Friday, November 21, 2008

Luke and the Pastorals?

Ben Witherington has advocated the case, concerning the authorship of the pastorals, that “the voice is the voice of Paul, but the hand is the hand of Luke” suggesting that “these letters reflect a combination of Pauline and Lukan style.”[1] C. F. D. Moule put it this way: “Luke wrote all three Pastoral Epistles. But he wrote them during Paul’s lifetime, at Paul’s behest, and in part (but only in part), at Paul’s dictation.”[2]
This should give us cause for serious reflection. What is the apparent relationship here? Either the writer of the Pastoral Epistles is aware of the Acts, or vice versa? Or is there a connection in authorship? If the plausibility of the “we” passages in Acts is historically probable, chronologically, it seems possible that Luke and Paul were together long enough for Luke to have acted as an amanuensis for Paul. However, the proposal of Lukan influence in these letters has been seriously critiqued by scholars, such as I. H. Marshall who notes, “The hypothesis of a Lucan origin for the PE should be dropped from consideration.”[3] Thus, in response to Steph's question, my mental jury is still out on the possible and/or probable connections between these documents and authors. I think it's possible, but the question remains: Is it likely?
[1] Witherington, A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Titus, 1-2 Timothy and 1-3 John, pg. 60
[2] C. F. D. Moule, “The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles: A Reappraisal,” Bulletin of John Rylands Library 47 (1965): 434. Quoted in Witherington, A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Titus, 1-2 Timothy and 1-3 John, pg. 58
[3] Marshall, The Pastoral Epistles, pg. 88

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dating the Pastorals

Brant Pitre and Richard Fellows are having an excellent discussion on dating the pastoral epistles. Check it out here. My jury is still out on this issue, especially since I've heard Luke could have composed these letters. Which makes things a whole lot more interesting...
S. G. Wilson notes the following parallels:
1. Paul looks back on his past career with some confidence, believing that he has fulfilled the tasks designated for him (Acts 20:18-21, 25-6; 2 Tim 4:6f.). Moreover, the striking metaphor of an athlete finishing his race is used in both Acts 20:24… and 2 Tim 4:7… At the same time he is deeply concerned with the fate of the church in his absence. This is indicated by the whole of Acts 20:17-35 and each of the Pastoral Epistles.
2. The problem Paul foresees and warns of is heresy, which will assault the Church from within and without (Acts 20:29-30; 1 Tim 1:3f. 3:1f; 6:20f; 2 Tim 2:14f. ; 3:1f.). The heresy appears to be an early form of Gnosticism and its centre is in Ephesus (Acts 20:17f.; 1 Tim 1:3). Paul urges constant alertness (Acts 20:31; 2 Tim 4:2f.).
3. The responsibility for resisting the false teaching is placed on the church leaders or on Paul’s assistants. The church leaders are, in both cases, elder-bishops (Acts 20:17-28; 1 Tim 5:17; 2 Tim 2:2; Tit. 1:5f.), and it is Paul’s example and instruction which will be their chief weapon (Acts 20:27, 30-5; 1 Tim 3:14; 4:11f.; 6:20; 2 Tim 1:8f., 13-14; 3:10f.; Tit. 1:5).
4. Paul speaks of his own suffering for the sake of the gospel (Acts 20:19-24; 2 Tim 1:11-12; 2:3; 3:11) and indicates that for him a martyr’s death lies ahead (Acts 20:25, 37; 2 Tim 4:6f.).
5. The ministers whom Paul appoints and exhorts are warned of the dangers of the love of money (Acts 20:33-5; 1 Tim 6:9-10; Tit. 1:11).
6. Paul commits his successors to the Lord and his grace (Acts 20:32; 2 Tim 4:22).[1]
[1] S. G. Wilson, Luke and the Pastoral Epistles (London, 1979) pg. 117f.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Banish Romans?

So, I have this (nasty? beautiful?) habit of waking up in the middle of the night with a million questions running through my mind. Usually they concern what I’m currently working on, but this morning was different. I’ve taken to reading “Monster Jewett”, you know, that mammoth commentary on Romans that took 25 years to research and write [and will probably take me almost as long to read, comprehend, digest and then respond to]. It’s really taking its toll on my intellectual abilities. I’ve read through his summary in The Cambridge Companion to Paul, I’ve followed his prĂ©cis of the argument in The Romans Debate, and now I’m trying to read the actual commentary. SHA!
If Jewett is right, then most Roman’s commentaries have completely missed the point of Romans. But then again, is this not true for Cranfield, Dunn, and perhaps Wright as well? Which leads me to my point. If Romans is so plagued by the history of interpretation, and the “ugly ditch” that separates us from them, then would it not be helpful to ban all commentaries on Romans for the next hundred years and bury all those written already for the next two hundred years? At least this way, the next generation of scholars could start afresh, with fewer distractions.
Or perhaps, Romans should be left last to study. Romans was my first NT letter we worked through at college. I think I got an “A”. What a joke. I have no idea what Romans is about, what it’s trying to do, and how it’s trying to do it. I think the only clues I do have, is that it was written to various house and tenement churches, beset with racial strife and cultural barriers, explaining the MASSIVE and EXPLOSIVE implications of the gospel for the purpose of gaining a united apostolic base for the mission in Spain. Other than that, ask Jewett, Dunn, Wright, or perhaps Longenecker since he will be the next significant victim to fall prey to the allure and seduction of Romans.
Me, I’ll stick with 1 Peter for now. Romans can be avoided for at least a little while longer.