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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Craig Keener on the identity of Titus and Timothy

On page 2320 of his Acts commentary, Craig Keener discusses the hypothesis that Titus was Timothy, and expresses some hesitations in his characteristically cautious style. He refers to my 2001 paper, but he is presumably unaware of the ways that I have developed the hypothesis since then. His comments are the fullest defence of the two-person hypothesis printed in English and they give me useful feedback concerning how the Titus-Timothy hypothesis is being viewed. In this blog post I duplicate Keener's words (indented) and try to respond to his concerns.
How could Paul battle circumcisionists in Acts 15:1-2 (on the Lukan literary level) and struggle with Barnabas and contend for Titus's freedom (Gal 2:3-5, 13, on the historical level), then circumcise Timothy afterward? This would become a genuine contradiction only if we argue that Timothy is Titus, 233 and given the sequence, not necessarily even then.
Yes, the non-circumcision of Titus in Gal 2:3 was before the circumcision of Timothy in Acts 16:3.
233 Fellows, "Titus," skillfully defends the identification of Timothy and Titus (developing a suggestion by Borse, "Timotheus und Titus," 34). Some evidence supports this position's plausibility: Apart from 2 Tim 4:10, which Fellows can discount as later misinformation ("Titus," 35-36), Timothy and Titus do not appear together. Certainly, this argument would also resolve why "Titus" does not appear in Acts.
Yes, the Titus-Timothy hypothesis explains why "Titus" does not appear in Acts. Keener ponders this problem also on pages 242, 2862, 2947, 2954, 2958. The strongest arguments for the Titus-Timothy hypothesis, however, are found in the Corinthian correspondence, where it allows us to greatly simplify the sequence of events without duplications or multiple changes of travel plans. Keener does not discuss this.
Also, "Titos" would make a good nickname, a useful shortened form for "Timotheos."
Against Borse, I do not see Titus as a nickname or a shortened form for "Timothy". I think Titus was his praenomen from birth. "Timothy" could have been his cognomen from birth, but I now think it more likely that it was a new name that was given to him to reflect his role in the church (like Simon-Peter or Crispus-Sosthenes). New names often did have a phonetic similarity to the original name, and "Timothy" has an appropriate meaning (honouring God). No NT name is more appropriate for Titus than "Timothy".
Against it would be the oddity of changing names for a person without explanation, even in same letter (2 Cor 1:1, 19 for "Timothy", and thereafter "Titus," e.g., 2:13), though this sometimes occurred (even in Gal 1:18; 2:7-11, 14; Fellows, "Titus," 34-35). Moreover, "Titus" was not a particularly rare name (e.g., 2 Macc 11:34; it appears 201 times in Josephus, but this is because of Vespasian's son); "Titius" in Acts 18:7 is closer to "Titus" than "Timothy" is, yet most do not link them.
Every time that Paul uses the name "Timothy" he is appealing to Timothy's authority, and this raises the possibility that Paul calls him something else in other contexts. Co-senders are included to endorse the contents of the letters (see Fulton's PhD thesis), so Paul is appealing to Timothy's authority at 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1; Phlm 1:1. Similarly in 1 Cor 4:17 and Phil 2:19-22 Paul is setting up Timothy as an example for his readers to follow. At 1 Cor 16:10 and arguably 1 Thess 2:2-6 Paul is bolstering Timothy's authority, and he is appealing to his authority also in 2 Cor 1:19. In Rom 16:21-23 he must use the names by which the greeters were best known.

 "Titus", on the other hand, was a praenomen, and praenomina were used among intimate friends and family. In 2 Corinthians, in the context of Titus's recent and forthcoming visits to Corinth, Paul is wanting to emphasize that Titus and the Corinthians had a close and affectionate relationship (2 Cor 7:13, 15; 8:16-17). Presumably Paul is trying to secure that close relationship, perhaps because the success of the collection depended on it. In this context the praenomen is appropriate. By using the praenomen, "Titus", Paul implies that Titus-Timothy considered himself to have a warm relationship with the Corinthians, and that is exactly what Paul wanted to emphasize. Paul's switch between "Timothy" and "Titus" would not have created ambiguity for the original audience, of course, since they would have known him by both names and they would have known his movements and they would have known that there was no other envoy that Paul could be referring to.

Timothy had been circumcised in Galatia and Paul did not want the Galatians to follow Timothy's example. When discussing Timothy in his letter to the Galatians, Paul therefore avoids honouring Titus-Timothy with the name "Timothy". He therefore calls him "Titus" instead, which is appropriate since they knew him well.

So, the name selections are consistent: When Paul wants his audience to follow Titus-Timothy's example, he calls him "Timothy". When he wants to emphasize the warm relationship between Titus-Timothy and his audience, he calls him "Titus".
The thesis is certainly plausible, but given the uncertainty of the positive evidence, whether it is the likeliest solution depends partly on how much one thinks that the author of the Pastorals knew. I favour accurate information in the Pastorals about distinct persons more than Fellows does, believing that the concrete tradition in 2 Tim 4:10 may reflect traditional assumptions about  their distinct identities within living memory of Timothy;
When reading 2 Corinthians, it is natural for readers (other than the original audience) to assume that Titus was a different person from Timothy (see Keener's earlier comment). 2 Corinthians could therefore have led the pastor to assume that there was a Titus who was not Timothy (even if he knew that Timothy's praenomen was Titus). It is possible that there were two Titus's but, for me, it is more likely that the pastor made an understandable mistake. Now, 2 Tim 4:10 reads, "for Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia; Titus to Dalmatia." Commentators are too kind to "Titus" here, perhaps because of a pro-Gentile bias. The text is ambiguous about whether Titus had deserted Paul, and such ambiguity would not be fair on Titus if in fact he had gone to Dalmatia on Paul's instructions. My suggestion is that Titus never existed (as a person separate from Timothy) and that therefore no-one in the pastor's community had heard anything about him (other than what they read in 2 Cor and Gal). The pastor than wrote 2 Tim 4:10 to explain why no-one knew anything further about him: he had deserted to Dalmatia where no churches were established. 2 Tim 4:10 has verisimilitude if "Titus" was remembered only as a name in 2 Cor and Gal.
the evidence of Acts 16:3 is also against this speculation, since the author belongs to the Pauline circle and, on my view of authorship (see Keener, Acts, 1:402-16, and comment on Acts 16:10), would have known Timothy and presumably whether or not Paul had him circumcised.
I fully agree that the author of Acts was a companion of Paul and had good information. Indeed, the Titus-Timothy hypothesis supports the historical accuracy of Acts. I admit that the uninformed reader would not necessarily infer from Gal 2:3-5 that Titus was circumcised, but the original audience was not uninformed. Paul did not need to tell them that he circumcised Timothy because they already knew. The issue at the time of writing was not whether Timothy had been circumcised, but how his circumcision should be interpreted.

Acts 16:1-3 suggests that Paul would have let Timothy pass himself off as a circumcised Jew if people did not already know that he was uncircumcised (see my last post), and Gal 5:11-12 hints that the Galatians had misunderstood the circumcision of Timothy and concluded that Paul had come over to the agitators' position. Gal 2:4-5 works well as Paul's correction of the Galatians' interpretation of the circumcision of Timothy. Here Paul implies that the circumcision of Timothy occurred only because the false brothers found out that Timothy was uncircumcised. He then emphasizes that his circumcision of Timothy did not indicate that he had yielded to the agitators. In short, Gal 2:3-5 is just the sort of thing that we would expect Paul to write about Timothy to the region where he was circumcised.

Keener (p2954-5) makes the suggestion that Titus may have been Gaius of Derbe (Acts 20:4). This is highly unlikely since both "Titus" and "Gaius" were common Latin praenomina. It was very rare for someone to have two such names.


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