This blog, by Richard Fellows, discusses historical questions concerning Paul's letters, his co-workers, Acts, and chronology. You can visit my web pages here, but note that they are not kept up-to-date.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ephesians known to Theophilus, and the location of Luke-Acts

Here I expand on an argument presented by Aletheia, who observes that Jason (Acts 17:5), Tyrannus (Acts 19:9), and Alexander (Acts 19:33) are mentioned in Acts without introduction, as if they were already known to the intended audience.

Below are all of the named persons in Luke-Acts, giving he language used to introduce them when they are first mentioned. I have divided them into three groups.

The first group contains the 38 persons who are introduced with a phrase of the form "a man named". For example, in Acts 5:1 Ananias is introduced with the phrase, "Ἀνὴρ δέ τις Ἁνανίας ὀνόματι" (But a certain man named Ananias). Acts 18:7 introduces Titius Justus in a similar way: "τινὸς ὀνόματι Τιτίου Ἰούστου" (of a certain man named Titius Justus). Strictly speaking the extra words do not give any additional information about Ananias or Titius Justus, but they do serve to indicate to the reader that the person is being introduced for the first time. Theophilus (or any other reader) then knows not to ask himself questions like, "has this Ananias been mentioned before?", "is this Ananias a famous person whom I am expected to know?", or "Have I met this Titius Justus?". By using a phrase like, "a certain man named", Luke indicates that he is not taking for granted that his audience has background knowledge of the person.

Group 1: Those who are introduced with "named" (or "a certain")
Luke 1:5  there was a priest named Zechariah
Luke 1:5  her name was Elizabeth
Luke 1:27  a man whose name was Joseph
Luke 1:27  The virgin's name was Mary
Luke 2:25  whose name was Simeon
Luke 5:27  a tax collector named Levi
Luke 8:41  there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue
Luke 10:38  where a woman named Martha
Luke 10:39  she had a sister named Mary
Luke 16:20  a poor man named Lazarus
Luke 19:1  a man was there named Zacchaeus
Luke 23:26  they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene
Luke 23:50  a good and righteous man named Joseph
Luke 24:18  then one of them, whose name was Cleopas
Acts 5:1  But a man named Ananias
Acts 5:34  a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law
Acts 7:58  at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Acts 8:9  Now a certain man named Simon had previously practiced magic
Acts 9:10  a disciple in Damascus named Ananias
Acts 9:33  a man named Aeneas
Acts 9:36  a disciple whose name was Tabitha
Acts 9:43  a certain Simon, a tanner
Acts 10:1  a man named Cornelius
Acts 11:28  One of them named Agabus
Acts 12:13  a maid named Rhoda
Acts 13:6  a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus
Acts 16:1  a disciple named Timothy
Acts 16:14  a certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God ...
Acts 17:34  a woman named Damaris
Acts 18:2  a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recetly come from Italy with his wife Priscilla
Acts 18:7  a man named Titius Justus
Acts 18:24  a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria
Acts 19:14  Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva
Acts 19:24  A man named Demetrius, a silversmith
Acts 20:9  A young man named Eutychus
Acts 24:1  an attorney, a certain Tertullus
Acts 27:1  a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, named Julius.
Acts 28:7  the leading man of the island, named Publius

Of the remaining persons, many are introduced with a significant piece of information that serves to identify the individual. Often a title is all that is necessary. They are shown in Group 2 below.


Group 2: Those who are given an introduction
Luke 1:5 who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah
Luke 1:5 In the days of King Herod of Judea
Luke 1:13 and you will name him John
Luke 1:19 I am Gabriel
Luke 1:31 you will name him Jesus 
Luke 2:2 while Quirinius was governor of Syria
Luke 3:1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius
Luke 3:1  when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea
Luke 3:1  and Herod was ruler of Galilee
Luke 3:1 and his brother Philip
Luke 3:1 and Lysanias ruler of Abilenne
Luke 3:2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas
Luke 3:4 the prophet Isaiah
Luke 3:19 Herod the ruler
Luke 3:19 Herodias, his brother's wife
Luke 3:23 He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli, son of Matthat, etc....
Luke 4:27 Naaman the Syrian
Luke 2:36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher.
Luke 5:10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.
Luke 6:13-14 and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot
Luke 7:40 Simon, I have something to say to you
Luke 8:2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, and Susanna
Luke 23:18 release Barabbas for us!" This was a man who had been put in prison
Luke 24:10 Mary the mother of James
Acts 1:21 So one of the men who have accompanied us..." So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
Acts 2:16 the prophet Joel
Acts 3:26 And all the prophets, as many as have spoken, from Samuel
Acts 4:6 with Annas the high priest, CaiaphasJohn, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family
Acts 4:36 There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas
Acts 5:1  Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira
Acts 6:5 and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, ProchorusNicanorTimonParmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.

Acts 12:1 King Herod
Acts 12:12 the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark
Acts 12:20 Blastus, the kings chamberlain
Acts 13:1 there were prophets and teachers: BarnabasSimeon who was called NigerLucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul.
Acts 13:7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man
Acts 13:21 then they asked for a king; and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin
Acts 13:22 David son of Jesse
Acts 15:22 Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers
Acts 17:34 including Dionysius the Areopagite
Acts 18:2 Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recetly come from Italy with his wife Priscilla
Acts 18:8 Crispus, the official of the synagogue
Acts 18:12 Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia
Acts 18:17 Sosthenes, the official of the synagogue
Acts 19:22 So he sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia
Acts 19:29 Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's travel companions.
Acts 20:4 He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Beroea, by Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, by Gaius from Derbe, and by Timothy, as well as by Tychicus and Trophimus from Asia.
Acts 21:16 the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple
Acts 23:26 "Claudius Lysias to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings.
Acts 24:24 when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish,
Acts 22:27 Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus
Acts 23:2 the high priest Ananias
Acts 23:24 Felix the governor
Acts 25:13 King Agrippa and Bernice


Finally, listed in Group 3 below, are the 25 individuals who are mentioned with no introduction at all. In most cases the person was an Old Testament character or public figure who was famous to the original audience. Patriarchs and emperors, for example, required no introduction because everyone knew who they were.

Group 3: Those who are given no introduction
Luke 1:3 most excellent Theophilus (Theophilus was known to himself and those for whom Luke wrote)
Luke 1:5 descendant of Aaron (A major OT character, presumably known to the audience)
Luke 1:16 "the people of Israel"(these words are spoken to Zechariah, who knew of Israel)
Luke 1:17 "with the spirit and power of Elijah"(these words are spoken to Zechariah, who knew of Elijah)
Luke 1:27 house of David (A major OT character, presumably known to the audience)
Luke 1:33 "house of Jacob" (these words are spoken to Mary, who knew who Jacob was)
Luke 1:55 "to Abraham and his descendants" (these words are spoken to Elizabeth, who knew who Abaham was)
Luke 2:1 a decree went out from Emperor Augustus (Everyone knew who Augustus was)
Luke 2:22 the law of Moses (A major OT character, presumably known to the audience)
Luke 11:29 "the sign of Jonah"(Jesus's audience will have known who Jonah was)
Luke 11:31 "the wisdom of Solomon"(Jesus's audience will have known who Solomon was)
Luke 11:51 "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah"(the lawyers addressed by Jesus here will have known who Abel and Zechariah were)
Luke 17:26 "just as it was in the days of Noah" (the disciples, addressed by Jesus here, will have heard of Noah)
Luke 17:28 "just as it was in the days of Lot"(the disciples, addressed by Jesus here, will have heard of Lot)
Acts 5:36 "For some time ago Theudas rose up" (the council, addressed here, will have heard of Theudas)
Acts 5:37 "After him Judas the Galilean rose up"(the council, addressed here, will have heard of Theudas)
Acts 7:9 "The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph"(the council, addressed here, had heard of Joseph)
Acts 7:16 "from the sons of Hamor in Shechem"(Stephen speaks here as if Hamor is known to his audience. Is he trying to impress the council with his knowledge of scripture?)
Acts 7:40 "saying to Aaron"(the council, addressed here, had heard of Joseph)
Acts 11:28 during the reign of Claudius (everyone had heard of Claudius)
Luke 4:38 he entered Simon's house
Luke 5:8 but when Simon Peter saw it
Acts 12:17 "Tell this to James"

Acts 19:9 the lecture hall of Tyrannus
Acts 19:33 Some of the crowd gave instructions to Alexander, whom the Jews had pushed forward.
Acts 17:5 they attacked Jason's house

The mentions of Simon-Peter and James, shown in brown above fit the same pattern. These were two of the most famous members of the early church. Paul took it for granted that the Galatians and the Corinthians knew of them, so it is not unlikely that Luke too expected his audience to know of them.

The implication of all this, Aletheia argues, is that the hall of Tyrannus, Alexander, and Jason (shown in blue above) were also known to the original audience of Acts. Let us look at each of these three cases in turn.

The hall of Tyrannus
Acts 19:9 reads:
When some stubbornly refused to believe and spoke evil of the way before the congregation, he left them, taking the disciples with him, and argued daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus (ἐν τῇ σχολῇ Τυράννου). This continued for two years....
The hall of Tyrannus is mentioned abruptly without introduction. This would make sense if the hall of Tyrannus was a famous venue. We might similarly say, "he sang at the Royal Albert Hall" or "she conducted at the Sydney Opera House". The problem is that Paul would not have been able to afford to rent a venue that was famous across the mediterranean. Some later manuscripts add the word τινός after Τυράννου, so that we get "in the lecture hall of a certain Tyrannus. The western text goes further by specifying that Paul used the hall during the hottest hours when the rent for the hall will have been lowest: "in the lecture hall of a certain Tyrannus, from eleven o'clock in the morning to four in the afternoon". All these textual variants seem designed to overcome the problem that Paul would not have been able to afford to rent a venue that was so famous that it required no introduction.


The problem, of course, disappears if Luke's audience was in Ephesus, where the hall of Tyrannus stood. They would have known the place where the faith was introduced to their city, even if it was a modest venue.

Luke followed the same rules when mentioning places and people. Named places that were well known  required no introduction are: Luke 2:1; Luke 2:22; Luke 2:27; Luke 3:3: Luke 4:23, 26; Luke 6:17; Luke 10:12, 13, 30; Luke 11:30; Luke 13:4; Luke 17:11; Luke 18:35; Acts 2:9-11; Acts 4:36; Acts 6:9; Acts 7:2, 4, 10, 11, 16, 29, 30, 36; Acts 8:27; Acts 8:40; Acts 9:2; Acts 9:30; Acts 9:32; Acts 9:36; Acts 11:19-20; Acts 13:4, 6, 13,14; Acts 13:51; Acts 14:25; Acts 16:6-9, 11; Acts 17:1, 10, 15; Acts 18:1, 2, 18, 19, 27; Acts 20:13-15; Acts 21:1, 7; Acts 27:1, 5, 7, 17; Acts 28:12, 13, 15
Lesser-known places are given an introduction:
Luke 1:9 cf Luke 1:21; Luke 1:26; Luke 2:4 cf Luke 2:11, 15; Luke 3:1; Luke 4:31 cf Luke 7:1; Luke 5:1; Luke 7:11; Luke 8:26 cf Luke 8:37; Luke 9:10; Luke 19:29 cf Luke 21:37 & Acts 1:12; Luke 23:33; Luke 23:51; Luke 24:13; Acts 1:19; Acts 3:2 cf Acts 3:10; Acts 3:11 cf Acts 5:12; Acts 8:26; Acts 9:11; Acts 14:6 cf Acts 16:2; Acts 16:12; Acts 27:5, 8, 12, 16, 27; Acts 28:1;

Alexander
The abrupt mention of Alexander in the Theatre of Ephesus at Acts 19:33 has long puzzled commentators. Much is not clear (to us). Was Alexander was a representative of the (non-Christian) Jews. Was he an artisan like Demetrius, as 2 Tim 4:14 might suggest? Was he a Christian, pushed forward to answer the complaints of the crowd? Or was he the town clark (Acts 19:35). The episode is baffling to us, but it need not have been baffling to readers who knew Alexander.

Jason
I argued here that Jason was given the name "Aristarchus", yet Acts, strangely, does not tell us that the two names belonged to the same person. This problem is solved if we suppose that the audience of Acts knew Jason-Aristarchus. The fact that he is mentioned without introduction in Acts 17:5 confirms that he was known to the intended audience of Acts. While Jason was from Thessalonica, there are hints that he did not remain there. He was in Corinth when Rom 16:21 was written, and if he was Aristarchus he was earlier in Ephesus (Acts 19:29) and he later travelled with Paul and Luke (Acts 27:2). We do not know where he settled or in which Christian communities he became well known, so he does not help us to determine the location of the audience of Acts.

Crispus-Sosthenes
It can be shown the Crispus (Acts 18:8) was given the name "Sosthenes"(Acts 18:17). See my article here and further discussion here. Acts 18:17 would have made sense to Luke's audience only if they knew that Sosthenes was Crispus. Since Sosthenes moved to Ephesus (1 Cor 1:1), the Ephesian community of believers would have known him.

Conclusion
Luke expected his audience to already know Alexander, Sosthenes, the hall of Tyrranus, and Jason. Three of these four resided in Ephesus, and the fourth, Jason, may have done. This suggests that Acts was written for the believers in Ephesus.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review of Aletheia on Ephesus as the destination of Acts

Here I review Xabier Aletheia, "Localización de la comunidad de Lucas", Estudios Bíblicos, LXIX p289-300. This paper is in Spanish, but Xabier has kindly written a summary in English, which I paste below:

LOCATION OF THE COMMUNITY OF LUKE
  Some authors have proposed that Ephesus is the home of Theophilus. The “classical” arguments in favour of Ephesus point to the importance of this city in Acts and especially the important speech to the elders of Ephesus. My purpose is to reinforce this view with new arguments: 1. Local colour.
 Luke assumes that Theophilus is familiar with the general geography of the Empire but, for example, considers necessary to explain that Philippi is a Roman colony and one of the major cities in Macedonia (Acts 16:12).
 In contrast, it appears that he assumes that Theophilus is familiar with Asia (Acts 16:11, 20:6-15) and Italy (Acts 28:12-14). It seems that he also knows about Ephesus as neokoros of Artemis and the theatre as a place for assemblies (Acts 19:29 ff).
 The treatment of Roman magistrates is also significant. Luke is very accurate when naming local magistrates of the Aegean (politarchs, grammateus...), but outside this region he uses generic terms, such as "leading men" or "rulers" (Acts 13:50, 14:5).
 Regarding the treatment of the characters, Luke usually gives an introduction and many times he uses the expression "a certain ..." Of the 94 characters mentioned in Acts, Luke presents without introduces, as if the reader knows them, Agrippa I and II and Bernice (Acts 12:1, 25:13), Jason (Acts 17:5), Alexander of Ephesus (Acts 19:33) and Tyrannus of Ephesus (Acts 19:10), giving the impression that Luke assumes that the reader knows the location of his school. With the exception of Jason, the characters are Jewish rulers and Ephesians.
 2. The Roman legal system and Ephesus.
 I agree with the authors that think that Luke's treatment of the Roman magistrates is negative: the rulers of Philippi and Thessaloniki are hostile to Paul, Gallio allows the punishment of Sosthenes, Felix is a corrupt... In fact, the only Roman magistrate (except the new Christian Sergius Paulus of Cyprus) that protects the Christians and is shown in good terms is the Grammateus of Ephesus in the riot of the silversmiths (Acts 19:23-40)
 3. Paul at Ephesus.  We know that the three years that Paul remained in Ephesus were not easy (1 Cor. 15:31 - 32) and it’s very probable that he was imprisoned in that city.
 However, reading Acts 19 doesn’t seem that Paul was in danger. This is not due to Luke’s ignorance. In fact, in the speech to the elders of Ephesus Paul talks about “tears” and “plot of the Jews” (Acts. 20:19).
 In my view, Luke delivers the events in Ephesus in a "kind" chapter and leaves dispersed the uncomfortable material in order to give a positive image of Paul to the non-Christians in Ephesus, taking precautions against possible infiltrators in the assemblies (see 1 Cor. 14:23-24). 4. Asians or Ephesians? Another argument in favour of the Ephesian hypothesis is the camouflage of the Ephesians and the events in this city.
 Luke gives the names of two "Asian" disciples, Tychicus and Trophimus (Acts 20:4), who could be from Ephesus or from other city.
 In Jerusalem, Paul is beaten in a riot started by "Jews from Asia" who accused him of bringing Greeks into the Temple because "they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city" (Acts 21:21-29, 24:19). If Trophimus (and Tychichus?) is Ephesian, the Jews who recognized him were undoubtedly Ephesians too.
 There are two good reasons to hide this fact. First, Luke wants to protect the Ephesian Christians, and on this issue, it’s possible that Tychicus or Trophimus were alive at the time of writing Acts.
 Second, saying that the Jews were Asians and not Ephesians, it is likely that Luke seaks to prevent Jewish-Christian relations in Ephesus becoming worse than they already were.
The issues raised in this paper deserve careful consideration. I am particularly impressed with his observation, in point 1 above, that Tyrannus's hall, Alexander, and Jason are mentioned without introduction, as if the audience already knows them. I hope to devote a separate blog post to this point soon.

In points 2, 3, and 4 above he finds silences in Acts that would have served to protect the Ephesian Christians from persecution in the event that the text of Acts fell into hostile hands. I wish that more scholars would follow this line of thinking. However, I am not yet convinced that this argument points exclusively to Ephesus as the destination of Acts. There are protective silences involving other cities too. Acts withholds the name of the community of Christians who harbored an escaped prisoner, Peter (Acts 12:17). Luke also avoids mentioning the fact that Paul was wanted by the civil authorities of Arabia. Also I suspect that many Christians of Rome fled from Nero's men and went into hiding. Luke helps them to keep a low profile by underplaying the role of the church of Rome, and by not mentioning any of their names, and by keeping silent about the fact that Paul was found guilty.

What do others think?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Review of Welborn on the offender of 2 Cor 2,7

Here I review L.L. Welborn An end to Enmity: Paul and the "Wrongdoer" of Second Corinthians 2011.

In 500 pages Welborn teases out what can be known about the offender from the key passages 2 Cor 2:5-11 and 2 Cor 7:7-15. He then argues that the conflict between Paul and the offender looms large in almost every section of 2 Corinthians and parts of 1 Corinthians. The offender, he suggests, was the host of the church, Gaius (Rom 16:23), who accused Paul of embezzling money set aside for the poor in Judea.

The book contains a wealth of information on conventions of friendship and enmity in the ancient world, as well as a survey of archaeological data for envisaging Gaius's house. Whether or not readers are convinced by Welborn's overall thesis, I think they will find the book contains much intriguing out-of-the-box thinking on several passages. I'll mention three examples.

1. He plausibly argues that when Paul writes "Any charge must be sustained by the evidence of two or three witnesses" he means that it is not acceptable for the Corinthians to accept uncorroborated accusations by a single person against Paul. See my review of Welborn's earlier paper here.

2. He presents a good case that Paul chose that name, meaning "small", out of humility (p294-297).

3. He interprets the affliction of 2 Cor 1:8 as Paul's spiritual anguish rather than persecution (p435).

His conclusion that the offender was rich seems reasonable. I also appreciated his arguments that the offense concerned money and had a legal aspect, but it is unfortunate that he does not go on to explore the possibility that the offense is alluded to in 1 Cor 4:1-5. This is perhaps because he assumes from the start that Paul's second visit to Corinth was after 1 Corinthians and that the offense took place on that occasion. He divides 1 Corinthians into 3 letters and 2 Corinthians into 5 letters. Readers who do not share these pre-suppositions will find little to persuade them. Much of his reconstruction is dependent on, for example, the assumption that 2 Cor 10-13 is the tearful letter.

He quickly dismisses the theory that Gaius was Titius Justus (p299-300), but elsewhere presents very similar pictures of Gaius and Titius Justus. He agrees that 1 Cor 1:14 implies that Gaius was "among the first converts to Christianity at Corinth (p288) and that he had a close relationship to Crispus. All this fits Titius Justus nicely. He agrees that Titius Justus hosted Paul's preaching (p93) and that "Gaius placed his own house at the disposal of the Christian community" (p321). He also identifies Gaius, like Titius Justus, as a God-fearer (p370). Then he writes "The fact that Titius Justus is absent from Paul's Corinthian correspondence, even in its earliest stages, permits, and perhaps requires, the inference that the Corinthian Christians had found another place for their assembly" (p249).

In 1 Cor 1:14-15 Paul implies that it is ironic or fortuitous that the only people whom he baptized in Corinth were Crispus and Gaius. What, then was special about Crispus and Gaius that made this fact ironic/fortuitous. Welborn believes that Crispus and Gaius were leaders of the factions. However, Crispus had been given the name "Sosthenes" and had moved to Ephesus (1 Cor 1:1), and Gaius-Stephanas too was with Paul. The fortuitous fact, to which Paul alludes, is that two people whom he had baptized were no longer in Corinth. Also, if Crispus and Gaius were opponents of Paul, as Welborn supposes, it is doubtful that Paul would have named them. Paul never names his opponents, as Welborn acknowledges.

He considers 1 Cor 11:17-34 as a reproof against  Gaius, the host of the church (p402). However there is no suggestion that Gaius was at fault. Indeed, it is precisely because the Corinthian believers were abusing Gaius's hospitality, that Paul urges them to show Gaius Titius Justus Stephanas's household a little respect (1 Cor 16:15-16).

Welborn writes, "Paul's demand that the Corinthians "submit" or "be subject" to Stephanas and his household is surprising, if not to say stunning, in context. Why should the other Corinthian Christians, and especially the leaders of other house-churches, men of substance such as Crispus and Gaius, subordinate themselves to Stephanas?" (p254). But Gaius was Stephanas and Crispus was Sosthenes, who was in Ephesus with Paul.

He assumes that the wrong-doer must be mentioned in Paul's letters, but why? (p233)

He takes "ministry to the saints" in 1 Cor 16:15 to be a reference to the collection because almost the same phrase refers to the collection in 2 Cor 8:4; 9:1 (p256). However, this argument is weakened when we realize that in 2 Cor 8,9 Paul is deliberately vague about the collection (for protective reasons). If the Roman authorities had got their hands on 2 Corinthians they would not be able to determine that Paul was urging a collection for Judea or who his helpers were. Paul uses the phrase "ministry to the saints" in 8:4 and 9:1 precisely because it did not unambiguously indicate a collection of money.

He says that when enemies reconciled they often shared hospitality and he suggest that this is evidence that Gaius, Paul's host, was his former enemy (p287). However, the reconciliation was months earlier than the time of writing of Romans. Surely the convention did not require that Paul stay with his former enemy for the whole winter? Doing so would have alienated others wouldn't it?

This book raises all sorts of issues that are not normally considered in the commentaries and for this reason will be helpful to those with a keen interest in the Corinthian correspondence, even if, like me, they conclude that the central thesis is wrong.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Review of Walker on Apollos and Timothy as the unnamed brothers

Here I review William O. Walker: "Apollos and Timothy as the Unnamed "Brothers" in 2 Corinthians 8:18-24" Catholic Biblical Quarterly 73, 2011.

In 2 Cor 8:5-6, 16-17 Paul says that he is sending Titus to Corinth to complete the collection. Then, in 2 Cor 8:18-24 he commends two anonymous men who will also help with the collection:
18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his proclaiming the good news; 19 and not only that, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us while we are administering this generous undertaking for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our goodwill. 20 We intend that no one should blame us about his generous gift that we are administering, 21 for we intend to do what is right not only in the Lord's sight but also in the sight of others. 
22 And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found eager in many matters, but who is now more eager than ever because of his great confidence in you. 
23 As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker in your service; as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.
The first "brother"
Walker argues that the first anonymous "brother" is Apollos.  He has three arguments for identifying the first brother as Apollos:

1. This brother is "famous among all the churches for his proclaiming the good new". This fits Apollos. However, it also fits the author of Acts, who was Paul's fellow-missionary. Walker, who is skeptical of the historicity of Acts, does not discuss the author.

2. He follows Betz in supposing that the anonymity is a kind of a put-down. In 1 Corinthians he sees Apollos as a rival whom Paul would want to put down. However, while the ancients often left enemies anonymous, the anonymous brothers, on any hypothesis, were not enemies of Paul. These do not seem to be examples of anonymity of enmity. No one has found any example of a person who is commended so highly being left anonymous. Betz is wrong. The anonymity here, and in 2 Cor 12:18, served to protect the individuals and the collection from ambush/confiscation. See here.

3. This man is called "the brother", whereas the second man is called "our brother", which is more personal. Furthermore, Paul says nothing about his personal knowledge of the first brother. Why is the description of the first brother so impersonal? Walker infers that "Paul does not feel as close to the first brother as he does to the second" and "Paul is somewhat less enthusiastic about the brother's preaching than are the churches".
However, the reason for the impersonal description of the first brother is surely that Paul wants this brother to be seen as independent of himself and therefore able to clear Paul of any suspicion related to the collection. The role of this "brother" is to guard the collection against embezzlement, and this required that he be trusted and independent of Paul. The brother's role would have been undermined if Paul had described him as his buddy (even if he was his buddy). Walker's inferences therefore do not seem justified.

There are some problems with the Apollos hypothesis.
1. It seems unlikely that Paul's churches would appoint a rival of Paul (as Walker sees him) to administer the collection, and nor would Paul agree to it.
2. The brother was to travel with the collection, so should be mentioned in Acts 20:4. Apollos is not there.
3. The brother, being famous, would surely have known many of those who had moved to Rome by the time of writing of Romans, so should be among the greeters of Rom 16:21-23. Apollos is not mentioned there.

The second brother
Walker believes that the second brother is Timothy. He points out that
1. Timothy was often an envoy of Paul
2. Timothy was with Paul when 2 Corinthians was written
3. Pseudo-Pauline letters were addressed to "Timothy" and "Titus". Walker thinks this supports the view that both were involved with the collection. Walker here would have done better to use Acts 20:4 to show that Timothy accompanied the collection.

I would add a further argument for Timothy being one of those whom Paul sent to Corinth at the time in question. Whenever Paul mentions his plans to come to Corinth in 2 Corinthians, he does so using singular verbs (see in particular 2 Cor 9:4; 12:14; 12:20-13:2; 13:10). It appears from this that Timothy, Paul's co-sender, was not expected to accompany Paul to Corinth, though he was with Paul at the time (2 Cor 1:1) and was later with Paul in Corinth (Rom 16:21; Acts 20:4). The data make sense if Timothy was one of the three delegates who are sent to Corinth in 2 Cor 8:16-24, but which one?

Walker finds that the description of the second anonymous brother fits Timothy well. However, it seems unlikely that Timothy would be one of the "messengers of the churches" (8:23). The description of Titus as "my partner" (2 Cor 8:23) fits Timothy much better. In any case, I consider it certain, on other grounds, that Titus was Timothy.

In Rom 16:21-23 Timothy is named first, and name order was very important. It is very unlikely that Paul would mention Timothy after Apollos, as Walker requires.

I do not understand Walker's explanation for the anonymity of the second brother (Timothy in his view). He writes:
My own suggestion, however, is that Paul omits Timothy's name precisely because he has omitted Apollos's name. The inclusion of Timothy's name would have called attention to the omission of Apollos's name and thus to Apollos himself and thereby elevated him, with Timothy, to a status within the delegation more nearly approximating that of Titus. In short, Paul may well have diverted attention away from Timothy as a way of doing the same with regard to Apollos.
I will invite him to explain.