Archives of Reception of the Bible

Past blogging in more ways than one.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

How to embarrass a friend and get away with it!

One excellent paper on Reception that I heard in Philadelphia was given by my good friend and whisky drinking partner, Lloyd Pietersen, a Research Fellow in the Department here in Bristol. So just to embarrass him, here is the abstract.


2 Timothy 3:12 and ‘the Ideal of Good Christian Citizenship’: An Anabaptist Perspective

Martin Dibelius famously described the Pastoral Epistles as being concerned to promote “the ideal of good Christian citizenship” (christliche Bürgerlichkeit). Yet this description fails to take adequate account of the rhetorical force of 2 Tim 3:12, a text which receives very little attention in the Dibelius and Conzelmann Hermeneia commentary on the Pastorals. Indeed most commentators pay scant attention to this particular verse. By way of contrast, the 17th century Anabaptist text, Martyrs Mirror, contains 25 references to this verse and a further three to 2 Tim 3:12-13. This proved a significant passage for Anabaptists facing persecution in the 16th and 17th centuries. This paper argues that modern commentators on the Pastoral Epistles have consistently interpreted them through the lens of Christendom – an interpretative stance that fails to do adequate justice to the precarious nature of Christian communities in the first and second centuries. Far from promoting a form of Christianity at ease with the authorities, this paper suggests, in the light of Anabaptist experience, that the Pastorals are concerned with appropriate Christian communal praxis in the light of the real threat of persecution of a group at the margins of society.

Embarrassment aside, this is a perfect example of reception challenging received historical critical wisdom, here on the atitudes of the community behind the pastoral epistles to the state.


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