The Pastorals are a group of three DeuteroPauline Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus), so called because they have as their main purpose the giving of guidance and encouragement in pastoral care, and specifically in the leadership of local churches. That need probably arose only after the end of the Apostolic Age, when visits of itinerant experts had ceased, and local expertise arose to take their functional place. The Pastorals are also linked to each other by a set of word usages distinct from that of Paul (carefully spelled out in Easton), and by the fact that they imply ravels of Paul which cannot be verified from the genuine Paulines or from Acts. The Pastorals are one group among the DeuteroPaulines, the others being the sequence Colossians/Ephesians (anchored on Philemon, and in our view, written by Onesimus, Paul's major editor) and 2 Thessalonians, which at first glance stands alone.
The Pastorals are internally linked, 1 and 2 Timothy forming a group simply by virtue of their supposed addressee, with Titus as a second group. The sequence of the three Pastorals, like everything else about them, has been much debated. One suggestion which has found some acceptance is that Titus comes between the two Timothys (among which 2 Timothy is often regarded as the earlier; defenses of its authenticity are still heard). If so, then the sequence of composition would be
2 Tim > Titus > 1 Tim
This, at any rate, will do for a conversation starter.
A difficulty with the Pastorals is that they are not included with other epistles attributed to Paul in Marcion or in any other early list; their first mention as part of the Pauline canon is from thje late 2c. This need not require a 2c date for the Pastorals themselves, since their doctrinal content is slim, and the first test for canonical material seems to have been its doctrinal correctness. The Pastorals are more like church order texts, and it should be remembered that the earliest separate church order document, the Didache, never became a part of the canon.
The other much discussed aspect of the pastorals is their personalia. P N Harrison argued that though the letters are for the most part invented, they include fragments of real letters, which are mostly visible in the personalia, the mentions of Paul and others at the beginnings and ends of the letters. It is thought, or hoped, that these provide accurate information about Paul's own feelings (especially in his Roman captivity), and about his real or supposed coworkers, including Mark and Luke. On longer consideration, this material seems to be dubious also. The forgers know that personalia have versimiltude, and some of them have a Paul agenda: to prove that he escaped his first Roman imprisonment and preached in other areas. The areas mentioned in the Pastorals are Ephesus (1 and 2 Timothy) and Crete (Titus). There is no hint of the Spain myth, which belongs to another and seemingly earlier strand of postPauline tradition. It is this "belonging to another strand" which in part sets the Pastorals off as dictinctive within the supposed Pauline corpus.
For the individual Pastorals, see these pages:
- 1 Timothy
- 2 Timothy
26 April 2012 / Contact The Project / Exit to Alpha Home Page