“Presbuteroi Christianoi”: Towards A Theory Of Integrated Ministry -- By: Stephen Richard North

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 51:2 (NA 2000)
Article: “Presbuteroi Christianoi”: Towards A Theory Of Integrated Ministry
Author: Stephen Richard North


“Presbuteroi Christianoi”:
Towards A Theory Of Integrated Ministry1

Stephen Richard North

This thesis examines how words for Christian leaders of the New Testament period, such as apostle, elder, and so on, were understood by the writers and readers of the New Testament documents, by looking at their usage in contemporary literary and epigraphic sources from the perspective of an ancient historian. Although the need for such examination is placed in the context of various recent debates over such structures and church reunion (for example the Anglican and Catholic document on the authority of the Pope), it was not originally intended to delve into the murky depths of the continuation of apostolic authority after the original generation.

However, as a result of the conclusions of the first chapter, which presents a revised chronology for the New Testament letters, it seemed inappropriate to ignore the discussion of the relationship between the apostolate and the presbyterate. This first chapter deals with the issue of authenticity (predominantly) of the Pauline letters, and recognises that there are schools of thought which question the traditional authorship of the letters and seek to place them either in the late first century or early second. It is stated at the start that such pseudonymity was unlikely. Statistical analysis of word usage is determined as an unreliable source, partly due to methodological errors in some forms of analysis, and the fact that the letters were written to different situations and people; this may account for apparent differences. It is concluded that authorship can only be disproved if the letters cannot be fitted into specific historical situations, and the remainder of the chapter looks at this question. To summarise the conclusions of this chapter, it is argued that all the canonical New Testament documents date prior to the fall of the Temple in ad 70, and that the First Letter of Clement to the Corinthians should also be placed prior to this event.

It is also suggested that the only reasonable date for the writing of 1 Timothy and Titus is shortly after 1 Corinthians, for which the traditional date is accepted. This dating brings into question the idea of the development of the ministry, a question which is returned to in Chapter 7.

Chapters 2-6 discuss the usage of the words apostle, teacher, overseer/bishop (episkopos), elder and prophet respectively in the New Testament period, by examining the words in their Greek setting, their Jewish setting, and finally their church setting, and seeing what influence each of the first two had on the third. The word apostle is particular...

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