Category: Books (Page 2 of 12)

Review: Kuruvilla, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus: A Theological Commentary for Preachers

Abraham Kuruvilla, who taught homiletics at Dallas Theological Seminary for some years and has recently taken a position as Professor of Christian Preaching at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has added to his burgeoning collection of “theological commentaries for preachers” with a volume on the Pastorals.

Paul S. Jeon, Lecturer in NT at Reformed Theological Seminary and senior pastor at NewCity Church in Vienna, VA, has provided a review, which is exclusive to this blog and may be accessed here.

The Pastorals in NTA 65.1

The current issue of New Testament Abstracts lists the following entries which substantively engage the Letters to Timothy and Titus:

226. Hoag, Gary G. “Demystifying Gender Issues in 1 Timothy 2:9–15, with Help from Artemis.” Evangelical Review of Theology 44.3 (2020): 242–49.

227. Kidson, Lyn. “Fasting, Bodily Care, and the Widows of 1 Timothy 5:3–15.” Early Christianity 11.2 (2020): 191–205.

(p. 120) Theobald, Michael. “Von ‘Menchlichen Satzungen’ (Jes 29,13) Befreit: Eine nachpaulinische Tradition (Kol 2,20–23; Tit 1,14f) im Licht von Jesus-Worden (Mk 7).” Pages 95–120 in Bestimmte Freiheit: Festschrift für Christof Landmesser zum 60. Geburtstag. Edited by Martin Bauspieß, Johannes U. Beck, and Friederike Portenhauser. Arbeiten zur Bibel und ihrer Geschichte. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2020.

(pp. 120–21) Wall, Robert W., and W. D. Shiell. Introduction and commentary for 1-2 Timothy in Baylor Annotated Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Edited by W. H. Bellinger and T. D. Still. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2019.

(pp. 120-21) Wall, Robert W., and D. Brooks. Introduction and commentary for Titus in Baylor Annotated Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Edited by W. H. Bellinger and T. D. Still. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2019.

(p. 132) Dettwiler, Andreas. “Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 19–26 in The Reception of Jesus in the First Three Centuries, vol. 2: From Thomas to Tatian: Christian Literary Receptions of Jesus in the Second and Third Centuries CE. Edited by Jens Schröter and Christine Jacobi. New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2020.

(pp. 141–42) Kidson, Lyn M. Persuading Shipwrecked Men: Rhetorical Strategies in 1 Timothy. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2/526. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2020.

Forthcoming Publications on the Pastorals (as of April 2021)

We have produced our annual list of forthcoming publications on the Letters to Timothy and Titus. This bibliography is wide-ranging and academically oriented, containing 50 forthcoming works on the Pastoral Epistles including essays, monographs, and commentaries. We compile this list each year by contacting academic publishers and Pastorals scholars who have published previously on the letters, with the aim of helping researchers in the Pastorals to see current trends. In some cases, authors provided a brief synopsis of their work specifically for this project. Our thanks to all who contributed!

The list is available here.

Bibliography of 2020 (and Early 2021) Publications on the Pastorals

We have compiled our annual bibliography of recent publications on the Letters to Timothy and Titus, covering contributions from all of 2020 and early 2021. Over 100 items long, and international in scope, the list contains monographs, journal articles, and commentaries, as well as lists of conference presentations and dissertations on the letters. It is available for viewing and downloading here.

Review, The Ideal Bishop: Aquinas’s Commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles

Michael G. Sirilla. The Ideal Bishop: Aquinas’s Commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles (Washington, D. C., The Catholic University of America Press, 2017)

This book makes a valuable contribution to Pastoral Epistles scholarship even though its aim is really toward a theology of pastoral ministry. Sirilla says this work fills “a lacuna in the scholarly work on St. Thomas’s theology of the episcopacy” (4) because scholars have tended to overlook Aquinas’s exegetical work. This has impoverished previous work because “many of St. Thomas’s theological reflections on the grace of the bishop’s office are found exclusively in his commentaries on the PE” (5). Sirilla says this is the first study to “substantively examine the theology of the episcopacy” found in Aquinas’s lectures on the Pastorals (5).

I am no scholar of Thomas, so I don’t have the background to evaluate such claims, but they struck me as parallel to what has happened with Calvin, where for many years scholars examined his theological writings and commentaries but neglected his sermons. With Calvin, the academy forgot that Calvin was first and foremost a preacher. With Aquinas, Sirilla argues, scholars seem to have forgotten that “Thomas Aquinas was, by profession, a biblical commentator” (85). In fact, he says that “Neo-Thomists too often neglected the biblical foundations of Aquinas’s theology” (84).

Here are a few representative quotes from Sirilla on the significance of the theology in Aquinas’s lectures on the PE:

 “The theology that Aquinas develops in his PE lectures is unique both with respect to that of his peers and with respect to what he says about the episcopacy in his other writings.” (20)

“Aquinas’s writings constitute a monumental development in the history of the theology of the episcopacy.” (29)

“It is only in Aquinas’s commentaries on the PE that we find a comprehensive treatments of the intellectual, moral, and spiritual qualifications required of one suited for the episcopal office, along with a nearly exhaustive treatment of the dangers and lofty duties that this office entails.” (69)

Then he cites Ceslas Spicq’s assessment of these lectures:

“The commentary of the Pastoral Epistles…dates from the last years of St. Thomas’s life, and it constitutes not only one of the best scriptural works that he had composed, but a masterpiece of medieval exegesis…. Undoubtedly, from a philological and historical point of view it is outdated, but it will always be consulted fruitfully for its psychological observations and above all for its theological elaboration.” (70)

As a Protestant, I do not follow various aspects of the view of the bishop Aquinas expounds, but there is much else with which I heartily agree and found helpful such as the strong emphasis on personal holiness and the centrality of teaching to the pastoral office. Aquinas also echoes Gregory’s important points about the need to a pastor to know his people individually and to tailor his instruction to their needs (159; commenting on 1 Tim 5:1-2). Sirilla summarizes Aquinas as teaching that “the bishop’s teaching and governing duties… ought to be expressions of loving service and not of a domineering spirit” (234).

Then, pertinent to this blog, this monograph is very useful as a guide to one aspect of the history of interpretation of the PE. I have a copy of Aquinas’s lectures (Commentaries on St. Paul’s Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, trans. Chrysostom Baer [South Bend, IN; St. Augustine’s Press, 2007]), but having a guide walk me through the commentary noting where Aquinas differed with contemporaries and providing explanation was immensely helpful. Precisely because Aquinas stands outside contemporary discussion, I am keen to see what questions the text prompts for him and where he goes with application.

For example, I was quite interested in Aquinas’s overall view of each of these letters. He wrote:

“[Paul] instructs the prelates of the churches…on the foundation, construction, and government of ecclesial unity in 1 Timothy, on firmness against persecutors in 2 Timothy, and on defense against heretics in the letter to Titus” (100). Aquinas then expounds 1 Timothy as focusing on qualifications for pastoral ministry and specific aspects of fulfilling that ministry such as teaching diverse people, correcting elders, etc. In dealing with false teachers in 2 Timothy, Aquinas also focuses on the need for a bishop to care so much for his flock that he is willing to die for them and he reminds his readers that such martyrdom was no mere abstract consideration in the early days of the church. Then, though Titus discusses qualifications for pastors as 1 Timothy does, Aquinas understands the focus here to be on finding successors in ministry as well as dealing with false teachers once more (Sirilla gives a nice summary on p. 100). Whether or not we agree with this synthesis, here is a serious and influential approach to these letters which deserves consideration.

This book is also a helpful guide to pithy comments from Aquinas on certain texts. Commenting on 2 Tim 2:15, a “laborer unashamed,” Aquinas says of a pastor, “He must confirm in his deeds the doctrine he preaches with his mouth; if he does not, he deserves to be embarrassed” (190). On 2 Tim 2:17 concerning false teachers, Aquinas says, “For heretics say true and useful things in the beginning; but when they are heard they mix in deadly doctrines, which they vomit out” (190).

Because the author’s aim is specifically the theology of episcopacy found in these lectures he skips a few portions of these lectures. However, this is a stimulating foray into the exposition of the PE by one of the leading teachers in the history of the church. As such we are indebted to Sirilla and can be enriched by attention to this work.

Poirier, The Invention of the Inspired Text

The Invention of the Inspired Text

Of interest to students of the Pastorals, and particularly those who study the theology of the letters: I received notice of a new volume forthcoming in the LNTS series, which mounts a challenge to the traditional understanding of θεόπνευστος in 2 Tim 3:16 and elsewhere in the early centuries of Christianity, advocating a meaning of “life-giving.”

Poirier, John C. The Invention of the Inspired Text: Philological Windows on the Theopneustia of Scripture. Library of New Testament Studies 640. New York: T&T Clark, 2021.

Here is the publisher’s overview of the book: “John C. Poirier examines the ‘theopneustic’ nature of the Scripture, as a response to the view that ‘inspiration’ lies at the heart of most contemporary Christian theology. In contrast to the traditional rendering of the Greek word theopneustos as ‘God-inspired’ in 2 Tim 3:16, Poirier argues that a close look at first- and second-century uses of theopneustos reveals that the traditional inspirationist understanding of the term did not arise until the time of Origen in the early third century CE, and that in every pre-Origen use of theopneustos the word instead means ‘life-giving.’

“Poirier thus conducts a detailed investigation of theopneustos as it appears in the fifth Sibylline Oracle, the Testament of Abraham, Vettius Valens, Pseudo-Plutarch (Placita Philosophorum), and Pseudo-Phocylides, all of whom understand the word to mean ‘life-giving.’ He also studies the use of the cognate term theopnous in Numenius, the Corpus Hermeticum, on an inscription at the Great Sphinx of Giza, and on an inscription at a nymphaeum at Laodicea on the Lycus. Poirier argues that a rendering of ‘life-giving’ also fits better within the context of 2 Tim 3:16, and that this meaning survived late enough to figure in a fifth-century work by Nonnus of Panopolis. He further traces the pre-Origen use of theopneustos among the Church Fathers. Poirier concludes by addressing the implication of rethinking the traditional understanding of Scripture, stressing that the lack of ‘God-inspired’ scripture ultimately does not affect the truth status of the gospel as preached by the apostles.”

The entire first chapter appears to focus on the seminal text, being titled “Is ‘All Scripture … Inspired’? The Meaning of Theopneustia in 2 Timothy 3:16.”

Worship in the PE, a New Essay

I was pleased to have the opportunity to write the chapter on the Pastoral Epistles in Biblical Worship: Theology for God’s Glory which is due out next week. I like mining a specific text, seeking what it has to say on a specific topic, and interestingly the Pastorals are not often quizzed for what they have to offer on worship. People note that preaching is upheld in these letters, but not much else. I ended up titling the chapter, “The Word, Prayer, and Practice: Worship in the Pastoral Epistles,” trying to point out key categories of worship mentioned in the PE.

My aim was to draw out what these letters offer concerning a theology of worship and then to suggest some applications to current church life. I’ll let you read the chapter, but I suggest we should give more attention to our own ethics as worship and even to dying as worship (2 Tim 4:6). Furthermore, while prayer is readily acknowledged as a key aspect of worship, it does not feature as prominently in corporate worship in many of our churches as it appears to in these letters. Lastly, though I do not develop this point as much, the comments on worship in the PE regularly are seen as aids to perseverance. If we want to persevere well, we need the sort of formative worship portrayed in the Pastorals (and elsewhere in the NT).

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.

Kidson, Persuading Shipwrecked Men

Lyn Kidson, lecturer in NT at Alphacrucis College in Sydney, Australia, recently saw her dissertation published with Mohr Siebeck:

Kidson, Lyn. Persuading Shipwrecked Men: Rhetorical Strategies in 1 Timothy. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2/526. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2020.

From the publisher’s website: “The plain-spoken rhetorical style of 1 Timothy belies a tension that simmers beneath the surface of the letter. This tension had already erupted in the removal of Hymenaeus and Alexander. Those who are addressed in the letter are warned that they may be heading toward the same catastrophic failure, shipwrecking their faith. This, according to Lyn M. Kidson, is the primary purpose of 1 Timothy. With particular focus on 1 Timothy 1, the author moves away from seeing the letter as a church manual; instead, she argues that its purpose is to command »certain men (and women)« not to teach the other educational program promoted by Hymenaeus and Alexander. This fresh approach to the interpretation of 1 Timothy 1 identifies the use of an ethical digression, which holds the seemingly divergent materials of the letter together.”

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