Category: Reviews (Page 1 of 2)

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.

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.

The Pastorals at ETS and SBL 2020

Due to the blog being down for several months, we were unable to post in anticipation of Pastorals-related sessions at ETS and SBL 2020. In retrospect, however, we provide that information here for the record.

ETS Annual Meeting 2020 (program)

The Pastoral Epistles study group sponsored three (virtual) presentations and fielded responses in a virtual session moderated by Greg Couser:

Stanley E. Porter, “Arguments For and Against Pauline Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles”

Mark Baker, A ‘Perfect’ Elder? Blamelessness in the Qualifications for Elders and Deacons in the Pastoral Epistles”

Ben Merkle, “The Authority of Deacons in Pauline Churches”

In addition, note:

Charlie Ray III, “A Lawful Use of the Law: The Use of the Law in 1 Timothy and Its Implications for the Church”

SBL Annual Meeting 2020 (abstracts available here)

Andrew R. Guffey, “Paul, the Pastorals, and Encratite Origins”

Gary G. Hoag, “Slaves and Masters, Diversity and Unity: Locating the Benefactor of 1 Timothy 6:1–2a”

Lyn Kidson, “Funding Widows in 1 Timothy 5: The Economy of Asia Minor and the Limits of Benefaction”

Mona Tokarek LaFosse, “Women and ‘the Faith’ in 1 Timothy 5: A Battle for Faith and Faithfulness”

Kelsi Morrison-Atkins. “Performing Piety: ‘Dress Codes’ and the Construction of Gender in 1 Timothy”

Angela Standhartinger, “The Pastoral Epistles among Ancient Letter Collections”

Note that there was a book review session focusing on Christopher Hutson’s volume on the Pastorals in the Paideia series; Daniel Darko presided over an invited panel consisting of Lyn Kidson, Michael Bird, and Thomas Hoklotubbe. Lyn Kidson has posted her review and Hoklotubbe’s review on her blog here. Mike Bird’s review can be found on his blog here.

Reviews

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)

Lookadoo reviews Theobald, Israel-Vergessenheit in den Pastoralbriefen

Michael Theobald is a German academic who published rather extensively on the Pastorals in his later career. To my knowledge, however, all of his work on the letters is in German (save for the just-published entry on Titus in The Paulist Bible Commentary), and so English-speaking students of the Pastorals may not be as familiar with his scholarship.

The single monograph Theobald produced on the Pastorals was published in 2016: Israel-Vergessenheit in den Pastoralbriefen: Ein neuer Vorschlag zu ihrer historisch-theologischen Verortung im 2. Jahrhundert. n. Chr. unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Ignatius-Briefe [Forgetting Israel in the Pastoral Letters: A New Proposal for Their Historical-Theological Location in the 2nd Century A.D. with Special Consideration of the Ignatius Letters]. In this work, he examines the origination of the Pastorals through the lens of the topic of Israel. He is particularly concerned to compare the engagement with Israel in Romans (another book in which he specializes) over against what he finds to be a lack of engagement with Israel in the Pastorals. He ends up dating the letters to c. 140 AD.

Jonathan Lookadoo has served English-speaking students of the Pastorals well by reviewing Theobald’s monograph for RBL, and has graciously agreed to upload the review to Academia, allowing general access. In his review, he notes Theobald’s valuable highlighting of connections between Romans and the Pastorals, and appreciates the case Theobald makes for reading Titus as the first of the Pastorals. Lookadoo notes, “Those who argue for authentically Pauline Pastoral Epistles or for another first-century date will likely take issue with some of Theobald’s arguments, but this does not take away from the value of his study. “

Use this link to read the entire review.

Nijay Gupta on Pastorals Commentaries

Over at the Logos Academic Blog, Nijay Gupta has been posting a series titled “Best Commentaries on Paul.” In his latest installation, he discusses what he finds to be the best modern technical (*Johnson, Marshall, Towner), semi-technical (*Dunn, Kelly, Spencer, Wall/Steele), and non-technical (*Fee, Oden, Towner) commentaries on the Pastorals, adding Trebilco’s Asia Bible Commentary contribution on 1 Timothy as a “hidden gem.”

Reviews

For SBL members, RBL still has copies of Bray, Yarbrough, van Nes, and Joshua for review (see previous post for volume details).

In Journal of Theological Studies 70.2 (2019), Markus Vinzent reviews Harry Maier’s Picturing Paul in Empire: Imperial Image, Text and Persuasion in Colossians, Ephesians and the Pastoral Epistles.

In Churchman 133.3 (2019), John Percival reviews Jonathan I. Griffiths, Preaching in the New Testament: An Exegetical and Biblical-Theological Study, which has a chapter devoted to 2 Timothy 3-4.

James Prothro provides a brief review of Yarbrough, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, in Religious Studies Review 45.2 (2019): 213-14.

In Bulletin for Biblical Research 29.1 (2019): 110-13, Roy Ciampa reviews Jermo van Nes, Pauline Language and the Pastoral Epistles. (pdf)

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