The Pastoral Epistles. International Critical Commentary

By I. Howard Marshall
Edinburgh : T. & T. Clark (1999). xlii + 869 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. James Rosscup
13.2 (Fall 2002) : 290-291

 This is one of the best exegetical attempts on the two books to Timothy and Titus. For detail on interpretive issues in the Greek, phrase by phrase, and in careful hermeneutical attention to the context and to information from relevant literature, it ranks high, just as Marshall’s massive commentary on Luke. The latter is The Gospel of Luke, A Commentary on the Greek Text, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds. I. Howard Marshall and W. Ward Gasque (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978). Marshall also is well-known for other commentaries which, though not as exegetically detailed, contribute a high standard of scholarly perception on many verses (cf. his works on Acts, The Thessalonian Epistles, 1 Peter, and the Epistles of John).

Marshall, much like Cranfield in his 2-vol. work on Romans (also in ICC series), offers much help on views to interpret problem verses, and considerations that lead to grasping the most defensible meaning. He shows wide reading in serious scholarly inquiry and careful explanatory reasoning. For serious teachers or pastors diligent in the text, or students in training, the present work is right at the top among recent detailed contributions. Other massive, helpful works join it (William Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, Word Biblical Commentary [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000] and Jerome D. Quinn and William C. Wacker, The First and Second Letters to Timothy [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000]). George Knight’s outstanding work a bit earlier should be noted (Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, New International Greek Testament Commentary [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991]).

Though Marshall’s effort is a big assist overall, one feature that disappoints this reviewer and many others is his hedging on taking Paul as the author. He finally opts against this with reasoning that appears inadequate (cf. his “Introduction”). He does faithfully discuss possibilities, cover many bases, and stir thinking. Those who use the commentary will gain solid help in most verses, and much benefit on some, for example, 1 Tim 2:1-2, 15; 3:1-12 (elders, deacons); 4:16; 2 Tim 1:7, 16-18, 2:1- 2; 4:7-8; Titus 2:9ff.; 3:5-8.

Marshall capably sifts a vast library of knowledge on issues, does his homework, and furnishes insight while keeping to a lucid, clear style that cuts to the point.