Review of Article: Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles

Wilder, Terry L.  “A Brief Defense of the Pastoral Epistle’s Authenticity.”  Midwestern Journal of Theology 2, no. 1 (Fall 2003): 38-42.

Abstract/Synopsis

In this article professor Wilder briefly surveys the dominant arguments against Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles.  The standard issues of language, style, church order, and coherency with Acts are all explicated.  After each section is explained Wilder seeks to demonstrate the lack of effectiveness of the standard arguments, arguing for the traditional view of Pauline authorship.  Wilder concludes by stating his conviction that the burden of proof is still with those who wish to affirm the pseudonymity of the Pastoral Epistles.

Contributions to Understanding

Many of Wilder’s insights are also found within other defenders of the traditional view (see the chapter on the Pastorals in David DeSilva’s NT Introduction, which I recently reviewed).  Despite this, i discovered a few unique pieces of argumentation.  For example, regarding stylistic differences Wilder points out how such a criticism cannot be maintained due to the sheer brevity of the Pastoral Corpus.  There is in Wilder’s view inadequate data for such a position (39).  Another insight gained from Wilder is that since elders were to be appointed by Titus in every town (1:5-7), this text can hardly be understood as referring to a “monarchial government (39).”  The efficacy of these arguments are up for the individual reader to decide.

Aside from these and other more tangential insights, the primary value of Wilder’s article is in how he demonstrates the seriousness with which the early church took accusations of pseudonymity within their canon; it was vigorously rejected, to the point where leaders were dismissed for attempting it, thereby giving the early church’s testimony of the authentic Pauline authorship of the Pastorals more validity (41-2). 

In this article Wilder’s agenda is clear, and so the reader must be wary of potential bias.  With that in mind, this article remains an excellent introduction to the issues surrounding the authorship of the Pastoral Epistles from a traditional view point.

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