This blog, by Richard Fellows, discusses historical questions concerning Paul's letters, his co-workers, Acts, and chronology.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Robert King on Titus-Timothy

A few weeks ago I chanced upon a book by Robert King, which argues that Titus was Timothy ("Who was St. Titus?: The Scripture Notices on the Subject Compared with Received Opinions.."). The book was published in ..... 1853! Here I will post some reflections on King's book, which is available free on-line here.

I was excited to discover King's book, but shocked that I had not come across it before, since I have worked with Titus-Timothy for 13 years. Equally alarming is that no-one else seems to have been aware of the book, including Borse, Von Lips and James Dunn, who have commented on the the Titus-Timothy hypothesis. I have found only one reference to the book: a critique in the Westminster Review of the same year, available on Google Books, here. It seems, then, that at least four people have independently come to the conclusion that Titus was Timothy, unaware of each other's work.

Why, then, has Robert King's book been so thoroughly ignored? I think there are two reasons.

Firstly, the theory that Titus was Timothy sounds bazaar to many people when they first come across it. One leading scholar, who will remain nameless, wrote to me "You don't seriously think that Titus and Timothy were the same person, do you? That would be one of the stranger ideas I have come across!". I sent him/her a link to my work on Titus-Timothy, and, needless to say, I have no reason to believe that he/she read any of it. Many have difficulty getting over their initial surprise and are unable to form a logical response. It is fascinating to read the first page of King's preface, which shows that King, too, was aware that his theory was going to struggle to overcome people's initial gut response. He wrote, "The Supposition put forward in the following pages as to the identity of SS. Timothy and Titus will naturally be regarded by most readers as a very strange and paradoxical one."

The second reason, I think, for the neglect of King's book, is that it is very badly argued. He gives a very rambling discussion, with frequent diversions, and fails to drive home his points. He takes 250 pages to say what could be said in 10, and his stronger points are lost in the verbosity.

King's main focus is on the Corinthian correspondence. He points out that the information that we have on "Titus" in 2 Corinthians is exactly what we would expect to read of "Timothy". He notices that the Titus-Timothy hypothesis explains the absence of Titus from Acts (and from Rom 16). He makes surprisingly little use of Acts 16:1-3 and Gal 2:1-5. I think he makes two mistakes that I too used to make: he assumes that Timothy was a native of south Galatia rather than Antioch, and he assumes that "Timothy" was his name from birth.

King devotes a lot of space to objections to the hypothesis, but mentions no objection that has not already been discussed on this blog. He struggled with 2 Tim 4:10. Since he accepts the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles, he is forced to suggest that there were two men called Titus in Paul's inner circle.

My own summary presentation of the Titus-Timothy hypothesis is here.

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