Coherence And Authorship In 1 Timothy -- By: Ray Van Neste

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 12:3 (Dec 2015)
Article: Coherence And Authorship In 1 Timothy
Author: Ray Van Neste


Coherence And Authorship In 1 Timothy

Ray Van Neste

Professor of Biblical Studies and
Director, R. C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies
Union University Jackson, TN

Abstract: This brief essay surveys the move away from confidence in the Pauline authorship towards increasing marginalization of all the Pastoral Epistles today. Critics of Schleiermacher in the 1800's warned that his arguments against 1 Timothy would lead to further drift from orthodoxy. Though those critiques were derided at the time, the warnings have proven true. We need a renewed evaluation of what has been missed in evangelical scholarship by too easily leaving the Pastoral Epistles out of our conversations on Paul.

Since the work of Schleiermacher in the early 19th century the coherence and authorship of 1 Timothy has been a central issue in the study of the Pastoral Epistles (PE).1 Until the 19th century, the authenticity of these letters had been undisputed. Schleiermacher, however, singled out 1 Timothy for criticism, arguing that 1 Timothy was put together using material from 2 Timothy and Titus, which he considered genuine. Even when others (particularly Eichhorn) took his thesis further to challenge the authenticity of the rest of the Pastorals, Schleiermacher held to his original position.

The inauthenticity of 1 Timothy has again remained certain for me in the interpretation; but likewise the authenticity of 2 Timothy and Titus. It seems to me that Eichhorn is entirely frivolous here.2

I know of nothing at all to raise against Titus; I have reservations about 2 Timothy, but which are not strong enough to lead to a decision; 1 Timothy, however, cannot be defended, even if I wanted to.3

What convinced Schleiermacher were not historical difficulties but linguistic observations, non-Pauline phrases, hapaxlegomena, and “an incoherent, discontinuous train of thought.”4 Thus this issue of coherence has been a part of the authorship conversation from the beginning.

I have elsewhere sought to demonstrate the coherent, continuous train of thought present in 1 Timothy and have surveyed the works of others who have contributed to this more positive reading of 1 Timothy (as well as the other Pastorals).5 Rather than repeat that work here, my point is to trace the impact of the incoherence and inauthenticity argument.

The high stakes of this authorship and coherence discussion were noted early on. An unsi...

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