Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [XTalk] The Pastorals (Part 1)

Expand Messages
  • bjtraff
    ... I understand your point here Stephen. At the same time, I have found such a wide range of arguments arrayed against the authenticity of the Pastorals,
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 22, 2002
      --- In crosstalk2@y..., "Stephen C. Carlson" <scarlson@m...> wrote:

      > 1. It is important to engage with the works of the actual
      > proponents of the various positions, and not allow your access
      > to their arguments be mediated through an intermediary, esp.
      > one as unsympathetic as Guthrie.

      I understand your point here Stephen. At the same time, I have found
      such a wide range of arguments arrayed against the authenticity of
      the Pastorals, many of them at odds with one another, that it becomes
      difficult to focus on any single set. That is a large part of why I
      hope to cover off each broad category, then focus on those areas that
      the members themselves find constitute the best arguments. Without
      knowing which of those arguments others here find most convincing,
      however, I have wanted to take a more general approach to start, then
      address the specifics as they arise.

      > 2. I'm a little confused about the hapax argument. You
      > seem to conclude that 92 of 175 hapaxes found in 2d century
      > writings are not enough indicate a 2d cen. affinity, but
      > that 38 and 57 instances are sufficient to find an affinity
      > to the LXX and 1st century writers, respectively. I don't
      > see how the numbers work out in your favor.

      Actually, I have no problem accepting that many of the hapaxes were
      found in 2nd Century works. At the same time, this argument hardly
      bears much weight if we also see them in use during or prior to
      Paul's life, or at least in the 1st Century itself. More
      importantly, this argument only helps the case for 2nd Century
      authorship IF we see the Pastorals regularly using words ONLY found
      in the 2nd Century, and I do not think that the case has been made.
      Also, please keep in mind that this part of my presentation is
      intended only to show the weakness of the case for 2nd Century
      authorship, and therefore I have confined myself to explaining why
      the hapaxes do not help to make this case.

      As to my specific argument on the hapaxes, it is not just that we
      find them in the 2nd Century, but in a great many cases we find them
      used only by one (or possibly two) of these 2nd Century authors.
      This does not strike me as convincing evidence of wide spread use
      during this period, thus greatly weakening the argument that the
      unknown 2nd Century author can often be found reverting to common
      parlance for his era. Perhaps if the majority of hapaxes were
      overwhelmingly found in only one or two of the Fathers or Apologists
      (say, for example, Clement of Rome, or Ignatius), then this argument
      might have greater merit. After all, under such a circumstance it
      would be easier to postulate that the author was a disciple of this
      person, or potentially this person himself. Unfortunately for the
      proponent of 2nd Century authorship, the hapaxes are scattered across
      a wide variety of authors, each of whom uses only a few of them, and
      only 17 of which are used by at least three such persons. Clearly
      the words cannot be said to be very common for this era. More
      importantly, the fact that many of these same words are also found in
      the Septuagint suggests that the author was influenced not by 2nd
      Century vocabulary and conventions, but, rather, by 1st Century
      Christian Scripture. I do not think that sceptics who argue for 2nd
      Century authorship of the Pastorals have adequately addressed these

      > 3. A lot of the statistics are used to quantify the obvious:
      > the style of the Pastorals differs markedly from the rest of
      > the letters in the Pauline corpus. This is the brute fact that
      > has to accounted for -- and the thesis that Paul personally
      > penned every letter in the corpus (minus Hebrews) cannot
      > account for the stylistic differences no matter how little
      > Guthrie is convinced.

      Unlike Guthrie, I am not yet 100% convinced that Paul did write the
      Pastorals, and even he admits to the "brute fact" of the variance in
      style between the Pastorals and the rest of the Pauline corpus. My
      own position (which currently sits between acceptance of
      authenticity, and pseudonymous authorship by a close disciple shortly
      after Paul's death) will hopefully become more clear as the
      discussion progresses. But my arguments at this point are
      deliberately confined to showing why I do not think that this
      variance in style (or vocabulary) should lead us to accept a 2nd
      Century date over an earlier dating like 70-80 CE.

      This said, I also find a serious weakness in the unwillingness of
      many defenders of 2nd Century authorship to accept the possibility
      that differences in style could be ascribed to scribal variations.
      It is a fact that Paul did not personally pen even *all* of the
      undisputed letters. Given that we cannot know the amount of liberty
      Paul granted to these scribes in their choice of words and
      expressions, AND the fact that we have a very small sampling of
      universally accepted Pauline writings, I believe we should be
      cautious in our level of confidence in determining what constitutes a
      Pauline style. At the same time, if we can uncover stylistic
      similarities elsewhere within (or even outside of) the NT, then we
      should examine this evidence as well. After all, if the style
      matched that of Ignatius, for example, this would point powerfully to
      his possibility as the author of the Pastorals. By the same token,
      if that style should point to Luke, then we should not reject such a
      possibility, especially as Luke himself is mentioned in passing
      within this group of letters. I will examine this argument in
      greater depth once I have gotten through my objections to arguments
      in favour of 2nd Century authorship.

      Finally, I do believe that on many questions, scholarly consensus
      can, and does, reach a kind of critical mass, at which point a theory
      becomes almost an accepted orthodoxy. I do not mean this
      disrespectfully. After all, some questions are, effectively,
      settled, and debate cannot, and should not, be reopened barring the
      discovery of new evidence (here I would offer the example of the
      pseudonymous nature of the Book of Daniel). In the case of the
      authenticity and dating of the Pastorals, however, I do not believe
      we have reached such a point, and IMO it is important to examine many
      of what I consider to be assumptive arguments in this debate.
      Scholarship must always be cautious of discounting good arguments,
      and no longer considering them seriously. For example, the Pastorals
      are clearly intended for a different kind of audience (individual
      disciples of the apostle, as opposed to churches) than are the
      undisputed letters. Since we have no other examples of potential
      letters from Paul to his closest disciples, is it reasonable to
      expect him to use the same style in writing to Timothy and Titus as
      he does to the church in Rome, or even Corinth or Galatia? Further,
      if these letters are authentic, then they came at the end of Paul's
      life (63-64 CE) rather than during the peak of his evangelical
      travels and theological battles. Since virtually all of the
      undisputed letters were penned up to 10 or more years earlier, how
      probable is it that Paul has, himself, undergone some transformation
      in his thinking and goals during this time? Certainly such changes
      in mood, perspective, and ideology are not unknown amongst other
      great thinkers. Given Paul's extensive travels, experiences,
      battles, victories and defeats (not to mention the very real prospect
      of his imminent execution by the very Empire of which he was proudly
      a citizen by birth), significant changes in his attitude, and goals
      should not come as a surprise. In fact, had he never changed at all,
      one would be even more surprised.

      I think it is sometimes too easy to look at the obvious differences
      in style and outlook found in the Pastorals, and to conclude that
      someone else wrote them. But more importantly, regarding the
      probability of 2nd Century dating, I think that the burden of proof
      is far from met by the sceptic, and much more substantive arguments
      must be put forward. This will become even more apparent, I believe,
      as we examine the other arguments made in favour of a late dating for
      the Pastorals, and that will be the focus of the second part of my

      Thank you for your comments and questions Stephen. With luck we will
      have the opportunity to examine each issue in sufficient depth during
      the course of this discussion.

      Be well,

      Brian Trafford
      Calgary, AB, Canada
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.