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.
Category: Books (Page 3 of 13)
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.
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.”
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).
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.
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.”
It’s been some time since we’ve noted reviews, so there are quite a few to highlight. Over at RBL, Robert Yarbrough’s Pillar commentary on the Pastorals is still available for review by SBL members.
In Expository Times 131.3 (2019): 128-29, Paul Foster provides a positive review of Gerald Bray’s ITC volume, The Pastoral Epistles.
Jermo van Nes’s Pauline Language and the Pastoral Epistles: A Study of Linguistic Variation in the Corpus Paulinum (Linguistic Biblical Studies 16; Leiden: Brill, 2018) has been recently reviewed or summarized in: (1) Journal of Theological Studies 70.2 (2019): 817-19, by Christopher Hutson; (2) Svensk exegetisk årsbok 84 (2019): 257-60, by Tobias Hägerland (the review is in English); (3) Theologische Literaturzeitung 144:7-8 (2019): 768-69 by Bernhard Mutschler; (4) Journal for the Study of the New Testament 41.5 (2019): 84, by Dirk Jongkind.
Dorothee Dettinger’s Neues Leben in der alten Welt: Der Beitrag frühchristlicher Schriften des späten ersten Jahrhunderts zum Diskursüber familiäre Strukturen in der griechisch-römischen Welt (Arbeiten zur Bibel und ihrer Geschichte 59. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2017), which has a significant Pastorals component, was reviewed by Martin Stowasser at Biblische Bücherschau (5/2019).
Christopher Hoklotubbe’s Civilized Piety: The Rhetoric of Pietas in the Pastoral Epistles and the Roman Empire (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017) was reviewed by Raymond Collins in Interpretation 73.3 (2019): 313-14.
Cynthia Long Westfall’s Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle’s Vision for Men and Women in Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2016), which engages the Pastorals at some length, is reviewed by Guy Prentiss Waters in Reformed Theological Review 78.3 (2019): 233-35.
Christoph Stenschke reviews Friedemann Krumbiegel, Erziehung in den Pastoralbriefen: Ein Konzept zur Konsolidierung der Gemeinden (Arbeiten zur Bibel und ihrer Geschichte 44; Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2013), appears in Filologia Neotestamentaria 52.32 (2019): 177-79. The review is in English, which is a boon for English-speaking Pastorals students; other reviews are in German: one by Lorenz Oberlinner in Biblische Zeitschrift 59.2 (2015): 300-4; and one by Karl-Heinrich Ostmeyer in Theologische Literaturzeitung 139.7-8 (2014): 891-93.
Robert Yarbrough’s commentary, The Letters to Timothy and Titus (Pillar New Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2018), was reviewed by Benjamin Laird in JETS 62.4 (2019): 844-47; by James P. Sweeney in BBR 30.1 (2020): 158-161; and by Philip J. Long at Reading Acts (2018)
We have produced a bibliography which aims to list (without summary or evaluation) all scholarly studies on the Letters to Timothy and Titus with a rather direct African connection. Specifically, it includes both (1) works by authors with roots in Africa, even if publishing outside Africa; and (2) anything published in Africa (i.e., theses, dissertations, and journals, most commonly Acta Patristica et Byzantina, HTS Teologiese Studies, In die Skriflig,and Neotestamentica), even if by someone with roots outside Africa (e.g., international students at African schools). The net has been cast quite widely, and works on the Pastorals have been included from a variety of perspectives, approaches, languages, and geographical locations. Works included in the list do not necessarily make reference to the African context; the common denominator is simply that each of the works has both significant interaction with the Letters to Timothy and Titus, and a connection to Africa.
The bibliography may be accessed here.
While articles and monographs which focus specifically on the Letters to Timothy and Titus are easily found, some aspect of the letters may be helpfully treated as a distinct subsection in a larger work, and the larger work is such that one might not suspect work on the Pastorals exists in it. A list of over sixty works of that nature are provided at the link below. Works where the title or topic would make it almost inevitable that significant engagement with the Pastorals would be involved — say, church offices in the NT, widows in the NT, or the role of women in the church according to the NT — are largely excluded. For purposes of this post, we’ve limited ourselves to listing English-language scholarship.
The list is accessible here.
We recently posted our annual list of publications on the Pastorals from the previous year, and those which are known to be forthcoming. We have a few additions to make to each list.
Published in 2019 and early 2020:
Falcetta, Alessandro. Early Christian Teachers: The ‘Didaskaloi’ from Their Origins to the Middle of the Second Century. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2/516. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2020. [note the section on the Pastorals, pp. 145–76]
Herzer, Jens. “Goethes Quark und Holtzmanns Drillinge: Die Pastoralbriefe in Geschichte und Gegenwart.” Pages 125–135 in Update-Exegese 2.0: Grundfragen gegenwärtiger Bibelwissenschaft. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2019.
Herzer, Jens. “Haben die Magier den Verstand verloren? Jannes und Jambres im 2. Timotheusbrief.” Pages 129–41 in Religion als Imagination: Phänomene des Menschseins in den Horizonten theologischer Lebensdeutung. Edited by Lena Seehausen, Paulus Enke, and Jens Herzer. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2020.
Постернак, Андрей (Posternak, Andrey). “Статус Вдов в Первом Послании Апостола Павла к Тимофею (1 Тим 5. 3–16). [The Status of Widows in the First Epistle of the Apostle Paul to Timothy (1 Tim 5:3–16)].” Вестник Екатеринбургской духовной семинарии 29.1 (2020): 13–36. DOI: 10.24411/2224-5391-2020-10101 [Russian]
Roberts, Daniel Wayne. “Reading the Pastoral Epistles from a Canonical Perspective in Light of the New Perspective on Paul.” PhD diss., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2020.
Herzer, Jens. Die Pastoralbriefe. Theologischer Handkommentar zum Neuen Testament 13. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, forthcoming 2021 or 2022.
Herzer, Jens. Die Pastoralbriefe in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, forthcoming 2020 or 2021. [collected essays]
Karaman, Elif. “Widows, the Ephesian Inscriptions, and 1 Timothy 5.” In New Documents Illustrating the History of Early Christianity, Volume 11: Ephesus. Edited by James R. Harrison. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, forthcoming 2020. [this item was listed among the “forthcoming” works, but here is given with more bibliographic data]