First and Second Timothy and Titus have for many years borne the collective title "The Pastoral Epistles." Both their style and their content make it difficult to locate them within the corpus of Pauline letters, and recent scholarship most often considers them pseudonymous, works that imitate Pauls letters but apply the apostles teaching to the concerns of a later time, two or more decades after Pauls death.
The Pastorals differ from Pauls own letters in being addressed to single individuals, coworkers of Paul who have been placed in charge of particular churches, Timothy apparently in Ephesus, Titus in Crete. They provide instruction for community leaders, both the individual addressees and other leaders whom they will appoint. The specification of certain offices within the local churches is one of the features that appear to locate these works in a later phase of church development.
In this commentary Benjamin Fiore, SJ, places the Pastorals in their historical and literary context. The reader will find here a solid introduction to parallel literary forms in Latin and Greek literature and particular descriptions of the way in which these documents use ancient rhetorical forms to achieve their paraenetic and hortatory purpose. Drawing on his parish experience as well as his academic training, Fiore also provides reflections on the contemporary pastoral application of these books, giving readers a renewed appreciation for the "pastoral" label these epistles bear.
Daniel J. Harrington
Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, is professor of New Testament at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry in Cambridge, MA. He has been general editor of New Testament Abstracts since 1972 and is a past president of the Catholic Biblical Association of America.