Saturday, February 23, 2008

The First Seminary Professor

The Pastoral Letters of Paul have always been my favorite Pauline material and despite what my well-intentioned Seminary Profs at Pittsburgh Seminary have taught I do believe Paul (the real one not a fake Paul or a ghostwriter etc...) wrote the Pastoral Epistles. So for the time in between terms (PTS has a two-week break while RPTS only has one-week, but I have a Presbytery meeting that will cause me to miss the first week of class at RPTS so I still have two-weeks off anyway ;) ) I would like to take a look at the Pastorals. I am sure you will find much to disagree as well as much to agree with in my exposition of these great texts.

First we of course come to the 1st Letter to Timothy who is at Ephesus. After the first 2 verses
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord."
which are Paul's usual words of introduction we have Paul's first exhortation to Timothy. Paul instructs Timothy that he had him stay on at Ephesus so that he could
"Teach certain men not to teach strange doctrines nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions." V. 3-7
So here we have the Apostle Paul instructing Timothy to open up a Seminary here in Ephesus, making sure that the men who are teaching are not leading their people astray with silliness that wastes their time and to focus on the simplicity of the Gospel message. This last direction is encompassed in Paul's mission statement for this Seminary in verse 5, "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."

As you look at this pericope text think back to (or currently at) your Seminary experience and think how much time was/is wasted paying attention to myths, genealogies, and endless speculation that leads directly to neither edifying or fruitful discussion. One wonders if we spent our time in Seminary being taught as Paul instructs Timothy to teach his students how much more we would actually learn?


Anonymous said...

Great point. I'm a little concerned about the nature of your seminary though if they deny the Pauline authorship of those epistles. It makes you wonder what other abberant teaching may be taking place?

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

Very True David. There is a reason why I have started to take courses at RPTS here in town.

Steven Carr said...

I wonder if it was the position at Timothy's seminary that Paul was not the author of the Pastoral Epistles?

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

Ha! Ha! Thanks for that Steve. Nearly spit coffee on my screen after reading that. Good Point!!!

ChipB said...


When we were taught the issue of authorship of the pastorals here at our deuteroseminary, I felt they made quite a weak case for non-Pauline authorship. In fact, the only thing I found convincing was the possibility that 2 Tim was written before 1 Tim.

Benjamin P. Glaser said...


How can I be sure that is you and not someone using your name to guarantee themselves that their words will be seen with authority?

will said...

Benjamin isn't really writing here. This obviously represents the self-understanding of the Benjamite community.

I'm sure that the Benjamite community means to indicate that Paul wrote this in a mystical sense - it is the voice of Paul understood by the guidance of the 'holy spirit'tm as the Benjamite community mediated it in their culturally conditioned context.

Obviously they were having difficulties with rigid and dogmatic doctrines - which clearly this composite "Paul" was opposing in favor of unity. Doctrine divides, after all.

In all honesty, Benjamin - I have to say, props to you for being able to jump through the hoops without going stark staring mad.

Anonymous said...

Because I have such an affinity for Calvin and because my teachers are of the 'Calvinistic School' I'm just going to change my writings to reflect the fact that I write in the authoritative name of him.


Jean Calvin.

Reformed Catholic said...

FWIW ... I'd love to hear what Dr. Gagnon of PTS has to say about Paul's authorship of the letters.

As a preeminent conservative, and Pauline scholar, one would think that his ideas would be worth considering.

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

Reformed Catholic,

Dr. Gagnon is in favor of Deutero-Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Letters. Your wife should/may still have his class notes on them if you want to check out what he has to say.