In 1980 Udo Borse was the first to argue that Titus was Timothy: "Timotheus und Titus, Abgesandte Pauli im Dienst des Evangeliums", in Josef G. Ploger and Herman Joh. Weber (eds.), Der Diakon, Wieder-entdeckung und Erneuerung seines Dienstes (Freiburg: Herder, 1980), pp. 27-43. He made the same claim four years later: Der Brief an die Galater (RNT; Regensburg: Pustet, 1984), pp 80-85 and also "Tranenbrief und 1. Korintherbrief", SNTU 9 (1984), pp 175-202. J. Zmijewski then took up the theory in 1994: Die Apostelgeschichte (RNT; Regensburg: Pustet, 1994), pp. 587-88, 703.
Borse showed that our biographical information on "Timothy" fits well with that on "Titus". He made good sense of the Corinthian correspondence by proposing that the visit of Timothy to Corinth (which is anticipated in 1 Corinthians) is the same as the visit of Titus to Corinth (which is a past event in 2 Corinthians).
My own involvement started in 1997 when I puzzled over the fact that Titus was enthusiastic about the collection (2 Cor 8:16-17) that he would not have the pleasure of delivering (Acts 20:4). This led me to the Titus-Timothy hypothesis.
In 2001 my Titus-Timothy article was published: "Was Titus Timothy?", JSNT 81 (2001) 33-58. In this paper I attempted to bring the hypothesis to an English speaking audience, to tighten some of the arguments, and to show that (against Borse), the theory does not require that 1 Corinthians was the tearful letter. I argued that the tearful letter was carried by Titus-Timothy, who left Ephesus before 1 Corinthians was written, and arrived in Corinth after 1 Corinthians.
There are five common objections to Titus-Timothy:
1. Titus was a Greek (Gal 2:3), but Timothy was a Jew since his mother was a Jew (Acts 16:1-3).
However, some important work by Daube: Ancient Jewish Law (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1981), pp. 22-32 and S. Cohen: "Was Timothy Jewish (Acts 16:1-3)? Patristic Exegesis, Rabbinic Law, and Matrilineal Descent", JBL 105/2 (1986), pp. 251-68 shows that Timothy would have been considered a Greek (until his circumcision). Therefore our information on Titus and Timothy is in agreement, as I stated in my paper.
2. How can the same person have been called "Titus" (a Latin name) and "Timothy", (a Greek name)?
Borse and I both struggled with this issue. Borse felt that "Titus" was Timothy's nickname. In my paper I opted tentatively for the suggestion that Timothy took the name "Titus" upon acquiring citizenship. However, in 2002 more compelling explanation arose: Titus had been named "Timothy" (meaning honoring God) in much the same way that Simon had been named "Peter", etc.. The meaning of the name, and its phonetic similarity to "Titus" support this view. It turns out that renaming was quite common in Paul's churches.
3. Why would Paul call him "Timothy" in 1 Cor 1:1 and 1:19, and then switch to "Titus" in 2:13, 7:6, 13, 14; 8:6, 16, 23; 12:18?
I was not able to provide a compelling explanation in my paper, though I pointed out that Paul switches between "Cephas" and "Peter" in Galatians. However, after reading Chris Tilling's blog posts about Bauckham's work in protective silences, I have become convinced that Paul calls him "Titus" when describing his involvement with the collection for the same reason that he leaves the "brothers" of 2 Cor 8:18-22, 12:18 anonymous: to protect the collection. Paul calls him by his lesser-known name, "Titus", here to hide his identity from opponents who might want to intercept the collection.
4. How could the author of 2 Tim 4:10 have not known that Titus was Timothy?
If the name "Titus" had fallen from use, as suggested above, it is not surprising that the author of the Pastoral Epistles did not know that he was Timothy.
5. Luke seems to imply that Timothy was from Lystra, but Titus was from Antioch.
In a later post I will argue that Timothy (whether he was Titus or not) was from Antioch, and was in Lystra to organize the Galatian collection.
So, it seems to me that these standard objections neutralized and in some cases reversed. Also since writing my paper I have come to the view that Titus-Timothy explains the unity of 2 Corinthians. In coming posts I hope to lay out the evidence for the Titus-Timothy hypothesis and show that the cumulative case is now compelling. Do let me know if there are particular issues that you would like me to deal with.
The Titus-Timothy hypothesis is important because it:
a) greatly simplifies Paul's interactions with the Corinthians
b) explains the apparent fissures in 2 Corinthians without requiring partition theories
c) shows that the Pastoral Epistles were not written by Paul
d) supports the south Galatia hypothesis
e) demonstrates the accuracy of Acts on a number of points
f) removes the need for the Knox hypothesis of Pauline chronology.