This blog, by Richard Fellows, discusses historical questions concerning Paul's letters, his co-workers, Acts, and chronology. You can visit my web pages here, but note that they are not kept up-to-date.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Things to click

Firstly, happy Christmas and seasons greetings to you, my reader.

There has been some interesting stuff on Paul recently:

Scot Mcknight has an article on "Jesus vs. Paul"

There is a new Journal called "Journal for the Study of Paul and his Letters", which has its own blog.

Jonathan Robinson has put his thesis online: Sex, Slogans and Σώµατα: Discovering Paul’s Theological Ethic in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

Mark Goodacre has a few podcasts on Paul in the last three months.

Phillip Long has now almost completed a series of blog posts that present a fairly conventional understanding of Galatians.

The Review of Biblical Literature discusses David Downs' "The offering of the Gentiles: Paul's Collection for Jerusalem in Its Chronological, Cultural, and Cultic Contexts".

Ken Schenck has a well argued and clearly written post that shows that Luke's intended audience knew that Paul had died soon after the events recorded in Acts.

Deane Galbraith gave a very full account of biblical studies blogging for November.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The renaming of benefactors

Here I argue that the early church had a tradition of giving new names to its benefactors. I briefly discuss each individual example, and link to more detailed discussions so that the reader can assess the cumulative case for the hypothesis.

Below is a list of the benefactors (and probable benefactors) of the early church whom we know by name. It will be shown that the majority of them show evidence of having received new names in recognition of their benefactions. This may be a testimony to the importance that the early church placed on generosity.

Those who show evidence of having receiving a new name

Crispus (Acts 18:8; 1 Cor 1:14) was a synagogue ruler and was therefore a benefactor. He became a believer and was instrumental in the conversion of many in Corinth. The name "Sosthenes" means something like, "saving strength", which is a fitting name for Crispus. Sosthenes, like Crispus, was a/the synagogue ruler (Acts 18:17) and, like Crispus, he became a believer, and his name carried authority in Corinth (1 Cor 1:1). The beating of Sosthenes by the Jews at this time of food shortages (CE 51) is explicable if he was Crispus, the benefactor who had defected to Paul's camp. For more on Crispus-Sosthenes see my Tyndale Bulletin article and my web page.

Luke reports:
There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means "son of encouragement"). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet. (Acts 4:36-37)
Barnabas was therefore a benefactor and had been given a new name. It is not clear whether his name had been given in response to any benefactions that the had made. For a little more on Barnabas, see here.

Mariam the Magdalene
The epithet "Magdalene" means "tower" and is a metaphor for protective strength. It is therefore very suitable for this Mary, who was a benefactor of the Jesus movement (Luke 8:2-3). There are close parallels to this style of naming: Crispus-Sosthenes (saving strength), Simeon-Cephas (rock), James-Oblias (bulwark of the people). The similarity in sound between Mariam and Magdalene increases the probability that "Magdalene" was a new name, rather than merely a reference to a place of birth. For more on this Mary, click here.

Gaius Titius Justus-Stephanas
"Stephanas" means something like "crowned" and is therefore a very suitable name for a benefactor of the church (synagogue benefactors, like pagan benefactors were frequently given physical or metaphorical crowns). Stephanas had put his household at the church's service (1 Cor 1:16; 16:15-18). He was therefore a benefactor with a name to match. Paul tries to persuade the Corinthians to show respect for Stephanas, and to this end he reminds them that Stephanas's household was the "firstfruits of Achaia" (1 Cor 16:15-18), meaning that the conversion of Stephanas and his household was the breakthrough that led to the formation of the Corinthian church. In Acts 18:7 this same role is played by Titius Justus, who makes his house available to Paul. Earlier Titius Justus (or his family) had probably given a wing of his house for use as the synagogue.  In 1 Cor 16:15-18 Paul tries to unite the Corinthian church under the roof of Stephanas, but in Rom 16:23 it is Gaius who hosts the whole church, and Gaius, like Stephanas, was one of the first converts in Corinth because he was baptized by Paul himself (1 Cor 1:14). All his suggest that we a looking at one person whose praenomen, nomen, cognomen, and Agnomen were Gaius, Titius, Justus, and Stephanas respectively. I have discussed Stephanas on this block, here, here, and here.

Jason hosted Paul and other believers (Acts 17:6-9). He appears later in Corinth and is mentioned in Rom 16:21, where we would expect Paul to mention Aristarchus (Acts 20:4). Both Jason and Aristarchus were from Thessalonica and bother were Jews, which is significant since the church of Thessalonica comprised mostly Gentiles. The name "Aristarchus" means "best archon/ruler", which is an appropriate name for Paul to give to Jason. This hypothesis explains why Aristarchus is included among the greeters in Philemon 23 and is the only name that is not abbreviated or informal: Paul uses his full name to allude to his benefactions in the hope that Philemon will follow his example and make a benefaction of Onesimus. See my blog post here.

Theophilus (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1) is often considered the benefactor who sponsored the publication of Luke and Acts. The name, meaning "lover of God", is appropriate, and there are precedents for almost identical names being used a epithets, including by a Christian benefactor. See my web page here

Tabitha (Acts 36-41) was a generous believer. Luke translates her name into Greek, which suggests that "Tabitha" was a new name, rather than her birth name. The name Tabitha/Dorcas means "gazelle" and, like "Aquila", symbolizes good eyes, which was a metaphor for generosity. Therefore Tabitha had probably received her name in recognition of her generosity. See my blog post here.

If Tabitha was a new name, Aquila (Acts 18:2-3, 18, 26; 1 Cor 16:19; Rom 16:3) probably was too. He was a benefactor of the church and his name means "eagle", which, like the Gazelle, was known for its good eyes.

Epaenetus (Rom 16:5) was the "firstfruits of Asia." This suggests that he may have been a benefactor who had kick-started the church in Asia (compare Stephanas above). If so, he probably received his name, "Epaenetus" in recognition of his generosity, because the name means "praised" and is in the semantic field of ancient benefaction. See my blog post here.

Phoebe was a benefactor of the church (Rom 16:1-2). Her name is Greek and means "shining". It could have been given to her to reflect her role in the church, with a metaphor such as that of Matt 6:22-23 in mind. However, the meaning of the name is very general and not exclusively connected to benefaction, so Phoebe provides little evidence for the phenomenon of benefaction names in the early church.

The benefactor names theory makes good sense of Paul's choice of greeters in Rom 16:21-23. No longer are Crispus, Stephanas, and Aristarchus strangely absent. Instead, Rom 16:21-23 represents a complete list of all the well known believers who were in Corinth at that time. See my blog post here.

It is possible that Titus-Timothy received his new name in recognition either of an act of personal benefaction or the part that he played in organizing the collection from Galatia. "Timothy" means "honoring God" and for Paul, at least, benefactions brought honor to God (2 Cor 8:19; 9:11-13). It is, however, possible that Titus was named "Timothy" for an unrelated reason.

Those who show no evidence of receiving a new name
It is, of course, not surprising that Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) were not honored with new names.

Lydia  (Acts 6:4-15, 40) was probably a benefactor of the church. If she received a new name, we have no evidence of it.

Luke 8:2-3 suggests that Mary Magdalene,  Joanna, and Susanna were benefactors of the work of Jesus. Mary Magdalene was the most prominent, because she is mentioned first here, as elsewhere. I know of no evidence that Joanna or Susanna received new names.

The majority of NT benefactors of the church were given new names in recognition of their generosity.

Comments are welcome.

Benefactor=good eyes=Gazelle (Tabitha) and Eagle (Aquila)

Tabitha (Acts 9:36-42), meaning "Gazelle" and Aquila (Acts 18:2-3, 18, 26; 1 Cor 16:19; Rom 16:3-5), meaning "Eagle" were benefactors of their believing communities and both animals were known for their good eyes. For ancient Jews and early Christians, good eyes symbolized generosity and I will argue here that these individuals had been given their names in recognition of their generosity.

We have good evidence that most of the benefactors of the early church were given new names in recognition of their generosity. I have provided a summary.

In this post I will first show that the meaning of the name "Tabitha" had great significance for Luke and should not be considered a birth name. Then, I will show that the name, meaning "gazelle", is an appropriate name to be given to her in recognition of her contributions to the community. Rick Strelan's paper ("Tabitha: The Gazelle of Joppa (Acts 9:36-41)", Biblical Theology Bulletin. May 2009), which is now available on-line hereprovided much of the stimulus for my own thinking. I will engage with Strelan's work in appendix 1 below.

"Tabitha" was not her birth name
Acts 9:36-40 reads,
Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, "Please come to us without delay." So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them.
Tabitha and Dorcas both mean gazelle, so in Acts 9:36 Luke is translating the name "Tabitha". In English we could render this verse, "Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which means "Gazelle"". In Acts 9:40, however, Luke uses the word "Gazelle" (Dorcas) as her name. It is not clear whether Tabitha was already known also by the name "Dorcas", or Luke is here giving her that name for the first time. It doesn't matter much. The important question is why the name "Tabitha" was rendered into Greek (at least by Luke). A clue can be found in the following survey of all the NT characters whose names were translated into Greek in early church documents:

Cephas-Petros (John 1:42)
Barnabas, which Luke interprets 'son of ~exhortation' (Acts 4:36)
Elymas, which Luke interprets to mean 'magician' (Acts 13:8)
Boanerges, which Mark interprets, 'sons of thunder' (Mark 3:17).
Thomas-Didymos (John 20:24 and gospel of Thomas)
Simon Kananaios-Zelotes (Matt 10:4, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13) Both epithets mean "zealous".
James the Just. Eusebius quotes Hegessipus as saying that 'James was called the Just and Oblias, which signifies in Greek "Bulwark of the people"'.

In probably all 7 cases the name that is translated was not given at birth, but was given at a later time because of its meaning. This strongly suggests that Tabitha was not her birth name either.

Some have suggested that Jews often took an additional (Greek) name that was a translation of their (Semitic) birth name, and that Tabitha-Dorcas is such a double name. However, this would not explain why Luke gives "Gazelle" as the translation of Tabitha, rather than as Tabitha's bi-name. Also, there is almost no evidence that Jews ever did translate their birth names in ancient times (see appendix 2 below).  The earliest commentators on this passage, who were much closer to ancient naming practices than we are, did not interpret "Dorcas" as a mundane translation of a birth name, but saw symbolism in the name.

John Chrysostom (A.D. 349-407) wrote:
It is not without a meaning that the writer has informed us of the woman's name, but to show that the name she bore matched her character; as active and wakeful was she as an antelope. (Homily 21 on Acts of Apostles)

Bede (A.D. 672/3-735) wrote:
Now at Jaffa there was a woman disciple by the name of Tabitha, which means Dorcas, that is, "deer," or "fallow deer," signifying souls exalted by the practice of virtues although contemptible in the eyes of people. For the blessed Luke would not have provided the meaning of the name if he had not known there was strong symbolism in it. The deer and the fallow deer are animals that are similar in nature, though different in size. They dwell on high mountains, and they see all who approach, no matter how far away they may be. Hence in Greek they are called dorcades from he sharpness of their vision.
It is therefore unlikely that "Tabitha" was her birth name. Why then, might she have been named, "Tabitha"? Well, immediately after giving the translation of her name, Luke mentions her good deeds and charity and this may be a hint that she had received her name for her benefactions.

Tabitha was "devoted to good works and acts of charity" (Acts 9:36), such as making clothes for widows (Acts 9:39). Aquila too, was a benefactor, since he provided his house for Paul (Acts 18:2-3) and as a meeting place for believers (1 Cor 16:19 and Rom 16:3-5). Note that Aquila's name appears before that of Prisca/Priscilla in the two passages where their benefaction is prominent (Acts 18:2-3 and 1 Cor 16:19), indicating that he (not surprisingly) was in charge of the resources.

"Tabitha" is Aramaic, which is consistent with the view that it was not her birth name. Hacklili writes, “nicknames are mostly in Aramaic, with some in Hebrew” (These are the names. Studies in Jewish Onomastics vol. 3 Ed. Demsky. p105). "Aquila" is Latin, which would not be surprising if the name was given in Rome.

The good eyes of the gazelle and the eagle
John Chrysostom wrote:

But are you clear sighted? Not as the gazelle; not as the eagle. Homily 7 on Philippians
This illustrates the reputation of the gazelle and the eagle for acute vision. The exceptional vision of the eagle requires little discussion. Along with other predatory birds, the eagle has the best vision of all creatures. Isidore of Seville (c. 560-636), even suggested that the eagle was given its name (Aquila) because of its high quality vision:
The eagle (aquila) is named from the acuity of its vision (acumen oculorum), for it is said that they have such sight that when they soar above the sea on unmoving wings, and invisible to human sight, from such a height they can see small fish swimming, and descending like a bolt seize their prey and carry it to shore with their wings. Etymologiae XII.7.10
The Gazelle has exceptional vision for movement because it must watch out for predators.  Its eyes are open from birth and are on opposite sides of its head, giving it nearly 360 degree vision. It has striking large dark eyes.

The quotation from Bede above further confirms the gazelle's reputation for acute vision, and suggests that the Greek name, δορκάς, actually signifies good vision. Bede seems to be dependent here on Isidore of Seville, who writes:

Greeks call these wild goats δορκάδες because they see very sharply, that is ὀξυδερκέστερον. They dwell in high mountains and, although far-off, see all who approach. Etymologiae XII.1.15

Liddell and Scott give a very similar etymology for δορκάς: "a kind of deer (so called from its large bright eyes)". The very word, δορκάς, therefore represents good vision.

Intriguingly Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary gives "clear-sighted" as a translation of "Tabitha". I don't know why. Could "Tabitha" in Aramaic folk etymology have been considered to be a contraction of tb, meaning "good", and babatha, meaning "pupil of the eye"? I am out of my depth here.

Good eyes as a symbol of generosity
It is well established that, for Jews, a bad eye represented envy and stinginess (Francois P. Viljoen, "A contextualised reading of Matthew 6:22-23: 'Your eye is the lamp of your body'"Hervormde Teologiese Studies vol 65 no. 1 Pretoria 2009; Rivka Ulmer, The evil eye in the Bible and in rabbinic literature. (Partly available on Google books)). The converse is also attested: a good eye represented generosity. We see this in Prov 22:9
He who has a good eye (tob ayin) will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.
and also in the Jerusalem Talmud:
One Abba Judah was there, who performed the law with a good eye. Being now reduced to poverty, when he saw the Rabbins he was dejected. He went home with a sad countenance. His wife said to him, "Why doth thy countenance languish?". He answered, "The Rabbins are come, and I know not what to do." She said to him, "You have one field left; go and sell half of it, and give to them," Which he did. And when they were departed he went to plough in the half of his field, and found a great treasure.   Yerushalmi Horayot 3.4 
More importantly, we see the same thing in Matt 6:22
If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light
The context of this verse is the discussion of money and possessions in Matt 6:19-34, so the 'good eye' here represents generosity, as in the other passages. We can assume that the original intended audience understood the symbolism. It is therefore plausible that a name that signified good eyesight could symbolize generosity. We should therefore not be surprised if the believers named benefactors after the eagle and the gazelle, which had a reputation for exceptional vision.

The generosity of the gazelle
Strelan brings to our attention to the Aramaic Targum to Song of Songs 8.14,:
But in times of trouble, when we pray to you, be like a gazelle which sleeps with one eye closed and one eye open. 
The writer here is wanting the Lord not only to notice them in times of trouble, but also to act. This text may therefore give us a hint that the gazelle had a reputation for being attentive to others' needs.

Strelan also quotes the Zohar, which dates to the thirteen century, but may contain earlier material.
our Rabbis have said that she [the gazelle] is the kindest of the animals, and she has more compassion than she has children. When all the animals are thirsty they gather around her, since they know her kind deeds ... 
What is the gazelle of the dawn? She is an animal who is compassionate; among all the animals in the world, none is compassionate like her. Because, at a time when time is pressing on her and she needs to feed herself and all the animals, she goes into the distance, by a distant path, and brings food. And she does not want to eat until she comes back and returns to her place. Why? So that the rest of the animals may gather to her, so that she may divide that food for them. When she comes back, all the rest of the animals are gathered to her, and she stands in the middle and distributes portions to each and every one.
Since Luke went to the trouble of translating the name "Tabitha" into Greek, we can assume that the meaning of the name had significance. Tabitha and Aquila were benefactors of the church and it is likely that they had been named after animals with good eyes because good eyes signified generosity.

Footnote: Phoebe (Rom 16:1), whose name means "shining", was also a benefactor of the church. It is possible that she had been named with a metaphor such as that of Matt 6:22-23 in mind.

Appendix 1
 Here, again, is the link to Strelan's piece on Tabitha. I am indebted to Strelan's thought provoking work, without which the ideas in this blog post would not have been developed. He points out that, in Acts, Tabitha has a positive, charitable image, that matches that of the Gazelle. I have followed Strelan in this line of thinking.

However, Strelan emphasizes not Tabitha's charity, but her proselyte or fringe status. He argues that the name was used (by Luke at least) as a metaphor for a proselyte or someone on the edge of the Jewish community. I don't agree.

We know the names of only about 19 proselytes to Judaism in the ancient world. About half of them took new names after conversion, but these new names did not, in general, place them on the fringes of the community, but rather asserted their belonging. Thus, the names "Judah" and "Sarah" were particularly common for proselytes. We do have the example of Yeshua Giora (Giora meaning "proselyte"), but here "Yeshua" is surely his conversion name, and "Giora" is a nickname to distinguish him from other Yeshuas. It is therefore unlikely that the name "Tabitha" was given to her or to anyone else as a conversion name to symbolize her proselyte status.

But was Tabitha's name unhistorical and brought into the text by Luke as a metaphor for proselyte status? Strelan seems at times to lean toward this view. For me, a major difficulty here is that Strelan is asking too much of the readers. How were the readers expected to uncover this hidden code that has been obscure to commentators for the last two thousand years? There is nothing explicit in the text that points to Tabitha's supposed proselyte status (whereas her charity is mentioned in the same breath as the meaning of her name). It is true that it would fit the theme of chapter 10 if Tabitha was a proselyte: it would represent a step in Peter's associations towards his fraternization with Gentiles. However, it is not clear how the original readers could have made that link while still in chapter 9.

The suggestion that Luke invented the name "Tabitha" here is problematic because Luke was not an inventor of names. The names that he uses were historical, as is shown by a comparison of the names in Acts and those in Paul's letters. Bauckham's work in Jesus and the eyewitnesses makes a good case that the names in the gospels were not invented either.

Appendix 2
Tal Ilan points out that "Some scholars believe that Jews used Greek names that correctly translated biblical ones".  She then goes on to conclude that "there is little evidence" (Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity Part I p11). I have found a few commentators who assert that Jews had double names consisting of names of different languages with the same meaning. The authorities that they cite seem, for the most part, to trace back to Mussies, "The Jewish People in the First Century" vol 2 p1052. Mussies, in turn, cites various inscriptions, but none of them contain an example of a double name. Mussies does not cite examples of double naming to prove the thesis that the Jews employed translation names. Rather, he (and others) point to the fact that certain Greek names that were common among Jews had the same meanings as names that were common in Palestine. This argument is hopelessly unscientific. Mussies is cherry picking, and does not discuss Greek names that were common among Jews that had no common Hebrew/Aramaic equivalent. Nor does he discuss common Hebrew/Aramaic names that  had no common Greek equivalent among Jews. Also, there may be other explanations for Mussies' observations. When Jews named their infants, they may have favored certain meanings, so that, in time certain meanings would be become popular in both the Jewish Greek onomasticon and the Jewish Hebrew/Aramaic onomasticon. It has not been demonstrated that there was conscious name translation going on. Also, even if parents did deliberately choose Greek names that translated Hebrew/Aramaic names, this does not mean that the child would thereby have a double name (and Mussies does not claim that it would). A child might have been named Theodotos in honor of his grandfather, Jonathan, but that does not mean that the child also bore the name Jonathan. Also, once a name, such as Theodotos, entered the Jewish onomosticon it would be passed on to subsequent generations and all connection with the equivalent Hebrew/Aramaic name might be lost. CPJ vol 1 p29 makes this point.

Most telling against the suggestion that Jews held translation double names is the lack of examples. Tal Ilan finds the names of 2531 diaspora Jews (Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity Part III The Western Diaspora 330 BCE- 650 CE). Yet, Williams, in her exhaustive study, finds only 54 cases of any form of double naming, and only about 3 of these can be considered possible examples of translation naming. Even allowing for under-reporting, we can safely conclude that Jews rarely, if ever, translated their birth names.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Titus-Timothy and the purpose of the tearful letter

In this post we will test the hypothesis that Titus was Timothy by comparing the purpose of Timothy's prospective mission to Corinth in 1 Corinthians with the purpose of Titus's recent mission to Corinth in 2 Corinthians. I will build on the analysis of my last post where I argued that Timothy's mission was to combat the Corinthians' libertine doctrine. I have previously provided other evidence that the "two" missions were identical (see here and here).

1.  Titus's mission to Corinth was to address an issue that would require disciplinary action (if the Corinthians failed to repent) (see 2 Cor 1:23; 2:2,6; 7:11). The same is true of Timothy's mission (1 Cor 4:21; 5:2,11).

2. There was a long-standing clash of lifestyles between Paul and some (many?) of the Corinthians. Paul, in imitation of Christ, exercised self-control and put the needs of the community first (1 Cor 8:13; 9:25-27). Some of the Corinthians, however, indiscriminately followed slogans like "all things are permitted" (1 Cor 6:12; 10:23) and were complacent about sexual immorality, idolatry, and food sacrificed to idols. Paul urged the Corinthians to imitate his lifestyle (1 Cor 4:16-17; 10:33-11:1).

Now, I suggest that the libertines responded by trying to turn the community against Paul. In the context of this clash of lifestyles rejection of Paul meant rejection of his lifestyle, and zeal for Paul meant zeal for his lifestyle. This explains the otherwise obscure connection between 1 Cor 9:1-3, where Paul addresses challenges to his authority, and the previous verse, 1 Cor 18:13, where he outlines his approach to food sacrificed to idols. Those who claimed the right to eat indiscriminately had tried to discredit Paul because of his opposition to their doctrine.
It also explains the connection between 2 Cor 6:14-7:1, where Paul urges the Corinthians to reject idolatry, and both 2 Cor 6:13 and 2 Cor 7:2 where he asks them to open their hearts to him. In the context of the clash of lifestyles, the implication is that they are to open their hearts to his way of life that rejected idolatry. Further evidence of an ideologically motivated attack on Paul by the libertines is found in 2 Cor 12:21-13:7 where they question whether Christ is speaking in Paul.
Paul had to defend himself against criticisms that were intended to discredit his lifestyle. He did so, not for the sake of his reputation, but for the sake of Corinthians, who needed to imitate his lifestyle. The Corinthians had misunderstood the motivation for his self-defense so he had to explain that it was for their benefit (2 Cor 12:19-21). We should not misunderstand Paul's letters in exactly the same way that the Corinthians had done. See Sean's post for further thoughts on the way Paul defends himself only as a means to bring his hearers to greater Christlikeness.

Let us turn now to the tearful letter. Paul wrote the letter "in order that your zeal for us might be made known to you before God" (2 Cor 7:12). Also, it does seem likely that the offender of 2 Cor 2:5-11 had criticized Paul in some way. The tearful letter and the offense therefore concerned the Corinthians' attitude toward Paul. Now, 1 Cor 4:3 and 2 Cor 13:7 show that Paul was not primarily concerned with what the Corinthians thought of him, and in 2 Cor 2:5,10 he even questions whether an offense had been committed, and in 2 Cor 7:12 he denies that he had written on account of the offender or on his own account. So why all the fuss? How can Paul, who cared little what people thought of him, have required the punishment of someone whose criticism had caused Paul little distress? And how can the Paul of 1 Cor 4:3 and 2 Cor 13:7 have written out of much distress and anguish of heart (2 Cor 2:4) just to make the Corinthians zealous for him? This seems inconsistent and egotistical.

The contradictions are resolved when we realize that the tearful letter was sent to counter the libertine doctrine. This issue of licentiousness would have caused Paul to write "out of much distress and anguish of heart" to bring the Corinthians back to zeal for him, meaning zeal for the lifestyle that he exemplified. In 2 Cor 7:12, as in 2 Cor 6:13; 7:1 and 1 Cor 9:1-3 we can assume that Paul expected his hearers to realize (from their familiarity with the context of their recent interactions with Paul) that Paul's lifestyle is in view. The offender's criticism of Paul was an attempt to turn the community against the imitation of Paul's lifestyle. The criticism, in and of itself, caused Paul no great pain, but it posed a huge danger to the community and therefore warranted punishment. Similarly the boasting in sexual immorality in 1 Cor 5:6-8 is compared to yeast that corrupts the whole dough. Paul's primary concern was not to defend himself against criticism, but rather that the Corinthians avoid the licentiousness that might result from that criticism (2 Cor 13:6-7). In the tearful letter Paul had addressed the criticism of himself but his motive had been misunderstood, for he had to explain that had not done so on account of himself nor on account of the offender, but that the Corinthians might have zeal for his lifestyle. This misunderstanding explains why Paul is cautious to avoid a repeat of the same misunderstanding (2 Cor 12:19-21).

So, we have deduced that Paul wrote the tearful letter to encourage zeal for his lifestyle, probably in opposition to the Corinthians' licentious lifestyle. This is exactly the same purpose for which Paul had sent Timothy to Corinth (1 Cor 4:17). Another parallel is that in both cases there is an indication that the zeal lay dormant and needed only to be re-awakened: in 1 Cor 4:17 Timothy need only remind them of Paul's ways, and in 2 Cor 7:12 he had written so that their zeal might be made known to them. The thoughts are very similar.

3. As I argued previously, Timothy's mission to Corinth was to deal with licentiousness. Here is some further evidence that Titus's mission had the same purpose:

a) For Paul the correct response to licentiousness was to "mourn" (1 Cor 5:2; 2 Cor 12:21), and this was the only issue that made Paul write of his tears (see Phil 3:17-19). So, since Paul wrote the tearful letter "with many tears" (2 Cor 2:4) and commended the Corinthians for having lamented in response to the letter (2 Cor 7:7), we should suspect that it was written to combat licentiousness.

b) It was "impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness" that made Paul's second visit to Corinth painful, and this visit was brought to mind by his fear that the same problems would recur on his next visit (2 Cor 12:21-13:2). At the time of Titus's mission Paul had the same recollection of his second visit and concern about his next visit: "So I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit" (2 Cor 2:1). This confirms that Titus's mission was to deal with these same issues of sexual immorality and licentiousness.

c) Paul's intention had been to spare the Corinthians (2 Cor 1:23) so it is doubtful that the tearful letter demanded the punishment of anyone. More likely, the tearful letter called for their repentance and perhaps demanded the punishment of anyone who still remained defiant. In any case, we know that there was one Corinthian who was punished as a direct or indirect result of the tearful letter (2 Cor 2:5-11; 7:11-12). Now, it seems from 2 Cor 2:5-11 that the offender had been shunned by the majority. This is the exact same punishment that Paul demands in 1 Cor 5:11 for anyone who is "sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber".

d) Even allowing for a diplomatic gloss in 2 Cor 7:6-16, it does seem that the tearful letter was successful, except perhaps that a minority did not go along with the punishment of the offender (2 Cor 2:6). The issue that was the primary focus of the tearful letter was therefore one that was largely resolved by the time of 2 Corinthians. The Corinthians' licentiousness was such an issue. In 2 Corinthians we have explicit mention of it only at 2 Cor 12:21-13:7, where Paul seems to warn against a recurrence of earlier sins that some had committed.

So, in conclusion, both Titus and Timothy were sent to Corinth to deal with the licentiousness there. This is further evidence that they were one and the same person. But can there really be any doubt about that?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

1 Cor 4:17-21 and licentiousness in Corinth

Here I argue that the sending of Timothy to Corinth in 1 Cor 4:17-21 concerns the Corinthian licentiousness of chapters 5 and 6.

In 1 Cor 4:11-13 Paul lists his tribulations. He then writes:
4:14 I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 4:15 For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 4:16 I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me. 
4:17 For this reason (διὰ τοῦτο) I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 4:18 But some of you, thinking that I am not coming to you, have become arrogant (ἐφυσιώθησάν). 4:19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant (πεφυσιωμένων) people but their power. 4:20 For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power. 4:21 What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among the pagans; for a man is living with his father's wife. 5:2 And you are arrogant (πεφυσιωμένοι)! Should you not rather have mourned, so that he who has done this would have been removed from among you?
1)  If 5:1 is the beginning of the discussion of licentiousness, as many suppose, it is very abrupt. In all the other passages where Paul speaks against licentiousness he is not abrupt but first prepares his readers by appealing to a tradition that they had already received. Thus Phil 3:17-19 starts with an appeal to imitate Paul and those who follow the example that he had set. Similarly, 1 Thess 4:1-8 begins with a reminder that Paul had instructed them how to live. 2 Cor 12:19-13:10 begins with a reference to earlier correspondence. 1 Cor 10:1-8 appeals to the Hebrew scriptures before warning of sexual immorality. Paul had not been to Rome so in his letter to the church there he cannot appeal to traditions that he had passed on to them. However, he still introduces the subject of licentiousness by referring to their knowledge of "the time" (Rom 13:11-14). Similarly, Rom 16:17-18 appeals to "the teaching that you have learned" before warning of the practice of some serving their own appetites. In  Gal 5:13-21, though there is no reference to traditions passed on by Paul (for whatever reason), there is a reference to Lev 19:18 at Gal 5:14. Since Paul consistently introduces discussion of licentiousness with some kind of appeal to earlier teachings, it is highly likely that Paul's reference to his "ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church" in 4:17 introduces the subject of licentiousness that is mentioned explicitly first at 5:1 and dominates the next two chapters. Several further arguments will confirm this.

2)  Timothy was to "remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church". Paul wrote against licentiousness in every letter that he wrote to a church (Rom 13:13-14; 16:17-18; 1 Cor 5:1-13; 6:9-20; 2 Cor 12:21; Gal 5:13-21; Phil 3:17-19; 1 Thess 4:1-8), so the issue fits the description of something that he taught "everywhere in every church".

3)  Timothy's mission is mentioned again at 1 Cor 16:10-11: "If Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord just as I am; therefore let no one despise him." These words are explicable if Timothy's mission was to counter opponents in Corinth, such as those who promoted licentiousness.

4)  Kenneth Bailey wrote an important and much neglected article, in which he argued, as I do here, that 1 Cor 4:17-21 introduces the subject of sexual immorality ("The Structure of 1 Corinthians and Paul's Theological Method with Special Reference to 4:17", Nov Test 25, 2 (1983)). Bailey (p162) points out that the tone in 1 Cor 4:18-21 is much sharper than in 1 Cor 4:11-16. He writes, "In 4:14 Paul speaks very gently. He wants only to admonish his beloved children and not to make them ashamed. But in 4:18-21 he is threatening the arrogant with a rod!!" This shift in tone confirms that Paul has shifted the focus to a   particularly troubling issue. The tone in 4:18-21 and the threat of punishment is much more in keeping with 5:1-9, where punishment is demanded, than it is with 1:1-4:16.

5)  2 Cor 12:21-13:10 ties in nicely with 1 Cor 4:18-21. Paul visited Corinth for the second time and, finding that "impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness" was being promoted in the church, he warned them that he would not be lenient when he returned (2 Cor 12:21-13:2). He decided to delay his return, and wrote to them and sent Timothy to give them maximum opportunity to repent so that he would not have to be severe when he came (1 Cor 4:21; 2 Cor 13:10). This delay made the culprits cocky (1 Cor 4:18), so Paul responds by saying "would you rather that I came right away with a rod?" (1 Cor 4:21). Thus, the arrogance of these Corinthians concerning Paul's failure to come again to Corinth (1 Cor 4:18) is explicable if they were the proponents of the libertine doctrine whom Paul had warned that he would punish when he came back (2 Cor 13:2). This is confirmed by the parallels between 1 Cor 4:21 and 2 Cor 13:10. Now, this argument requires that Paul's second visit to Corinth took place before 1 Corinthians. This is likely for a number of reasons that I have touched on before. The only counter-argument is that Paul would not suppress all direct mention of the second visit in 1 Corinthians, only to revive its memory in 2 Cor 2:1; 13:1-2. However, Paul brings up the second visit in these passages only because he is forced to do so. He must explain that his failure to return to Corinth was to avoid another painful visit and was not due to fickleness. And he must explain that his failure to return did not mean that he was too timid to carry out the threats that he had made on his second visit. The fact that it is necessary for Paul to give these explanations in 2 Corinthians suggests that he may have avoided the subject of the second visit in earlier correspondence (such as the tearful letter). Paul's mentions of the second visit in 2 Corinthians are to clear up misunderstandings, which are explicable if Paul had suppressed discussion of his second visit in earlier correspondence. Therefore we should not be surprised that there is no mention of the second visit in 1 Corinthians. For more on Paul's silence in 1 Corinthians concerning his second visit see David R. Hall "The Unity of the Corinthian Correspondence" JSNTsup 251, p245.

6)  1 Cor 4:17-21 is linked to 1 Cor 5:1-9 by the word "arrogant" (φυσιόω), which appears at 5:2  as well as at 4:18 and 4:19. Bailey (p161) writes, 
in 4:18 Paul refers to some who are "arrogant". In 5:2 he becomes more pointed with the remark, "and you are arrogant!". 
7)  1 Cor 4:17-21 is linked to 1 Cor 5:1-9 by the issue of Paul's presence and absence. Bailey (p161) writes that Paul seems to be saying:
Some think I am not coming (4:18) but I am indeed coming (4:19); as a matter of fact, although I am absent in body consider me already present in spirit (5:3).
8)  The term "kingdom of God", given at 1 Cor 4:20 appears again at 1 Cor 6:9-10, where Paul says that the licentious will not enter the kingdom of God. Similarly, Paul writes in Gal 5:19-21 that licentious wrongdoers will not enter the kingdom of God. The only other mentions of the kingdom of God in Paul's undisputed letters are at Rom 14:17, 1 Thess 2:12, and 1 Cor 15:24, 50.

4:16 I appeal to you, then (οὖν), be imitators of me (μιμηταί μου γίνεσθε). 

4:17 For this reason (διὰ τοῦτο) I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church.
Bailey (p160) points out that both 4:16 and 4:17 have a "therefore" and that "it is difficult to argue that Paul is summarizing his previous argument twice in a row with two "therefores" one after the other." The "therefore" of 4:17 (διὰ τοῦτο) is used by Paul 15 times in all (Rom 1:26; 4:16; 5:12; 13:6; 15:9; 1 Cor 4:17; 11:10, 30; 2 Cor 4:1; 7:13; 13:10; 1 Thess 2:13; 3:5, 7). Bailey (p162) writes that this phrase, when used by Paul, always looks forward in some sense. Now, since 4:17 is linked to 4:16 by the common theme of imitating Paul, it cannot be argued that Paul is starting a completely new theme at 4:17, but Paul's use of the phrase διὰ τοῦτο makes it probable that he is taking the discussion in a new direction.

Paul often uses the phrase to transition from general reflections to specific practical implications. We see this in Rom 1:26 where Paul gets into specifics about sexual practices, and in Rom 13:6 where he gets into specifics about paying taxes. Similarly 1 Cor 11:10 and 1 Cor 11:30.  The phrase (διὰ τοῦτο) in 4:17 therefore is in line with Paul's use of the phrase elsewhere if it marks the transition from the general discussion of the Corinthians' arrogant lifestyle (1 Cor 4:6-16) to one particular practical manifestation of that arrogant lifestyle (licentiousness).

10)  Bailey (p160-1) writes,
to our knowledge no ancient paragraph system divided the text at 5:1. However, there is wide spread early evidence for a break at 4:16 or 17.
The commentators
Why do most commentators, then, fail to recognize that 1 Cor 4:17-21 is strongly connected with 5:1ff? I suspect that there are two reasons.

Firstly, many read Paul's letters as if they were written for them. They interpret the passage in the context only of what has already been said, and fail to read it from the point of view of the Corinthians, who already knew the history of Paul's interactions with them that we learn about later in the letter and in 2 Corinthians.

Secondly, 1 Cor 4:17-21 is linked to the preceding passage by the theme of imitating Paul and by the word "arrogant" (1 Cor 4:6, 18, 19). Some seem to assume that the passage cannot be linked simultaneously to both the preceding and the following passages. However, recent studies have demonstrated that there is a common theme running through the letter. Hall (The Unity of the Corinthian Correspondence p15) writes,
Paul discusses the rhetorical aspect of the Corinthian wisdom in chs. 1-3, and its theological and ethical outworking in chs. 4-16.
Matthew Malcolm's comments are similar, I think:
In 1 Corinthians 1-4 Paul evaluates struggles over leadership in the Corinthian congregation as an implicit expression of human autonomy, and responds by summoning the Corinthians to identify with Christ, by forgoing the role of the boastful ruler and adopting the role of the cruciform sufferer. This identification with the cruciform Christ consequently gives shape to Paul’s ethical instruction in 1 Corinthians 5-14.
Therefore, the links between 1 Cor 4:17-21 and the earlier part of chapter 4 do not in any way weaken the links with chapters 5 and 6.

In my next post I will argue that this mission of Timothy to Corinth is one and the same as the mission of Titus to Corinth of 2 Cor 2:1-13; 7:6-16. This will provide further confirmation that Timothy was Titus.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Laurence Welborn on 2 Cor 13:1

Over the last two weeks I have been pondering Laurence Welborn's recent article, "By the Mouth of Two or Three Witnesses" Paul's Invocation of a Deuteronomic Statute, Nov Test 52 (2010) 207-220. This interesting article is just a click away, here.

2 Cor 12:21-13:2 reads,
12:21 I fear that when I come again, my god may humble me before you, and that I may have to mourn over many who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that they have practiced. 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. "Any charge must be sustained by the evidence of two or three witnesses." 13:2 I warned those who sinned previously and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again, I will not be lenient -
Why did Paul include this citation of Deuteronomy 19:15, and what did the "two or three witnesses" represent? Welborn discusses two common views and then offers his own radically different view.

1. The witnesses represent Paul's three visits to Corinth (two in the past and one projected). Welborn points out that this is problematic because: a) Paul's founding visit to Corinth can hardly be described as a witness against the Corinthian believers, b) multiple visits by the same person do not constitute multiple witnesses, c) Deut 19:15 implies simultaneous witnesses, whereas Paul's three visits were separated in time.

2.  Rabbinic literature developed the idea of "witnesses" in Deut 19:15 into that of "warnings", and similarly "witnesses" in 2 Cor 13:1 represents "warnings" made by Paul to the Corinthians. Welborn agrees that this solves the problems of 1, but writes:
Unfortunately, the reinterpretation of "witnesses" as "warnings" in Jewish legal tradition  cannot be traced back into the time of Paul. The application of the rule of judical evidence to cases of persons suspected of wrongdoing, in the sense of "warnings" before witnesses, is first attested in the Mishnah tractate on "The Suspected Adultress" (Sotah 1.1-2), dated to the second century C.E.
However, Welborn does not explain why the absence of first century evidence for this interpretation of Deut 19:15 is problematic. Why is absence of evidence evidence of absence here?

Welborn suggests that the "most serious defect" of 1 and 2 is that Deut 19:15 is meant to protect the accused from a single malicious witness. Welborn raises a legitimate question: if Paul is here on the attack against the Corinthians, why does he quote a scripture that actually helps their defense? However, I think Welborn and others have overlooked the background. Paul had not punished the Corinthian wrong-doers during his second visit to Corinth and some of them concluded from this that he was a weak personality and would not discipline them on his next visit either. They said that Paul was severe in his letters, but weak in person (2 Cor 10:1-2 and 2 Cor 10:9-11). So Paul needed to convince the Corinthians that his warnings were not just empty threats. In short, he needed to explain why he had not punished them on his second visit but would do so on his next visit. The citation of Deut 19:15 in 2 Cor 13:1 explains to the Corinthians why he had been lenient before: he wanted to wait until he had given them sufficient warnings. Thus Paul's citation from Deut 19:15 will have convinced the Corinthians to take Paul's threats seriously.

3. Welborn suggests that
Paul himself is the accused who seeks protection under the Deuteronomic rule from pernicious accusation by a malicious witness. Paul cites the rule not only in self-defense, but also as a warning to the Corinthians of the punishment that will fall upon those who are complicit in the wrong done to him, should the testimony of the single witness be shown to be false, in accordance with the Deuteronomic statute.
Welborn feels that Paul is alluding here to the offender of 2 Cor 2:5-11; 7:12, and that this offender had been a solitary witness who accused Paul of planning to defraud the Corinthians (2 Cor 12:14-18). He supports his suggestion with some verbal arguments, including the following:
Most significant of all is Paul's use of the participle ἀδικήσας in 2 Cor 7:12 to describe the one who had given offence; an adjective of this same term - namely, ἄδικος is found in Deut 19:16, 18 as the description of the malicious witness, μάρτυς ἄδικος, literally "an unjust witness."
a) A major problem with this suggestion is that the immediate context of 2 Cor 13:1 is the issue of "impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness". This issue is in view in the previous verse (2 Cor 12:21) and also in the following verse (2 Cor 13:2) since the "previously sinned" appears there too. The issue of financial misconduct (2 Cor 12:14-18) is too far back, I feel.

b) A further problem for Welborn's reconstruction is that it makes Paul's response to accusations rather inconsistent. In 1 Cor 4:3 Paul writes, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court", and at 2 Cor 13:6-7 Paul shows a similar indifference to whether he is judged favorably by the Corinthians. Also, concerning the accusations of financial misconduct (2 Cor 12:14-18) Paul stresses that his purpose is not actually to defend himself, but to build up the Corinthians (2 Cor 12:19). Why would Paul emphasize his indifference to accusations in these passages, but show concern for past and future accusations against himself in 2 Cor 13:1?

c) Lastly, the issue of the offender seems to have been resolved by the tearful letter, so it would be slightly surprising if Paul brought up the issue again in 2 Cor 12:14-18; 13:1 as a live issue. This point assumes the unity of 2 Corinthians, for which I have argued here and here. Welborn partitions both 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians.

So I am not yet convinced of Welborn's proposal that 2 Cor 13:1 refers to legal proceedings against Paul, but read his paper and make up your own mind. Perhaps my objections can be answered.

I do, however, think he may be right to suggest that the offender of 2 Cor 2:5-11; 7:12 had brought an accusation against Paul.

Update Nov 11th.
I have argued recently that the offender of 2 Cor 2:5-11; 7:12 had criticized Paul in an attempt to undermine Paul's efforts to eradicate licentiousness from the Corinthian church. I think this answers my objections to Welborn's theory and thus brings it back into play. Points a), b), and c) above will be addressed in turn below.

a) The offense concerned licentiousness, which is the context of 13:1.

b) While Paul had not been very troubled by the criticism as such, he had been distressed at the influence that it might have on the Corinthians. This could explain why Paul refers to it in 13:1.

c) In 2 Cor 12:21-13:3 Paul does not show that he has reason to believe that licentious acts are presently being committed by members of the Corinthian church. Rather, as I read it, Paul is here wanting to prevent a recurrence of the earlier sins.

Also, if I am right to place the offense before 1 Corinthians then it becomes very tempting to identify the accusation of 2 Cor 13:1 with that of 1 Cor 4:1-4 and/or 1 Cor 9:1-3.

So, Welborn's theory, in this form, has merit. But how can we exclude option 2 above?

Monday, September 13, 2010

"we passages", Thucydides, Polybius, Josephus, & W.S. Campbell

Here I discuss a paper by William Campbell, "The Narrator as "He", "ME," and "We": Grammatical Person in Ancient Histories and in the Acts of the Apostles", JBL 129, no. 2 (2010): 385-407. I will use Campbell's observations to show that the author of Acts was present during the events of the "we passages" and at other times too.

A writer can refer to himself/herself in the first person singular ("I", "me"), the first person plural ("we", "us"), or using the third person, as Richard does now. Campbell explores the styles of self-reference by the ancient historians, Thucydides, Polybius, and Josephus, and compares them with Acts. He distinguishes two types of self-designation: narrator level and event level.

Narrator level
Narrative-level self-reference is when the author refers to himself in his capacity as author/narrator. Campbell gives examples from Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War: "Thucydides, an Athenian, wrote the history of the war..."; "the earliest sea battle of those we know". Campbell tells us that Polybius referred to himself frequently (using first person singular) at the narrator level. E.g. "I was persuaded to write"; "I do not think it seemly...". Examples from Josephus include, "as we said previously"; "I would not hesitate to say"; "we Jews".

Concerning Acts, Campbell writes,
Another difference between Acts and the four texts analyzed is how infrequently first person (singular or plural) appears at the narrator level. The narrator rarely intrudes in the story to offer commentary, which compels the narrative to stand on its own merits. Only two instances each of first person singular and plural narrator-level comments occur in Luke and Acts, and these are located in the prefaces (Luke 1:1-3 and Acts 1:1).
My interpretation:
Luke's reluctance to intrude with narrator level self-reference should come as no surprise since his works, like the other gospels, are anonymous. Baum (Nov. Test. 50 (2008)) argues that the purpose of this anonymity was to give priority to the subject matter. Excessive self-reference would distract attention from the narrated events.

Event level
Event level self-reference is when the author refers to his own participation in the historical events. Campbell shows that the third person is generally preferred:
Large sections of War are devoted to Josephus's involvement in the conflict, and once again, as was the case in Thucydides and Polybius, event-level passages with Josephus as a character - indeed the main character and protagonist - are narrated in the third person. One brief example is the account of his appointment as commander of Galilee: "John, son of Ananias, was appointed commander of Gophna and Acrabetta, and Josephus, son of Matthias, of each of the two Galilees" (J.W. 2.568).
Here is an example from Thucydides:
4.104.4 The opponents of the betrayers .... sent to the other commander of the areas in Thrace, Thucydides, son of Olorus .... 
Campbell gives the following passage from Polybius, which has striking parallels with Acts.

36.11.1 When instructions arrived in the Peloponnese from Manilius for the Achaeans that they would do well to send Polybius the Megalopolitan with Haste to Lilybaeum, as there was need of him for affairs of state, the Achaeans resolved to send him in accordance with the petition of the consul. 36.11.2 We, thinking it our duty for many reasons to obey the Romans, putting aside all other matters, set sail when summer began. 36.11.3 Arriving in Corcyra and finding there a letter from the consuls that had been sent to the Corcyraeans in which they made quite clear that the Carthaginians had already handed over the hostages to them and were prepared in every way to obey them, 36.11.4 thinking that the war had been brought to end and there was no further any need of uswe sailed back again to the Peloponnese.

My interpretation:
Since Luke refers to himself very sparingly at the narrator level we should expect him to do the same at the event level. Therefore he may well have been present for more of the events than he indicates. If Luke was present only for the 'we passages', as is commonly assumed, he mentioned his presence at every available opportunity, and this would not be consistent with his tendency to minimize self-reference. Indeed, I have argued before, here, that the author of Acts was present with Paul on his journey to Troas (Acts 16:1-9) before the "we passage" of Acts 16:10ff, and was again present in Achaia (Acts 20:3-4) before the "we passage" of Acts 20:6ff). 

Since these historians referred to themselves by name at the event level, we should be open to the possibility that Luke did too (albeit more sparingly than the other historians). The convention of anonymity followed by Luke and the other gospel writers required that the author not be identified (obviously). However, it did not require that no reference should be made to the author by name, because otherwise no-one would have accepted the view that the fourth gospel was written by John, or that the first was written by Matthew. I have argued that Luke did indeed refer to himself by name once (Lucius of Acts 13:1).

Of the three forms of self-reference available to Luke (first person singular, first person plural, and third person), first person plural was the least obtrusive. It was the form that drew least attention to the author as an individual and so we should not be surprised that Luke preferred it.

The passage from Polybius above is particularly interesting because the author switches to the first person plural at precisely the point where he sets sail, just as Luke does (Acts 16:10; 20:6; 27:1). This supports the view of Vernon Robbins that first person narrative was preferred for sea voyages (but not his view that the author need not have been present on the voyage).

It seems to me, therefore, that Acts combines the conventions of the historians about styles of self-reference with the convention of the gospels about limiting self-reference. He limits narrator level self-reference to his prefaces, and gives his name (Lucius/Luke) only once (Acts 13:1). He chose to make explicit reference to his participation only for sea voyages and their aftermath, where convention allowed him to use the relatively unobtrusive first person plural. For land events he omitted reference to himself completely, not because he was absent, but because convention required the use of the third person, "Lucius", which he did not want to overdo.

Campbell's evidence shows that when historians used the first person they were indeed claiming to have been participants of the events described. Therefore, Luke was (claiming to be) present. This is, in any case, common sense.

Campbell's deductions about Acts
It is therefore baffling that Campbell uses the same data to conclude that:
The analysis of grammatical practice by Thucydides, Polybius, and Josephus raises questions about the traditional argument that the first person plural undeniably documents historical eyewitnessing.
 His reasoning seems to be this:
If the author of Acts wished to lift up his historical presence at and involvement in events, the grammatical guidance offered by Thucydides, Polybius, and Josephus would seem to be that he identify himself by name, associate himself unmistakably with the narrator character, and report events in which he claims participation primarily in the third person.
 He assumes that "the author of Acts never appears as a third person actor in the narrative".

Campbell has failed to make allowance for Luke's desire to avoid excessive self-reference that would detract from the centrality of his subject matter. I have shown above that Luke follows the grammatical guidance of the other historians as much as was possible without obtrusive self-reference.

Moreover, Campbell does not explain how the "we passages" could have been understood by the original readers as implying anything other than the actual presence of the author.

Campbell's paper is valuable because he has made some important observations about the styles of self-designation employed by ancient historians. It is a real pity that his analysis of Acts misses the point completely.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Summary of the Titus-Timothy hypothesis

This is the last post in the present series exploring whether "Titus" and "Timothy" were one person or two. Here I summarize the evidence with links to the more detailed analysis given in earlier posts.

Titus in 2 Corinthians
Paul refrains from identifying anyone who helped him with the collection, leaving the three "brothers" of 2 Cor 8:18-22 and 2 Cor 12:18 conspicuously anonymous (presumably to protect the collection). In Paul's Aegean period the name "Titus" appears only in connection with two visits to Corinth in which he organized the collection (2 Cor 8:6, 16-17), and this raises the possibility that the name serves to obscure his identity (from outsiders). The complete absence of the name "Titus" from Acts and from Romans increases the suspicion that this was not the name by which he was generally known.

In 1 Corinthians Paul anticipates a visit by Timothy to Corinth (1 Cor 4:17; 16:10-11), and in 2 Corinthians he records the return of Titus from Corinth. The following considerations demonstrate that these two visits are the same.
  • In 1 Corinthians Paul expects Timothy to visit Corinth when he (Paul) is about to leave Ephesus for Macedonia. We learn from 2 Cor 2:12-13 that Titus's visit to Corinth had been expected in the same timeframe.
  • Titus's visit to Corinth was associated with Paul's planned visit that never materialized (Paul did not want to visit Corinth until Titus and the "letter of tears" had prepared the Corinthians for his visit, so he cancelled this visit when Titus was delayed). Timothy's visit to Corinth was also associated with Paul's planned visit that never materialized (see 1 Cor 4:17-21 and consider the rather apologetic way Paul explains that he will not be coming to them until after his visit to Macedonia, 1 Cor 16:5-8).
  • Paul carried out the travel plan that he gave to the Corinthians in 1 Cor 16:5-9, so the cancelled visit was to have been before 1 Corinthians. This is confirmed by the fact that the travel plan of 2 Cor 1:15-16 was the same, but with the addition of a (cancelled) visit.
  • Timothy was expected in Corinth when the collection was about to start (1 Cor 16:1-3), and Titus started the collection there (2 Cor 8:6).
  • 2 Cor 7:13-14 suggests that Paul had been more confident than Titus about the prospects for Titus's visit to Corinth. 1 Cor 16:10 says the same thing about Timothy.
  • Timothy's mission (1 Cor 4:17) was to remind the Corinthians of Paul's ways in Christ (1 Cor 4:9-13) so that they would become imitators of Paul (1 Cor 4:16). Paul tells the Corinthians that he had sent the tearful letter (with Titus) "in order that your zeal for us might be made known to you before God". Timothy's mission was to encourage zeal for Paul's ways in Christ, and Titus's mission was to encourage zeal for Paul. These two missions are identical because Paul makes no distinction between himself and his ways in Christ. Update: More specifically, there are good reasons to believe that Timothy was sent to Corinth to counter licentiousness there (see here), and that Titus's mission had the same purpose (see here).
The resulting reconstruction of Paul's interactions with the Corinthians avoids duplications and multiplication of assumptions. See also my "Was Titus Timothy?"JSNT 81 (2001).

I argued here that the Titus-Timothy hypothesis makes it unnecessary to partition 2 Corinthians after 2 Cor 2:13, 2 Cor 6:13, or 2 Cor 8:24.

Titus-Timothy also explains the change of tone after 2 Cor 10:1. At the time of 2 Corinthians Paul was sending Titus back to Corinth to revive the collection. This required that Titus stay on good terms with the Corinthians. This need to preserve the good relationship between Titus and the Corinthians explains why Paul records Titus's report as being so positive (2 Cor 7:5-16). Paul needed to distance Titus from his own criticisms of the Corinthians to avoid any backlash against Titus. If Titus was Paul's co-sender, Timothy (2 Cor 1:1), it makes sense that Paul held back his harsh criticisms of the Corinthians until chapters 10-13, which begin with the words, "I myself Paul", indicating that Paul took sole responsibility for what followed. In these final four chapters Paul detaches himself from his co-sender, Timothy, and probably takes the pen from the scribe, and rebukes the Corinthians without the risk of jeopardizing the relationship between Timothy and the Corinthians. This makes perfect sense of Timothy was Titus, who was on a delicate mission to revive the collection. We see Paul employ the same tactics in Philippians, which also anticipates a visit of Paul's co-sender to the addressed church. 

The Titus-Timothy hypothesis explains the remarkable observation that the cases of first person singular (I, me) in 2 Corinthians all fall into one of two categories. There are cases where Paul is being demanding or critical of the Corinthians, and there are references to times when Titus was not present.

1 Thessalonians was written in response to information provided by Timothy, who had just returned from Thessalonica. Thus Timothy probably played a role in the writing of the letter, and this explains why the letter is written almost entirely in the first person plural (the "we" referring to Paul and his co-sender, Timothy). Paul wrote 2 Corinthians using information reported to him by Titus. The predominance of the first person plural (we, us) in 2 Corinthians is therefore explicable if Titus was Paul's co-sender, Timothy. For more on "I" and "we" in 2 Corinthians, see here.

In 2 Cor 12:16-18 Paul defends Titus's conduct and includes Titus in the "we". Then at 2 Cor 12:19 we read, "Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves before you?". This suggests that Titus was Paul's co-sender, Timothy. See here.

In 2 Cor 12:18 Paul adds that he sent "the brother" with Titus. This makes sense if this journey of Titus and the anonymous brother was the journey of Timothy and Erastus, recorded in Acts 19:22. Erastus, being a Corinthian treasurer (Rom 16:23), was trusted by the Corinthians in money matters, and would oversee the collection. Paul mentions him in 2 Cor 12:18 to prove that he had no intention of using Titus to embezzle collection funds.

Titus in Galatians
Gal 2:1-5 and Acts 16:1-3 give some corroborating evidence that Titus was Timothy. They show that Titus, like Timothy, was an uncircumcised early associate of Paul and was probably known to the Galatians.

Furthermore, Timothy's mixed parentage and his role as missionary partner of Paul suggest that he too was from Antioch, and his presence in Lystra when Paul arrived is explicable if he was Titus and had been sent to south Galatia to organize the collection referred to in Gal 2:10 and 1 Cor 16:1-2.

There are hints in Gal 2:1-5 that Titus, like Timothy, had mixed Jew-Gentile heritage.
  • This Jerusalem visit was to discuss circumcision and this question would have been particularly relevant to someone like Timothy, with mixed parentage.
  • The 'not even' (οὐδὲ) in Gal 2:3 may imply that Titus was the most likely person to require circumcision.
  • Gal 2:3 can be punctuated to yields a smooth reading: "who with ME was a Greek" (Hutson) or "who was accompanying me as a Gentile" (Askwith), suggesting that Titus was able also to pass as a Jew.
  • The spying of the false brothers in Gal 2:4-5 could refer to the discovery of the fact that Titus was uncircumcised.
It is surely no coincidence that the name "Timothy" is a very likely name to be given to Titus. The two names had a phonetic similarity (compare Silas-Silvanus etc.). Also, "Timothy" means "honoring God", which is an appropriate name for this faithful convert, especially at the time when his uncircumcised state was a matter of controversy. The giving of the name "Timothy" to Titus is paralleled by other cases of renaming in the early church and elsewhere.

Objections to the Titus-Timothy hypothesis
2 Tim 4:10 shows that the author of the Pastoral Epistles thought that there was a Titus who was not Timothy. However, the author was quite distant from Timothy, and would probably not have known that Timothy's earlier name had been "Titus". And even if he had known, he might still have incorrectly inferred from 2 Corinthians (or from Galatians) that there was another Titus among Paul's co-workers.

Herman von Lips has offered four counter-arguments, but they do not apply to the Titus-Timothy hypothesis in its present form.

Titus was Timothy. This hypothesis, which was first proposed by Udo Borse in 1980, deserves a lot more attention than it has received. A biography of Titus-Timothy is given here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Von Lips on Titus-Timothy

Hermann von Lips (Timotheus und Titus 2008 p129-130) defends the theory that Titus and Timothy were different people. This is the only rebuttal of the Titus-Timothy hypothesis in print and is therefore very valuable. In this post I will lay out Hermann's arguments and respond to them.

Hermann starts by acknowledging that equating Titus with Timothy solves the mystery of why the name "Titus" does not appear in Acts. However, he does not discuss any of the other arguments for Titus-Timothy.

Point 1
Hermann refutes the view of Udo Borse that "Titus" and "Timotheos" were short and long name-forms for the same person:
Allerdings muss festgestellt werden, dass Paulus nicht zwishen Kurz- und Langform wechselt, sondern bei einer Form bleibt: generell Priska (Rom 16,3; 1Kor 16,19; vgl. In paulinischer Tradition 2Tim 4,19) und generell Silvanus (2Kor 1,19; 1Thess 1,1; vgl. In paulinischer Tradition 2Thess 1,1 sowie 1Petr 5,12), dagegen die Apostelgeschichte ebenso konsequent jeweils die andere Form: Priszilla (Apg 18,2.18.26) und Silas (13-mal von Apg 15,22 bis 18.5). Diese Lösung scheidet also aus.  (p129)
Hermann's point is that Paul consistently uses the names Prisca and Silvanus for people whom Luke consistently calls Priscilla and Silas, and so could not have used different names for Titus-Timothy.

My response
I do not argue that "Titus" was a short form of the name "Timothy", but I see "Timothy" as Titus's new name. In any case, we do have evidence that Paul, like other ancient (and modern) writers, used more than one name for the same person, according to context. Paul switched between Cephas (Gal 1:18; 2:9,11,14) and Petros (Gal 2:7-8). Also, a strong case can be made that he used diminutive name forms in Philemon 24 (Mark, Demas, Epaphras, and Luke) and that elsewhere he calls the last two "Epaphroditus"  and "Lucius". Also, there are strong arguments that Paul used two names for the same person in the cases of Crispus-Sosthenes, Gaius-Stephanas, and probably Jason-Aristarchus. I have explained here why Paul uses the name "Titus" where he does.

Point 2
Hermann points out that Paul could have sent both Titus and Timothy to Corinth. For example, Timothy might have been one of those whom Paul says that he sent to Corinth in 2 Cor 12:17, and he may have been the 'brother' of 2 Cor 8:18-19.

My response
This is interesting speculation, but in the absence of evidence, it does not constitute an argument against Titus-Timothy. Nor does this speculation weaken any of the arguments that I have put forward.

Point 3
Hermann writes,
Nach Apg 19,22 und Phil 2,23 schickt Paulus von Ephesus aus Timotheus voraus nach Makedonien, bevor er selbst dorthin aufbricht. Dass er ihn dann in Makedonien trifft, kann dann ja wohl keine Überraschung sein, wie es im Blick auf Titus zutraf. (p130)
This was not clear to me, so Hermann kindly clarified:
"I read 2Cor 7,5-6 in the sense, that Paul is surprised and glad to find Titus in Macedonia. But he could not be surprised to find there Timothy whom he sent to Macedonia (Acts 19,22 and Phil 2,23). Therefore Titus is not the same as Timothy."
It should be noted that Hermann argues that Philippians was written from Ephesus and that the journey of Timothy to Macedonia anticipated in Phil 2:19-24 is the same as his journey from Ephesus to Macedonia reported in Acts 19:22 (p76-79).

My response
According to the Titus-Timothy hypothesis Timothy's journey from Ephesus to Macedonia, indicated in Acts 19:22 (and Phil 2:19-24), took place before 1 Corinthians. This journey was the first leg of Timothy's journey by land to Corinth, which is anticipated in 1 Corinthians (1 Cor 4:17, 16:10-11). Perhaps I was not clear enough about this in my paper. Paul's consolation/relief/surprise at Titus's arrival in Macedonia tells us nothing about which route Titus had taken to Corinth, so I don't see the relevance of Hermann's point. Paul's consolation does perhaps indicate that Titus had been away for a long time and/or that his delay had been serious enough to cause Paul to worry. This fits the Titus-Timothy hypothesis well.

The two-person theorists generally suppose that Timothy went to Corinth via Macedonia, and then returned to Ephesus. This return to Ephesus is problematic because it requires them to hypothesize that Paul sent Timothy from Ephesus to Macedonia a second time (Acts 19:22 & 2 Cor 1:1). This proposed second journey looks suspiciously like a duplicate of the journey to Corinth, especially as Timothy's travel companion (Erastus) was a Corinthian.

In 1 Cor 16:10-11 and Phil 2:19 Paul expects Timothy to return to him (in Ephesus) before he (Paul) travels to Macedonia, but Acts 19:22 suggests that Timothy did not return to Paul before Paul went to Macedonia. The texts are reconciled if we suppose that Timothy was delayed such that he could not reach Paul before Paul went to Macedonia. This is precisely what happened to Titus.

Point 4
Herman points out that the council of Gal 2:1-10 was before the events of Acts 16:1-3. He then writes,

Also kann Timotheus, der erst auf der zweiten Reise als Paulusmitarbeiter berufen wird, nicht schon zuvor als “Titus” zur Begleitung des Paulus beim Apostelkonzil dabei gewesen sein. (p130)
His point is that Titus was already a traveling companion of Paul at the time of the Jerusalem council (Gal 2:1-10), which was before Timothy became a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:1-3).

My response
Many commentators  assume that Timothy was a native of Lystra, on the grounds that it is there that Paul finds him in Acts 16:1, while others admit that we are not told where Timothy was from. No-one has really looked into this issue until now, since (until now) nothing has been at stake.

I have argued on this blog, here, that Timothy (whether he was Titus or not) was a native of Syrian Antioch, not of Lystra. The evidence does not support the assertion that Timothy was a new find for Paul at the time of Acts 16:1. I have also argued here, that he was in Lystra at the time of Acts 16:1 because Paul had sent him there to organize the collection for Judea in response to the  request of Gal 2:10. With this understanding of events we see a natural progression in Titus-Timothy's role: he was a travel companion of Paul (Gal 2:1-3), then he was an envoy to south Galatia (Acts 16:1), then he was promoted to full missionary partner.

Point 5
Hermann writes:

Zuletzt ist noch auf die Entstehung der Pastoralbriefe, also die Briefe an Timotheus und Titus, Bezug zu nehmen. Sie müssten dann an einem Ort entstanden sein, in dem der wichtigste Paulusmitarbeiter Timotheus = Titus unbekannt war. Nur dann hätte man in Unkenntnis der nur einen Person aus den Paulusbriefen zwei verschiedene Personen entnommen. Aber die naheliegende Entstehung der Pastoralbriefe im paulinischen Missionsgebiet würde dann ausscheiden. Und man müsste auf eine sehr späte Entstehung der Pastoralbriefe folgern, wo es eben gar keine mündliche Erinnerung mehr über die Mitarbeiter des Paulus gegeben hätte. (p130)
He kindly gave me some further commentary:

I think, it would be a great problem when the Pastorals were written in a region where Paul was the sole apostle but his most important co-worker Timothy=Titus was unknown as only one person. I think there were two different traditions: one about Timothy and Ephesus and one about Titus and Crete.
My responseI have already answered this objection here. I argued that the Pastoral Epistles were written in a community that had little memory of Titus/Timothy, whether he/they was/were one person or two. I will now add just one further point. Even if the author of the Pastoral Epistles knew that Timothy's former name had been "Titus" (and I doubt that he did), he could easily have assumed that the "Titus" of 2 Corinthians was a different Titus. The name was common enough. In 2 Corinthians Paul calls Timothy "Titus" in connection with his missions to organize the collection. This, and the anonymity of the three 'brothers' of 2 Cor 8:18-22; 12:18, served to protect the collection from interception (see here). The author of the PE might not have realized this, and would then have concluded that a second Titus is in view, especially as Paul has already called Titus-Timothy "Timothy" at 2 Cor 1:1; 1:19. If, as I argue, Paul called him "Titus" where he did in 2 Corinthians to protect his identity, it would not be surprising that the author of the PE would be similarly misled. It is possible, of course, that there was a second Titus among Paul's co-workers, but I do not find this conjecture at all necessary for the viability of the Titus-Timothy hypothesis.

I am not aware of any evidence that there was a genuine tradition connecting "Titus" with Crete. Titus 1:5 cannot be fit into Paul's itinerary in Acts (which we can trust), and Acts 20:25, 38 makes it hard to believe that Paul returned to the east after a hypothetical release from captivity in Rome. The 'tradition' connecting Titus to Crete in the Pastoral Epistles is therefore probably not accurate. So why must we suppose that there is any genuine remembrance in it? Isn't it simpler to suppose that the author made the whole thing up?


When Hermann wrote his book he was aware of Borse's work on Titus-Timothy and my 2001 JSNT paper, but he did not have the benefit of my more recent arguments.  Apart from point 3, his rebuttals are fair criticisms of our printed presentations of the Titus-Timothy hypothesis. However, these criticisms
are not applicable to the Titus-Timothy hypothesis in its present form.

The Titus-Timothy question is very important for sorting out important issues, such as Pauline chronology, the north/south Galatia debate, the unity of 2 Corinthians, the accuracy of Acts, and the spuriousness of the PE. It is therefore vital that there be more debate on the Titus-Timothy hypothesis, and Hermann's contribution is a welcome start. It is unfortunate that it did not occur in Borse's lifetime.

Let me know of any further arguments against Titus-Timothy that I should address.