Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 81:1 (Spring 2019)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous


Reviews Of Books

Jermo van Nes, Pauline Language and the Pastoral Epistles: A Study of Linguistic Variation in the Corpus Paulinum. Linguistic Biblical Studies 16. Leiden: Brill, 2017. Pp. xxii + 532. $182.00, cloth.

For well over a century, scholars have recognized that the language of the Pastoral Epistles (PE) is dissimilar in certain respects to the language of the undisputed Pauline writings. P. N. Harrison, for example, concluded many years ago that “the style of the Pastorals is radically different from Paul’s, and their vocabulary is not that of the Apostle, but is that of early second-century Christendom as known to us from the writings of that period” (The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles, Oxford University Press, 1921, p. 7). Although some scholars have sought to provide plausible explanations for these differences that do not preclude Pauline authorship, the majority of contemporary scholars have reached what they consider to be the unavoidable conclusion that the Pastorals were written by either an associate of Paul or an unknown pseudepigrapher during the late-first to mid-second century. Others have contended that the PE may contain some genuine Pauline fragments, but that the canonical form of these writings was certainly not the work of the apostle.

Presented for the first time with the typical linguistic arguments, many students find it necessary to deny the authenticity of the PE and to embrace the prevalent viewpoint that the Pauline corpus is comprised of an assortment of first- and even second-century writings, some of which are authentic and some of which were likely produced by Paul’s associates or later admirers. The linguistic arguments presented against the authenticity of the Pastorals are often perceived to be too technical and too formidable to be questioned by the average student. In addition, many who have received significant academic training have been reluctant to challenge the linguistic arguments presented by Heinrich Holtzmann, P. N. Harrison, and a number of more recent scholars for fear of losing credibility in the scholarly community. There seems to be an underlying concern that any attempt to interact with the linguistic evidence that does not entail an unequivocal rejection of the traditional view of authorship will quickly be dismissed as apologetically or theologically motivated.

Despite the profound influence of previous linguistic studies, not all scholars remain convinced of their merits or agree on their implications. Concerns relating to statistical studies that focus upon the epistles’ vocabulary have been especially prevalent. As Martin Dibelius and Hans Conzelmann acknowledged many years ago, there is a need for specialists in the field to engage in statistical studies “only in conjunction ...

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