Online Encyclopedia

THE EPISTLE TO TITUS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 1032 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
THE EPISTLE TO TITUS, in the New Testament, an epistle which purports to have been written by Paul to Titus (i. 1–4), who is in charge of the local churches at Crete (i. 5). The younger man is reminded of the qualifications which he is to insist upon in officials (i. 5–16), in view of current errors,2 doctrinal and moral. The genuine teaching, or " sound doctrine," which he is to propound (ii. 1, seq.), is then outlined, with regard to aged men and women, younger men and slaves especially.' After a postscript (iii. 8–11), reiterating the counsels of the letter, with particular reference to the outside public, some personal notices are briefly added (iii. 12–13), and, with some final exhortations, the epistle ends. The origin of Christian missions in Crete is obscure. A strong Jewish element existed among the population (cf. i. 13 seq., iii. 9), which explains the particular hue of the local heresies as well as, perhaps, the initial efforts of a Christian propaganda (cf. Acts ii. I I). The geographical situation of the island also favoured an early introduction of the new faith. " Crete was a great wintering place " for vessels (cf. Acts xxvii. 12 seq.) working their slow way to Rome along the southern coast of the Mediterranean,' so that the possibility of Jewish Christian evangelists having reached it before long is to be granted freely. ' The common names given to this bird are so very inapplicable that it is a pity that " silerella " (from siler, an osier) bestowed upon it by Sir T. Browne, its original discoverer, cannot be restored. 2 On the somewhat harsh estimate of the Cretans in i. 12 see Dr J. Rendel Harris in Expositor (7th series, vol. ii. p. 305 seq.). The other features noted in the epistle, their turbulence, drunkenness and greed, all happen to be verified in the pages of ancient writers like Polybius. On the sub-Pauline tone of iii. 5 cf. Sokolowski's Geist and Leben bei Paulus (1903), p. to8 seq. Cf. W. M. Ramsay: Pauline and other Studies (1907), p. 76, Hoennicke's Das Judenchristentum (1908), p. 156 seq., and Harnack's Mission and Expansion of Christianity, ii. 229—230 (2nd ed., 1908). It is more difficult to determine when Paul can have visited the island and left Titus behind him. Attempts have been made to find a setting for the epistle within the apostle's life previous to his Roman imprisonment (as recorded in Acts), but by common consent' it is now held that the epistle (if written by the apostle) must fall later, during the period of missionary enterprise which is supposed to have followed his release from the first captivity. Like the epistles to Timothy, the Epistle to Titus thus belongs to a phase of the apostle's life for which we possess no other contemporary evidence. The second imprisonment of 'Paul, after a period of freedom following his acquittal, is an historical hypothesis (cf. the statement in Steinmetz's Die zweiter&m.Gefangenschaft des Paulus, p. 46 seq.), which is absolutely essential to the Pauline authorship of the pastorals. It is indeed supported by several critics who reject the latter, just as it is occasionally rejected by advocates of their authenticity. But, upon the whole, such evidence from early tradition as can be adduced from the 2nd century seems no more than an expansion of Paul's language in Rom. xv. 24, 28. The pastorals themselves never mention any mission in Spain. Spanish tradition is silent on the fact, and the allusion to the " west" (in Clem. Rom. v.) can be interpreted at least as fairly of Rome as of Spain. The entire problem is not without its difficulties still, after all the research lavished upon it, but the probabilities seem to converge upon the conclusion that Paul was never released from his imprisonment, and consequently that he never revisited the East. The internal criticism of the epistle starts from i. 7–9, which is plainly an interpolation, perhaps from the margin, upon the qualifications of episcopoi. On the other hand a passage like iii. 12–13 is indubitably a Pauline fragment, and the problem for the critic is to determine whether in the epistle as a whole we have a redacted and interpolated edition of what was originally a note from the hand of Paul, or whether the epistle drew upon some Pauline tradition (connecting Titus with Crete) and material, and was afterwards interpolated at i. 7–9. The latter hypothesis seems more probable, upon the whole, although there is little to choose between the two. The substantially Pauline character of the epistle, for all practical purposes, is to be granted upon either hypothesis, for the author or the editor strove not unsuccessfully, upon the whole, to reproduce the Pauline spirit and traditions The older notion that the personal data in Titus, or in the rest of the pastorals, were invented to lend verisimilitude to the writing must be given up. They are too circumstantial and artless to be the work of a writer idealizing or creating a situation. Thus, in the present epistle, a passage like iii. 12–13 is palpably genuine. But it is another question whether other passages can be added to it (e.g. i. I seq., 5–6, 12–13a, 16, iii. 1–7, 15, by Hesse; i. r, 4, iii. 15, by von Soden; i. 1–6?, iii. 1–7, by McGiffert), in order to reconstruct a more or less independent note from Paul's own pen. It seems improbable that Titus or any of the pastorals is directed against any one phase of contemporary heresy.' The prohibition of marriage (1 Tim. iv. 3) was common to Marcion and Apelles, while the injunction of fasting' is attributed to the Encratites (Iren. Adv. Hoer. i. 28, I) and to Saturninus of Antioch in Syria (ibid. 1. 24, 3), the latter being also credited with having been the first to introduce a dualism into humanity, which made God send his Saviour to destroy the evil and redeem the good, both classes having been formed by the angels (cf. Titus ii. I I ; I Tim. iv. 1o). The exhaustive discussions on this point (cf. Bourquin, pp. 55 seq.) have led most scholars to the conclusion that no one system of 2nd-century gnosticism is before the writer's mind. He is maintaining Paul's role. He makes the apostle prophesy, vaguely of course, the evil tendencies which were to come upon the church; but the internal evidence, ' W. E. Bowen, Professor Bartlet (Apostolic Age, pp. 178 seq. ; cf. also article cn PAUL), Lisco (Vincula sanctcrum, 1900) and Laughlin are the only recent exceptions, and their conjectural schemes are mutually destructive. The common style of the epistles forbids any dispersion of them over a term of years. They stand or fall together, as critics of all schools are practically agreed. The impossibility of placing them within the period of Acts is best known by Hatch, Bourquin (pp. 10–25), Bertrand (23–47) and von Soden. e The historical site for iii. 12–13, as well as for the tradition which forms the setting of the epistle, is probably to be sought in the neighbourhood of Acts xx. 3 (so Krenkel). Clemen dates iii. 12–13 from Macedonia after 2 Cor. x.–xiii., i.–ix., previous to Romans (in A.D. 59). Essenism, blended with Ebionitism, is the plausible conjecture of Schleiermacher, Neander and Mangold, but the Essenes do not seem to have prohibited marriage so dogmatically. 8 Asceticism was bound up with the gnostic depreciation of the body. By a natural recoil it produced licentiousness of conduct which the pastorals hotly denounce. together with the impossibility of placing the epistles later than the first ten or twenty years of the 2nd century, render it impracticable to detect anything except incipient phases of syncretistic gnosticism behind the polemical allusions. It was a gnosticism fluctuating not only in its relation to the Church but in its emphasis upon certain ethical and theosophical ideas. One definite trait is its Jewish character (Titus i. 1o; 2 Tim. iii. 16; 1 Tim. i. 7, &c.). The errorists developed speculations and practical theories on the basis of the Old Testament law, which proved extremely seductive to many Christians. But it is difficult to find any homogeneity in the repeated descriptions of this semi-gnostic phase, although now and then (e.g.-in i Tim. i. 7 seq. ; Titus i. 14, iii. 9) there are suggestions of the legalism which Cerinthus advocated. The Ophites are said to have not only used myths but forbidden marriage and held that the resurrection was purely spiritual (Lightfoot) ; this, however, is probably no more than an interesting coincidence, and all attempts to identify the errorists definitely must be abandoned.' The early Fathers often indeed identify them with later types of gnosticism, but this cannot be taken as any sure clue to the author's meaning. They naturally found in his prophetic words the anticipation of heresies current in their own age. Sometimes, as in the cases of the resurrection being allegorized2 and marriage repudiated,' it is feasible to detect distortions or exaggerations of Paul's own teaching, against which the Paulinist of the pastorals puts in a caveat and a corrective. But these some-what " indiscriminate denunciations are certainly not what we expect from a man like Paul, who was an uncommonly clear-headed dialectician " (McGiffert). They partake of the nature of a pastoral manifesto, which does not trouble to draw any fine distinctions between the principles or motives of its opponents. The method resembles that of the First Epistle of John, for although the errorists attacked in the latter manifesto are not those of the pastorals, and although the one writer eschews entirely the inner authority of the Spirit which the other posits, the same anti-gnostic emphasis on practical religion and stereotyped doctrine is felt in both. For the view that a PauIinist was the author, see Schleiermacher, Cber den sogen. ersten Brief des Paulus an den Tim. (1807), which really opened the modern phase of criticism on all three epistles; Baur, Die sogenannten Pastoralbriefe des Apostels Paulus (1835) H. J. Holtzmann, Die Pastoralbriefe kritisch u. exegetisch behandelt (188o), an exhaustive treatment; Hilgenfeld, Zeitschrift fur die wiss. Theologie (1897), 49 seq., 61 seq., 79 seq.; E. Y. Hincks, Journal of Bibl. Literature (1897), 94-117; and Renan, S. Paul xxiii.-'iii., L'Eglise chretienne, ch. v. The conservative position is maintained with varying confidence by C. W. Otto, Die geschachtlichen Verhaltnisse der Pastoralbriefe (186o) ; Bertrand, Essai critique sur t'authenticite des Cp. pastorales (1888) ; G. G. Findlay, appendix to Eng. trans. of Sabatier's L'Apotre Paul, pp. 341 seq.; W. E. Bowen, Dates of Pastoral Letters (1900) ; T. C. Laughlin, The Pastoral Epp. in the Light of one Roman Imprisonment (California, 1905) ; and J. D. James, The Genuineness and Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles (1906). For general studies, see Schenkel's Bibel-Lexicon, iv. 393-402; Sabatier's article in Ency. des sciences religieuses, x. 250-259; J. R. Boise, ' Clemen (Paulus i. 148) distinguishes broadly between the errorists of 2 Tim. and those controverted in the other two epistles. The former, he argues, are in the last resort libertinists and antinomians; the latter must be regarded as ascetic Judaists. 2 2 Tim. ii. 18. Paul's teaching about the believer being already risen with Christ gave a welcome handle to the later Gnostics. The passage in John v. 28-29 seems a correction of the possible inferences which might be drawn from such teaching in Paul and in the Fourth Gospel itself. a Cf. Von Dobschiltz, Christian Life in the Primitive Church (pp. 261 seq.). The Epp. of Paul written after he became a Prisoner (New York, 1887) ; Plummer, Expositor's Bible (1888); Bourquin, Etude critique sur les past. epitres (189o) ; Harnack, Die Chronologie, 48o seq., 710-711; Moffatt, Ency. Bib., 5079-5096, and W. Lock (Hastings's Dict. Bible, vol. iv.). U. MT.)
End of Article: THE EPISTLE TO TITUS
[back]
FLAVIUS SABINUS VESPASIANUS TITUS
[next]
TITUSVILLE

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.