My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2 Timothy 2

Heretical authorship

Summary:
Work hard on this. Endure the suffering. Live for the captain - Jesus - not for the people. Don't forget that it all comes down to Jesus, the risen one.

Suffering and perseverance will give us life in Jesus. Leave him, and he'll leave us, but he'll never be unfaithful.

Don't let people fight over definitions. Be a proven authority from God on these matters. False teachings, like that the mass resurrection has already happened, can spread like wildfire. Don't be a quarreler when discussing these things. Be humble and mature. Don't let immature passions get you.

Key verse:
13. if we are faithless,
he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

My thoughts:
I've always liked this little hymn from verse 11-13. It shows the grace and faithfulness of God whilst making it clear that God isn't a pushover! If you disown him, he will disown you.

This chapter gives a bit of an insight into some different heresies that were working there way into the church by the time of Paul's death. People were cruising around declaring that the resurrection had already happened, which it clearly hadn't. From reading the New Testament you definitely get the impression that the early church was fraught with the feeling that pretty much anyone could go pretty much anywhere and say anything and cause a fuss. Thank God the Church got institutionalised.

Popular scholarly opinion would tell you pretty clearly that 2 Timothy wasn't written by Paul, and it may not be. I feel that modern evangelicals make more of a deal of this than the early church. As early as Origen there was doubt over the Petrine authorship of 2 Peter, yet modern evangelicals would want to say that Peter wrote 2 Peter. Having said all that, I am skeptical about the scholastic certainty that appears to exist surrounding apostolic authorship of some of these letters. The majority of the arguments I see against apostolic authorship have a massive 'so what?' factor in them. They just don't seem to be in any way definitive points. The vocab seems to be different, which is unsurprising given that Paul is talking about different things at different stages of his life to a different audience. He's talking about issues which became prevalent in the second century, but I struggle to see how anyone makes any sort of argument that similar issues didn't exist in the first-century, when the only strong evidence for the first-century church is the New Testament. The authorship of these letters is a legitimate question, but for the vast majority of them in the New Testament, I am yet to see any evidence which has made me feel that apostolic authorship is a unlikely position to hold.

5 Comments:

Blogger Deane said...

Pete sceptically wrote:
The authorship of these letters is a legitimate question, but for the vast majority of them in the New Testament, I am yet to see any evidence which has made me feel that apostolic authorship is a unlikely position to hold.

Dean:
I tend to agree, at least regarding the Pastorals.

First, the entire Pauline corpus (let alone the seven commonly accepted authentic letters) is too small to judge matters of authorial style. The letters to Timothy and Titus are, of course, smaller again. It falls under the minimum number of words necessary to judge such a thing--by a multiple of at least 5, depending on the measure that 'experts' have defended according to various methodologies.

Second, the stylistic argments for 1 Timothy and Titus--including the large number of hapax legomena--are largely due to the discussion of ecclesiological matters. Paul talks about church structure here like nowhere else, so it is not surprising that his vocabulary and style are different, because he changes his vocab and style to suit the topic.

Third, it is no longer surprising, given the available data from the Dead Sea Scrolls, that an eschatological, charismatic movement (such as Paul's churches) should be so concerned with structure and hierarchy. Most of the arguments against Pauline
scholarship assumed Schleiermarcher & (later) Weber were right in saying that a young religious movement would be highly charismatic and conversely disinterested in hierarchy and institution. But, the Qumran community evidences an eschatological, charismatic movement that was strongly rule-bound, hierarchical, and institutionalised. Weber's thesis is armchair fantasy. The argument for Pauline authorship is stronger if the early Christian movement included a strong Essene influence in terms of members converting to Christianity and bringing their organisational ideas with them.

Fourth, also, as Paul is so concerned with correct doctrine, his particular emphasis on the role of law and faith is not unexpected, and is not in opposition to what he wrote to the Galatians or Romans.

This is just off the top of my head.

2:20 pm

 
Blogger Pete W said...

I saw a comment from you, and was preparing myself for my quick rebuttle! But it appears unnecessary!

Though I am slightly disturbed by your spelling of argument and skeptically.

5:41 pm

 
Blogger Huggies said...

"the early church was fraught with the feeling that pretty much anyone could go pretty much anywhere and say anything and cause a fuss. Thank God the Church got institutionalised."

um...has it really changed though?
I mean really

hehehe, Petrine.
Do you ever feel tempted to describe your own writings as Petrine, Peter?

12:01 am

 
Blogger Deane said...

You know you have never been able to successfully rebut me, Pete. And you never will ... mwahahahaarrrrr!!!

("Sceptically" is the standard UK/NZ spelling; "skeptically" is US. "Argment" was a typo.)

9:11 am

 
Blogger Pete W said...

Really? You can spell it sceptically?

Meh... I guess so...

Toby Mac is evil.

5:42 pm

 

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