CUP Undergraduate Research


Paul Versus the Pastorals: Why did Pauline Communities Accept the Pastoral Epistles as Genuine?

Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2009

Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences



Degree Name

Theology, BA

First Advisor

Dr. Norman Metzler


A variety of differences between the genuine writings of Paul and the pseudepigraphical Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus) have long been noted. Focusing on the disparity between Paul’s open, pragmatic, charismatic approach to community organization and operation and the Pastorals’ institutionalized ecclesiology, this paper seeks to understand how the first recipients of the forged letters failed to notice the departure from Paul’s community ideal such that they believed the Epistles to be genuine works of Paul. In order to answer this question, a study was undertaken of Paul’s approach to his communities and the historical situation of the churches between Paul’s death and the time that the Pastorals were written. This study reveals that Paul was willing to limit certain aspects of his own community ideal on an occasional, pragmatic basis when the good of the community was otherwise threatened. Given that the historical situation after the deaths of Paul and the other apostles was generally characterized by chaos and doctrinal battles, the heirs of Paul’s pragmatic approach would have had sufficient reason to elect a set of authoritative individuals to address these issues. With time, these crystallized into institutional offices. By the time of the Pastorals’ writing, the institutional structure the Epistles presuppose was already in existence and believed to be genuinely Pauline, having grown from the fertile soil of his own pragamatism. There was thus no apparent disparity to be recognized between the genuine Paul and the Paul of the Pastorals.

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