The National Catholic Review
Before digging in, you may want to read my first post on this subject. The language of the Pastoral Epistles is the most difficult argument to handle apart from the Greek original, and I would argue the most boring of arguments in any language, so I will deal with this only in general terms. Scholars of the past, such as Werner Kummel (Introduction to the New Testament, SCM Press) and P.N. Harrison (the earliest in The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles, Oxford University Press), argued that the vocabulary of the Pastoral Epistles is radically different from that of the "genuine" Pauline letters and Harrison argued that the vocabulary and style of the Pastorals is actually closer to the Apostolic Fathers than that of Paul. One of the linchpins of this argument is the occurrence of words which appear nowhere else in a corpus of writings, known as hapax legomena. Harrison suggested that there were 175 hapax legomena in the Pastorals, words which appeared nowhere else in Paul’s letters. He further suggested that most of these words reflected later chronological usage, sort of like finding "groovy" in a letter that purports to be written in the 1930’s (admittedly not his example). Bruce Metzger, though, argued that most of these "late" words can be found in literature which occurs before 50 A.D. and so could be placed in the lifetime of Paul (A Reconsideration of Certain Arguments Against the Pauline Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles, Expository Times, Vol. 70, 1958, 91-94). Others have noted that Romans has as many hapax legomena as all three of the Pastoral Epistles. Many of these "unique" words from the Pastorals are found in the later Apostolic Fathers, but so, too, are numerous "unique" words from Romans and 1 Corinthians. This ought to be expected: later Christian writers were certain to mine the scriptures for their own theology and, yes, vocabulary. There have also been challenges to the whole notion of "word count" studies, which take a living text, remove words from context, and start counting and adding. The living word does seem to become a dead letter. Some scholars also would argue that the Pastoral letters do not give us a large enough sample to judge with confidence as a "body" of literature (Stanley Porter discusses these issues in Pauline Authorship and the Pastoral Epistles: Implications for Canon, Bulletin for Biblical Research 5 (1995), 109-110.) If the situation has changed for Paul himself or in his churches – and Paul’s letters are situational, responding to on the ground realities – should we not expect different sorts of letters? If dangers to the Church have evolved, would a Pauline letter evolve in response to this changing reality? This does not even take account of theories that these are personal letters or that the letter writer (amanuensis) has changed. Neither style nor vocabulary, however, are the whole of the argument against Pauline authorship. Most scholars rely on arguments based on the theology of the letters and the focus in these letters on institutionalization, by which is meant expanding notions of church offices and a more hierarchical standard of authority. These, I think, are the heart of the arguments and I will discuss those in my final entry. In the meantime, "proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching" (2 Tim.4:2). An inspired admonition for the week – whoever wrote it. John W. Martens