Pauline Authorship and the Pastoral Epistles: A Response to R. W. Wall’s Response -- By: Stanley E. Porter

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 06:1 (NA 1996)
Article: Pauline Authorship and the Pastoral Epistles: A Response to R. W. Wall’s Response
Author: Stanley E. Porter


Pauline Authorship and the
Pastoral Epistles: A Response
to R. W. Wall’s Response1

Stanley E. Porter

Roehampton Institute London
Southlands College

Robert Wall and I clearly disagree regarding the priority of historical and theological criteria that determined the final canonical shape of the New Testament. Wall, while recognizing that my approach is historical, essentially brackets out such concerns and pursues theological issues. I, on the other hand, believe that theological issues then and now have played too large a role in the issue of canon, and consequently believe that historical criteria must take priority. This is necessary in order to ensure that theological conclusions are grounded in historical reality.

Key Words: pseudonymy, canon, pastoral epistles, Paul

Wall and I clearly disagree regarding the priority of historical and theological criteria that determined the final canonical shape of the New Testament. Wall, while recognizing that my approach is historical, essentially brackets out such concerns and pursues theological issues: “Quite apart from historical circumstances, however, are theological considerations, especially when relating together the issues of authorship and canonicity” (p. 126). I, on the other hand, believe that theological issues then and now have played too large a role in the issue of canon, and consequently believe that historical criteria must take priority. This is necessary in order to ensure that theological

conclusions are grounded in historical reality (incidentally, the traditional approach of orthodox Christian theology).

In Wall’s response, however, there appears to be some ambivalence regarding the relation of historical and theological criteria. First, he points out that Porter’s “methodological interests are no different than those [Porter] attacks” (p. 126). Of course, if this is meant as a refutation of my approach, it has no argumentative force. What it does illustrate is that I am carrying out the discussion on the level on which I believe it needs initially to be carried out—the historical level (as I illustrate further below). The fact that scholars engaging in the historical discussion disagree and do not always conclude similarly does not mean that the task is inherently flawed; it may mean that more historical work is necessary, rather than simply shifting categories and abandoning the task. Secondly, Wall apparently rejects my concern with “whether pseudepigraphal writings should be a part of our canonical witness” (p. 126) by labeling it a “meta-theological project” that “fails to convince...

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