Category: Pastoral Epistles|Titus|Titus 1 (Page 1 of 2)

Cook, “Titus 1,12: Epimenides, Ancient Christian Scholars, Zeus’s Death, and the Cretan Paradox”

Titus 1:12 has received disproportionate scholarly attention in the letter to Titus, both because of its citation of a pagan writer and its early example of what is often called the “liar paradox.” John Granger Cook has contributed a new treatment of the verse to the literature:

John Granger Cook, “Titus 1,12: Epimenides, Ancient Christian Scholars, Zeus’s Death, and the Cretan Paradox.” Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum / Journal of Ancient Christianity 25.3 (2021): 367–94.

Abstract: “Many logicians and exegetes have read Titus 1,12 as an example of the Liar’s Paradox without paying sufficient attention to the nature of ancient oracular utterance. Instead of reading the verse as a logical puzzle, it should be read from its ancient context in the history of religions—a context of which ancient Christian scholars were aware. The Syriac scholars preserved a shocking Cretan tradition about Zeus’s death that probably goes back to Theodore of Mopsuestia. The god responsible for Epimenides’ oracle presumably rejected the Cretan tradition of Zeus’s death and tomb. The truth value of 1,12 consequently depends on the oracle and not the human being (i. e., Epimenides) who delivers the oracle. A reading sensitive to the history of religions preserves the Pauline author’s perspective in Titus 1,13: ἡ μαρτυρία αὕτη ἐστὶν ἀληθής. There is, consequently, a strong analogy between Caiaphas’s words in John 11:49–50 and those of Epimenides in Titus 1,12.”


As an aside, other literature focusing on this verse includes (chronologically) the following:

Lemme, Ludwig. “Über Tit 1,12.” Theologische Studien und Kritiken 55 (1882): 133–44.

Harris, J. Rendel, “The Cretans Always Liars.” The Expositor, 7th series, 2.4 (1906): 305–17; “A Further Note on the Cretans.” The Expositor, 7th series, 3 (1907): 332–37; “St. Paul and Epimenides.” The Expositor, 8th series, 4 (1912): 348–53; “Once More the Cretans.” The Expositor 8.9 (1915): 29–35.

Anderson, Alan Ross, “St. Paul’s Epistle to Titus.” Pages 1–11 in The Paradox of the Liar. Edited by Robert L. Martin. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1970.

Renehan, R. “Classical Greek Quotations in the New Testament.” Pages 17–46 in The Heritage of the Early Church: Essays in Honor of the Very Reverend Georges Vasilievich Florovsky. Edited by D. Neiman and M. Schatkin. OCA 195. Rome: Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1973.

Folliet, G. “Les citations de Actes 17,28 et Tite 1,12 chez Augustin.” Revue des Études Augustiniennes 11 (1965): 293–95.

Lee, G. M. “Epimenides in the Epistle to Titus (1:12).” Novum Testamentum 22 (1980): 96.

Appel, Włodzimierz. “Epimenides [Tt 1,12].” Filomata (Kraków) 362 (1984): 221-30.

Zimmer, Christoph. “Die Lügner-Antinonie in Titus 1,12.” Linguistica Biblica (Bonn) 59 (1987): 77–99.

Stegemann, Wolfgang. “Anti-Semitic and Racist Prejudices in Titus 1:10–16.” Pages 271–294 in Ethnicity and the Bible. Edited by Mark G. Brett. Biblical Interpretation Series 19. Leiden: Brill, 1996. Translation of “Antisemitische und rassistische Vorurteile in Titus 1,10–16.” Kirche und Israel 11 (1996): 46‒61.

Kidd, Reggie M. “Titus as Apologia: Grace for Liars, Beasts, and Bellies.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 21.2 (1999): 185–209.

Faber, Riemer. “‘Evil Beasts, Lazy Gluttons’: A Neglected Theme in the Epistle to Titus.” Westminster Theological Journal 67 (2005): 135–45.

Thiselton, Anthony C. “The Logical Role of the Liar Paradox in Titus 1:12, 13: A Dissent from the Commentaries in the Light of Philosophical and Logical Analysis.” Biblical Intepretation 2 (1994): 207–23. Reprinted as “Does the Bible Call All Cretans Liars? ‘The Logical Role of the Liar Paradox in Titus 1:12, 13: A Dissent from the Commentaries in the Light of Philosophical and Logical Analysis.’” Pages 217–28 in Thiselton on Hermeneutics: Collected Works with New Essays. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006.

Gray, Patrick. “The Liar Paradox and the Letter to Titus.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 69.2 (2007): 302–14.

Vogel, Manuel. “Die Kreterpolemik des Titusbriefes und die antike Ethnographie.” Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 101 (2010): 252–66.

Koskenniemi, Erkki. “The Famous Liar and the Apostolic Truth.” Filologia Neotestamentaria 24.44 (2011): 59–69.

Wittkowsky, Vadim. “‘Pagane’ Zitate im Neuen Testament.” Novum Testamentum 51 (2009): 107–26; Warum zitieren frühchristliche Autoren pagane Texte? Zur Entstehung und Ausformung einer literarischen Tradition. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 218. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015.

Szabó, Attila. “Páli paradoxonok avagy ‘szolgálati’ paradoxonok.” Studia Universitatis Babeș-Bolyai. Theologia reformata Transylvaniensis 60.1 (2015): 84–122.

Harrill, J. Albert. “‘Without Lies or Deception’: Oracular Claims to Truth in the Epistle to Titus.” New Testament Studies 63.3 (2017): 451–72.

Allen, Isaiah Luke. “Paul the Bigot? Reading the Cretan Quotation of Titus 1:12 in Light of Relevance Theory.” PhD thesis, Middlesex University / London School of Theology, 2019.

Hoklotubbe, T. Christopher. “Civilized Christ-Followers among Barbaric Cretans and Superstitious Judeans: Negotiating Ethnic Hierarchies in Titus 1:10-14.” Journal of Biblical Literature 140.2 (2021): 369–90.

Hoklotubbe, “Civilized Christ-Followers among Barbaric Cretans and Superstitious Judeans: Negotiating Ethnic Hierarchies in Titus 1:10–14”

Chris Hoklotubbe has recently added to the literature on the Pastorals with a contribution to JBL:

Hoklotubbe, T. Christopher. “Civilized Christ-Followers among Barbaric Cretans and Superstitious Judeans: Negotiating Ethnic Hierarchies in Titus 1:10–14.” Journal of Biblical Literature 140.2 (2021): 369–90.

Abstract: In Titus 1:10–14, “Paul” describes his opponents as belonging to the notorious circumcision faction, infatuated with “Judean myths,” and as embodying the worst qualities of Cretans. Such invective, which would be considered racist according to modern sensibilities, is made more intelligible when contextualized among ancient ethnographic discourses. In this study, I interpret Titus 1:10–14 in conversation with sociologists and postcolonial theorists who have detailed how subjugated groups both are shaped by and (re)shape an implicit ethnic hierarchy established by the dominant society. For example, accounts like Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks introduce us to how ethnic minorities appropriate and denigrate the characteristics and practices of other ethnic groups in order to represent themselves as “civilized” before the colonial “gaze”—often at the expense of other ethnic groups with whom they are in competition for limited recognition and power. I also situate “Paul’s” attempt to represent Christ-followers as civilized possessors of paideia (in contrast to barbaric Cretans and superstitious Judeans) within the competitive cultural domain of the so-called Second Sophistic and imperial Roman representations of Christ-followers as barbaric, superstitious, and potentially seditious.

The Pastorals at ETS 2019

The annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society will be held on Nov 20-22 in San Diego. We’ve collected here sessions that may be of interest to researchers in the Pastorals.

The section devoted to the study of the Pastorals has four sessions scheduled on Nov 20, 9 AM to 12:10 PM:

  • David I. Yoon, “The Register of Paul in 1 Timothy: Why the Pastorals May Differ in ‘Style’ than the Hauptbrief.”
  • Stanley E. Porter: “Arguments for and against Pauline Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles: Recent Proposals.”
  • Ran Van Neste, “Ethics in Titus.”
  • John Percival: “Salvation History in Six Lines: Reading 1 Timothy 3:16b as an Interconnected Whole.”

Note also:

  • Craig Keener, “Greek versus Jewish Conceptions of Inspiration, with Attendant Implications for Authority, and 2 Timothy 3:16.” (Nov 21, 5:30 PM)
  • David Warren, “A Husband of One Wife” (1 Tim 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6): What Does It Mean?” (Nov 22, 3:30 PM)

New Coptic Fragments of 2 Timothy & Titus

In the most recent Journal of Biblical Literature, Brice C. Jones has published an article on three new Coptic papyrus fragments that witness text of the Pastoral Epistles.

Brice C. Jones, “Three New Coptic Papyrus Fragments of 2 Timothy and Titus (P.Mich. inv. 3535b)”. Journal of Biblical Literature, no 2 (2014): 389–397.

The article provides discussion and transcriptions of the fragments. Text on the fragments are:

  • Fragment 1: 2 Tim 2:14–18; 2:26–3:3
  • Fragment 2: 2 Tim 1:6–11; 1:18–2:6
  • Fragment 3: 2 Tim 4:18–20; Titus 1:7–9

Jones hesitates to provide dates any more specific than “sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries” (392).

I have yet to really read the article, but any time fragments of NT text are located, it is an important thing. Thanks to Brice C. Jones (see his blog) for his work in publishing these fragments.

History of Baptist Interpretation of Titus

After about a 5 year hiatus, the Journal of Baptist Studies has relaunched with a new website and an issue devoted entirely to the history of interpretation of the letter to Titus among Baptists. The Journal of Baptist studies is a peer-reviewed journal, published electronically and edited by Anthony Chute and Matthew Emerson. There is no charge for accessing the journal.

Here is the table of contents for the current issue (not including the book reviews):

Baptists, Pastors, and Titus 1: A History of Interpretation

By Ray Van Neste……………………………………………………………4


The Legality of Slavery in the Sight of God: Baptists and Their Use of Titus 2 to Defend Slavery

By Jeff Straub………………………………………………………………36


Reception History of Titus 3 in Baptist Life

By Anthony Chute………………………………………………………….64


Selected Baptist Bibliography on Titus

By Matthew Y. Emerson ……………………………………………………91


I think this issue will be of interest to scholars working on the Pastorals even if they are not Baptists. The essays trace the way one group of Christians have interpreted and applied this letter over the years. The focus is not simply on academic writing but how the texts were applied in the life of the church.

In my essay I was intrigued to find shifts in the way Baptist leaders interpreted references to plurality of pastors/elders, the use of alcohol, and the ‘believing” or “faithful” children in Titus 1:6.

I am interested in any thoughts readers have on these essays. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments.

The manuscript . . .

The manuscript for my commentary, Reading Paul’s Letters to Individuals: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Letters to Philemon, Titus, and Timothy, is officially in the mail to Smyth and Helwys.

S&H expects the commentary to be available in October, just in time for SBL. Maybe I’ll need to go to Boston after all.

This is the commentary that Glenn Hinson was supposed to write, then Marty Soards. Both ended up not filling the contract. Then Hulitt Gloer wrote a manuscript, but was not able to finish it for health reasons.

So in January–you may recall–the editor of the series, Charles Talbert (who was my doctorfather at Baylor) asked if I could finish Gloer’s manuscript.  And I’ve spent the last few months doing so.

I’d originally hoped to have 300 – 325 double spaced pages, and ended up with 425: OUCH! Did I type all that stuff?

What’s innovative or fresh about the commentary? Two things, off the top of my head:

First, it is a scholarly commentary, interacting extensively with primary sources (Philo and Josephus, especially) and cutting-edge secondary sources (e.g., Bruce Winter’s work on the new Roman woman), BUT the exposition is aimed at preachers and teachers. This would be the first commentary I would recommend for people who want to preach these letters.

Second, this is the first commentary on the Pastorals to take into account the role that succession plays in these letters.

Eternal Life and the Pastoral Epistles

In studying $esv(1Ti 6.12), I was looking further into the phrase “eternal life” (here ‘τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς‘). I’m sure this is noted in commentaries (which I haven’t checked yet) but has anyone else noticed that there may be inclusios using ‘eternal life’ in both First Timothy and Titus?

First Timothy:

1.16 ἀλλὰ διὰ τοῦτο ἠλεήθην, ἵνα ἐν ἐμοὶ πρώτῳ ἐνδείξηται Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς τὴν ἅπασαν μακροθυμίαν πρὸς ὑποτύπωσιν τῶν μελλόντων πιστεύειν ἐπʼ αὐτῷ εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον. (1Ti 1.16, NA27)
1.16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1Ti 1.16, ESV)

6.12 ἀγωνίζου τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς πίστεως, ἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς, εἰς ἣν ἐκλήθης καὶ ὡμολόγησας τὴν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν ἐνώπιον πολλῶν μαρτύρων. (1Ti 6.12, NA27)
6.12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1Ti 6.12, ESV)


1.2 ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι ζωῆς αἰωνίου, ἣν ἐπηγγείλατο ὁ ἀψευδὴς θεὸς πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, (Tt 1.2, NA27)
1.2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began (Tt 1.2, ESV)

3.7 ἵνα δικαιωθέντες τῇ ἐκείνου χάριτι κληρονόμοι γενηθῶμεν κατʼ ἐλπίδα ζωῆς αἰωνίου.
3.7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The phrase is not super-frequent in the Pastorals. And, at least in First Timothy, I’ve noticed a few other things that seem to tie the benediction at the end of chapter 1 and the end of chapter 6 together, perhaps as an inclusio for the whole thing (which would speak toward the unity and cohesion of the whole letter). The most obvious is the shared metaphor “wage the good warfare” (1Ti 1.18) and “fight the good fight” (1Ti 6.11), but there may be others.

I know inclusios should have more going for them than shared words, but has anyone else noticed this going on? I’ll have to check some commentaries later and see if they say anything.

Bonus Question: For you word order / discourse grammar folks out there, is there any significance to the change in word order for the phrase “eternal life” between 1Ti 1.16 (πιστεύειν ἐπʼ αὐτῷ εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον) and 6.12 (ἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς)? The 1Ti 6.12 instance seems to be the only time in the NT that αιωνιος occurs first in the phrase.


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