Timothy and Titus

April 28, 2009

Richard Fellows commented on my last post, and I want to start a new thread to discuss it.  I was attempting to create a press release  shamelessly promoting my Committee.  In doing so, I my have included certain inaccuracies so that the mainstream media could use it as their own.  Unfortunately, according to Jim Leonard, I was not nearly inaccurate enough.  However, here I will try to answer seriously Richard’s comment, which is as follows:


there is no strong evidence that Timothy was younger than Paul, though he may have been. People’s perception of Timothy is conditioned too much by the PE, unfortunately.

We should explore the possibility that the Presbyter claimed or implied that Titus (or Titus-Timothy) was his source of information. This would explain why Titus features so strongly in the extant portions (and probably in the non-extant portions, judging from the “Acts of Titus”). Am I correct in deducing from the “Acts of Titus” that Titus was present in the Panchares incident in the Acts of Paul and perhaps even earlier in the book? Also, Titus appears along with Luke in the last sentence, doesn’t he? The Presbyter has to bring Titus back from Dalmatia to place him in Rome. Therefore perhaps we should see the mentions of Titus in the Acts of Paul as a kind of inclusio, i.e. a device whereby Titus frames the whole text to indicate that he is the authoritative source of the information (See Bauckham’s “Jesus and the eyewitnesses”). By mentioning both Titus and Luke at the end the Presbyter may be implying that Titus was the authoritative eyewitness for his work, just as Luke was for the Acts of the Apostles. Intriguingly Titus plays the role of witness for Paul in the Thecla episode.

Let me know if this has all been explored before.


Thanks for your response.

Paul told Timothy Μηδείς σου τῆς νεότητος καταφρονείτω (1 Tim 4.12). Timothy was evidently a young man when Paul took him as a disciple, such that many years later, Paul would refer to his youth. I don’t know why it would be unfortunate that our view of Timothy would be conditioned by the PE; the image is consistent with Phil 2.22; 1 Cor 4.17.

Also there is insufficient evidence that Acts was known to the author of the Acts of Paul.  I will be showing that in my forthcoming paper on the NT in the Acts of Paul, buttressing arguments I made in my dissertation (ch. 2).  So I wouldn’t say that the appearance of Luke and Titus together would say anything about authorship.  Finally, I am not certain that the Acts of Titus are evidence of a lost episode in Crete; that may be possible (argued by Rordorf, see dissertation, p. 24).  I don’t recall Titus appearing in the episode II of the Coptic fragments.  This is to say, that the information in Acts of Titus is not always a certain indicator of the contents of the Acts of Paul.  I wonder if it counts as an inclusio in a strict sense if Titus appears somewhere in the middle of the Acts of Paul.

I don’t know that anyone has suggested a special relationship between Acts of Paul and Titus.  It is interesting but of course speculative, being based partially upon the secondary witness of the Acts of Titus.  But I don’t suppose you would propose Titus/Timothy as the actual author, would you?

Cambridge-trained scholar calls for Extension of the New Testament Canon

April 27, 2009

Press Release

Note to News agencies :  {} mark field to be filled in before use.

Cambridge-trained scholar calls for Extension of the New Testament

{name of news agency, date and author here}

{Acta Pauli press release} Toronto, Canada. Christians around the world were shocked and the bedrock of confidence in the Bible was shaken when Peter W. Dunn, PhD, announced the formation of the “Committee for the Inclusion of the Acts of Paul in the New Testament Canon” on the website Acta Pauli on April 23, 2009. The echoes resounded around the world and the buzz on the street has been nothing less than astonishing. In Perth, Australia, Martin Foord, Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology and Church History at Trinity Theological College calls it, “The discovery of the millennium.” Dunn has devoted the better part of a decade to the study of this ancient book. Many of his findings are in his newly published doctoral dissertation, “The Acts of Paul and the Pauline Legacy”, for which he was awarded a PhD at the University of Cambridge in 1996. The Acts of Paul recounts Paul’s missionary experience from the time of his commission to preach and ends with his martyrdom. During his missionary trips, Paul even converts and baptizes a wild lion.
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Committee for the Inclusion of the Acts of Paul in the New Testament Canon

April 23, 2009

This is for purely selfish motives for those of us who have studied the Acts of Paul.  I mean if tomorrow suddenly there was an Ecumenical Council which declared the Acts of Paul part of the New Testament canon, the few of us who have devoted any real time to studying the book would have sudden status in the community of New Testament scholars.  Consider how Rodolphe Kasser, an otherwise obscure Swiss Coptologist, became a superstar overnight when the news media proclaimed the Gospel of Judas just as accurate as the New Testament.  I am virtually unknown in the world of New Testament scholarship; all people ever seem to talk about is N.T. Wright this, N.T. Wright that.  What if I changed my name to N.T. Dunn?  Actually, James D. G. Dunn has a nice ring to it too.

Acts of Paul scholars are often discriminated against because our book is not in the canon.  When I embarked on this scholarly journey I remember vividly how the Warden of Tyndale House pointed to the late Colin J. Hemer’s study of Acts and said, “Here is a work worthy to take to heaven”–thus, implying that a study of the Acts of Paul would fail to make the grade.  He also predicted, nay prophesied, that I wouldn’t find a job, which turned out to be true, and so I have had to travel to the remotest part of the world, usually on my own dime, to Bangui (rated the 2nd worst city in the world) to teach pro bono in extreme heat and humidity.  And besides, no one knows whether I should teach New Testament or church history (which has been a disaster because my knowledge becomes sketchy after about the year 200).  In all fairness, then, the Acts of Paul should be included.  I mean in our committee we could discuss the merits of the book itself, its catholicity, its apostolicity, and its conformity to the Rule of Faith.  But for crying out loud, people should consider how unfair this situation is for Acts of Paul scholars.  We deserve equal rights.

Well, I think Dr. Jeremy Barrier might join the committee.  I broached the idea with Prof. Jean-Daniel Kaestli a few years ago in Switzerland and he suggested that since I lack a complete text of the Acts of Paul I should just forget it.  I admit that that is an encumberance for my committee, but if a complete papyrus should be found, who knows?  Is there anyone out there in the blogging world interested in joining my committee?

Wikipedia Follies-Anonymous Dissident

April 23, 2009

I’ve learned that Anonymous Dissident, who removed my links from the French and German articles on the Acts of Paul and Thecla, is 12 approximately 14 years old.  Wow, that’s pretty cool Wikipedia!  A 12 approximately 14 year old is able to eliminate a link to this site which is being published by people with PhDs.  Now I’m sure that Anonymous Dissident is very mature for the age of 12 approximately 14, but it does lower the status of Wikipedia considerably when scholars can’t even add a little insignificant link to your so-called encyclopedia.

The French article in question (you will have to find it yourself because I will not be linking to Wikipedia anymore), includes a external link to Le Champ du Midrash.  Anonymous Dissident has insufficient ability to discern between what is a scholarly site for the study of the Acts of Paul and a site that obviously not at the same level.  What Le Champ du Midrash presents a “texte du travail” for the Acts of Paul and Thecla is actually a translation excerpt of Ps. Basil of Seleucia’s Life of St. Thecla, a fifth century text (at least the part that I checked).  Well, it would be nice if Le Champ du Midrash would inform its readers of that little bit of trivia, instead of providing the French of what is supposed to be a second-century text.  Very shoddy indeed.

I read once that blogs are, “The uninformed writing to the ill-informed.”  The people in the Wikipedia hierarchy don’t seem to be able to tell what is credible and what is not.  Yet Wikipedia is given high priority in just about every google search ever done on any subject.

Wikipedia Follies, auf Deutsch

April 16, 2009

A user called “Anonymous Dissident” removed from “Thekla (Heilige)” the link to Prof. Annette Merz’s post, “Thekla und Timotheus beraten Paulus bei der Abfassung des Römerbriefs“, which is by far the most popular article on Acta Pauli to date.

I deeply question the merit of a so-called Encyclopedia, when a valid link to a scholarly site can be removed by some moron who does not know the first thing about the subject.

Devotional language in the Acts of Paul and the Canonical Acts

April 11, 2009

Schneemelcher (NTA rev. ed, 2. ) and Rordorf have suggested that edificatory or devotional language explains many of the verbal commonalities between the canonical Acts and the ActPl.  Julian Hill’s takes that to task in his article, “The Acts of Paul And the Legacy of the Lukan Acts”, in Semeia 80 (1997):

So where does this liturgical language come from? And herein lies the trap I spoke of. If I judge that it comes from Acts, by the standard set in Rordorf’s remarks quoted above I might be guilty of relying too much on the accident of manuscript survival (see further on “Rare expression” below). But if I conclude that it comes from a more general devotional tradition, even from actual liturgies or catechetical materials, then I have to imagine that every example quoted here must be explained by this chain of events: first, that some prior tradition (exemplified in what we may call text or tradition “A,” no longer extant) had already brought together the word(s) that appear in Acts (=text “B”); second, that this new text (=Luke’s Acts) simply copied (rather than newly created) exactly (or almost so) this combination of words, which thus became part of the text of the NT only incidentally-by direct borrowing from the earlier text or tradition “A”; and third, that yet another work or tradition (=text “C”: here, the quoted liturgies; later in this essay, the Acts of Paul) owes its language not to Luke’s Acts but to that earlier text or tradition “A.”

All of this is of course historically possible. But methodologically it is prejudicial—perhaps little more than an assertion so framed as to be invulnerable to critique.

Hills goes on to suggest that language  such θεὲ καρδιογνῶστα (ActPl III, 24; Acts 1.24), τὰ μεγαλεῖα τοῦ θεοῦ (ActPl III, 18; Acts 2.11), and ἐκ καρποῦ τῆς ὀσφύος (ActPl XIII, 5; Acts 20.30), must be explained by literary borrowing and not oral dependence on a common stock of devotional language.  His analysis is problematic; I would almost suggest that his view is post-Gutenberg, practically assuming that all the early Christians must have a NT sitting in front of them.

The sources for “devotional language”, catechesis, preaching, hymns, liturgy, and the Greek scriptures (LXX) must be taken very seriously. While few hymns from the ancient church are available, they probably exerted an enormous influence on the language of Christians.  Perhaps today, studies of mother-tongue hymnology and its affect on the indigenous churches of Africa, for example, the church in Sudan or among the Bayaka (see Dan Duke, “Aka Tape Impact“), would be more illustrative of the profound affect that hymns would have had in the early church.  Exact phrases and sentences would have been easily committed to memory and could be repeated in conversation or in a writing like the ActPl.

I would like to draw an analogy from my own early Christian experience with Pentecostals.  It is no exagerration to say that Pentecostals have a peculiar way of speaking, a “devotional” language.  The sources of this language are the Bible, hymns, liturgy (though they admit to none), and preaching–it is remarkable how much in the 1970-80s pentecostal preachers sounded the same; they used the same catch phrases and elocution; it was an affectation that I found embarrassing at first.  But in America, the way that most people learned to speak this devotional language was through church services and contacts with Christian people, not through the reading and imitation of literary documents (with the possible exception of the Bible).  But then, amongst such Christians, there are phrases, no less impressive than Hill’s examples in Acts and the ActPl, and these are borne from church to church through oral means.  This is true of evangelical piety in general:  Consider:  “Get right or get left.”  It means that you must become a Christian (“get right”) or that you or be left behind at the Rapture.  “A personal relationship with Jesus Christ” is a phrase not found in the Bible, but all Pentecostals and Evangelicals in English-speaking world have heard it thousands of times.  In such a milieu, it would be difficult to assign dependence on a literary text when an isolated phrase is used like the example that Hills provides:  “in whom it is necessary to be saved”.  Speaking of “The Special Language of Pentecostalism”, Elaine J. Lawless writes:

Folk groups and subcultures often develop a specialized language understood only by the members of the group, a language that must be learned as a new member becomes assimilated into the group and that, when artfully and correctly employed, will signify membership to others in the group. Specialized language serves further to mark the group to outsiders, to delineate boundaries that keep groups distinct, and to intensify group cohesion and solidarity.  A special language must be close enough to the mother language to make sense to the members of the group and simple enough for the novice to pick up fairly quickly.  No tome is set aside for the teaching of this specialized language, but its constant and repetitive use in the verbal messages of the group members serves to teach the newcomer what the words mean and where and how it is appropriate to employ them. Converts to Pentecostalism are expected to participate fully in church services immediately upon their conversion and tongue-speaking experience; hence, acquisition of the language quickly follows initiation.

The community of the ActPl, like 20 and 21th century Pentecostalism, was a subculture.  But the effect of orality, a special language of the early Christians, would have been far more profound in the pre-Guttenberg galaxy.  It would not be unusual for teachings like the beatitudes to be committed to memory, and for Christians to cite it not as from the Gospel of Matthew but as from oral tradition.  Thus, it is with due caution that I would conclude that Matthew was probably known, as also a certain Pauline corpus of letters.  But mere snippets or phrases are no proof whatsoever of an intertextual relationship, particularly in a culture which depended so heavily on orality.  Pre-Guttenberg also means that books generally were costly and it is not certain that a parish priest like the alleged writer of the AP, would have every book of the New Testament, which was still in formation, or even a copy of the entire Old Testament (cf. Gounelle).  These are assumptions that just can’t be made for this period.  But we can be sure, that through common liturgies, preaching, catechesis, hymns, and everyday Christian conversation, the early Christians spoke a language which was common to them and unique to the rest of the world.  Such common phrases, such as can be found between the canonical Acts, ActPl, 1-2 Clement, epistles of Ignatius and Polycarp, Shepherd of Hermas and others should probably be attributed to this common devotional language and not to literary borrowing.

Wikipedia follies

April 8, 2009

I’ve added links to Acta Pauli to Wikipedia’s articles s.v.,  “Acts of Paul”, “Acts of Paul and Thecla”, “Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul”, and “Third Epistle to the Corinthians”.  Today in making edits, I’ve noticed that they can be reverted very quickly back to the original.  They took out my external links in a couple of cases.

Ok Wikipedia.  If your intention is to remove edits by scholars in the field then you have your wish.  I will no longer support your platform for my scholarly endeavors.

But bear in mind that your articles on the Acts of Paul and 3 Corinthians are inaccurate and could use some serious help from people like me.  For one thing, there should not be two articles for 3 Cor:  it is a single apocryphon, not two (I suggested this in my edit I made and it was gone with minutes).  There probably should be single treatment of Acts of Paul and the Acts of Paul and Thecla since the latter is originally part of the former.