As my beloved fiancé Amy was otherwise occupied working on some issues for our upcoming wedding (!), I spent Sunday afternoon with my good friend Roberto. As usual, we discussed the Pastoral Epistles. Roberto just can't understand my view of the authorship of the Pastorals and begged me to give him a platform by which to espouse his views.
I've always had as soft spot for Roberto, and he caught me in a moment of weakness. I told him to go home and send his missive to me in an email, and I'd make sure to post it here. I regret that now; Roberto can sometimes lack tact and precision in his presentation. But, alas, I am a man of my word, so here is Roberto's diatribe ... er, uh, cogently and well-thought-out position to provide some "balance" on the issue of authorship and style of the Pastoral Epistles.
Rico, first thanks for giving me this platform to reach the two people who regularly read your blog-thingie, whatever it is. I'm sure they'll find this refreshing from your normal, long-winded, over-wordy drivel.
Let's get right into it, shall we? Your position on the authorship of the Pastorals (you attribute them to Paul) is flat-out wrong. And while you camp out in areas of stylometry and syntax because you find it interesting, you're missing the forest for the trees. Open your eyes and see the forest.
First, you're one to always stress the internal evidence. By this, let's be frank: You mean that the epistles themselves say that Paul was their author. And there you stop, saying it's good enough for you. But have you ever read the Pastorals in comparison with the undisputed Paulines? Let me sum it up in four words: It's the ecclesiology, stupid! Can't you get it through your thick skull that the ecclesiology "Paul" describes in the Pastorals is radically different than that alluded to in the undisputed Paulines? The Pastorals have it so much more formal ... so much more, how shall I put it ... Ignatian. Yeah, that's the word. I mean c'mon, Rico, you read the Fathers. Can't you see that the ecclesiology described in the Pastorals — even in Ephesus, the city where "Timothy" is supposed to be ministering in 1 & 2 Timothy — is much more reflective of that described by Ignatius (who wrote in the early 100's ... at least 35 years after Paul's death)?
Second, let's look at this in terms of other canonical books, particularly the Acts of the Apostles. Where, pray tell, do the Pastorals fit in the scope of the history presented in the Acts? There is absolutely no room for them. You (the one who says we need to stick to "internal evidence"?) need to jump through hoops to posit more missionary journeys and prison stays for Paul in order to make room for the composition of the Pastoral Epistles. How is that sticking to the text? You're making it up and you know it.
Third, you blather on about how unique vocabulary doesn't really show anything in regards to authorship. Again, this is a forest and trees issue. It is circumstantial evidence that only serves to reinforce the primary reasons for thinking the Pastorals are non-Pauline. Have you read the Pastorals? And the undisputed Paulines? I mean, at least Acts sounds like Luke when you read it. The Pastorals are all whacked. Some concepts are the same, but the underlying language has changed. Other ideas and concepts not mentioned in the undisputed Paulines are prominent in the Pastorals, and vice-versa. I mean, please, just look into the usage of the following words in the undisputed and deutero-Paulines and compare them with the Pastorals, and report back to me when you've seen the light:
- εὐαγγελίζω/εὐαγγέλιον: Over 100 times in Paul & Pastorals, but only five times in Pastorals. Wasn't "Paul" preaching the gospel?
- εὐχαριστέω: Paul "has thanks" for most everyone he writes to. But why does he write it differently in the Pastorals (e.g. 1Ti 1.12)? Hmmmm? Hint: The answer doesn't have to do with Luke as amanuensis ...
- ἐχουσία: So, 37 times in Paul & Pastorals, but only once in the Pastorals — and that in Titus? I mean, c'mon.
- ἐκκλησία: This is a vital concept in the Pastorals, since they're all about church order, right? So why is the word so relatively infrequent in the Pastorals? Four times in the Pastorals, but 99 times in the undisputed and deutero-Paulines. Really? If "Paul" were writing about the church, wouldn't "Paul" be using the word a little more frequently?
- μυστήριον: Paul uses this concept a lot too. But only four times in the Pastorals (36 times in "Paulines"), and those four are only in First Timothy?
- νόμος: Anyone who's read Romans knows Paul talks about the law. Frequently. Yet the Pastorals only have the word twice (and those within one verse of each other, 1Ti 1.8-9?) out of the 137 times they occur in Paul and the Pastorals? Riiiiiight.
- παρουσία: You mean, "Paul" doesn't mention the return of Christ; or at least not using the same terminology he has elsewhere (e.g. 1 Thess?) And this is supposed to be Paul?
- περιτομή: Only once in the Pastorals, and then only in reference to "Paul" himself? In a letter to, of all people, Timothy? Seems weird to me, especially when it happens frequently (30+ times) in the undisputed and deutero-Paulines. Are you sure this is the same Paul?
I'll spare you other instances, but know that I could go on. (Remember, you've got me reading that paper you're writing for the SBL this November — the one that if you're lucky they'll just laugh you out of the place?) Vocabulary is not the primary reason for thinking Paul didn't write the Pastorals, but it is secondary and somewhat confirming of other problems in dealing with the authorship of the Pastorals.
Finally, let's just look at the whole picture. The setting of the Pastorals, according to their own internal evidence, just doesn't fit what we know about Paul's journeys from Acts and from his other epistles. The content of the Pastorals doesn't jive with what we read from Paul in his other epistles either. The big tip-off is the issue of ecclesiology, it is radically different than anything else we know in Paul or the rest of the NT for that matter. But it fits incredibly well in the early second century (I'll even grant late first century, 80s or 90s ... well after Paul's death). Plug in vocabulary differences and other stylistic discrepancies (look, even your beloved Anthony Kenny's A Stylometric Study of the New Testament finds that Titus is a statistical outlier in the "Pauline" corpus) and if your eyes are open, and your presuppositions laid aside, you'll have to admit that there is a strong case Paul didn't write the Pastorals. Some Pauline ideas, that is to be sure. But the Paul of Romans and First Thessalonians? I don't think so. And if you look at it honestly, you won't think so either.
Rico, thanks again for posting this. I know you don't want to, but it's for your own good. Really. Now swallow the pill and get on with life, my friend. We'll do lunch soon and you can tell me how all your little blog-friends (both of 'em!) reacted to my wisdom.
Well, there you go. Now you know what Roberto thinks. I was hoping he'd get into canon lists and text-critical issues, but c'est la vie. Maybe next time!