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.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Review of Walker on Apollos and Timothy as the unnamed brothers

Here I review William O. Walker: "Apollos and Timothy as the Unnamed "Brothers" in 2 Corinthians 8:18-24" Catholic Biblical Quarterly 73, 2011.

In 2 Cor 8:5-6, 16-17 Paul says that he is sending Titus to Corinth to complete the collection. Then, in 2 Cor 8:18-24 he commends two anonymous men who will also help with the collection:
18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his proclaiming the good news; 19 and not only that, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us while we are administering this generous undertaking for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our goodwill. 20 We intend that no one should blame us about his generous gift that we are administering, 21 for we intend to do what is right not only in the Lord's sight but also in the sight of others. 
22 And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found eager in many matters, but who is now more eager than ever because of his great confidence in you. 
23 As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker in your service; as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.
The first "brother"
Walker argues that the first anonymous "brother" is Apollos.  He has three arguments for identifying the first brother as Apollos:

1. This brother is "famous among all the churches for his proclaiming the good new". This fits Apollos. However, it also fits the author of Acts, who was Paul's fellow-missionary. Walker, who is skeptical of the historicity of Acts, does not discuss the author.

2. He follows Betz in supposing that the anonymity is a kind of a put-down. In 1 Corinthians he sees Apollos as a rival whom Paul would want to put down. However, while the ancients often left enemies anonymous, the anonymous brothers, on any hypothesis, were not enemies of Paul. These do not seem to be examples of anonymity of enmity. No one has found any example of a person who is commended so highly being left anonymous. Betz is wrong. The anonymity here, and in 2 Cor 12:18, served to protect the individuals and the collection from ambush/confiscation. See here.

3. This man is called "the brother", whereas the second man is called "our brother", which is more personal. Furthermore, Paul says nothing about his personal knowledge of the first brother. Why is the description of the first brother so impersonal? Walker infers that "Paul does not feel as close to the first brother as he does to the second" and "Paul is somewhat less enthusiastic about the brother's preaching than are the churches".
However, the reason for the impersonal description of the first brother is surely that Paul wants this brother to be seen as independent of himself and therefore able to clear Paul of any suspicion related to the collection. The role of this "brother" is to guard the collection against embezzlement, and this required that he be trusted and independent of Paul. The brother's role would have been undermined if Paul had described him as his buddy (even if he was his buddy). Walker's inferences therefore do not seem justified.

There are some problems with the Apollos hypothesis.
1. It seems unlikely that Paul's churches would appoint a rival of Paul (as Walker sees him) to administer the collection, and nor would Paul agree to it.
2. The brother was to travel with the collection, so should be mentioned in Acts 20:4. Apollos is not there.
3. The brother, being famous, would surely have known many of those who had moved to Rome by the time of writing of Romans, so should be among the greeters of Rom 16:21-23. Apollos is not mentioned there.

The second brother
Walker believes that the second brother is Timothy. He points out that
1. Timothy was often an envoy of Paul
2. Timothy was with Paul when 2 Corinthians was written
3. Pseudo-Pauline letters were addressed to "Timothy" and "Titus". Walker thinks this supports the view that both were involved with the collection. Walker here would have done better to use Acts 20:4 to show that Timothy accompanied the collection.

I would add a further argument for Timothy being one of those whom Paul sent to Corinth at the time in question. Whenever Paul mentions his plans to come to Corinth in 2 Corinthians, he does so using singular verbs (see in particular 2 Cor 9:4; 12:14; 12:20-13:2; 13:10). It appears from this that Timothy, Paul's co-sender, was not expected to accompany Paul to Corinth, though he was with Paul at the time (2 Cor 1:1) and was later with Paul in Corinth (Rom 16:21; Acts 20:4). The data make sense if Timothy was one of the three delegates who are sent to Corinth in 2 Cor 8:16-24, but which one?

Walker finds that the description of the second anonymous brother fits Timothy well. However, it seems unlikely that Timothy would be one of the "messengers of the churches" (8:23). The description of Titus as "my partner" (2 Cor 8:23) fits Timothy much better. In any case, I consider it certain, on other grounds, that Titus was Timothy.

In Rom 16:21-23 Timothy is named first, and name order was very important. It is very unlikely that Paul would mention Timothy after Apollos, as Walker requires.

I do not understand Walker's explanation for the anonymity of the second brother (Timothy in his view). He writes:
My own suggestion, however, is that Paul omits Timothy's name precisely because he has omitted Apollos's name. The inclusion of Timothy's name would have called attention to the omission of Apollos's name and thus to Apollos himself and thereby elevated him, with Timothy, to a status within the delegation more nearly approximating that of Titus. In short, Paul may well have diverted attention away from Timothy as a way of doing the same with regard to Apollos.
I will invite him to explain.

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