Category: Authorship (Page 3 of 6)

Pauline Communities as ‘Scholastic Communities’: A Study of the Vocabulary of ‘Teaching’ in 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus

scholastic communitiesSteve Walton has written a helpful review of Claire Smith’s monograph, Pauline Communities as ‘Scholastic Communities’: A Study of the Vocabulary of ‘Teaching’ in 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, WUNT 2/335 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012). The monograph is a revision of her PhD thesis which was supervised by Peter Bolt.

It sounds like this book will be useful for PE studies. Her choice of the Pastorals along with 1 Corinthians is quite intriguing as is her defense. Apparently she does not take a position on the authorship issue but in the end suggests the similarities between the PE and 1 Corinthians which she finds should at least cause pause for those assuming non-Pauline authorship.

Additionally, with the significance of teaching in the PE, the amount of data gathered here (the book is 555 pages!) promises to be helpful for PE research.

Smith affirms the earlier evaluation of E. Judge that the earliest Christian communities were marked particularly by learning. In the end, while affirming the idea of Judge she says his phrase “scholastic communities” does not communicate as well (missing the relational aspects of teaching found in these letters, for example) and suggests a better phrase would be “learning communities.” Interestingly, this is the very phrase used by J I Packer, in a popular piece, which I mentioned previously.

Critique of P. N. Harrison

This is a guest post from Jermo van Nes (great name!), who is nearing completion of his PhD  at Evangelische Theologische Faculteit (Leuven) under the supervision of Armin Baum.


In a recent article, I questioned the ever-growing reliance of contemporary New Testament scholars on P.N. Harrison’s 1921 doctoral dissertation The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles (see or the pre-print version In this landmark study, Harrison argued by means of statistics that the Pastorals are based on some genuine Pauline fragments but in their final form are the product of a Paulinist living in the early years of the second century. The lasting impact of Harrison’s work is evidenced by the ongoing scholarly use of his statistical argument to support the Pastorals’ (semi-)pseudonymity.

In the article it is documented how scholars have criticized the statistical argument of Harrison as it appeared to be flawed by methodological problems. One scholar that pointed out some of these is James Gilchrist, of whom Howard Marshall says in his ICC commentary that his work “has been undeservedly ignored”. Accepted in 1966 as a doctoral dissertation supervised by professor F. F. Bruce of Manchester University, Gilchrist’s Authorship and Date of the Pastoral Epistles offers a detailed critique of Harrison’s statistical argument. According to Gilchrist, Harrison managed to produce such an impressive case against the Pastorals’ authenticity only because he was able to reuse his arguments in different forms. Also, he shows why some of Harrison’s comparisons are incorrect and/or unnecessary (see especially pages 27-61).

For those who would like to read Gilchrist’s dissertation in full, it is now freely available online at The comments given by Gilchrist are a welcome addition to those presented by Harrison’s better-known critics like Hitchcock, Michaelis, Guthrie, Metzger, and Spicq, to name but a few.

Jack Barentsen’s Emerging Leadership in the Pauline Mission

Just judging from the title, one may not realize that Jack Barentsen’s Emerging Leadership in the Pauline Mission: A Social Identity Perspective on Local Leadership Development in Corinth and Ephesus (Pickwick, 2011) deals extensively with the Pastoral Epistles. In fact in the nine chapters one deals exclusively with 1 Timothy and another with 2 Timothy.

Bartensen is concerned to trace cultural leadership patterns through the Corinthian correspondence, Ephesians and 1-2 Timothy since in a fairly close proximity (between Corinth and Ephesus) you have this many letters written to churches over the span of Paul’s ministry. This reading, of course, depends on Pauline authorship of each of these letters and Bartensen provides a good brief defense of Pauline authorship of the 1-2 Timothy.

I cannot here summarize all of the implications of PE study, but Bartensen’s reading of the situation in 1 Timothy makes good sense of the letter as an example of mandata principis. Paul’s more formal address to Timothy is expected to be overheard by the church particularly the wealthy home owners who would presumably host the church.

This is a helpful contribution to the Pastoral Epistles literature, and I didn’t want anyone to miss it since the Pastorals aren’t mentioned in the title.

Paul and Pseudepigraphy, ed. Porter and Fewster

[Editor’s note: Here is another guest post from Chuck Bumgardner. Overviews fo recent volumes like this can be especially helpful. I have for some time questioned why it was acceptable to dismiss the historicity of Acts and then criticize the Pastorals for failing to line up with Acts. so, I am glad to see this point made in this volume.]

I recently perused Paul and Pseudepigraphy (ed. Stanley E. Porter and Gregory P. Fewster; Pauline Studies 8; Leiden: Brill, 2013). As would be expected from the title, this just-published volume contains a good bit of material which connects either directly or very closely with the Pastoral Epistles.

The opening article by Stanley Porter and Gregory Fewster, “On Pauline Pseudepigraphy: An Introduction,” sets the stage for current issues in pseudepigraphy, and very briefly summarizes the contributions of each of the authors of the volume.

Porter’s essay, “Pauline Chronology and the Question of Pseudonymity of the Pastoral Epistles,” overviews the chronology of PE authorship vis-à-vis the chronology of Acts, providing a helpful survey of major theories and summary of pertinent evidence. Of note: “There is what appears to be a strong irony involved in the arguments put forward [for post-Pauline authorship of the PE]. The long-standing tradition of German criticism of Acts and the PE is to doubt the historical veracity of Acts and to dismiss fairly summarily the authentic authorship of the PE. However, one of the major bases for dismissing authenticity of the PE . . . is with regard to supposed incompatibilities with the book of Acts. If Acts is not a reliable source anyway, or if reliable is at best a later source (second century), then how is it that incompatibility between Acts and the PE constitutes grounds for dismissing authenticity of the PE and positing pseudonymous authorship? This appears to be special pleading of the most egregious sort” (84-85).

Armin Baum’s article, “Authorship and Pseudepigraphy in Early Christian Literature: A Translation of the Most Important Source Texts and an Annotated Bibliography,” provides fresh translations of quite a bit of source material related to pseudepigraphy and includes an annotated bibliography that is solid gold.

Andrew Pitts, in “Style and Pseudonymity in Pauline Scholarship: A Register Based Configuration,” sets forth a new methodology to judge the likelihood that a given work associated with a corpus is pseudonymous or not.

Jermo van Nes, in “The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles,” purposes to drive the final nail into the coffin lid of the fragment authorship theory, first given definitive shape by P. N. Harrison.

Linda Belleville’s essay, “Christology, Greco-Roman Religious Piety, and the Pseudonymity of the Pastoral Letters,” provides the latest treatment of the Christology of the PE, arguing that the differences between the PE’s Christology and that of the rest of the NT can be explained (at least in part) by viewing the Christological statements in Timothy as polemical, given the religious environment of Ephesus.

The Marginalization of the Pastoral Epistles

I have found 1 Timothy Reconsidered (edited by K. P. Donfried; Peeters, 2008) to be a very helpful resource in Pastoral Epistles studies. I drew from it quite a bit for our recent ETS session on 1 Timothy. The book contains “the presentations and deliberations of the nineteenth meeting of the Colloquium Oecumenicum Paulinum, a distinguished group of some thirty-five international and ecumenical Pauline scholars, held at the Abbey of Saint Paul in Rome during September, 2006” (drawn from Peeters’ website). You can see the table of contents here. The book contains one essay devoted to each chapter of 1 Timothy as well as a few essays on the letter as a whole.

What I found most interesting at this time was Luke Timothy Johnson’s challenging of the marginalization of 1 Timothy and Donfried’s agreement that 1 Timothy has been marginalized. Johnson has, of course been making this point, but his essay here is a good condensing of the issue. Johnson writes, “If not Pauline, then the letters were not considered authoritative, and were increasingly moved to the edge or even out of the canon of Scripture” (p. 22). Noting how modern interpreters of Paul commonly give no attention to the Pastorals although they do interact with Gnostic writings and apocryphal writings, Johnson quips, “Out of Paul means out of canon, and even out of mind!”(p. 22, n. 11). It was particularly interesting to see Karl Donfried, not a supporter of Pauline authorship, affirm Johnson’s point. Donfried noted that the Pastorals have been “disenfranchised” in much of mainline Protestantism and suggested this process has been “facilitated by much feminist biblical scholarship” (p. 154). Donfried even pointed to Brevard Childs who said attempts to interpret the PE in light of a fictitious setting “rendered mute” the “kerygmatic witness of the text.”[1]

In his concluding essay Donfried wrote, “As one today looks at the literature dealing with the so-called ‘pastoral epistles’ one finds a state of utter disarray” (p. 179). He continues saying “their [the Pastorals’] alleged ideological bias has for many undermined their credibility and their canonical function has virtually ceased” (p. 179-180). This is a significant issue for a broad range of Christians, and I am glad to see it addressed in such a significant setting. The functional removal of a portion of the canon is serious and is an issue evangelicals and Catholics should both be concerned about.

Lastly, Donfried went further suggesting this was part of a larger problem in biblical studies.

too much biblical scholarship is performed in an individualistic and non-collaborative manner, thus leading to a situation where many theses emerge that have not been properly tested, sifted and critically discussed with a wider group of diversely competent scholars. This leads to publications with perspectives that not only sharply contradict each other, often in the name of a historiography that masks tendentious superficiality, and that are published with such rapidity that scholars and students are often more busy keeping up with the “latest” in biblical scholarship than in wrestling with the texts and their respective contexts (p. 180).


Donfried goes on to call for more collaboration, centering our efforts on properly understanding the texts rather than simply producing more publications. Accomplishing this will be difficult, but as Donfried suggests the way forward is probably to start on the small scale in developing communities of scholarly collaboration.

This is a valuable volume with stirring challenges and humble suggestions as we move forward with biblical studies and study of the PE specifically.

[1] Brevard Childs, The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 383.

Successful ETS Session

I was very pleased with this year’s meeting of the Pastoral Epistles group at the Evangelical Theological Society, and it was good to meet several people who are working on the Pastorals.

Randy Richards summarized some of his excellent work on letter writing and the use of secretaries (e.g., Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition and Collection) and applied it to some of Bart Ehrmans’ work (Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics & Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are). Richards agrees with Ehrman that the ancients did not condone pseudepigraphy, but argued that Ehrman does not account adequately for the common role of secretaries in the ancient world.

Tim Swinson argued that the gospel of Luke is being directly quoted (by Paul) as scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18. This thesis has significant implications for our understanding of the development of the canon. Swinson’s argument will be included in his monograph, ΓΡΑΦΗ in the Letters to Timothy, which is forthcoming from Wipf & Stock.

Our panel discussion dealt with a number of issues, including the need for more work which fully integrates the Pastoral Epistles into Pauline studies and work which examines similarities between the Pastorals and the accepted Paulines.

If you are interested in possibly presenting a paper at a future meeting of the Pastoral Epistles group send us an abstract at pastoralepistles at gmail dot com.

Assessing Schleiermacher on the Authorship of 1 Timothy

Friedrich Schleiermacher’s  “Concerning the so-called first Letter of Paul to Timothy; a critical open letter to J. C. Gass” (1807) was a watershed piece in the history of the interpretation of the Pastoral Epistles, as he led the way in questioning the Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy. He argued particularly from the difference in vocabulary between 1 Timothy and other Pauline letters and from what he saw as an incoherent and discontinuous train of thought in 1 Timothy. Schleiermacher argued that 1 Timothy was created by drawing from 2 Timothy and Titus, whose authenticity he did not dispute.

In 1999 Hermann Patsch published a very helpful article which briefly summarized Schleiermacher’s arguments and how Schleiermacher’s work was received at the time.[1] Patsch summarizes all the significant contemporary reviews as well as the reviews of Heinrich Planck’s book which was written as a response to Schleiermacher.[2] I was pleased to discover the article is available online.

It was interesting to read that the early reviews of Schleiermacher were consistently negative. In fact, according to Patsch, Schleiermacher’s book was “more or less clearly torn to pieces, attacked in monographs.” De Wette was critical of several of Schleiermacher’s arguments but said: “He has seen what as yet no one saw: he demonstrates that the first letter to Timothy was not written by Paul.”

The debate seen in these reviews contains most of the same talking points found in the same debate today.

If you are doing any work on history of interpretation of the PE or the authorship question, this is a helpful article.

[1] Hermann Patsch, “The Fear of Deutero-Paulinism: The Reception of Friedrich Schleiermacher’s ‘Critical Open Letter’ concerning 1 Timothy,” Journal of Higher Criticism 6 (1999): 3-31

[2] Heinrich Ludwig Planck, Bemerkungen über den ersten Paulinischen Brief an den Timotheus in Beziehung auf das kritische Sendschreiben von Hrn. Prof. Fr. Schleiermacher (Göttingen: Röver, 1808).

The Importance of the Authorship Question

The question of the genuineness and authorship of the Pastoral Epistles affects not only the facts of S. Paul’s life in its later stages, but such important questions as the origin and development of the Christian ministry and Church government, the beginnings of Christian heresies, and the application of Christian principles to practical life and the cure of souls. Dr. Harnack, for instance, writes: “…. Any one, for example, who admits the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles will reach quite different conclusions from one who regards them as non-Pauline, and relegates them to the second century.” It is not too much to say that “the question of the genuineness of the Pastorals is vital to our entire conception of the Apostolic Church.”

J. D. James, Genuineness & Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1906), 1-2.

Join us in the Pastoral Epistles study group next month at ETS as we discuss the authorship issue.

Pauline Scholar, Meet Homeric Scholar

I regularly encourage my biblical studies students that one aspect of training ourselves to interpret the Bible well is to read good literature. Good literature helps to round us out as human beings, and it simply trains us to read well. C. S. Lewis illustrates this well in his classic essay, “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism.”

This point is powerfully made by Anthony Esolen in his article, “Pauline Scholar, Meet Homeric Scholar: How Textual Analysis Misses Authorial Genius & Literary Inspiration,” in the July/August 2013 issue of Touchstone Magazine. Esolen is a professor of English and widely published author- someone who is on my “read whatever he writes list.” In this brief article Esolen draws from his years of working with classic literature to question some of the literary criticism often used on New Testament studies. He notes that though for a long time scholars insisted that Homer’s poems, Beowulf, and other works were not actually the work of one man, the tide has turned and the skepticism has been shown to be unfounded. He describes the skeptical scholarship as working with “all the wrong assumptions,” typically requiring authors to write the way we would or in the ways we expect.

Here is a key paragraph:

“Linguistic analysis alone is pretty good at telling us, within a century, when something was written, and at confirming that the man who wrote Richard III also wrote Macbeth. It’s not very good for establishing chronological order within a century, not for confirming that the man who wrote one thing did not also write another. On linguistic analysis, apart from authorial affirmation, we can determine that the author of the Gospel of Luke is also the author of Acts. But beyond such conclusion we dare not go with confidence. We cannot say that one author could not have written Romans and Ephesians, which are a foot or two apart, as compared with the furlong that separates the author of the first part of The Dream of the Rood from the same man when he’s writing the second part, the mile that separates Milton’s satirical sonnets from the sweet Il Penseroso, and the light year that separates The Merry Wives of Windsor from King Lear.”

This literary perspective is important for various discussions in New Testament studies including the authorship of the Pastorals. Given the wide range of style and vocabulary used by other prominent writers in history we should be cautious about what can be determined concerning authorship by variations in vocabulary and style. Can we really say with such self-assurance, as I have heard scholars do, what Paul could not have written?

The full piece by Esolen is well worth reading. It is not available online, but Jim Kushiner, Executive Editor of Touchstone, has graciously offered to send a complimentary hard copy of the issue containing this article to any of our readers who ask. If you’d like a copy, email noting that you are responding to this column and ask for a copy of the July/August 2013 issue.

UPDATE: The article is now available online and I have linked it above. Thanks to Jim Kushiner for his gracious offer during the time the article was not online.

P46 and the Pastoral Epistles

At the Society of Biblical Literature meeting Edgar Battad Ebojo presented a paper titled, “P46 with the Pastoral Epistles: A Misleading Proposal? Reinvestigating the Evidence of the Missing Last Pages of P46” P46 is an early significant document containing Paul’s letters (plus Hebrews) which is missing its last pages ( It has commonly been stated that the document would not have had enough pages to include the Pastoral Epistles, and, therefore, this is evidence that the Pastorals were not considered Pauline at this early date. However, in 1988 Jeremy Duff published an article [“P46 and the Pastorals: A Misleading Consensus?” NTS 44 (1998): 578-590]
arguing that the Pastoral Epistles would fit because the scribe was beginning to squeeze more words in per page in the last pages we have.

Ebojo provided meticulous examination of P46, character count, per line, variations, etc. The detail was impressive. He demonstrated subjectivity in the work of much of the preceding discussion and ended with the suggestion that P46 is not the place to look for information on the authorship or canonicity of the Pastoral Epistles.

Ebojo’s work was exemplary in its detail and helpful in its modesty in its claims.

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