Category: Dissertations

Percival, “The Plan of Salvation in the Letters to Timothy and Titus”

John Percival has finished up his Cambridge PhD thesis on the Pastorals, and researchers in the Pastorals will want to engage his work in their own where they can. Because of the nature of the project, it will be germane to other research done throughout all three letters. This is true not only for the thesis’s main area of investigation, the plan of salvation, but also in the way it examines distinctions among the three letters.

Here’s the abstract:

“The New Testament letters to Timothy and Titus (LTT) are often lumped together as ‘The Pastoral Epistles.’ While there are understandable reasons for this approach, it has meant that the distinctive contribution of each of the three letters has not been sufficiently considered. Furthermore, narrative approaches to the Pauline letters have led to fruitful explorations of their theology, especially from a salvation-historical perspective, but these approaches have not been applied to the LTT, at least in part due to their marginal status in the conversation. Taken together, this has impoverished our understanding of the theology and purpose of the LTT.
“Therefore, this thesis employs a narrative approach to examine the salvation-historical outlook of each of the LTT. This is accomplished by adopting minimal assumptions about authorship and reviewing each letter in turn, describing the components of a narrative ‘plan of salvation.’ The relationship between the elements of the plan is examined so as to shed light on the narrative world, theology and, especially, the rhetorical purpose of the letter. For such short letters, there is a wealth of data and clear differences between the three. Thus we are able to identify areas where the letters have been misrepresented or misunderstood in scholarly literature, offering a fresh and creative contribution to scholarship on the LTT. The outcome is a clearer understanding of the distinctive contribution of each letter, particularly in terms of the plan of salvation as conceived from a narrative perspective.”

For more information, see this Cambridge repository page.

Fickenscher, “A Rank-Based Analysis of Word Order and Codification in the Greek of the Pastoral Epistles”

A recent dissertation may be of interest to students of the Pastorals, especially those interested in questions of the authorship of the letters:

James Fickenscher, “A Rank-Based Analysis of Word Order and Codification in the Greek of the Pastoral Epistles.” PhD diss., Concordia Seminary, 2022.

The dissertation was completed under the direction of James Voelz. Voelz is not a specialist in the Pastorals, but I have used his 2-volume commentary on Mark (Concordia Commentaries; 2013, 2019) with profit. Here is the abstract:

“The relationship of word order and clausal structures with meaning, literary style, and authorial considerations in New Testament Greek is an often underdeveloped yet important field for reading, understanding, and interpreting the New Testament text. Navigating between a grammatical-historical and historical-critical reading of the New Testament, this dissertation analyzes the phenomena of word order and clausal structures afresh through the lens of systemic functional grammar, following the work of Michael Halliday. This project contributes a preliminary step forward in constructing a method that can account for and understand the purpose of word order patterns and variance from those patterns within New Testament Greek without presuming that variations are simply for emphasis or that they arise from a priori assumptions of an historical or authorial nature behind the text. As an initial test case, this dissertation explores the Pastoral Epistles, chosen due to their similarity in content, genre, and register, constructing a linguistic profile for each work that includes the codified patterns of word order and structure on the ranks of larger sections of text, individual clauses, and word groups within each clause that have a discrete, syntactical function. It is shown that a fuller understanding of word order, especially where variations or marked syntax occurs, both contributes to an overall analysis of the text, including issues of textual criticism and interpretation, as well as identifies multiple causes for changes in word order beyond simple emphasis. The phenomenon of rank shift, where a clause functions as a single, syntactical element within another clause, also impacts expected patterns of word order and clausal structure. This study then compares the linguistic profiles of Pastoral Epistles to one another and to other select texts of the New Testament, demonstrating both areas of general consistency and difference between the works. This suggests that some patterns under investigation are likely not significant for inter-textual discussions of literary style, provenance, or register, but many areas of word order do have potential import for larger analysis of literary or historical considerations as they are manifested within each work on a strictly linguistic basis.”

The entire dissertation is available here.

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