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Rhetorical strategies of the first chapter of 1 Timothy: the relationship of the first chapter to the purpose of the letter
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 09:48 authored by Lyn Maree Kidson
There are a number of problems that face the scholar wishing to interpret 1 Timothy. These problems are epitomized by the following comment from Marin Dibelius and Hans Conzelmann in their 1972 commentary on the Pastoral Epistles : We cannot with equal certainty identify a basic body of material in 1 Tim [as it can be for Titus]. For there the interest is directed to two main points: church order and the refutation of heretics…But even apart from this twofold interest, the character of the church order materials themselves does not seem uniform. 1 Timothy looks like an assortment of materials, and it is difficult to perceive how they function together as a cohesive whole. Lewis Donelson in his, Pseudepigraphy and Ethical Argument in the Pastoral Epistles (1986), argued that each of the Pastoral Epistles could be understood as offering cohesive arguments when compared to other Graeco-Roman ethical documents. However, Donelson’s insistence that the Pastoral Epistles fit within a pseudepigraphical letter category has not gone without criticism. This thesis will argue that the opening command, verses 3—4 of 1 Timothy 1 is the key to understanding how the letter functions as a persuasive literary unit. As Donelson has pointed out, rhetorical devices are at work in this letter. However, there are important ideological and thematic threads that need to be considered including the ideologically important father-son motif, civic ideals, educational motifs, stereotypes of young men and older men, cultural anxieties and aspirations. What will be demonstrated in this thesis is that these threads, among others, are drawn in by the writer in order to develop a strategy in the rhetorically significant digression, 1 Timothy 1:5—20, to persuade the “certain men” to desist in “teaching strange doctrines” and pursuing other unhelpful activities. It will be concluded that the “certain men” are being persuaded to turn to the “administration of God which is by faith,” and it is this persuasive strategy that ties the commands that follow later in the letter to the command given at 1 Timothy 1:3—4.