith into set forms,” the PE evidence “a dominant desire to consolidate and secure a more objectified identity” (679). The dynamic “faith” of the authentic Paul (“the living means by which individuals are in communication with God and by which they live”) has become “the faith” which is simply orthodox doctrine (679-80). As well, Dunn finds Jew/Gentile tensions to be fading and formulaic, references to false teaching to be vague and lacking content.

Christology, however, is developing fresh expression in the PE, Dunn observes. It is “the only detail about the faith which is clearly defined” (680). Though monotheism is emphasized in 1 Timothy, “the Pastorals’ Christology would seem to encroach to a substantial degree” upon it (681). Dunn doesn’t see Titus 2:13 as speaking of Christ directly as “God” but as “the glory of our great God and Savior.” Jesus is “the embodiment of God’s glory and decisive expression of his saving power” (681). This developing Christology suggests that “it was the growing reverence for Christ which most clearly marked out the second-generation churches (of the Aegean) as they moved into the second century” (682).

In sum, “this then is the Paul who is presented in the Pastoral Epistles—a Paul for whom the priority was to consolidate the faith, to guard it unflinchingly and to pass it on faithfully. This was Paul as his disciple(s) evidently him remembered—as equipping his churches for what would be a threatened and challenging future” (682).

Powell on the Pastoral Epistles

By Chuck Bumgardner

Mark Allan Powell is the Robert and Phyllis Leatherman Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary (Columbus, OH), having taught New Testament at TLS since 1987. A prolific author, Powell has crafted his Introduction to the New Testament (Baker, 2009) (INT) as a college textbook. This work is atypical in that it “urges engagement of ideas but does not attempt to resolve disputes,” with its goal being “engagement, not indoctrination” (11), and so Powell tries not to tip his hand as to his own position on various issues. Also of note, his INT also includes over 75 pieces of Christian artwork scattered throughout the book. Powell, to my knowledge, has not published anything specifically on the Pastoral Epistles; his published works major more on the Gospels and Acts. Strikingly, a book that he edited with David R. Bauer, Who Do You Say that I Am? Essays on Christology (WJK 1999), walks through the New Testament via various essays (including the Christology of . . . Matthew, Mark, Luke-Acts, Johannine Writings, Pauline Epistles, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, Jude/2 Peter, Revelation) but does not include the christological contribution of the Pastoral Epistles in the chapter by M. L. Soards on “Christology of the Pauline Epistles”—and only in passing in two other places in the volume.

In INT, after a brief introduction to the PE which (in keeping with his overarching methodology) leaves the question of authorship open, Powell provides a very brief overview of each of the three epistles. Addressing historical background, he presents standard possibilities of the PE being (1) authentically written (1a) during or (1b) just after the events of Acts, (2) pseudonymously written in their entirety shortly after Paul’s death, (3) pseudonymous expansions of embedded authentic Pauline notes, or (4) an authentic 2 Timothy providing the template for pseudonymous 1 Timothy and Titus. Several sidebars liven up the chapter: biographical sketches of Timothy and Titus, a chart of proposed historical situations for the PE, a brief list of reasons scholars reject the authenticity of the PE, the office of widows (Powell doesn’t mention the possibility that the widows of 1 Tim 5 don’t actually occupy a formal church office), concern for social respectability in the PE, the meaning of “the husband of one wife”

The major themes Powell finds in the letters include church government, false teaching and sound doctrine, women and ministry, and suffering and shame. In the end, he understands the PE to have been written to engage two threats to the church, external persecution and internal heresy. Powell finds the purpose of the letters to be the preservation of the Pauline tradition and appropriate conduct in the church. His own view seems to be that the PE come “from a difficult but necessary stage in the development of the Christian religion: the church is becoming more institutionalized and more authoritarian in an effort to forestall revision of the faith for which Paul was willing to suffer and die” (413). A brief “further reading” list concludes the chapter.

Material supplemental to the chapter is found online at the companion website (freely available to the public). This material on the main PE page refers to Powell in the third person and doesn’t seem to have been written by him. The site provides discussion prompts, pedagogical suggestions (the notion of widows as occupying a specific church office is brought into question), and PDFs of the sidebars included in the chapter. In addition are other PDFs of sidebar-like discussions that were not included in the chapter: authorship (with arguments for and against pseudepigraphy and a helpful bibliography of works categorized by view on authorship), church leaders in the NT (including both “deacons” and “widows” as “church leaders”), the nature of the false teaching (doesn’t distinguish between that in the epistles to Timothy and that in the epistle to Titus), polemic in the PE (doesn’t seem to treat polemic in the PE as merely stock), genre of the PE, distinctive vocabulary in the PE, the PE in the Revised Common Lectionary, women and ministry in the PE (the PE teach that “there is an office in the church for aged widows”; “some women may also serve as deacons”; “women should not be permitted to teach or to have authority over men . . . they are . . . more easily deceived than men”) with brief bibliography; and an expanded English-language bibliography with 78 entries in nine categories: overview (including less technical commentaries), critical commentaries, authorship, linguistic distinctiveness, parenetic character, church government, women and ministry, household codes, other studies. Although INT was published in 2009, the online bibliography has works as late as 2010. The bibliography is a bit uneven, but excellent overall.

Powell has chosen to include representations of three pieces of artwork as part of the chapter on the PE. First is “Window of St. Timothy with the martyr’s palm, removed from Neuwiller Abbey, studio of Lorin de Chartres (12th c.),” although Powell opines that Timothy is holding a “rod or bat”, not a martyr’s palm (a cudgel was traditionally the instrument of Timothy’s death); unfortunately, the image available to Powell presents the title in the window (S.TIMOTHEUS.MARTYR) backwards. Second is a 17th-c. Melkite icon, “The Council of Nicaea I,” depicting church leaders flanking Constantine; the use of this painting reflects a later understanding of a “bishop” than a Pauline reading of the PE permits. Third is German realist Wilhelm Leibl’s best-known work, “Three Women in Church” (1882); Powell connects the quiet demeanor of these women with that enjoined in the PE. I was slightly disappointed that Rembrandt’s “Timothy and His Grandmother” wasn’t chosen for inclusion, but then, I’m particularly partial to Rembrandt.

“Pauline Ecclesiology,” by David Downs

Downs, David J. “Pauline Ecclesiology.” Perspectives in Religious Studies 41 (2014): 243-255

I pursued this essay because I learned that Downs included the Pastorals in his discussion, accepting them as Pauline. Since I am pursuing the question of how the Pastorals might shape or re-shape our understanding of Pauline theology if they were seriously engaged, I was curious to see what role they played in Downs’ analysis. In the end, beyond the footnote arguing for their inclusion, little of particular interest is made of them in the essay. Perhaps this is due to the fact that this is a remarkably large topic for a single essay.

I appreciated Downs’ discussion of the universal and local church (a big issue for Baptist circles, and this is found in a Baptist journal).

However, section 3 of the essay, on “The Organization and Practices of the Pauline Churches,” was not as good. Downs says we must not homogenize these “geographically and culturally diverse congregations” into one model of “the Pauline church.” This is a common statement today, but I find it lacking. Should we not expect a significant level of similarity in theology and core practices among churches planted by one apostle who self-consciously seeks to order these communities according to the will of God?

Downs, like others, as evidence of diversity, points to the fact that these churches did not always obey the apostle. Here a key distinction must be made. Are we saying that these churches at times differed in practices or that they were never intended to have shared core practices? If the first, that is obvious and need not be debated. Paul rebukes the Corinthians for practices out of step with “all the churches.” This does not, though, mean that there was not a shared “model” to which they were all supposed to aspire. The lack of such an aspirational model is exactly what many of these scholars are arguing. In fact, Paul’s rebuke just mentioned suggests the opposite- the churches are expected to be in step with one another.

This is an important discussion because on it depends whether or not there is a coherent biblical ecclesiology (and perhaps whether we should expect a coherent theology at all in Paul). Denying the existence of such is amenable today because it allows us to say we can all have our own ecclesiologies. However, we should reconsider this claim today.

New Monograph, Wealth in Ancient Ephesus

Earlier this year I saw advertisements for this new monograph on 1 Timothy by Gary Hoag, Wealth in Ancient Ephesus and the First Letter to Timothy: Fresh Insights from Ephesiaca by Xenophon of Ephesus published by Eisenbrauns. I have kept my eye on it but have not yet obtained a copy. So, I was quite interested to see this review of the book by Lucy Peppiat, and thought our readers would like to know of the review as well.

I will hope soon to provide our own review of the book.

Hagner on the Pastoral Epistles

[by Chuck Bumgardner]

Donald A. Hagner has been associated with Fuller Seminary for forty years, and presently holds the title(s) of George Eldon Ladd Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Senior Professor of New Testament School of Theology. His New Testament Introduction: A Historical and Theological Introduction (Baker, 2012) (NTI) represents the mature judgments of a seasoned scholar. My purpose here is to summarize his work on the Pastoral Epistles (PE) in that volume.

Before I do that, however, I’ll observe that Hagner has (to my knowledge) produced only one standalone essay on any of the PE: “Titus as a Pauline Letter,” in Society of Biblical Literature 1998 Seminar Papers, Part Two (SBLSPS 37; Atlanta: Scholars, 1998), 546–58. This essay was part of an ongoing project in the SBL Theology of the Disputed Paulines group, a project which also included Luke Timothy Johnson’s “Oikonomia Theou: The Theological Voice of 1 Timothy from the Perspective of Pauline Authorship” and Gordon Fee’s “Toward a Theology of 2 Timothy—from a Pauline Perspective.” Each of these essays addressed the theology of one of the PE from the perspective of Pauline authorship.

In his essay, Hagner first establishes the “life-setting” of Titus, noting its distinctiveness over against the undisputed Pauline letters in two areas: Paul’s acceptance of a delayed parousia and a correspondingly different approach to his churches, and an individual recipient (except in the case of Philemon) (546–48). These two items, in conjunction with the likely use of an amanuensis, explain any differences between Titus and other Pauline letters. With this foundation laid, he engages a close reading of the most overtly theological passages in Titus, 2:11–14 and 3:4–8a, comparing their theology minutely (and favorably) with Paul’s theology in the undisputed letters (548–52). (Since these are soteriological passages, this section is helpful for studying salvation in the PE in connection with other writings of Paul.) Finally, Hagner examines the “theology of the practical instructions of Titus,” finding strong parallels with the undisputed Paul here as well (552–55). All in all, this is a strong article defending the authenticity of Titus.

Fifteen years later, in his NTI, Hagner now finds that the cumulative weight of various arguments against Pauline authorship of the PE (including Titus) means that pseudonymity has “the probabilities on its side” (614). He presents a very helpful section which addresses six different battlegrounds of opinion vis-à-vis authorship (language and style, church organization, theology and ethics, nature of opposition, the picture of Paul, and the personal history of Paul), first succinctly presenting how proponents of pseudonymity would frame a given issue, then providing a brief response from the perspective of authenticity (615–21). He stresses (1) that no particular argument for pseudonymity is persuasive in and of itself, but the cumulative case is persuasive; (2) that the debate is one of probabilities, not certainties (621–22). In his judgment (following a critical consensus), the PE simply “breathe a different atmosphere” which is unlike the undisputed Paulines, and they reflect a “conventional, ‘bourgeois’ Christianity,” displaying “the marks of an incipient early catholicism” (622).

Exploring various explanations for the “problem of the Pastorals,” Hagner examines the amanuensis hypothesis (e.g., Richards, Paul and First-Century Letter Writing), the possibility of wholesale pseudepigraphy by an associate of Paul’s after his death (e.g., Wilson, Luke and the Pastoral Epistles), theories involving Pauline fragments/notes (e.g., Miller, The Pastoral Letters as Composite Documents), and the possibility of authenticity (e.g., Fee, Knight, Johnson, Mounce, Towner) (622–26). Reading “Titus as a Pauline Letter,” I felt that Hagner was firmly championing a position of authenticity; reading his NTI, I don’t get the impression that he has confidently changed his stance on authorship, but has edged over the line, so to speak, with the balance of evidence ever so slightly disposing him to a rather agnostic position of pseudonymity.

Hagner turns to examine various emphases in the PE: protecting orthodoxy/orthopraxy; preserving and transmitting the tradition; establishing church offices; the self-consciousness of the church (626–34). Finding these to support “an incipient early catholicism,” he summarizes: “Because of the delay of the parousia, the church must reunderstand itself not as a group of believers waiting to be taken away from this world to the next, but rather as the people of God, residents in the world for the foreseeable future, whose unchanging message represents unshakable truth” (634).

Arguing that the PE ought to be considered both individually and as a cluster, Hagner gives a brief overview of the contents of each letter (634–37). He closes the essay with a position of agnosticism as to authorship, a guess that the letters were written for church leaders in general, and a preference for a date shortly after Paul’s death (637–38). A very solid English-language bibliography (25 commentaries and 85 other entries) completes the essay, including commentaries as late as 2006 (Towner [NICNT] and Witherington), and other works as late as 2010 (638–42). I only note that in commentaries, the venerable Lock (ICC, 1924) is missing, apparently being of too great a vintage, and Oden’s Interpretation volume (1989) is omitted. In other literature, Hagner has surprisingly included nothing by Trebilco (e.g., The Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius, 2004) nor Wieland (e.g., The Significance of Salvation, 2006).

Pastoral Epistles Publications in 2015

Chuck Bumgardner has once again done us the wonderful service of compiling a list of publications from the year. This is an excellent resource for anyone trying to stay abreast of scholarship on the Pastorals. Notice at the end the brief list of dissertations and reprints. If you know of an item that should be added to the list please let us know by sending us an email at pastoralepistles at gmail dot com.


Ackerman, David Allen. “Atonement and Community Reconciliation in Paul’s Letters: The Shame of the Cross as the Means for Restoration.” Wesleyan Theological Journal 50/1 (2015): 83-99. (addresses 1 Tim 1:18-20; 2 Tim 2:25-26; Titus 3:9-10)

Dionson, Herman. “1 Timothy 4:6-16: Towards a Theology of Encouragement.” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 18/2 (2015): 7-21.

Dragutinović, Predrag. “Die Schrift im Dienst der gesunden Lehre. Text-pragmatische Erwägungen zu 2 Tim 3,14-17.” Annali di Storia dell’Esegesi 32 (2015): 309-24.

Emerson, Matthew Y. “Paul’s Eschatological Outlook in the Pastoral Epistles.” Criswell Theological Review n.s. 12 (2015): 83-98.

Glahn, Sandra L. “The First-Century Ephesian Artemis: Ramifications of Her Identity.” Bibliotheca Sacra 172.688 (2015): 450-69.

Hoag, Gary G. Wealth in Ancient Ephesus and the First Letter to Timothy: Fresh Insights from Ephesiaca by Xenophon of Ephesus. BBR Supplement Series. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2015.

Houwelingen, Rob van. “Meaning and Significance of the Instruction about Women in 1 Timothy 2:12-15.” Sárospataki Füzetek 19:4 (2015): 59-71.

Hübner, Jamin. “Revisiting αὐθεντέω in 1 Timothy 2:12: What Does the Extant Data Really Show?” The Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters 4 (2015): 41-70.

________. “Translating αὐθεντέω (authenteō) in 1 Timothy 2:12.” Priscilla Papers 29.2 (2015): 16-26.

Hunter, David G. ” ‘A Man of One Wife:’ Patristic Interpretations of 1 Timothy 3:2, 3:12, and Titus 1:6 and the Making of Christian Priesthood.” Annali di storia dell’esegesi 32 (2015): 333-52.

Hylen, Susan E. A Modest Apostle: Thecla and the History of Women in the Early Church. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Long, Frederick J. “A Wife in Relation to a Husband: Greek Discourse Pragmatic and Cultural Evidence for Interpreting 1 Tim 2:11-15.“ The Journal of Inductive Bible Studies 2/2 (2015): 6-43. Online:

Meiser, Martin. “Timothy in Acts: Patristic Reception.” Annali di Storia dell’Esegesi 32 (2015): 325-32.

Munger, Scott. “Women, the Church, and Bible Translation: Key Passages, Issues, and Interpretive Options.” Priscilla Papers 29/2 (2015): 6-13.

Nicklas, Tobias. “The Pastoral Epistles and Their Reception.” Annali di Storia dell’Esegesi 32 (2015): 285-86.

Porter, Stanley E. “1 Timothy 2:8: Holy Hands or Holy Raising?” Pages 339-346 in Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament: Studies in Tools, Methods, and Practice. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2015.

Smit, Peter-Ben. “Back to the Future—Aspekte der Pseudepigraphie des Titusbriefes und ihre Bedeutung.” Pages 341–61 in Wie Geschichten Geschichte schreiben: Frühchristliche Literatur zwischen Faktualität und Fiktionalität: Eine Einführung. Edited by Susanne Luther, Jörg Röder, and Eckart D. Schmidt. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2:395. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015.

Sommer, Michael. “Witwen in 1 Tim 5. Eine subkulturelle Annäherung aus der Perspektive der Schriften Israels und ihrer Auswirkungen auf das frühe Christentum.” Annali di storia dell’esegesi 32 (2015): 287-307.

Theobald, Michael. “Vom Werden des Rechts in der Kirche: Beobachtungen zur Sprachform von Weisungen im Corpus Pastorale und bei Paulus.“ Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 106 (2015): 65-95.

Wenkel, David H. “Lexicography to the Aid of a Problematic Pastoral Proverb: With What Should Christians Be Content in 1 Timothy 6.8?” The Bible Translator 66 (2015): 73-90.

Zamfir, Korinna. “Women Teaching—Spiritually Washing the Feet of the Saints? The Early Christian Reception of 1 Timothy 2:11-12.” Annali di Storia dell’Esegesi 32 (2015): 352-79.


2015 PE-related dissertations:

Hoklotubbe, T. Christopher. “The Rhetoric of Pietas: The Pastoral Epistles and Claims to Piety in the Roman Empire.” Th.D. diss., Harvard Divinity School, 2015.

Thornton, Dillon. “Hostility in the House of God: An ‘Interested’ Investigation of the Opponents in 1 and 2 Timothy.” Ph.D. diss., University of Otago, 2015. Online:


2015 reprints of important PE works:

Donelson, Lewis R. Pseudepigraphy and Ethical Arguments in the Pastorals. Hermeneutische Untersuchungen zur Theologie 22. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1986. Reprint, Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2015.

Hanson, A. T. Studies in the Pastoral Epistles. London: S.P.C.K., 1968. Reprint, Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2015.

Towner, Philip H. The Goal of Our Instruction: The Structure of Theology and Ethics in the Pastoral Epistles. Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series 34. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1989. Reprint, Bloomsbury Academic Collections. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.


Yet More Additions to the 2014 List

Chuck Bumgardner continues to put us in his debt gathering these bibliographical lists. Soon we will post his list of PE related publications for 2015, but first here are some additions to the 2014 list which he has just sent in. [these have now been added to the original 2014 list post]

Downs, David J. “Pauline Ecclesiology.” Perspectives in Religious Studies 41 (2014): 243-255. (Downs includes the Pastorals as Pauline)

Giambrone, Anthony. “‘According to the Commandment’ (Did. 1.5): Lexical Reflections on Almsgiving as ‘The Commandment.’” New Testament Studies 60 (2014): 448-465. (This builds on Nathan Eubank, “Almsgiving Is ‘the Commandment’: A Note on 1 Timothy 6.6–19,” NTS 58 [2012]: 144–150.)

Gonçaves, Ailton de Souza Gonçalves, Danilo Dourado Guerra, and Érika Rejane Rodrigues de Souza Fideles. “Hermenêuticas no Novo Testamento: olhares, experiências e temporalidades.” Caminhando 19/1 (2014): 27-40. Online: (highlights 1 Tim 2:9-15)

Klein, Hans. “Paulus als Verkündiger, Apostel und Lehrer in den Pastoralbriefen.” Sacra Scripta 12 (2014): 43-63.

Mazzinghi, Luca. “Tempo de riforma: Leggere la Bibbia lungo i tempi. Il volto di Dio.” Rassenga di Teologia 55 (2014): 673-88.

Sorum, E. Allen. “Man or Servant in 2 Timothy 3:17?” Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly 111/2 (2014): 108-14.

Theobald, Michael. “Versöhnung im Gemeindebezug—Gnade durch Regeln? Biblisch-frühkirchliche Reminiszenzen.“ Theologische Quartalschrift 194 (2014): 171-89.

Call for Papers

The Pastoral Epistles group in the Evangelical Theological Society is accepting paper proposals for the meeting this Fall. We are continuing to examine ways in which a more vigorous, intentional engagement with the Pastorals can impact our understanding of Paul. Too often evangelicals explicitly or implicitly bracket off the Pastorals when doing Pauline theology whether in order to gain a hearing among those who dispute them or simply because we have grown accustomed to overlooking them. We have already seen a number of ways in which the absence of 1-2 Timothy and Titus impoverish our reading and have a sneaking suspicion there are yet more aspects and nuances to be explored. So, if you would be interested to pursue this topic, we would be glad to hear from you. Send questions or proposals to me at rayvanneste at gmail dot com.

Free book

entrusted with the gospelB&H Academic is offering a free copy of Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles (edited by Andreas Köstenberger and Terry Wilder) to anyone who signs up for the updates at their blog.


Essays include:

I. Howard Marshall on Recent Study in the Pastoral Epistles
Andreas Köstenberger on Hermeneutical and Exegetical Challenges
Terry L. Wilder on Authorship
F. Alan Tomlinson on  Purpose/Stewardship
Greg Couser on Doctrine of God
Daniel L. Akin on  Christology
Ray Van Neste on Cohesion and Structure of the PE
B. Paul Wolfe on Use of Scripture
Ben Merkle on Ecclesiology
George Wieland on Soteriology
Thor Madsen on Ethics
Chiao Ek Ho on Missiology

The Pastorals at SBL 2015

I was unable to attend SBL this year, but Chuck Bumgardner was kind enough to gather titles and abstracts for PE related papers at SBL from the helpful abstracts page on the SBL site.

Here is what was listed. It is encouraging to see this much work being done on these letters.

The Cretan Quote of Titus 1:12: Why Paul Appears to Be Such a Bigot 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Isaiah Luke Allen, Asbury Theological Seminary

Conventional readings of Titus 1:12-13 present real grammatical and contextual problems. Taken at face value, the apostle Paul addresses Titus and quotes Epimenides, a (5th-6th Century BCE) Cretan poet, in a descriptive and highly disfavorable moral assessment of the Cretans that Paul himself shares. This paper exposes some of the literary-contextual, grammatical, and semantic problems with this reading and suggests an interpretation that coheres with the NT portrayal of the canonical Paul and Titus, the grammar of the passage, and the context of the argument in the letter to Titus. Rather than being a bigot, Paul is exposing and attacking bigotry in the church.

Satan: The Author of False Teaching in the Pastoral Epistles 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Derek Brown, Lexham Press

The Pastoral Epistles reveal a number of intriguing developments within the Pauline tradition. One area which has not received sufficient attention is the references to the devil within Pastoral Epistles. Both 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy mention the malevolent figure— whether by the well known term satanas (1 Tim 1:20; 5:15), diabolos (1 Tim 3:6, 7; 2 Tim 2:26), or even ho antikeimai (“the opponent” or “the enemy,” 1 Tim 5:14; cf. 1 Clem. 51.1; Mart. Pol. 17.1)—but the collective importance of these references is rarely discussed in scholarly literature. The present paper will explore the nature of the allusions to Satan within the Pastorals by considering their function within their epistolary context, the theology of Satan which they imply, and their relationship to references to Satan in the other Pauline letters (both undisputed and disputed; see Brown, The God of this Age: Satan in the Churches and Letters of the Apostle Paul [Mohr Siebeck], forthcoming 2015). It will be argued that although the Pastoral Epistles sometimes reflect, or perhaps mimic, the earlier Pauline references to Satan (e.g., 1 Tim 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 5:5), the references to Satan in 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy aim to establish a direct connection between false teaching and Satan that is intended to warn and prevent the readers of the letters from subscribing to teaching that would separate them from the truth of the gospel and the community of faith.

Kinship and Leadership in 1 Timothy: A Study of Filial Framework and Model for Early Christian Communities in Asia Minor 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Daniel K. Darko, Gordon College

This paper examines kinship framework and language in the directives for leadership in early Christianity communities of Ephesus, aiming to curb the influence of false teachers and bolster mutual support in the membership. It investigates direct appeal to responsible household management, portraits of natural and fictive kinship, and group dynamics couched in filial parlance in the leadership correspondence (1 Timothy). The Greek text will be examined carefully against the background of Greco-Roman conventions on kinship and use of kinship lexemes in relation to leadership. The study of the household code alongside other references to kinship in the prism of Christian leadership will lead to new and perhaps alternate insights regarding how we read the institutional structure of the house churches, even the notion of monarchical leadership. The manner in which fictive and natural kinship are utilized will receive critical attention in the quest also to answer the question: Does fictive kinship override natural kinship or are there interface of the two to harness group identity and group dynamics?

“Apocalyptic Rhetoric” in the Pastoral Epistles 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Mark Harding, Australian College of Theology

The Apostle Paul is rightly termed an apocalypticist not only because his message originated in an apocalypse (Gal 1:12, 16), but also because he continued to receive visions and revelations. He imparted these to his hearers. The post-Pauline authors of Ephesians and Colossians mediate Paul’s apocalypticism chiefly through the discourse of “mystery.” Although it has been fashionable to downplay the apocalypticism of the Pastoral Epistles (PE), the letters do subscribe to this worldview. In the PE, Paul’s apocalypticism is encountered not only in their espousal of apocalyptic eschatology but also in their discourse of the finality of the mystery and revelation uniquely received and authoritatively mediated by the Apostle. This discourse—rooted as it is in revelation—is aptly termed “apocalyptic rhetoric.” This is a term that was first applied to the rhetoric of the New Testament Apocalypse by Adela Yarbro Collins and Barry Brummett in the early 1980s. The term can be applied to the rhetoric of the PE, although the PE (like the Pauline corpus as a whole) are letters and not apocalypses. In this discourse, the authority of the Apostle in the highly contested context of the PE is grounded in the epiphany of Christ and the moral and creedal implications that are in accord with that epiphany and to which his ministry, and the ministry of those he commissions, finally, infallibly and exclusively bears witness. The apostolic “deposit” vouchsafed to Paul and through him to his delegates and their successors is full, perfect and sufficient, such that teaching that is not in accord with it is a betrayal of the Pauline heritage. In this way, the PE are testimonies of the power of speech grounded in revelation and mediated by a writer who uniquely articulated the apostle’s authority.

The Rhetoric of PIETAS: First Timothy and the Negotiation of Roman Imperial Pietas 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Chris Hoklotubbe, Harvard University

This paper provides a postcolonial reading to 1 Timothy that attends to how the author negotiates the imperial situation in his appeal to piety (eusebeia) within the context of instructing the community to offer prayers on behalf of imperial authorities (1 Tim 2:1–2) and how women and widows ought to behave within the household of God (1 Tim 2:9–15). Scholars including Mary Rose D’Angelo and Angela Standhartinger convincingly argue that 1 Timothy’s instructions on prayer and admonitions for women to marry, bear children, and remain subordinate to their husbands accommodate to conservative social values promoted in imperial legislation and propaganda. However, scholars like Ben Witherington and Phillip Towner insist that these passages are not indicative of accommodation, but rather a missiological approach that Christianized secular virtues and even resisted imperial culture. I argue that a postcolonial optics is helpful for moving beyond a dichotomy of accommodation/resistance and allows us to better observe how both elements are present within the author’s negotiation of imperial social values and Christian doctrine within the scope of his construction of a hybrid Christian identity and piety. This paper will also succinctly contextualize 1 Timothy’s appeals to piety within the prevalence of rhetorical claims to piety (pietas/eusebeia) that occur in Roman poetry, monumental inscriptions, and coins in order to clarify the cultural significance of this virtue for how both elite Romans and provincial subjects, including the author of 1 Timothy, conceptualized imperial power and their relation to it. I argue that both claims to piety that pervaded the imperial propaganda of Trajan and Hadrian as evidenced in coins, reliefs, panegyrics, and building campaigns as well as elite Roman discourses that contrasted Roman pietas against foreign superstitio textualized the structures that comprised the imperial situation of 1 Timothy’s and illuminate its rhetoric of piety.

Timothy in Ephesus? First Timothy, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Acts of Timothy Reconsidered 
Program Unit: Ancient Fiction and Early Christian and Jewish Narrative
Meira Z. Kensky, Coe College

This paper will analyze the way Timothy’s association with Ephesus is remembered and constructed in early Christian literature. While 1 Timothy imagines Timothy as an Ephesus-based administrator, and Eusebius tells us that the tradition holds Timothy as the first bishop of that city (Eus., Hist. Eccl. 3.4), other texts are ambiguous at best on this issue. The lack of a clear association between Timothy and Ephesus in the Acts of the Apostles is particularly striking. In addition to having ambiguous presence throughout Acts 19, Timothy is not located in Ephesus during the riot (19:23-41), and is also not named as present in the speech to the Ephesian elders in 20:17-38. Since many people think that Acts might have been written in Ephesus, Timothy’s absence during the Ephesian ministry is even more notable. Should we infer from Timothy’s absence that he was not really associated with Ephesus at all, and that this is a later invention by the author of 1 Timothy? The Acts of John, also set in Ephesus, is entirely silent not only on the presence of Timothy, but on the presence of any early Christian there before John, erasing the record of Pauline presence in the city. Ephesus is thus contested territory. And while the early tradition is ambiguous, the Acts of Timothy, a late addition to the corpus of Apocryphal Acts, details exactly how Paul ordained Timothy as Ephesus’ first bishop, and then narrates Timothy’s violent death during a pagan festival there. The text also talks about John’s activities in the city, and thus represents an attempt to harmonize early Christian traditions about this crucial center of early Christianity, who was working there at the same time, and what their relationship was to each other. Studying the way the Acts of Timothy paints its portrait of Timothy’s leadership and violent death in the city can shed light both on the memory of this crucial tradent as well as the memory of the city itself. What is gained in 1 Timothy by locating Timothy in Ephesus? And what is gained by having him die there in the Acts of Timothy?

Insisting on a Gospel of Resurrection in the Face of Suffering: An Initial Exploration of the Intersection of Religion and Politics in the Context in 2 Tim 2:8 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Edward Pillar, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David

The writer of 2Timothy is presented as imprisoned, chained like a criminal, and suffering ‘for the gospel.’ Thus the writer asserts that his crime is inextricably linked with his gospel, and it seems apparent that his suffering is not only considerable (2:9), but some have suggested that it may well be linked to the severe, brutal, and cruel persecutions recorded by Tacitus of the Neronian era. The writer appears to be seeking to encourage Timothy not to be afraid to commit more fully to the gospel and thus perhaps inevitably to enter into the prospect of suffering (1:8). The gospel, which has led to such vicious persecution and inhumane suffering, is precisely and succinctly articulated in 2:8, ‘Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, out of the seed of David.’ In this paper we will explore the political nature of the gospel that is not simply an intersection of politics and religion, but appears to create an inexorable conflict with imperial politics. We will consider the thesis that in this letter the context of severe persecution and suffering is crucial in this instance to understand how religion and politics intersect. Jesus, as the Christ, is thus God’s alternative emperor or king. ‘Jesus Christ’, uniquely ordered at this point in the letter, taken alongside ‘out of the seed of David’ suggests an ancient narrative as an alternative to the imperial story that perpetuated the tyranny of the emperor. Further, the insistence of an alternative gospel – itself a challenge to empire – in proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus following crucifixion at the hands of the Romans Empire is both a challenge to imperial assertions of supreme power but also subverts this power in the act of resurrection.


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