Tag Archives: introduction

The Pastoral Epistles – My Approach

I love that scene…take it for what it is, just a quick illustration of how simple making a choice can be without truly knowing the implications of that choice.

A word of caution, if you will, before I/we depart on this journey through what are commonly known as The Pastoral Epistles.

I am taking a critical path. One that will begin with the premise that the Apostle Paul did not write 1 & 2 Timothy or Titus. The texts I cite for the most part have already traveled this path in one manner or another. Likely, as I progress I will build upon my posts regarding methodology, approach and hermeneutic. But for now, this short advanced warning will do.

This is a bit of an experiment for me, since I have only been taught the standard Evangelical take on the matter: that Paul wrote these letters in one way or another and as such they are infallible, inerrant and authoritative for the church past, present and future. Yet, over the years, I have increasingly struggled with this point of view and have seen other ways of interpreting these texts. Since then, I have come to realize that I don’t need to win any arguments or prove anything to anyone.

Indeed, one of the most memorable moments of my time in seminary was when a professor introduced the word “plausible.” It didn’t mean as much to me then as it does now. For what I didn’t comprehend at the time was the incredibly deep and vast gray space he was opening up to us as students. Such a gray fog can be haunting to first year seminarians seeking the truth. Yet, I have come to rest in that space, realizing that we are so very far removed from the first Christians and their culture that connecting with them through the scriptures often takes time and effort.

Therefore, as we read, study, contemplate and live out our faith we would do well to embrace the plausible among the things we hold dear. Consider them, push their limits, milk them for all they are worth.

So, enough sermonizing. I appreciate that not everyone who landed on this page will enjoy this critical study, so for those who are looking for the more standard Evangelical and conservative fare, I can heartily recommend the following books:

1 & 2 Timothy, Titus – Gordon Fee

The Letters to Timothy and Titus (NICNT) – Phil Towner

Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 46, Pastoral Epistles  – Bill Mounce

For those, like me, who are curious and want to see “how deep the rabbit hole goes,” well, let’s begin!

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Mark 1:1

The beginning…

…this is the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The first word in Mark is the Greek word Ἀρχὴ – the beginning. 

Yes, Bill Maher, Mark skips the story of Jesus’ birth…but not because it isn’t important.  Mark gets right to the point that the moment Jesus stepped forth from the desert that day way back when that the story begins. 

All the years of believing this day would come, of hoping for the Messiah, of revealing the rule of God began that day.  And from that day forth the world would change because Jesus Christ, the Son of God was revealed to the world, and as Mark’s Gospel story was told both in that day until now, Jesus continues to be revealed. 

The story, as Mark tells it starts there.

So, this is what we may call artistic license today.  Mark’s story begins in action because that is the whole point – God is up to something…something big!  Ben Witherington makes a good case that this first line in Mark serves as a good introduction to a biography on Jesus.  And since ancient Greco-Roman biography allows for a lack of birth narrative, Mark seems to be emphasizing to the hearer/reader that this story bears all the depth, weight, and fervor of a change that only God himself could pull off.  The good news is news of victory, and God sent his son to prove it.  The story commands attention from the start, and centers the story on Jesus. 

Imagine hearing this story for the first time. 

Until now, only short stories or remembrances of Jesus had been shared among the early church.  Perhaps, on occasion, an eyewitness to an event in the life of Jesus would share their testimony.  But now, Mark had written it down as narrative, as a biography of sorts.  This is a complete story.  One that powerfully illustrates God’s intentions through the ages.  One that can be shared among all the churches.  A story that will be told many times and that continues with and through the church…

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Welcome!

Greetings in Christ Jesus!

 It is my hope that this blog will provide an informal and beneficial community for those interested in the study of the early church.   

The rationale in beginning this venture revolves around providing a centralized place to organize my own personal thoughts, questions, studies and developments.  The specific focus will center around the development, beliefs, traditions and practices of the early church.  While the first three centuries will be fair game, the emphasis will be primarily on the New Testament documents themselves, as well as surrounding support and background information.  As such, the material will favor an academic/technical approach but will hopefully not be out of reach of those interested in following along.

So, if you feel you have something to contribute, please do share it!  Comments and questions are welcomed, as are suggestions for future posts.

All the best!

John

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