The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Jan 16, 2015

Some Resources for Studying and Teaching the Pastoral Epistles (and Some Odds and Ends)

How many professors can claim that they co-taught a class with their father? Yet this is exactly what I had the privilege of doing in December. In our 4th block (a two-week block), my father, retired missionary John Rice Himes, and I taught an upper-level college class on the Pastoral Epistles. Below are some excellent resources for studying this trio of books.

But first, some odds and ends! These past few weeks I have been working through two very unique and fascinating books. First of all, Markus Barth and Verne H. Fletcher, a long time ago and in a different era, wrote an under-recognized and sadly neglected monograph called Acquittal by Resurrection: Freedom, Law, and Justice in the Light of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1964). The book focuses on, among other things, the primacy of Christ's resurrection within the doctrine of justification (both Christ's and ours). The authors try to make their thesis apply to modern ethics, as well (though the discussion of capital punishment is, I believe, more convincing when applied directly to believers rather than society as a whole). Furthermore, the first chapter or so interacts with various modernistic views of the resurrection and does an excellent job of dismantling them (with plenty of quotable material).

Secondly, in two weeks I will begin to teach Hermeneutics, a class about which I am wildly excited (like a kid in a chocolate factory, I've been telling folks!) My textbooks are Grasping God's Word by Duvall and Hays, together with Scripture Twisting by James Sire. However, in preparation for this class, I've been reading and been greatly challenged by Peter Leithart's Deep Exegesis: The Mystery of Reading Scripture (Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2009). A couple comments. First of all, Leithart is a very good writer. Not many writers can make reading theological and biblical studies a pleasure, but Leithart does that. Secondly, Deep Exegesis is provocative: it's making me think outside my comfort zone! His treatment of Matthew's "Out of Egypt I have called my Son" citation has really made me stop and ponder. Finally, I really think Leithart takes a few good points and then overextends them. In particular, I think he needs to better nuance "meaning vs. significance" (though it is in the discussion of post-event significance that this book really gets interesting), as well as offer at least some-safe guards regarding personal interpretation. Having said that, I am very, very grateful that I got this book before I started teaching, since it's turning out to be extremely interesting and thought-provoking.

Anyways, on to the Pastorals! My own contribution to Pastorals scholarship is just one article on the imperatives in the Pastorals (Filologia Neotestamentaria vol. 23, 2010). However, I did have the privilege of taking the class at the doctoral level with Dr. Benjamin Merkle, who has published quite a bit on the topic (I especially recommend his article in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 121, "Are the Qualifications for Elders or Overseers Negotiable?") By the way, check out my friend Chuck Bumgardner's blog at this link Chuck is currently doing doctoral work on the pastorals under the mentorship of Dr. Andreas Köstenberger, and he quite often posts helpful material on the PE).

First off, our textbook for these college students was the very accessible Tyndale New Testament commentary by Donald Guthrie. It's a bit dated, but is still an excellent blend of accessible scholarship and theological discussiion, thus suited for Bible college students. I would recommend it to any Christians who do not have a theological degree yet are interested in studying these three books.

In addition, I highly recommended the following three commentaries to my students (these are, in my opinion, the "big three" of evangelical commentaries): William Mounce's Word Biblical Commentary (WBC); George W. Knight III's New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC); and Philip H. Towner's New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT). A close fourth (though possibly more influential) is I. Howard Marshall's International Critical Commentary (ICC). I would also mention Dr. Andreas Köstenberger's commentary in the revised Expositor's Bible Commentary.

As far as articles and monographs, in addition to Dr. Merkle's article mentioned above, I would first and foremost recommend the excellent article by John K. Goodrich, "Overseers as Stewards and the Qualifications for Leadership in the Pastoral Epistles." Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 104 (2013): 77-97. Basically Dr. Goodrich reads the lists of pastoral virtues in light of the role of the overseer in ancient Greco-Roman society. I really think he's onto something here, and I required all of the students to read and discuss it. In addition, I would draw your attention to Andrew B. Spurgeon, "1 Timothy 2:13-15: Paul's Retelling of Genesis 2:4-4:1" in JETS 56 (2013). I know, I know, "not another article on saved-through-childbearing?! When will it ever end!" Nevertheless, this one almost has me convinced. Spurgeon draws heavily from the interrelation of Adam, Eve, and God in Genesis 2 to conclude that "saved through childbearing" actually refers to the reconciliation of Adam and Eve through God's graciousness (i.e., it answers the question--why would a woman ever want to have children after the curse?) I can't do it justice in a short blog post, but it's worth reading (for me, 1 Timothy 2:15 remains "the toughest verse ever," which is why I intend to include it on next semester's Hermeneutics final exam, bwahahahahah!!).

A couple books worth mentioning, very quickly. Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul's Theology in the Pastoral Epistles, eds. by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Terry L. Wilder has a host of helpful articles by various authors. In addition, Ray Van Neste, Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles (JSNTSup 280; London: T&T Clark, 2004) has become very influential among evangelical scholars. Finally, I would also mention George W. Knight's The Faithful Sayings in the Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker 1979), an older but very significant monograph.