Romancing an Oft-Neglected Stone:
The Pastoral Epistles and The Epistolary Novel

Richard I. Pervo
Seabury-Western Theological Seminary

JHC 1 (Fall 1994), 25-47.
Original page numbers appear in brackets.

Introduction: The Ancient Novel Yesterday and Today

Ancient novels are better than ever. Today these works receive more critical approval than in any previous era, including the times when they were composed. Why is this the case? Are scholars losing their wits, their taste, or their judgment?2 To illustrate some answers to this question, I point to Erwin Rohde's long-dominant study, first issued in 1876: Der griechische Roman und seine Vorlaüfer.3 Rohde's monograph is erudite, comprehensive, insightful, and disdainful. He regarded the Greek novel more as a problem requiring explanation than as a genre inviting appreciation. The reasons for his stance are not obscure. Classics were just that. The researches of Droysen were generating interest in Hellenistic history, but there was no rush to expand the horizons of ancient Greek literature.4 Moreover—and this is easily overlooked—the modern novel had not yet fully achieved the status it now enjoys, certainly not in Germany.

The current popularity of ancient prose fiction reflects a number of changes in the intellectual climate. In the first place stands the recognition of the novel as the premier medium for the expression of literary creativity. Versified drama and epic poetry are, to all intents and purposes, dead languages for us. Novels [26] constitute our classics, so scholars view past examples with heightened interest. Ancient models no longer govern even cultivated taste.5

A second factor is the widespread suspicion of inherited barriers, including those which place Greek literature after Alexander beyond the pale of classical studies. Challenges to traditional values tend to come, willy-nilly, in big packages, and scholarship is far from immune to such challenges. Even the so-called "cultural elite" are unlikely to embrace elitisms of previous eras, since this term is now an epithet hurled against opponents of traditional elitism by their conservative critics, rather than a characterization of those arcane enough to peruse Plato or admit to love of Homer.

Thirdly, as scholarship continues to unearth so much of antiquity that was unknown to our forebears, including not only those discarded ideologies whose literary remains have come to light, but also the worlds of women, minorities, and peasants, for example, interest in more popular texts has grown apace, not least because such texts may help illumine these very worlds.

Finally, an age that celebrates diversity and cherishes particularity is no more inclined to regard Apollonius as a mere precursor6 of Virgil than it is to evaluate John the Baptist—or the Pharisees or the Essenes or 1 Enoch—as of interest solely in relation to Jesus or emergent Christianity. Ancient novels belong to those long muffled other voices that now clamor for a hearing.

Epistolary Novels: Quest and Question

The ancient epistolary novel represents one of the stillest and smallest of these voices. One approach to the subject of this investigation would be to seek a definition of the ancient epistolary novel through the establishment of parameters determined by extant examples, then to read the Pastoral Epistles against this construct, with an appeal for a vote pro or con at the conclusion, or, to state it in other terms, to engage in an bit of forensic rhetoric. This will not be my approach. I seek not so [27] much a "novel" and outré definition of the Pastorals (hereafter "PE")7 as the results of an attempt to read them as an epistolary novel for the purpose of showing how such a reading strategy may or may not shed light upon these controversial texts.8

To return to the subject: there is insufficient data to develop a secure profile of this novelistic type. The evidence for ancient epistolary novels consists, to all intents and purposes, of little more than the hypothetical and the controversial. R. Merkelbach,9 building upon suggestions made by Rohde,10 proposed that an epistolary novel comprised one of the major sources of the tradition behind the Alexander-Romance. He may well be right.11

This hypothesis cannot, however, define a genre, not simply because it is an hypothesis, but also because it proceeds from an understanding of the epistolary novel as a literary possibility revealed in modern times.12

This is not to deny the existence of epistolary novels in antiquity. For proof of this one may appeal to an authority far weightier than such epistolographers as Pseudo-Demetrius and Pseudo-Libanius, or critics like Aristotle and Horace. Epistolary novels obviously existed, for they are discussed in Pauly-Wissowa. J. Sykutris, in a venerable but valuable survey of ancient letter-writing, devoted two columns to this subject.13 From his remarks one might conclude that the type is far from rare. This impression evokes a mild rebuke from an admirer of Sykutris, Ingemar Düring, who finds that, although the collections attributed to Hippocrates and Themistocles do reflect "some effort to create a kind of coherent story," the result is far from the requirements for [28] novels.14 Düring would restrict that categorization to the pseudonymous collection of letters attributed to Chion of Heraclea, for which he makes a rather strong case.15 Not even these arguments swayed the skeptical Ben Perry, who preferred to restrict the genre to romantic novels:

The following are excluded by the terms of our definition and do not belong to the romance or novel as a literary form: the biography of Alexander by Pseudo-Callisthenes, the Sack of Troy ascribed to Dares the Phrygian, the Journal of the Trojan War ascribed to Dictys of Crete, the Letters of Chion of Heraclea (called a novel by their latest editor), and, generally speaking, in the words of Juvenal, ...Quidquid Graecia mendax Audet in historia.

Others are the Life of Aesop and the biography of the philosopher Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus; the apocryphal Acts of Christian martyrs, such as those of Paul and Thekla or of Xanthippe and Polyxena with their theatrical exploitation of miracles and sensational events as propaganda for a fanatical, antihumanistic creed; and the numerous accounts...about travels into strange and far-away lands... Their orientation was toward the outer world of phenomena, whether geographical, [or] political...rather than inward toward the characters themselves and their emotional or dramatic experiences.16

The final words of this definition scarcely exclude Chion, not to speak of the difficulty of viewing ancient novels as expressions of "inward experiences" reflected through characterization.17 Subsequent scholarship on the ancient novel does tend to support Düring against Perry,18 but without much impetus to widen the categorical horizons.19

[29] The problem thus remains the distinction between collections of fictitious letters—of which there is no dearth20—and epistolary novels. The prior question is, of course, the utility of such classification. How will the application of generic criteria improve the understanding of the work or works in question? What light does this enterprise shed upon such topics as function and purpose, audience and milieu, context and meaning? Both the "older" and the "newer" types of form criticism, the former represented by such figures as Gunkel, Bultmann, and Dibelius, the latter by K. Berger21 and the American analysts of Pronouncement Stories,22 for example, agree in regarding the object of their discipline as illustration of the function of the materials under scrutiny rather than the assignment of mere labels. With this goal I am in full agreement.

A survey of the ancient texts identified as actual or possible novels in letter-form does suggest some characteristic features.23 These are:

None of these features would serve to distinguish possible epistolary novels from compositions written as propaganda or school exercises, etc., for such items may also contain circumstantial details that create verisimilitude, illustrate themes, or meet the general desire for gossipy information about the lives of the famous.26 The working model will thus include two additional features:

[31] To provide these flesh for these bones—which, to reiterate, do not necessarily make a skeleton—there follow descriptions of the one ancient epistolary novel that is both extant and generally accepted as such: Chion of Heraclea, and of the other leading candidate for this category, the Epistles of the Socratics.


The text of Chion, preserved in a number of fairly late mss.,28 contains seventeen rather literary letters that comprise c. 470 lines of modern printed text. This is roughly the same length as the PE. Fourteen of these are addressed by Chion to his father. As preserved in the mss. the letters lack the typical epistolary openings and conclusions, a factor that contributes to the unity of the piece as it stands, although this may derive from some abbreviation in the tradition.29 They exhibit a variety of types, which help maintain interest and give room for different points of view.30

The subject, Chion, is, like the apostle Paul, an historical figure. He lived in the mid-fourth century B.C.E. Also like Paul, Chion met a violent death. Unlike the apostle, however, or his literary imitators, Chion did not advocate hêsuchia, the quiet life.31 The ideological theses of the book are that the proper study of philosophy leads to engagement in rather than withdrawal from civic life, and that good persons should be prepared to lay down their lives for their friends and communities.

On linguistic, formal, intellectual, and thematic grounds Chion is of some interest to students of the milieu of emergent Christianity. One may with little effort note a number of illuminating parallels to the New Testament. The work is very probably from the first century and also witnesses to an interest in Plato and his major writings that is distinct from the emphases of Middle Platonism.

[32] Literarily, the collection is cohesive and successful. The reader follows Chion over the course of five years or more. Initially suspicious of philosophy and of philosophers as physically weak and socially ineffective, the young student observes Xenophon's courageous and adroit management of his unruly fellow-soldiers32 and is led to change his mind. He continues on to Athens, learns from association with Plato that philosophy properly understood is preparation for public life, and realizes that years are required for mastery of the discipline.

The sufferings of his native city, Heraclea, which has fallen into the firm grip of an oafish tyrant, Clearchus,33 lead Chion to change his mind. He returns home, bent upon assassinating the wicked dictator, whose ire he has sought to deflect with a cleverly dissembling missive. The collection concludes with a letter of farewell, addressed to his mentor, Plato.

Düring34 argues that the work conforms to a consistent plan, namely, that the individual letters are bricks fitting into a preconceived construction. The text exhibits both dramatic and character development.

An example is the way in which weather helps to shape the plot. The narrator has wisely pressed Aeolus into service. Unfavorable breezes halt Chion in Byzantium (Epp. 1-2). This turns out for the best, since the delay permits him to see Xenophon (who, for those interested in such matters, has long hair) in action. That encounter completed, the winds conveniently change (Ep. 3.7). After Chion determines to return home, adverse winds delay his departure, giving opportunity for enemies to assault him. Once he has manifested his courage, agility, and wit by thwarting the dastardly assassin, the winds shift. Favorable zephyrs speed him on to home and doom.

Into this plot the narrator has more than liberally sprinkled substantial doses of edifying sentiments, sentient observations, and conventional wisdom. A modern reader might well find Chion [33] an arrogant and self-serving prig,35 nor would business schools be especially motivated to include this book, which takes a rather dim view of the commercial life, within their curricula, but such material was the very substance of ancient letters.36

Of greater relevance is the question of the implied readers. Are we to assume that they were to know the basic facts of Chion's noble and patriotic death. That they would read this work not to discover what happened, nor how, but why? This is almost certainly the case. As an epistolary novel Chion appears to require readers who will be able to fill in the final page—better, readers who will know that the hero was able to satisfy his heartfelt desire, to accomplish his task and take its consequences with courage, dignity, and content. There can be no mystery about the end of this story.

There is, nonetheless, a good deal that the reader will not know, names dropped and background left open. In due course one becomes quite aware that this Chion was no candidate for a role in La Boheme, but the scion of a rich family, who went abroad with two friends and eight servants, and could receive a package from home including "pickled fish, five jars of honey, and twenty jars of wine flavored with myrtle" (Ep. 6),37 not to mention three talents of silver, one of which he drops as a dowry upon a grand-niece of Plato (Ep. 10). All well and good, but the gradual accumulation of some information, the absence of other data, and the presence of characters who receive no introduction probably contributes to one narrative technique of a specifically epistolary novel: through such devices readers sense that they are peeking over shoulders and reading other people's mail, and the effect of this is to create illusions of realism and intimacy. One may suspect that the use of personal names and other effects in pseudonymous letters could derive from similar motivations.38 This motivates my primary exercise: engaging the PE as an epistolary novel, [34] attempting to read them as one might read Chion. Before doing so I shall survey another candidate for this category: the letters of Socrates's disciples.

Epistles of the Socratics

The collection of Cynic epistles includes thirty five socratic letters from a single ms. in an arrangement that is not original.39 The first seven of these purport to be letters of Socrates. Epistles 8-27, 29-34 allegedly derive from pupils of Socrates. These twenty six texts from c. 200 C.E.40 constitute a unity of sorts. Without doubt they conform to the first five criteria set forth above: they are a pseudonymous, historical collection, with philosophical aims and a strong interest in questions of character. Do they tell a story that is integral to their function? Yes and no.

Because the author employs at least ten letter-writers,41 the collection lacks a consistent narrative voice. The focal character is not a living agent but the dead Socrates. This strategy permits the emergence of a variety of viewpoints, while, it should be noted, portraying essential unity among the disciples of the great teacher. There is "story" in the socratic letters. The explicit story revolves about the reaction of various students to Socrates's death. The implicit story depicts the dissolution of the fellowship. The Cynic tradition is of particular interest, and the author has a clear distaste for its more rigorous expression.

Framing the collection is the question of whether philosophers should serve as courtiers.42 Dionysius of Syracuse emerges as just such a patron in the opening letters, and has the privilege of the last word (Ep. 34). The author achieves some unity by weaving the correspondents together. Pairs form through an exchange of correspondence. The more recent member of the pair will then form a new corresponding partnership, and so on. Through this means the reader participates in the experience of a network. The pattern is not rigid. Once enough characters have been introduced it can be relaxed until the work nears its conclusion. The technique is not ineffective.

Xenophon holds the center of the work together. He represents the effort to preserve the Socratic heritage in writing, "to compose what the man said and did" (Ep. 15; cf. Acts 1:1-2). [35] As such he is the recipient of the longest letter of the collection, Ep. 14, in which Aeschines narrates the last days of Socrates. That document is a veritable "passion narrative."

Students of emergent Christianity may or may not regard this collection as an effort to produce an epistolary novel, but they will see in it a kind of Luke-Acts, more specifically Luke 22-Acts, in letter form. Familiar themes include unworthy and incompetent opponents, who cannot formulate charges (Ep. 14.1-3; cf. Mk 14:53-65; pars.), a crowd of bystanders urging a guilty (but not capital) verdict (Ep. 15.4; cf. Mk 15:6-14; pars.), farewell conversations with disciples (Ep. 14.5-8; cf. Lk 22:14-38; Jn 13-17; pars.), the theme of weeping for self rather than for the condemned (Ep. 14.7; cf. Lk 23:27-32), disciples who find in discretion the better part of valor (Ep. 16; cf. Mark 14:50, pars.),43 a list of witnesses to the death (Ep. 14.10; cf. Mk 15:40, pars.), decorous preparation of the body and interment (Ep. 14.10),44 a mourner weeping at the tomb (Ep. 17.3; cf. Jn 20:1f., 11-18), and the post-mortem punishment of those responsible for the execution (Ep. 32).

Following the death of Socrates his disciples constitute a band of friends who share their goods,45 arrange for promulgation of the message, preservation of the tradition, correction of false views and practices, and succession. The collection extends beyond the death of Plato and the division of the Academy into various schools based upon individual views (Ep. 32). Like the writer of Luke-Acts, the author wishes to present a picture of unity. The best that can be achieved, however, is a description of amicable diversification and some clear, if usually civil, conflict.

This collection surely requires well-informed readers who will know personalities, viewpoints, and specific literary works. By filling in gaps the reader can construct a narrative extending over two generations. If the work is not a narrative, it contains much [36] narrative, particularly of the events surrounding the death of Socrates, which is told in an edifying, hagiographic fashion that has a particular thrust: the unity of the disciples. The letters attributed to Socrates's disciples stand in a penumbra between an organized collection and something that might be called an epistolary novel proper. To state this in another way, comparison with this collection strengthens the case for classifying Chion of Heraclea as an epistolary novel. Chion is the best touchstone against which to evaluate other collections.

A Reading Strategy

Much of the discussion surrounding the PE for the last century and a half relates to different strategies of reading: The PE as a unit, as part of a larger collection, as authentic, as pseudonymous, from the second century, from late in Paul's career, against the irruption of Marcion, in conflict with the Acts of Paul, as a supplement to Acts, as the Church settling down in the world, as the sober reflections of an aging apostle, and so forth.

The strategy followed here seeks to read them like a novel, that is, in accordance with the characteristics previously stated: as a pseudonymous, historical work that tells a coherent story and focuses upon character formation through the promulgation of a moral, ideological message. I assume also that the PE are intended for Christian readers, as non-christians could make little sense of them. A further assumption is that Paul is a venerable figure about whom something is known.46 Finally, the works are read in this order: Titus, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy. That is the order found in the so-called "Muratorian Canon,"47 as well as the Codex Claromontanus, and is supported by other factors, such as its full prescript, which is most easily understood as introducing the collection.48

[37] Why even pursue such a strategy? On one hand, the enigmatic character of the PE suggests the advisability of examining different functions of letters and letter-collections. On the other, the PE have been drawn into the proximity of a narrative world by some scholarly proposals originating at quite different points upon the ideological spectrum.

One is the recurrent theory, advanced, with varying degrees of assurance, by, for example, C.F.D. Moule,49 A. Strobel,50 and S.G. Wilson,51 that the PE derive from the hand of the author of Luke and Acts. The late Msgr. Jerome Quinn suggested that the PE constituted, in effect, Luke's "Third Volume,"52 "Intended to be read after the two volumes of Luke-Acts as an epistolary appendix that carried the narrative up to Paul's death,"53 basing his argument in part upon the narrative elements of these letters.54

A second is the proposal of Dennis MacDonald that the PE be read in conjunction with (and, of course, opposition to) the Thecla episodes of the Acts of Paul.55 The PE certainly do belong to a world of divergent and competing stories about and views of Paul. The strategy proposed could thus help to bring such theories as MacDonald's into a focus that will provide clearer grounds for evaluation and critique, as well as give the data noted by Quinn and others their due.

The strategy is most successful in resolving the question of audience. The reader presumes that the dramatic addressees are literary devices, while the actual audience is those permitted to look over their shoulders,56 and is consequently untroubled by the [38] apparent irrelevance of much of the data and advice communicated.57

In this light the PE are quite easily read as edification for boys or young men, dealing with both their own moral development and with the nature of the Church to which they belong. Chion presents a view of the ideal city, with observations on the role of the family within that macrocosm; the PE, with rather much more detail, set forth a picture of the household of God and of the roles and places of its constituent groups. By telling young men how to rule their own lives and how the church should be managed, they could serve as works seeking to inspire young men to pursue leadership in the church.

It is much more difficult to attempt to read the PE as edification for girls or women of any age, for these letters are directed to men, who are told how they are to make women, whose role includes subordination to men, comport themselves. Young men, in particular, can identify, should they so choose, with Titus and Timothy. Women cannot enter directly into the world of the PE, as they are never directly addressed, nor could they conceivably engage in identification with the recipients. This leads to my most original discovery: I fear that the PE are rather redolent of patriarchy.58

Reading the PE from a historical perspective is quite satisfying. They exude distance and rely upon authority that has the patina, indeed the halo, of antiquity. In these texts Paul is one of the leading figures of salvation history, not an apostle battling for recognition. Every reading of the PE has to account for their sense of distance, and there is little doubt that the most difficult readings are those which place the recipients within the life of Paul. Historical distance actualizes the text. Readers quite readily take up the PE in terms of what Paul is saying to me/us now rather than what he said to Titus and Timothy then.59

[39] To what extent does this reading satisfy the expectations of cohesion and narration? There is no difficulty with viewing the group as a unit. The three letters cohere in many ways, particularly in viewpoint and themes. Each fits generally into the category of parenetic letter, in the form of advice transmitted from a senior to his juniors, private letters addressed to individuals in both their private and public capacities.60 At the same time this strategy encourages one to look for differences among them. Study of the PE has, with the partial exception of 2 Timothy, which has a patently testamentary character, tended to overemphasize their unity and coherence. The strategy followed here leads to the expectation of such variety, in particular the question of why the collection includes both Titus and 1 Timothy, beyond the simple value of the "rule of three," which appears to play a role here.61

Titus and Timothy certainly represent similar, but different characters. Both are quite young (Titus 2:7, 15b; 1 Tim 4:12), and cannot be held to possess much in the way of experience, competence, or even intelligence, since they require instruction of the most rudimentary sort, such as "memory, maxims, and morals" that do not in any way differ from the parenesis given to catechumens and recent converts.62

In background they differ. Titus is a convert from a sinful life (Titus 3:4-5), a quality he shares with Paul), whereas Timothy comes from generations of devout believers (2 Tim 1:3-14; 3:15a),63 a quality he shares with Paul.64 The two thus exemplify the potential for Christian leaders of quite distinct origins. Men from Christian families and those of pagan origins alike are potentially qualified for leadership.

[40] Their roles have much in common. Both are charged with the tasks of oversight and instruction. They are very much Paul's agents, with major responsibilities, but minimal authority. Each comes into view from the point at which Paul last saw them (Titus 1:5; 1 Tim 1:3). Although Titus is, in effect, the "Metropolitan of Crete" and Timothy presides at Ephesus, each is nonetheless to hasten to Paul's side when required. Church leaders, apparently, are not to exercise their own creativity and judgment, but to turn always to Paul for guidance.

Their situations are not the same. Titus, himself a convert, appears to have responsibility for a relatively "new mission field"; Timothy is to govern an established metropolitan church.65 Opponents of the true faith are viewed as outsiders in Titus, as insiders in the established community of 1 Tim.66 For his part, Timothy appears to be rather intimidated by these opponents and must be propped up, with reminders of the endowments provided by his heritage and the imposition of hands. Titus does not appear to require such detailed support.67 Readers of the two letters learn how leaders with different backgrounds and varying gifts are to deal with two general situations.

Do the PE tell a story, or simply sketch in some blanks of a story well-known? If the Pastor wished to produce a work comparable to Chion, he was not very successful, for Chion contains more narrative incidents, exhibits more general structure, and uses more narrative devices. Both, as noted, presume that the readers know the hero's general story. There is no doubt that it is customary to read the PE in light of the "bigger story," a strategy that has given both "conservative" and "liberal" critics most of their ammunition. A question raised by my strategy is the amount of information that the implied reader is to have in hand, as well as the extent to which these texts should be read as corrections of or supplements to other accounts.68 The strategy suggests that [41] the PE be read as a collection in their own right, without resort to other texts.

Nothing in Titus and 1 Timothy locates them within a "late period" of Paul's missionary career. The apostle is there engaged in his great missionary journey around the Aegean.69 Except during the winter, Paul is constantly on the move, faithful to his missionary commission. This, in turn, requires the use of deputies, to whom he writes letters on church management. Here, needless to say, one finds a very different picture from that in the church letters (Rom -1 Thess). The Paul of the PE does not address his congregations in direct conversation aimed at persuasion, but communicates orders to their leaders. This apostle works through the chain of command.

The congregations require some attention, because the wolves are out there, and in force. These "opponents," as we call them, permeate the PE, but, for all of the references to them, it is no less difficult to provide them with a theological profile than it is easy to find evidence for any known early Christian heresy within these texts.70 The reading here pursued takes note of a great deal of conflict and a number of general types of theological speculation that can give rise to it, but does not need to discover ideological bases for the actual details, which are not particularly important. The fact of conflict casts its shadow over the PE, which do not lack suggestions for dealing with it. Order is the principle instrument, together with a strong disinclination to engage in debate (e.g., 1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 2:3,14; Titus 3:9). Enemies come from within and from without. Paul wishes them handled with practice rather than with theory. He is not an executive who shows much interest in or patience with intellectual approaches, but is rather a proponent of the tried and true, good, old fashioned methods. The church should follow the model of the well-managed Greco-Roman household, envisioned as a healthy organism which functions soundly when each member is performing its proper task in its proper place. The wolves carry germs.

[42] One surprising feature about the opponents is that, if their views are not clear, many of their names are.71 This is not traditional. The historical Paul, for example, did not name his opponents (e.g., 2 Cor 2:5-11; Gal 1:7). Nor did Ignatius.72 This quality gives the PE a vividness and realism that have more in common with narrative fiction than with other early Christian polemic.73 It suggests that the work has some literary goals.74 Similar observations may be made about the abundance of personal references in the PE, which surpass those of the church letters in detail and frequency.75 Only in the PE do readers learn of Paul's efforts to secure his cloak and obtain writing material (or writings).76

2 Timothy introduces a surprising change of circumstances. Paul is, for reasons the narrator does not clarify, in prison at Rome, has been through a hearing of his case (in whole or part), and does not have much hope for release. Nonetheless, his character shines through. He can reflect upon a long history of persecution and its place in his vocation, which Timothy is to share.

The use of pathos in 2 Timothy exhibits another literary quality of the PE. Paul is, to be sure, lonely and harried in his journeys, but, as the end approaches, the narrator pulls out all of the stops. One cannot doubt that the reader is to be left in tears when the abandoned and shivering apostle has finished the [43] enumeration of his woes.77 At the narrative level comparison with Acts 20:17-38 is both obvious and illuminating.78

2 Timothy constitutes the leading basis for comparison of the PE with Chion. Both works use the epistula valedictoria to explain a death that is presumed but not narrated. In both of these works the narrator presents an apology for the life that has brought him to an apparently unlovely end. Paul's commitments, like those of Chion, have produced both loyal friends and grave enemies. Few stand by him to the end, as, wearing chains and lacking even a cloak to warm his body, but with his conscience clear and his faith strong, he faces death for the sake of the Gospel.79 Both works make most effective use of the last words of one fated to die. In effect the PE relate the martyrdom of Paul80 and thus, to a possibly surprising degree, communicate the story of Paul the missionary, Paul the pastor, and Paul the martyr. They tell us how Paul organized and managed churches and died for the sake of his mission.

The PE communicate a good deal of information about Paul's life and character. They retail, sometimes relevantly, at other times somewhat gratuitously, his life story. Although Paul can refer at one point to the faith of his ancestors (2 Tim 1:3), he is effectively a gentile, as it were, who has been converted from a sinful life:

I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.   1 Tim 1:12-17

[44] Paul is here portrayed as an enemy of the people of God,81 converted by a graceful intervention to a new life. The apparent function of this fictional portrayal is to provide a basis with which gentile converts (the implied readers) may identify with the apostle. Since that conversion his life has been marked by conscientious fidelity to his commission to serve as missionary and pastor. Readers see him acting in these capacities and follow him to the brink of his death.

This understanding is quite congenial with the oft-stated thesis that the PE seek to promulgate a portrait of Paul.82 When read in the light of early Christian controversies this portrait is usually characterized as "apologetic." Although this approach may have considerable merit,83 this reading suggests that priority belongs to the character of Paul as a model, in season and out, for the Christian life.84 The reader is to follow Titus and Timothy in following Paul, not as an apostle, although possibly as a church leader, and certainly as a believer who leads a chaste, sober, just, and godly life with a clear conscience and sound doctrine. Readers are to be imitators of Titus and Timothy, even as the latter were to imitate Paul.85

[45] One feature of this imitation involves household management, essentially the same for home and church. This is a suitable topic for moral instruction, but one that my reading strategy probably does not give sufficient due. The PE assign a large role to the organization, structure, and public life of Christian communities, and do so with generalities more than in narrative examples and incidents.86

The PE are rather more successfully read as a work like the Socratic Epistles, granting that the latter are, so to speak, letters written by Timothy and Titus rather than to them. Both collections contain stories but do not relate a single story. Both collections assume that the readers will appreciate the temporal scope they encompass. In both cases a great deal of background is assumed, including awareness that leaders communicate with one another by means of letters. The ease of comparison is facilitated by thematic similarities: for both the questions of tradition and succession, literary heritage and the master as model are paramount. Nonetheless, the Socratic Epistles place narrative weight upon the events surrounding Socrates's death. The PE have no such narrative core.


The Greco-Roman intellectual milieu stimulated the composition of many pseudonymous collections of letters. In some cases these collections may have taken the form of epistolary novels, although the evidence is scanty. Reading the PE as such a cohesive group provides a number of advantages, strengthens some conventional views, and suggests a few additional insights. Formally I should characterize the PE as a collection with some features of the epistolary novel, rather more like the Socratic Epistles than like Chion of Heraclea. There is no way to ascertain whether the Pastor, as the author is commonly called, was familiar with such works. He, as one may with some security say, may have been propelled simply by the desire to communicate the pauline story as the medium for the pauline message. Reading these brief letters against Chion of Heraclea has allowed these qualities to stand forth clearly. Any study of the PE needs to take into account their unity as a collection, the variety among the letters, their double focus upon both private morality and church order, the place they assign to the characterization of Paul, and [46] their interest in narrative and circumstantial detail. Comparison with the epistolary novel and its near relations supplies some tools for these investigations.

This exercise intends to help bridge the gap between the study of pure narrative and investigations of other types of text, including letters and apocalypses. As a multitude of studies have proclaimed or demonstrated, these divisions are both necessary and misleading.87 Rhetoric, after all, embraces both narrative and epistolography, and ancient novels, as Rohde often brilliantly and ultimately erroneously understood, flourished in a milieu dominated by rhetorical study and method.

The endeavor yields some observations about the literary function of "epistolarity" in pseudonymous collections. The composition of an epistolary novel presents authors with a number of difficult challenges and raises the question of why one would select this particular form. Epistolary fiction of the historical variety also requires both knowledge and effort upon the part of the reader. What are the rewards?

From the perspective of high culture, the epistolary format allows for a more relaxed and natural style and for the freedom of expression that comes from intimacy. Chion of Heraclea offends fewer literary canons than does the novel of Chariton, which must invite comparison with Thucydides and other prose historians. In the case of the PE this question is moot, but it could be of some importance for the more literarily ambitious.

Fiction in letter form all but requires action beginning in medias res,, with no introduction of characters or background to events. In all three of the collections examined the past emerges in the course of the correspondence rather than as narrative summary intended to bring the reader to the point of interest as quickly as possible. Past and future unfold together. When well done this is more pleasurable than simple A-Z narration.88

The chief benefit of the epistolary technique lies in its ability to draw readers into the story through direct address and immediate engagement. Both through investment of effort to fill in gaps and through unmediated access to the participants' words, readers are incorporated into the story. Rather than view the action from seats in a theater, they can look over the shoulders of the various characters.

When viewed in relation to other Pauline letters the PE are simply three more pseudonymous items through which the [47] corpus was expanded. Comparison of this group with an epistolary novel produces the recognition that the Pastor could have written a narrative but elected to produce a small collection of letters instead. The epistolary format thus confers upon the Pastor some virtues that a purely narrative account would have lacked. Rather than report a speech of Paul to his assistants at Ephesus (like Acts 20:17-38, for example), these letters directly engage a privileged audience and allow "outsiders" (non-leaders, women, etc.) to see how leaders are to be and behave. They accomplish the narrative object of showing (rather than simply telling) through use of a non-narrative form. Instead of, for example, countering stories about Paul and Thecla by telling other, possibly less interesting, stories, they utilize Paul's own form to depict the paulinism that they wish to enshrine. History confirms the wisdom of the Pastor's choice.

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Basic Works Referred to in Discussion

Düring, Ingemar
Chion of Heraclea. A Novel in Letters (Goeteborg, Sweden, AUG 57, 1951)
Hägg, T.
The Novel in Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983)
Karris, R.
"The Background and Significance of the Polemic of the Pastoral Epistles," JBL 92 (1973), 549-564.
Knight, G.
The Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1992)
MacDonald, Dennis R.
The Legend and the Apostle: The Battle for Paul in Story and Canon (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983)
Malherbe, A. J.
The Cynic Epistles SBLSBS 12 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1977)
Malherbe, A. J.
"Hellenistic Moralists and the New Testament," ANRW II.26.1 (Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, 1992), 268-333.
Merkelbach, Reinhold
Die Quellen des griechischen Alexanderromans (2d Ed. Munich: 1977)
Moule, C.F.D.
"The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles: A Reappraisal," BJRL 47 (1965) 430-452.
Perry, B. E.
The Ancient Romances: A Literary Historical Account of Their Origins (Sather Lectures 1951. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967)
Pervo, R. I.
Profit with Delight. The Literary Genre of the Acts of the Apostles (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987).
Petersen, N.
Rediscovering Paul. Philemon and the Narrative Sociology of Paul's Narrative World (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985)
Quinn, J.
"The Last Volume of Luke: The Relation of Luke-Acts to the Pastoral Epistles," in C.H. Talbert, ed., Perspectives on Luke-Acts (T.&T. Clark: Edinburgh, 1978), 62-75.
Strobel, A.
"Schreiben des Lukas? Zum sprachlichen Problem der Pastoralbriefe," NTS 15 (1969), 191-210.
Wilson, S. G.
Luke and the Pastoral Epistles (London: S.P.C.K. 1979)

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1A preliminary edition of this article was presented as a paper at the Colloquy on Ancient Fiction and Early Christian and Jewish Narrative during the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, San Francisco, 21 November 1992. I am grateful for the comments and encouragement of the participants.

2This is precisely the view of some who lament the quantity of presentations and papers now devoted to popular literature at the annual meetings of the Modern Language Association. Traditionalist critics are liable to attribute this phenomenon to the evils of deconstruction, which, they allege, reduces all cultural products to the same level.

3Rohde is cited here from the 5th edition (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1974). The third, posthumous, edition of 1914 contains a useful essay by W. Schmid, correcting errors. The 4th edition of 1960 added an appreciation by K. Kerenyi.

4The major Latin novels of Apuleius and Petronius have, consistent with the respective reputations of post-Classical Greek and contemporary Latin literature, enjoyed rather more scholarly attention.

5Sixty years ago Stuart Gilbert (James Joyce's Ulysses, [New York: Random House, 1952] vii) sought to promote Joyce's Ulysses by stressing its classical background. Gilbert began his own study by re-reading much of the Odyssey. (His Greek was rusty, but with the help of a good dictionary and Merry's notes...) He hoped to persuade the readers of Ulysses to do the same. Today his advice must strike most readers of this still popular interpretation of a "modern classic" as utter nonsense.

6 Note Rohde's use of Vorlaüfer in his title.

7 Honor for the introduction of this title is usually ascribed to P. Anton, a Professor at Halle, whose works on the subject was published in 1753-55, but G. Knight, in his valuable new commentary (The Pastoral Epistles [Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1992], 3) states that one D.N. Berdot applied the term to Titus in 1703. J. Quinn ("Timothy and Titus, Epistles to," ABD 6, 560-570, 560) notes that Aquinas referred to 1 Tim as a "rule for pastors."

8 The author to wishes to assert that this project does not seek to denigrate, ridicule, or dismiss the PE.

9 Reinhold Merkelbach, Die Quellen des griechischen Alexanderromans (2d Ed. Munich: 1977).

10 Rohde, 200-203, n.1.

11 T. Hägg (The Novel in Antiquity [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983], 126-127), provides a favorable summary of this hypothesis.

12 The substantial impact of S. Richardson's Pamela upon literary history has generated for moderns a degree of sensitivity to and appreciation for the possibilities inherent within epistolary novels that was not available to ancients.

13 "Epistolographie," R.E. Suppl 5:185-220 (1931), 213-214 on the epistolary novel. Death cut short his work and deprived scholarship of the full-length monograph on ancient epistolography Sykutris had planned to produce.

14 Ingemar Düring, Chion of Heraclea. A Novel in Letters. AUG 57, (Goeteborg, Sweden, 1951) 18.

15 See, in particular, pp. 7-16.

16 B. E. Perry, The Ancient Romances: A Literary Historical Account of Their Origins (Sather Lectures 1951. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), 85-86.

17 Note that Perry does not include religion among his "emotional or dramatic experiences." For a brief critical discussion of Perry's understanding of the ancient novel see R. Pervo, Profit with Delight (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), 95-97.

18 So, for example, Hägg (Novel in Antiquity, 126), who describes a hypothetical evolution: "So the more accidental collection of letters gives way to the epistolary novel proper. It is in the nature of things that such a novel should be anonymous. The charming little Chion Novel (first century AD) about a young well-born man of Xenophon's and Plato's generation is the best example to have survived in its original form."

19 Among other possible candidates is a collection of Socratic letters, which will be described below. K. v. Fritz ("Quellenuntersuchungen zu Leben und Philosophie des Diogenes von Sinope," Philologus, Suppl. 18 [1926], 63-71) classified part of this collection as a novel. For a brief summary and discussion see A. Malherbe, The Cynic Epistles (SBS 12. Scholars Press: Missoula, Montana, 1977), 27-34.

20 For some examples see Malherbe, Cynic Epistles. A noteworthy literary example is Ovid's Heroides.

21 See, for example, his "Hellenistische Gattungen im Neuen Testament," ANRW II.25.2, 1031-1432.

22 Among the American scholars who have contributed to the understanding of Pronouncement Stories are R. Hock, V. Robbins, and R. Tannehill. See, for one example of their work, Semeia 20 (1981). (The "new" form criticism is also "old," in that it has much in common with the work of such "philogists" as E. Norden and P. Wendland).

23 "Characteristic features" should not be confused with "formal laws" or the like.

24 êthopoiia, in line with ancient characterization in general, seeks less to portray inner development or emotional growth than to exhibit a character against an historical or other situation that will serve as a mirror revealing the person's true moral makeup and fiber.

25 See Demetrius, De Elocutione, 230-231, Malherbe, Theorists, p.18.

26 Malherbe's collection of Cynic epistles contains numerous examples of such circumstantial detail. For one relevant example, the cloak, see Cynic Epistles, 30 and 32 (Crates to Hipparchia, Malherbe, pp. 80 and 82.) Aeschines states to Xanthippe, (the wife of Socrates) "I gave Euphron the Megaran, six measures of barley meal, eight drachmas and a new coat for you so that you can survive the winter." (Socratic Epistles 21, Trans. S. Stowers, in Malherbe, p.270). That ancients were not less interested in gossip or trivia about famous figures than moderns is clear from the wealth of such data presented by Suetonius, Diogenes Laertius, and the Historia Augusta, for example.

27I do not wish to deny that individual letters routinely contain, or imply, their stories. On this subject see the illuminating discussion in N. Petersen, Rediscovering Paul. Philemon and the Narrative Sociology of Paul's Narrative World (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), esp. pp. 43-88.

28 See Düring, 26-42, on whose remarks I am generally dependent for introductory questions.

29 The letters of the Socratics exhibit similar problems. Some lack sender, recipient, or both (for example 16, 20, 22, 26, 29, 30-34). Letter 9 appears to combine two pieces (at p. 246 l. 8, Malherbe).

30 Düring (19) notes ten different types, derived from the terms used in the handbooks, although he does not wish to apply these labels rigidly.

31 For Pauline texts see 1 Thess 4:11, 2 Thess 3:12, 1 Tim 2:2, 11, and cf. 1Peter 3:4. Chion's views emerge in Epp. 3.6; 5; and 14.4, inter aliaChion may be engaging in indirect polemic against the Epicureans, who prized h9suxi/a. On the subject see A. Malherbe, "Hellenistic Moralists and the New Testament," ANRW II.26.1 (Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, 1992, 268-333), 321-322.

32 On this phenomenon see R. Pervo, Profit with Delight, p. 35 and the references there.

33 Clearchus is an historical figure, who ruled Heraclea for about a decade until slain by Chion and his associates c. 353/352.

34 Düring, 7-15, et passim.

35 Students who complain about parents who send them funds, then proceed to lecture them on the evils of money (ep. 6) strike contemporary readers as a perfect mixture of the improbable and the intolerable. The presence of such matter in Chion reflects both ancient practice (see the following note) and the work's edifying intent, that is, it is both an example of the effort to produce verisimilitude and the result of the object of providing uplift.

36 Demetrius, De Elocutione 232, states that proverbs, as popular wisdom, are the only philosophy permissible in a letter, whereas "sententious maxims and exhortations" (trans. Malherbe, Theorists, p.19) are not. Readers may judge for themselves whether Chion crosses this boundary. See also Gregory of Nazianzus, Epistula 51.5 (Malherbe, Theorists, p.60), who speaks of the merits of gnomai, paroimiai, and apophthegmata in letters.

37 Translation: Düring, pp. 55 and 57.

38 J. Quinn ("The Last Volume of Luke: The Relation of Luke-Acts to the Pastoral Epistles," in C.H. Talbert, ed., Perspectives on Luke-Acts [T.&T. Clark: Edinburgh, 1978], 62-75, 70) notes, with references to secondary literature, that recent studies often emphasize that pseudonymous letters had as one object the satisfaction of curiosity about personalities in the form of edifying biographical data.

39 See A. Malherbe, Cynic Epistles, p. 27.

40 Ibid., 28-29.

41 Antisthenes, Aristippus, Aeschines, Simon, Xenophon, Plato, Phaedrus, Speusippus, Xenocrates, and Dionysius (not all senders are identified).

42 This was a subject of considerable debate in the "Antonine" (137-180) and Severan (193-235) periods.

43 The flight of the disciples is excused in the Socratic epistles.

44 Their behavior is like the disciples of John (Mark 6:29), but unlike the major male disciples of Jesus.

45 Prominent examples are Ep. 21, in which Aeschines provides for Xanthippe, and 26.2, where the writer urges Plato to write and ask for anything needed, as "my possessions, Plato, are by all rights yours, even as they were Socrates's." (Trans. D. Worley, Malherbe, p. 281).

46 The PE do not strive to "rehabilitate" Paul in the face of his popularity among heretics or his lack of apostolic standing. They rather assume the value of Paul's authority as a mighty force.

47Ll. 59-63: "But to Philemon one, and to Titus one, and to Timothy two, [composed] out of beneficence and love..." Although these letters were directed to individuals, they have general application to such matters as church discipline and order, according to the Canon. (This document evidently reflects more than one layer of tradition and received its final form in the fourth or fifth century. See A.C. Sundberg, "Canon Muratori: A Fourth-Century List," HTR 66 [1973] 1-41.)

48 On this order of the PE see Quinn, ABD, his introduction to the PE in the Anchor Bible Commentary (AB 35, The Letter to Titus, [New York: Doubleday, 1990]), and "The Last Volume of Luke," 63 n.7, where he notes that 1 Tim has but a minimal conclusion. One may note in addition that 2 Tim has the most fulsome conclusion of the three. The prescript to Titus and close of 2 Tim frame the collection.

49 "The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles: A Reappraisal," BJRL 47 (1965) 430-452.

50 "Schreiben des Lukas? Zum sprachlichen Problem der Pastoralbriefe," NTS 15 (1969), 191-210.

51 Luke and the Pastoral Epistles (London: S.P.C.K. 1979).

52 "Third Volume" refers to an old theory, promoted by Zahn and Ramsay, that Luke intended to issue a third section of his work but was unable to do so. The theory (which reeks of the study with its knowledge of unfulfilled scholarly vows) has few admirers at the present time.

53 ABD 6:569.

54 Knight (Commentary, 48-51) discusses this theory in detail. In his own commentary (Letter to Titus, 19) Quinn is quite circumspect about the hypothesis he had earlier advanced.

55 Dennis R. MacDonald, The Legend and the Apostle: The Battle for Paul in Story and Canon (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983.)

56 The closing phrases of each letter (1 Tim 6:21, 2 Tim 4:22, Tit 3:15) create difficulties reflected in the ms. tradition. In all but Titus the evidence of the textual witnesses divides between the formally required singular and the functionally appropriate plural. Bruce Metzger (A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament [New York: United Bible Societies, 1971], 644, 651) states that the editorial committee viewed the singular as a correction. If each of these plurals is original (as that in Titus appears to be), the author has let the cat out of the bag.

57 The same observation would quite probably apply to any strategy that viewed the PE as "unreal," fictitious letters with both pseudonymous author and recipients.

58 The "Household Codes" (Eph. 5:21-6:9, etc.) do address various groups directly, and sentiments quite akin to those of the PE may be found in such compositions as the letter of Pseudo-Melissa to Kleareta (Malherbe, Moral Exhortation, [LEC Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986] 82-83) or the letter of Perictione (Pomeroy, Goddesses, Whores, [New York, Schocken, 1975] 134-136).

59 The PE do not, for several reasons, raise the problem of "particularity" caused by the congregational letters, about which one could, in effect, say, "What does Paul's message to the Corinthians then have to do with me now?" Readers of Titus do not experience the effect of "reading other people's mail" in quite the same way that readers of 1 Thess do.

60 Given the bonds of friendship that united the Roman ruling class and the propensity to view imperial government as the operation of a network of individual and corporate friendships, this feature is not surprising.

61 In the narrative "rule of three" the first two situations tend to be rather similar (e.g., feet too large for the slipper), raising suspense while at the same time establishing a pattern. The third situation upsets the pattern.

62 This advice extends even to matters of diet, witness the oft-quoted exhortation that Timothy utilize wine — in moderation, of course — as an aid to digestion (1 Tim 5:23).

63 See the Socratic Epistles 25.2, where Phaedrus speaks of how he was "nurtured from my youth up, as one might say, on the Socratic lullabies..." (Trans. S. Stowers, Malherbe, p. 279).

64 Perhaps the author would justify this as an instance of the principle of 1 Cor 9:22 ("all things to all people"), so often invoked to harmonize dissonant Pauline material.

65Titus is, for example, to appoint presbyters (1:5), whereas in 1 Tim 5 these officials are in place.

66 This reading has much in common with the observations of L.T. Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament. An Interpretation (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), 381-406.

67 It is not certain whether these characterizations are ad hoc or derive from the study of Pauline letters.

68 On the latter question: although learned ancients were quite aware of the existence of historical fiction in distinction from "false history," (see R. Pervo, Profit with Delight, p. 177 n.1) it is unlikely that many, if any, early Christian readers before Origen (if then) had achieved this degree of sophistication. The major exception would appear to be the Asian presbyter who was alleged to have written the Acts of Paul and defended it as a deed motivated by admiration (Tertullian, De Baptismo 17). (On love of the master as a reason for pseudepigraphic composition see R. Grant, Heresy and Criticism [Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1993] p. 146 n. 34.) Tertullian (presuming that this account is accurate) was not angry because the work was viewed as fiction but because it was read as fact.

69 The compass of travel envisioned in the PE is essentially that of what is commonly called the "Third Missionary Journey," a concept derived from, but not used in, the book of Acts.

70 See R. Karris, "The Background and Significance of the Polemic of the Pastoral Epistles," JBL 92 (1973), 549-564.

71 So: Hymenaeus, 1 Tim 1:20, 2 Tim 2:17; Alexander, 1 Tim 1:20, 2 Tim 4:14; Phygelus and Hermogenes, 2 Tim 1:15; and Philetus, 2 Tim 2:17.

72 Smyrn. 5.3: "their names, which are faithless, it did not seem right to me to record; indeed, I would rather not even remember them until they repent in regard to the passion, which is our resurrection," Trans. W.R. Schoedel (Ignatius of Antioch, ed. H. Koester. Hermeneia [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985] 230). See his n. 28, 235, and, in general, the Roman penchant for damnatio memoriae. The Gospels and Acts also prefer to refer to members of groups or to , as in Acts 15:1. (One may compare the old political tradition of referring to "my opponent" or to the advertising "rule" against naming competitors, both now in abeyance.)

73 Quinn (ABD 6:565, 567) notes the unusual nature of this practice.

74 The quantity of prosopographical data in the PE invite comparison with the various Acts, as well as with 3 Corinthians.

75 Personal references and details are especially prominent in 2 Tim. Note, for example, 2 Tim 1:15-18.

76 2 Tim 4:13. These may well have a wider significance. Apostles are to be self-sufficient. One cloak is all that is needed, but it is better to have than to beg or borrow. The subject of clothing frequently refers to questions of life-style, which in antiquity revolved around debates with and among Cynics. "Parchments" may be referred to either the study of scripture, itself sufficient, or to the composition of letters. By any interpretation it touches upon the importance of written tradition. For a full discussion, with many references, see C. Spicq, Les Epitres Pastorales (Etudes Bibliques. Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1969), vol 2, pp. 814-816.

77 2 Tim 4:19-22 provide an effective upbeat that drives the pathos home. Even at the point of death Paul sends greetings and can still express the hope that Timothy will be able to visit.

78 See Pervo, Profit, 66-68. Pathos is, to be sure, appropriate to a testament, but that form is, itself, both narrative and, with rather few exceptions, fictitious.

79 Chion also died for others: ei tô idiô thanatô tên eleuthôrian autois ônêsometha (17.3.21-22).

80 The PE intimate Paul's death without, to be sure, explicit acknowledgment that he was executed by the government.

81 Similarly, Acts 9:1-19a, in which Paul must ask the Risen Christ "Who are you, Lord?" (v.5), a question deriving from a polytheistic understanding: one needs to know which god is manifest in this act and why. The epithets blasfêmos... kai hubristês (1 Tim 1:13) do not correspond to Paul's own view of his career, nor does he describe himself as the "foremost of sinners." "Ignorance" (agnoôn epoiêsa en apistia, v.13) brings to mind Acts (3:17 and) 17:30. On these terms see M. Dibelius and H. Conzelmann, The Pastoral Epistles (Trans. P. Buttolph and A. Yarbro, ed., H. Koester. Hermeneia. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1972), pp. 27-28.

82 So, to quote a sample: A. Lindemann (Paulus im Ältesten Christentum. [Tübingen: J.C.B Mohr, 1979], 46,) and Quinn (ABD 6:564).

83 Paul is certainly the only apostle of whom the PE take note and without doubt a unique agent of God, but this understanding need not imply allegations that he was not a true apostle. It can equally stem from a milieu in which Paul is the missionary and authority. The PE do not defend Paul against charges that he was a false apostle but spell out the nature of his apostolic role, a leading feature of which is the creation of stable communities that are not in conflict with the social order.

84 Note especially 2 Tim 3:10-14: "Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and suffering the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it." (Emphasis supplied.)

85 To state this in another way: this way of reading reduces the tension B. Childs (The New Testament as Canon [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985], 383) finds in interpretations of the PE based upon pseudonymity: that they make Paul the object rather than the subject of the collection.

86 2 Tim 3:6-9 are especially instructive on this point. The Apoc Acts, for example, not only have an opposing view, but narrate the adventures of the "frail women" (gunaikaria) whom the Pastor would secure from seduction.

87 See N. Petersen, Rediscovering Paul.

88 Among the romantic novelists only Heliodorus begins in medias res aand develops a narrative plot of considerable complexity. (The technique is, of course, well-known in Epic.)

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Copyright © Institute for Higher Critical Studies, 1996
Created November 7, 1996

Darrell J. Doughty
Institute for Higher Critical Studies
Drew University, Madison, NJ, 07940