The First and Second Letters to Timothy

By Jerome D. Quinn and William C. Wacker
Grand Rapids : Eerdmans (2000). 918 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. James Rosscup
11.2 (Fall 2000) : 265-266

Immense detail explores views on problems in verses and shows wide awareness in scholarship. Quinn wrote it before his death in 1988, after finishing the Anchor Bible work on Titus, issued in 1990. Wacker, Quinn’s last student at St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., brought the present book to publication.

Due to Quinn’s death, the bibliography, though 55 pages in length, lacks many works written since then, though Wacker added some. The commentary begins with a detailed outline, bibliography, and 23-page introduction to the Pastorals. Later it has a 2-page introduction to 1 Timothy, and 1½-page introduction to 2 Timothy. After this are notes on both epistles, then indexes of modern names, Scripture, and a long list of ancient sources.

The introduction delves into the history of the earliest forms of the Pastoral Epistles (PE), many terms peculiar to the PE in biblical Greek (about 1/3 of the words to not occur in other Pauline epistles, 4), stylistic matters of syntax, and the practical nature of the content to help in such matters as pastoral issues, faith, prayer, and ethical conduct. Quinn favors Pauline authorship, but a composition of the letters as they now exist ca. A.D. 80-85, bearing a strong flavor of Paul’s ideas (18- 20). He often refers to details as by Paul (e.g., 54) or “in Paul’s name” (225). Quinn gives a new translation as he works through sections. He outlines step by step though he had given full outlines earlier.

The commentary remarks are often meticulous on verses, far more than teachers or pastors normally need even for careful instruction. Clarity usually prevails, but on some matters the crux of things is not obvious. An example is the great detail on “endless genealogies” (1 Timothy 1) with much on word meanings and hints at what Paul might mean, but no clear, composite focus in reaching a conclusion. At times one reads much to find the essential thrust of passages. Excellence is often evident as in expressing what 1 Tim 1:12 means on strengthening Paul. On 1 Tim 2:5 amid much detail, only a general statement results on Jesus’ death having universal efficacy (187), without reasons for limited or unlimited atonement. Quinn sees 1 Tim 2:11-15 as a Christian wife refraining from teaching a public audience with men (222). The silence is not total, but desisting from aggressive confrontations, as by questions airing irritations from home life. The text does not bar women from engaging in what all worshipers did—e.g., prayers, hymns, confessions (223).

“Husband of one wife” (3:2) means one marriage per lifetime for a man who aspires to the episcopate (256), even if the wife dies. In 2 Tim 1:6, the gift is given through the laying on of hands by the presbytery. The author sheds much light on 3:16-17. On 4:8 the crown involves victory and glory, bestowing the holiness that is the quality for a believer after victory in the test at God’s judgment seat (789).

This is one of the most informative recent works on the epistles to Timothy. On word meanings, and usually on main views and issues in verses, this is recommended as rich for teachers in schools. It also can help pastors who study detail. Its ponderous nature will drive some to works that are competent while quicker to the point.