Daniel Kirk has recently explained why he does not see the Pastoral Epistles as authentically Pauline (here). He presents these four major reasons which I will summarize here:
- The “theologizing” of the pastorals does not take the same approach as the rest of the Pauline corpus. Elsewhere Paul works from the Christ event outward. In the pastorals he works from principles and trust worthy sayings.
- Different theology proper and Christology.
- “The Greek is different.”
- “Theologically they are different, especially the ways that 1 Timothy and Titus reflect on the Law and Judaism.”
While I think these reasons are good it seems to me that there is so much more to the discussion that I remain unconvinced (though I recommend reading his full post before making any judgment since my summary is just that). As it can be seen in the comments there are problems with this theory such as the personal references, the dating of these epistles, the awkwardness of something this misleading being accepted so quickly into the Pauline corpus, as well as criticism of the reasons he has given. At the end of the day I don’t think we have enough evidence either way to make a definitive statement on the matter.
If these letters are not authentically Pauline it does very little to my faith. It doesn’t even seem that a huge impact would be made on Pauline theology. But I do question canonization.
I have seen Brevard Child’s reason for canonization in spite being pseudepigraphical but I find it unconvincing. This is not because I think (1) canonization is intertwined with inerrancy or even (2) canonization is intertwined with apostolic authority (e.g. Matthew may not have been written by Matthew the disciple of Jesus, the same with John). Rather, it seems that this is more than an issue of inerrancy. The content of the whole epistle is based on deception. That is the real problem that I would have.
Similarly, if the pastorals are as divergent from Paul as many say it makes me worry a bit about the content. It may be as small as the difference between Paul and James or Paul and Matthew, but neither of those works are written in the name of Paul. To use Paul’s name to say something that Paul would not have said is shady.
If the pastoral epistles are not Pauline we should drop them from the life of the church. At best we should give them the status of the Didache which gives us very useful insight into the early church without being authoritative. This is my humble opinion though.
Do you agree or disagree? If you are one who thinks the pastorals were written by someone other than Paul do you still find them useful for the life of the church in any meaningful way. If so, why?