Category: Backgrounds (Page 1 of 4)

Langford, Diagnosing Deviance

Andrew Langford’s University of Chicago dissertation, completed under the guidance of Margaret Mitchell, is now available from Mohr Siebeck. Its publication continues a recent, though doubtless inadvertent, outsized presence of Pastorals work in Mohr Siebeck’s WUNT series.

Andrew M. Langford, Diagnosing Deviance: Pathology and Polemic in the Pastoral Epistles. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2/592. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2023.

Mohr Siebeck provides this summary: “In this study, Andrew M. Langford demonstrates that the single, post-Pauline author of the Pastoral Epistles (‘the Pastor’) crafts a stigmatizing depiction of his theological opponents by spatializing, demonizing, and pathologizing their alleged deviance. Through close comparative readings of ancient medical and philosophical literature, the author argues for the necessity of interpreting the Pastor’s pathologizing of deviance in light of ancient disease etiologies and models of corporeality. With this book, the author contributes to recent interpretive insights about the function of authorial fiction in antiquity and demonstrates that the Pastor is self-consciously appropriating the Pauline epistolary to craft his approach to his theological opponents.”

In connection with this new work, note an earlier article by Pastorals scholar Abraham Malherbe, which doubtless covers similar ground in seminal form:

Abraham J. Malherbe, “Medical Imagery in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 19–35 in Texts and Testaments: Critical Essays on the Bible and Early Church Fathers. Edited by W. E. March. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1980. Reprint, pages 117–34 in vol. 1 of Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity. Collected Essays, 1959‒2012. Edited by Carl R. Holladay, John T. Fitzgerald, Gregory E. Sterling, and James W. Thompson. Novum Testamentum Supplements 150. Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Theophilus, “Numismatic Insights into Pauline Ethics”

Though the title may not immediately grab students of the Pastorals, Michael Theophilus’s new article will be of interest:

Michael P. Theophilus, “Numismatic Insights into Pauline Ethics: ΕΥΕΡΓ- on Roman Provincial, Parthian and Seleucid Coinage.” New Testament Studies 69.3 (2023): 313–31.

Abstract: Numismatic inscriptional evidence consistently employs the ΕΥΕΡΓ- word group in describing a superior providing some material public benefit to an inferior, typically an entire city, nation or kingdom. This is evidenced in the present study’s comprehensive survey of several hundred numismatic types, extant in many thousands of specimens from the second century BCE to the first century CE. Within this context, 1 Timothy 6.2 is discussed, wherein it is noted that the apparent identification of a slave’s labour as ɛὐɛργɛσία not only heightens the significance and value of that service but is a deliberate inversion of expected social and linguistic norms.

The article is open-access, available here.

LaFosse, Honouring Age

A new monograph on 1 Timothy is scheduled for release in early 2024:

Mona Tokarek LaFosse, Honouring Age: The Social Dynamics of Age Structure in 1 Timothy. Studies in Christianity and Judaism. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, forthcoming 2024.

From the publisher’s website:

“We all age. But how we understand age and aging depends on cultural context. The early followers of Jesus experienced growing up and growing old in a world where more than a third of children never reached adulthood, married women could expect to become widows, and, above all, elders were to be honoured. In the ancient Mediterranean, expectations associated with one’s age could be a source of social power, as well as a source of tension within families and communities, and between generations.

Honouring Age positions age as an essential aspect of communal identity and familial roles in the early Christian experience by examining one of the most contentious and perplexing texts in the New Testament: the first letter to Timothy. First Timothy reflects a one-sided conversation between an older Paul and a younger Timothy, in which the author hopes to influence both the old and young in fulfilling their traditional roles in the “household of God.” It was a time of tumult, and relations were fraught, with potential consequences for the reputation of the nascent Christian community: some children were neglecting their aging parents, which was culturally unacceptable behaviour; older women who should have been encouraging young widows to remarry were discouraging them, exposing them to ridicule; young men who should have been respectful to their elders were shamefully turning on them. In recognizing the responsibilities of young and old to each other, and the reputational damage they otherwise risked, this study demonstrates that age is integral to understanding the complexities of 1 Timothy.

“Drawing on modern ethnographies corroborated by ancient evidence to interpret social aspects of 1 Timothy, Honouring Age shows convincingly that, in emerging Christian communities in the ancient Mediterranean world, age mattered.”

I will read this monograph with interest. LaFosse’s volume will mediate her dissertation work and related publications to a wider audience. Following is a brief bibliography of her other pertinent works and conference presentations:

LaFosse, Mona Tokarek. “Age Hierarchy and Social Networks among Urban Women in the Roman East.” Pages 204–20 in Mediterranean Families in Antiquity: Households, Extended Families, and Domestic Space. Edited by Sabine R. Huebner and Geoffrey Nathan. Chicester, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017.

________. “Age Hierarchy, Honourable Reputation, and Widows in 1 Timothy 5:3–16.” Presentation at the SBL Annual Meeting, San Francisco, 21 November 2011. Abstract: = “Age Hierarchy and Widows in 1 Timothy 5:3–16.” Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, Montreal, QC, 29 May 2010.

________. “Age Matters: Age, Aging and Intergenerational Relationships in Early Christian Communities, with a Focus on 1 Timothy 5.” PhD diss., University of Toronto, 2011.

________. “Honour Your Elders: An Anthropological View of Aging and 1 Timothy 5:17–25.” Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, Saskatoon, SK, 28 May 2007. Abstract:

________. “Inspiring Intergenerational Relationships: Aging and the New Testament from One Historian’s Perspective.” Religions 13 (2022): 1–10, article 628.

________. “‘Like a Father’: Age Hierarchy and the Meaning of Parakaleo in 1 Tim 5:1–2.” Presentation at the SBL Annual Meeting, Baltimore, 24 November 2013. Abstract: = Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, Waterloo, ON, 29 May 2012. Abstract:

________. “Pauline Language in 2 Timothy.” Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, Toronto, 26 May 2002. Abstract:

________. “Situating 2 Timothy in Early Christian History.” M.A. thesis, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2001.

________. “Those Who Hear: The Power of Learners in 1 Timothy.” Pages 147–70 in Religions and Education in Antiquity: Studies in Honour of Michel Desjardins. Edited by Alex Damm. Numen: Studies in the History of Religions 160. Leiden: Brill, 2018.

________. “Why Sixty? A Question of Age and Reputation in 1 Timothy 5:9.” Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, Fredricton, NB, 30 May 2011. Abstract:

________. “Women and ‘the Faith’ in 1 Timothy 5: A Battle for Faith and Faithfulness.” Presentation at the SBL Annual Meeting, 30 November 2020.

________. “Women, Children and House Churches.” Pages 385–405 in The Early Christian World. Edited by Philip Esler. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2017.

________. “Women’s Roles in the Letters to Timothy and Titus.” Christian Reflection [Center for Christian Ethics, Baylor University] (2013): 30–39.

Robertson, Reading the Letter to Titus in Light of Crete

Monographs on the Pastorals are uncommon enough that I wanted to mention this forthcoming volume even though it won’t be available for half a year:

Michael Robertson, Reading the Letter to Titus in Light of Crete: Dynamics of Early Christian Identity Construction. Critical Approaches to Early Christianity 3. Leiden: Brill, 2024.

Brill provides this summary of the volume: “This volume argues that Titus’s invocation of Crete affected the ways early readers developed their identities. Using archaeological data, classical writings, and early Christian documents, he describes multiple traditions that circulated on Crete and throughout the Roman Empire concerning Cretan Zeus, Cretan social structure, and Cretan Judaism. He then uses these traditions to interpret Titus and explain how the letter would intersect with and affect readers’ identities. Because readers had differing conceptions of Crete based on their location and access to and evaluation of Cretan traditions, readers would have developed their identities in multiple, conflictual, even contradictory ways.”

Robertson’s monograph joins his other publications, past and forthcoming, related to the Pastorals. In chronological order:

“Neophyte Pastors: Can Titus 1 Be Used to Justify Placing New Converts in the Office of Pastor?” Southwestern Theological Journal 57.1 (2014): 77‒86.

“1 and 2 Timothy.” In James Crossley and Alastair Lockhart, eds., Critical Dictionary of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements. 28 October 2021.

“Letter of Paul to Titus.” In James Crossley and Alastair Lockhart, eds., Critical Dictionary of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements. 28 October 2021. Retrieved from

“Pauline Apocalypticism and the Pastoral Epistles.” In James Crossley and Alastair Lockhart, eds., Critical Dictionary of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements. 28 October 2021. Retrieved from

“Zeus in the Interpretation of the Letter to Titus in the Church Fathers and the Acts of Titus.” Apocrypha 33, forthcoming.

“Anti-Judaism in the Pastoral Epistles.” In Judeophobia in the New Testament: Texts, Contexts, and Pedagogy. Edited by Sarah Rollens, Eric Vanden Eykel, and Meredith Warren. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, forthcoming.

“Deutero-Pauline Epistles.” In James Crossley and Michelle Fletcher, eds, Introduction to the New Testament. London: SCM Press, forthcoming.

“Eve in the New Testament.” In Katie B. Edwards and Caroline Blyth, eds., Routledge Handbook of Eve. London: Routledge, forthcoming.

“Pauline Pseudepigrapha as Lieux de Mémoire: Using and Applying Pseudepigraphic Texts in the Church.” In Proceedings of the Pastoral Implications of Pseudepigraphy and Anonymity in the New Testament Conference, ed. David Capes. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, forthcoming.

Krauter, “Exilliteratur und die Gattung des Zweiten Timotheusbriefes”

A new article addressing the nature of 2 Timothy as a piece of writing:

Krauter, Stefan. “Exilliteratur und die Gattung des Zweiten Timotheusbriefes.” Revue Biblique 129 (2022): 183–98.

Abstract: “2 Timothy is often referred to as a pseudepigraphic testament of Paul. A minority considers it an authentic paraenetic letter. The article criticizes both positions. There are rather superficial similarities between 2 Timothy and the Jewish testaments, and the setting of the letter is not a farewell situation. Theses about 2 Timothy as a conclusion to the Pastorals or the entire corpus Paulinum are poorly substantiated. The determination of 2 Timothy as a paraenetic letter is correct, but inaccurate. Conclusions regarding its authenticity cannot be drawn from it. By comparing 2 Timothy to exilic literature of the early imperial period, it is shown that it is possible to determine its specific character as a paraentic letter from captivity. This more precise determination makes it possible to integrate the moments of truth of both common research opinions.”

Krauter, “Cretan Memories”

Stefan Krauter has a new article highlighting the different ways Titus and Acts of Titus portray Crete.

Krauter, Stefan. “Cretan Memories: Crete in the Letter to Titus and the Acts of Titus.” Early Christianity 13 (2022). DOI 10.1628/ec-2022-0027

Abstract: Es ist sehr unwahrscheinlich, dass Paulus auf Kreta zusammen mit seinem Mitarbeiter Titus Gemeinden von Christusgläubigen gegründet hat, wie es Tit 1,5 behauptet wird. Dennoch ist der fiktive kretische Schauplatz des Titusbriefes nicht einfach Zufall, sondern spielt in der Argumentation des Briefes eine wichtige Rolle: Die Kreter dienen als paradigmatische Barbaren, die zivilisiert werden müssen. Dazu werden negative Stereotypen über die Kreter aus der hellenistischen und frührömischen Zeit aktiviert. Die Titusakten sind vom Titusbrief abhängig. Ihr Bild von Kreta unterscheidet sich jedoch deutlich von dem negativen Bild, das im Brief gezeichnet wird. Sie stützen sich beispielsweise auf Erinnerungen an Minos, den König und Gesetzgeber der Kreter, und knüpfen an positive Aspekte der kretischen Vergangenheit an, die für die lokale kretische Elite im Römischen Reich wichtig waren. (DeepL translation to English)

I found the following footnote (7) in Krauter’s article helpful as a guide for any scholars in Titus who wish to pursue the historical background of Crete: “The groundbreaking archaeological work on Roman Crete was the posthumously published dissertation by I. F. Sanders, Roman Crete: An Archaeological Survey and Gazeteer of Late Hellenistic, Roman, and Early Byzantine Crete (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1982). For an easily accessible overview, cf. T. Bechert, Kreta in römischer Zeit (Darmstadt: von Zabern, 2011). Historical (esp. epigraphical) research on Hellenistic and Roman Crete has been carried out by Angelos Chaniotis. A summary of his work, which is readable also for non-specialists, is given in A. Chaniotis, Das antike Kreta, 3rd ed. (Munich: Beck, 2020). For a comprehensive treatment of Cretan history in English, cf. C. Moorey, A History of Crete (London: Haus, 2019), esp. 55–107.”

Darko, “Kinship and Leadership in 1 Timothy”

A new article of potential interest to students of 1 Timothy:

Daniel K. Darko. “Kinship and Leadership in 1 Timothy: A Study of Filial Framework and Model for Early Christian Communities in Asia Minor.” Religions 14.2 (2023): 1–14, article 169.

Abstract: “This essay examines the kinship framework and lexemes in the directives for leadership in 1 Timothy, aiming to curb the influence of false teachers and to bolster internal cohesion in the communities. It explores the author’s appeal to household conduct, natural and fictive kinship, and group dynamics couched in filial parlance vis-à-vis the undisputed Pauline letters. The study sheds light on the authorial framework, and suggests that the notion of a departure from ‘love-patriarchalism’ or egalitarian Paul developing later into hierarchical kinship framework in 1 Timothy may be misleading. It becomes apparent that the letter’s kinship lexemes are consistent with what we find in the undisputed letters. Thus, the pseudonymous author, an associate of Paul, does not appeal to or use kinship lexemes any differently from the undisputed letters or elsewhere in Greco-Roman discourse. This does not establish Pauline authorship, but suggest that the notion that the kinship lexemes reflect an elevated hierarchical institutional development in a post-Pauline era, that is uncharacteristic of Paul in the authorship debate, may need to be reconsidered if not revised.”

The article is open access.

Beale, “The Background to ‘Fight the Good Fight’ in 1 Timothy 1:18, 6:12, and 2 Timothy 4:7”

G. K. Beale is hard at work on his forthcoming Pastorals commentary in the ZECNT series, co-authored with Christopher Beetham. In the meantime, he has published a new article on the Pastorals, grounded in an SBL presentation he gave in 2021:

G. K. Beale, “The Background to ‘Fight the Good Fight’ in 1 Timothy 1:18, 6:12, and 2 Timothy 4:7.” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 113.2 (2022): 202–30.


The combined wording in 1 Tim 1:18 of στρατεύω + στρατεία can be rendered in English “fight the fight,” “battle the battle,” or more generally “perform military service” or “serve in a military campaign.” The combination surprisingly occurs often throughout Greco-Roman literature to express a patriotic warfare idiom for good character revealed by persevering through warfare or military campaigns. This idiom is applied to Timothy to demonstrate his good Christian character and reputation over against the false teachers’ bad character. The idiom also occurs often in a legal context to affirm a person’s character and good reputation, which qualifies a person to be an officer of the court or endorses a person’s character before the court in a legal dispute, showing him to be worthy of an innocent verdict. In 1 Timothy this idiom is used in a legal context (accompanied repeatedly by the μάρτυς word group, as in the Hellenistic occurrences of the idiom) that demonstrates and acquits Timothy’s character and reputation before the false teachers. The redundant word combination of ἀγωνίζομαι + ἀγών (“struggle the struggle”) in 1 Tim 6:12 and 2 Tim 4:7 is recognized by commentators as a development of the phrase in 1 Tim 1:18. In the Greek world, this also is a well-worn idiom used in the same way as the στρατεύω + στρατεία expression, most likely highlighting the difficulty of the fight. This is why the expression ἀγωνίζομαι + ἀγών is synonymous with the expression in 1 Tim 1:18, even with the added adjective “good.” This is also why some English translations even translate the redundant expressions in 1 Tim 1:18, 1 Tim 6:12, and 2 Tim 4:7 as “fight the good fight,” clearly seeing στρατεύω + στρατεία and ἀγωνίζομαι + ἀγών as synonymous. This lexical study of Greco-Roman backgrounds endorses the conclusion that the two expressions are idioms and are synonymous.

Burnet, “Petit fait vrai et construction du personnage: Réflexions sur 2Tm 4,13”

We have not yet provided notice of a recent addition to the literature by Regis Burnet. The article engages the conversation on pseudepigrapha, focusing on the example of personalia in 2 Tim 4:13 and commenting on the prominent attention given to the φαιλόνης when the fathers discuss the passage.

Burnet, Régis. “Petit fait vrai et construction du personnage: Réflexions sur 2Tm 4,13.” Pages 331–42 in La contribution du discours a la caracterisation des personnages bibliques: Neuvieme colloque international due RRENAB, Louvain-la-Neuve, 31 mai – 2 juin 2018. Edited by André Wénin. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 311. Leuven: Peeters, 2020.

The essay is available on Academia.

Beck, Witwen und Bibel in Tansania: Eine leserinnenorientierte Lektüre von 1 Tim 5,3-16

A new volume in the Bible in Africa Studies series provides a study of the passage on widows in 1 Timothy 5.

Beck, Stefanie. Witwen und Bibel in Tansania: Eine leserinnenorientierte Lektüre von 1 Tim 5,3-16. Bible in Africa Studies 27. Bamberg: University of Bamberg Press, 2020.

The volume is the published version of a dissertation completed under Joachim Kügler at the University of Bamberg (Otto-Friedrich-Universität). The table of contents is available here. The entire volume is available online here. The following description is provided:

“After the death of their husbands African women, who are living in patriarchal societies, experience cruel mourning and purification rituals, which they have to undergo and they are often stigmatized and accused of being witches. In this fatal situation, God is often their only anchor, God, who already appears in the Bible as the protector and father of widows and orphan. In the Old Testament, two book are named after widows, the Book of Ruth and Judith, and in the New Testament there are numerous widow stories, primarily in Luke, which are all characterized by a special relationship with God. However, the reality in the ancient world was as follows: there was a large number of widows, working in the churches, which displeased the officials of the communities. They didn’t only take over charitable activities, but they missionized and were even paid for it. 1Tim 5:3–16, which categorizes widows, was read and interpreted by widows in Tanzania. It is demonstrated how they deal with a text, which was written for them as widows. They didn’t allow themselves to be influenced by restrictions, in fact they drew out positive results. It is also highlighted how the widows interpret 1Tim on their cultural background, how they position themselves and see themselves as brides of Christ.”

As a final note, the fact that the dissertation was completed under the direction of Joachim Kügler, and the reference to Tanzanian widows seeing themselves as “brides of Christ” brought to mind the following essay by Kügler:

Kügler, Joachim. “Junge ‘Witwen’ als Bräute Christi (1 Tim 5,11f.). Der Gender-Impuls der Jesus-Tradition und seine Umsetzung in paulinischen Gemeinden vor dem religionsgeschichtlichen Hintergrund religiös motivierter Ehelosigkeit von Frauen.” Pages 483–97 in Erinnerungen an Jesus: Kontinuität und Diskontinuität in der neutestamentlichen Überlieferung. Festschrift für Rudolf Hoppe zum 65. Geburtstag. Edited by Ulrich Busse, Michael Reichardt, and Michael Theobald. Bonner Biblische Beiträge 166. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011.

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