Reviews of Christopher R. Hutson, First and Second Timothy and Titus. Paideia. Grand Rapids: Michigan, 2019.

These reviews were given at the 2020 SBL conference in the Disputed Paulines sessions Thursday 3rd December. The first review is by me, Lyn Kidson, followed by T. Christopher Hoklotubbe, author of Civilized Piety: The Rhetoric of Pietas in the Pastoral Epistles and the Roman Empire (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2017). Mike Bird’s review is now his Euangelion blog: Review of Pastoral Epistles Commentary by Christopher Hutson.

Review 1

By Lyn Kidson.

My task was to comment on the theme of education in the commentary. This commentary is a part of the Paideia series, which “is aimed squarely at students- including MA students…who have theological interests in the biblical text.” It is therefore accessible to an interested lay reader.

This is the best commentary on the Pastoral Epistles I have ever read. And this is because the commentator has a good grasp of these documents as ancient literature. It seems that he owes the clarity of vision that he has about these letters to his former teacher, Abraham Malherbe. Malherbe’s approach was a socio-historical one. For Malherbe, as it is for E.A. Judge, the scholar begins by having a reasonable grasp of the social, cultural, and literary world of the writer and his or her audience. Chris Hutson is able to bring his extensive knowledge of the ancient world to enlighten the text of this letter collection. He is assiduous in marshalling his material so that it is directly relevant to the verses he is discussing, but at the same time, one senses the depth and expanse of resources that have been drawn upon to illustrate his point. One has the sense that more could be said but in keeping with the format of the commentary only the upmost essential pieces of information are presented. But one is not left guessing what Chris thinks as so often happens in commentaries; he uses the material to draw conclusions. For students, to whom this commentary series is aimed, this is an enormous aid in their development as scholars. To see the material marshalled, a point argued, and conclusions drawn will provide many students with a model they need to interact with the New Testament as a collection of historical documents. On the other hand, the student is given enough information to search the materials and interact with the secondary scholarship to draw their own conclusions. For those students who have never been exposed to other ancient documents outside of the Bible, the excursuses are well placed and contain engaging and stimulating insights into the thought world of the writer and the audience. And it is with these excursuses that I would like to begin the next part of my review.

“Epictetus on How a Youth can be an Effective Teacher” is a great illustration of some of the essential concerns in the PE. “Great Power,” says Epictetus “is always dangerous for the beginner. We ought, therefore, not bear such things according to our power – nay in accordance with nature…Practice sometimes a style of living as one who is ill, so that at some other time you may live as one who is healthy. Take no food only water.” So many of these comments are directly relevant to the advice in 1 Timothy. Most importantly, Epictetus’ advice is to convert and to train oneself in the philosophical regime that one is promoting. And this goes a long way to explaining much of the advice to Timothy in 1 & 2 Timothy. In 1 Timothy 4:12–16, Paul gives similar advice to Timothy as does Epictetus. He is not to mind those who may despise him for his youth but to concentrate on the essential practices that will make him “an example for all believers in word, in conduct in love in faith, in purity.” Hutson’ explanation of verse 13 in the light of the Epictetus passage allows the student to see how they and previous commentators have read into the PE their own concerns about church order. As Hutson says “Western commentators almost universally take verse 13 as a description of the public duties of a minister, to teach, read, and exhort.” He makes the case “that it is about Timothy’s ministerial formation.” For instance, he says, “Give attention to the teaching does not mean ‘teach.’ The expression ‘give attention to’…points to the source of understanding…Bad teachers ‘give attention’ to ‘myths and endless genealogies [1:3]…and to ‘deceitful spirits and instructions of demons.’ (4:1).” Hutson’ ability to see how the various instructions relate to other elements in the letter under discussion is commendable. It gives insight into how the writer is developing his themes across the letter and across the collection. The development of the young teacher/minister is one of the great themes of the PE that Hutson has so clearly elucidated for his reader. Seen in this light many of the problematic passages come to something of a resolution in their interpretation.

Of particular interest to me is Hutson’ handling of the women’s education in chapter 2. The use of the excursuses and the illustrations focus the attention of the student onto the decorum of the women’s dress and modest behaviour. These things can be so easily overlooked as ‘cultural’ rather than essential elements in the advice being given. I particularly commend Hutson for making room for the entire letter of Melissa to Cleareta, which so clearly demonstrates that its advice is standard education material for “philosophical women.” It highlights says Hutson “the themes of temperance, decorum, and orderliness that are central to our passage” 1 Timothy 2: 9-10. His discussion on sophrosyne, the Greek ideal of moderation, would be truly enlightening to a student. This prepares the student for Hutson’ discussion on verses 11-12 in the light of cultural expectations regarding a woman’s modesty. It is quite clear in Hutson’ development of his discussion about education that writer’s instruction to the women is not about their place in a gender hierarchy, but about the cultural expectation that women would demonstrate “modesty and temperance.” He places these instructions in the broader context of the church’s mission, “a woman who flouted those conventions could bring criticism on herself and the church.”

Earlier he describes the “all-compassing ethical ideal” that is piety. It is quite a feat to describe this virtue in an excursus, but certainly, the terra-cotta image statuette of Aeneas escaping from Troy with his son and father vividly demonstrates this ethical ideal. And it opens up for the student a new dimension in their investigation of the text- that literature is not the only source of information about the nature of the writer’s thought. The attentive student, if they were to work their way through this commentary from the beginning, would find rich payoffs in their investigation of 2 Timothy and Titus. Timothy as Paul’s son is carrying on his father’s example like valiant Aeneas, “in 2 Timothy [Paul] guides his protégé to pass on [the] charge/deposit to succeeding generations.” Hutson draws out how important is Paul’s example to Timothy as the model of Christ. All this work comes together in his discussion of 2 Timothy 2:8-10, “Remembering prior instruction (3:14) was part of the philosophical training (see ‘Genre: Philosophical Training Regimen’ in the general introduction…) Timothy should ‘remember’ the resurrection of Jesus as a central tenet that orients his conduct.” Even if the student is not able to see the connections between the various sections in the commentary, Hutson has given pointers to teachers in how to utilize the commentary for the benefit of their students.

I would urge any teacher to use the commentary to the full even if they were just preparing a unit on 1 Timothy. I would like to highlight Hutson’ handling of the education program in the light of the writer’s eschatological vision in Titus. For although Hutson is expounding on this theological theme in Titus, it applies to all the letters in this little collection. I will finish my review here with a quote by Hutson as I think it sums up his clear vision of what the writer of the PE was attempting to achieve in these letters. And it is this clarity of vision of the pastor’s purpose which makes this the best commentary I have ever read,

“It is important to distinguish Pastoral Paul’s social agenda and his theological orientation, discerning which is the cart and which is the horse. The social agenda laid out in [Titus] 2:1–10 includes a well-ordered, patriarchal household with women, youths, and the enslaved in proper subordination to free, male householder. The purpose of maintaining this social structure is defensive, ‘so that the word of God might not be slandered’ ([Titus] 2:5). The theological warrant is that ‘the saving grace of God was manifested to all people,…educating us’ ([Titus] 2:11-12). The epiphany of God’s grace has universal implications…But it was not the purpose of that epiphany to educate all peoples that they should forever conform to Greco-Roman social expectations regarding an ideal household…The educational aim of God’s epiphany was ‘so that, renouncing impiety and worldly desires, we should live temperately and justly and piously in the present age’ [Titus 2:12].”

To read how I see my own work on chapter 1 of 1 Timothy relates to men and women in chapter 1 see my post Persuading Shipwrecked Men.

Review 2

By T. Christopher Hoklotubbe from Cornell College.

Greetings everyone.

I’ll begin my discussion of Christopher Hutson’s commentary on the Letters to Timothy and Titus by reading the longer form of my invited recommendation of this work. After rereading the commentary in preparation for this panel discussion, I find that my endorsement still holds true.

Hutson is an expert and trustworthy trail guide through the overgrowth of scholarship that blankets the forest of the Pastoral Epistles, sagaciously leading readers through its fragrant promise for youthful ministers while cautioning against the poison oak along the path. Hutson deftly guides readers beyond the slippery ravines of authorship and the nature of the opponents, directing our attention instead to the broader vistas of the Pastorals’ aims of negotiating a perceptively threatening imperial situation. Hutson briskly and deftly exposits the Pastorals’ message and rhetoric in conversation with ancient philosophical, political, and religious analogues as well as the texts’ reception history among late antique monastics, medieval mystics, reformers, and feminist scholars. This commentary is to be celebrated as a distinctly beneficial resource for aspiring ministers and students of the Pastorals alike.

 As readers of Hutson’s introduction will note, I was inspired by his metaphor of the task of the commentator being like that of a trail guide leading a hike through a forest, who shows “where previous hikers camped or hacked their initials into favorite trees” and picks up the “rubbish” of previous hikers, whose own markings have contributed to his “sense of this forest” (Hutson, 21). Hutson’s work is to be praised for its concision that does lack for wisdom, distilled like a good bourbon to mix metaphors. Hutson sticks to “the main path, pointing out landmarks, pitfalls, sidepaths, and alternative routes, but” resists the temptation to analyze “every beetle and lichen.” I appreciated his rigorous, brisk pace, which maintained my attention and contributed to the overall pleasure of reading his commentary to its trail’s end—I mean the limited pleasure any of us really have in reading a commentary from cover-to-cover.

But more than pacing, I found Hutson’s taste in ancient and modern analogues that he placed in conversation to these letters to be exceptional and well curated. Textboxes are placed throughout the commentary like helpful trail maps and information placards, that remind you where you are and provide interesting details with lengthy quotes given their due space that help us imagine how audiences throughout time may have interpreted what these texts meant to them.

In his “Theological Issues” sections following his “Tracing the Train of Thought” of the text, Hutson introduces us to range of theological co-journeyers which has an ecumenical effect of inviting readers to recognize that no singular denomination or branch of Christianity at any distinct period holds a monopoly on the meaning of these texts or the themes and practices present—that there is much to learn from and to be curious about within the broad global and historical heritage which Christians can, but often don’t consider. Many of these travelers I was introduced to for the first time. In particular I was impressed by the wisdom culled from the Philokalia, “an anthology of writings of Orthodox fathers from the fourth to fifteenth century” that was compiled by monks “in the late eighteenth century on Mount Athos in Greece” (Hutson, 59). I found Hutson’s discussion on the practice of hesychasm or “keeping silent” that seeks to cultivate “inner stillness” through meditation and repetition of simple prayers to be quite helpful, if sometimes only for moments, navigating the chaos of 2020 (which for me, also included weathering hurricane winds that streaked across Iowa). In the context of his discussion on “stillness” and several times throughout this commentary, I appreciated Hutson’s pastoral exhortation against nationalism and toward reorienting ourselves toward a lordship under Christ that is not co-opted by political parties – since such parties do not advocate for a full slate of demands of justice and restoration of this Earth as captured in Hutson’s vision of Christianity. In an age where white Christians make up a significant demographic of Trump’s supporters and celebrate a patriotism that holds itself as superior to others, Hutson’s commentary provides important truths to remember and to reorient lives around.

Perhaps what delighted me the most was that Hutson’s commentary was the first not only to make use of my dissertation, which became the book Civilized Piety: The Rhetoric of Pietas in the Pastoral Epistles and the Roman Empire, but to extend the argument. One of my conclusions was that the virtue of piety, eusebeia in Greek and pietas in Latin, is an under-appreciated theme that not only runs throughout 1 Timothy and is present in Titus and 2 Timothy, but in a sense, is the glue that holds together 1 Timothy. If piety was the virtue of paying proper respect to those you were obliged to honor, specifically those who stand in an ordered hierarchy above you, namely, your parents, nation, rulers, and gods (or to put in patriarchal terms: your father, fatherland, father of the fatherlands, and the divine fathers), then this virtue is present in spades in 1 Timothy. My question was why? What did claims to piety not just mean in antiquity, but more importantly, what did they do for those who said they had it or that others lacked it? On page 53, Hutson helpfully includes a figure of a terra-cotta image of Aeneas, the legendary founder of the Roman people and claimed ancestor of Augustus, “escaping from Troy, carrying his father, Anchises on his shoulders and giving his hand to his son, Ascanius” that dates to the first century C.E. This image of the Roman hero whom the poet Virgil names, “the Pious One” in his epic, the Aeneid, which would become an instant classic and read in schoolrooms, captures in miniature some of the importance that this virtue held for Romans. It was because of Rome’s exceptional piety, according to Cicero, that the gods had decided to give Romans dominion over the world. I personally think it’s fair to say that pietas had become something of a national virtue, analogous to how liberty, justice, and freedom are claimed as distinctive and representative values by Americans. Claims to pietas could be found on Roman coins, on the side of temples, along public stoa, on statues, and in poetic praise of rulers and philosophical treatises. Claims to piety, I argue were made to justify and legitimate imperial dynasties, to advance one’s standing and even belonging as an honorable citizen within a community, and to defend the integrity of how one imagines what the gods are like.  All this said, once you recognize the prevalence of piety in the ancient world and what it’s used for, it opens up a fresh way of reading the rhetorical aims of Pastoral Paul – one that Hutson richly takes advantage of throughout his commentary. I was pleased to find references to occurrences of piety, particularly among gravestones and funerary epithets that even I hadn’t attended to in my own work and benefited from Hutson’s own contribution to this discussion.

For Hutson, claims to piety, along with a number of Pastoral Paul’s other arguments and exhortations, each play their part in the author’s larger attempt to negotiate space for himself and his audience within the social and ideological constraints of the dominant, Roman imperial society. The key word here is negotiate, which comes from the domain of postcolonial studies and is a more sophisticated tool of analysis for thinking about how marginalized groups tend to not resist aggressively nor accommodate passively to their dominating and threatening societies in an absolute or static sense. Some biblical scholars have argued that texts like the Pastorals reflect a general movement away from the radical and counter-cultural call of discipleship and egalitarian vision of the apocalyptic Jesus movement that troubled traditional family values (for example, Jesus’ saying: call no man father in Matthew 23:9); that the Pastorals reflect a movement toward reflecting more the conservative family values of the society around them (which included women and slaves being silent and submissive). In reaction to such readings, there seems to be a recent wave of commentators who have set out to reclaim a heroic Paul who stands against Empire. These scholars seem to find evidence for a counter-cultural, anti-Roman Paul in any passage that professes allegiance to Jesus or encourages actions informed by such allegiance. To be crude, every statement about the Lordship of Jesus and God our Savior or about treating others in a Christ-like way becomes a “hidden” middle finger to the Emperor and to Roman culture, a noble act of resistance. Now I’m exaggerating a bit, but this seems to be the general thrust of such scholarship that seeks to save Pastoral Paul from his critics. Nevertheless, marginalized groups are often not so passive or bold in their tactics, but rather a complex mix, who use a variety of strategies to approach, handle, and diffuse different situations.

Hutson helpfully points us to the work of James C. Scott and his theory of ‘infrapolitics’ or politics from below. According to Scott, quoted by Hutson, for marginalized people,

“the luxury of relatively safe, open political opposition is both rare and recent…All political action takes forms that are designed to obscure their intentions or take cover behind an apparent meaning. Virtually no one acts in his own name for avowed purposes, for that would be self-defeating. Precisely because such political action is studiously designed to be anonymous or to disclaim its purpose, infrapolitics requires more than a little interpretation. Things are not exactly as them seem” (Scott 1990, 199-200; Hutson, 16).

And I would underline here the statement that infrapolitics certainly does require more than a little interpretation, as does identifying “hidden transcripts.” I worry about whether we as scholars — myself included — sometimes find evidence for resistance or even negotiation where we want to or at least where it fits our picture of the Pastoral Paul – that sometimes this ambiguous tool is too ambiguous for its own good.

For example, I’m suspicious of Hutson’s identification of a “hidden transcript” in Pastoral Paul’s description of a hymn about Christ’s incarnation, glorification, and ascension as a “mystery of piety” in 1 Timothy 3:16 (p. 102). Hutson references Neil Elliott’s (2004, p. 119) suggestion that Paul’s use of “mystery” in Romans 11, verses 25 and 33 functioned as a hidden transcript to give greater weight to the possibility that early Christ followers described their faith as a “mystery” in order to conceal their message from outsiders and dominating authorities. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case. First, Pastoral Paul is quite explicit about what this mystery is and doesn’t seem to be shy about telling it—of course this might be what we should expect for a conversation among insiders, off-stage. But, given Pastoral Paul’s missionary commitment to spreading the faith, it doesn’t quite seem that he would hesitate to share this “mystery” with outsiders outright. Hide it under a bushel – no! Pastoral Paul I think would want this mystery to shine. Furthermore, as T.J. Lang has argued in Mystery and the Making of Christian Historicism, it seems that “mystery” in Romans works more as a Jewish apologetic to explain the newness of the prophetic announcement that Gentiles are to be included among the people of God as a result of the hardening of Israel’s hearts, after which Israelites too will be brought back in (p. 44). This revelation had no “scriptural or traditional support,” and Paul’s use of mystery here works to justify his creative interpretation of Scripture based on some divine revelation he may have received. And so, Lang argues, “mystery” language was a terminology employed by many early Christ followers to account for the newness of their message (despite its lack of clear evidence from scripture or tradition) concerning a crucified prophet and miracle worker who in actuality is Israel’s king and has started a new eschatological age. To Elliot’s credit, it is helpful to think about apocalyptic stories that imagine the judgement of Rome (i.e., Revelation) as on off-stage, “hidden transcript,” and “mystery” language is certainly at home here. However, some mysteries seem to be more mysterious than others, and the mysteries alluded to in Romans 11 do not seem to be especially secretive — I doubt Roman authorities cared about or would be threatened by the problem of why Judeans were not largely persuaded by early Christ followers’ claims and so exhibited hardened hearts.

Now in contrast to Lang, I think something else is happening once we get to the Letter of Timothy (which I take to be into the second century).  What I think is more interesting is the kind of cultural capital or prestige that Christians banked on when they described their beliefs as mysteries to Greeks and Romans who were familiar with the “mysteries” or sacred stories of their city’s patron deities, including the mysteries of Artemis. One need not have been an initiate to know about the mysteries of Artemis of Ephesus, if citizens did not know their broad content then they at least knew that there were “mysteries” that were quite powerful to know about since the mysteries were advertised on the streets when parades of initiates invited the uninitiated to join. Christ-followers, like Pastoral Paul, had his own mysteries to advertise.

I also have a small scruple with Hutson’s interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11–3:1 regarding Pastoral Paul’s stance toward women. But who would be surprised by my scruple regarding the most controversial topic among the Letters? I’m sure everyone here has their own take on what’s going on! First, I must say that I found Hutson’s framing of this passage admirable! In his introduction to this passage, he clearly lays out the terms of the debate and presents his view that “social rules as human constructions…are profoundly affected by the fallenness of the present age,” (p. 73) while leaving room for those he disagrees with by sending them off to the works of Moo and Schreiner. I also appreciate the theological range of conversation partners he brings to table here, including Linda Belleville, Annette Huizenga, Gary Hoag, Bruce Winter, Andreas J. Köstenberger, Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, and Phillip Payne among others. I very much share Hutson’s egalitarian conviction and would eagerly share this section with my in-laws who are on the fence about women leadership in the Church. I loved and underlined this gem: “Should we spurn such gifts [namely the spiritual gifts endowed in women] when they come wrapped in bodies that do not meet our expectations”? (p. 83). Now my scruple. I actually agree with more conservative commentators’ readings of this passage, like that of Köstenberger, that Pastoral Paul is indeed “severe” and prohibits women from teaching, regardless of their orthodoxy based on their innate gullibility that they inherited from Eve. I agree with Belleville that Pastoral Paul is against women “domineering” over men (taking authentein as “to dominate” rather than simply “have authority over”). But against her egalitarian reading, it’s likely that Pastoral Paul didn’t consider there to be a way for women to teach men that wasn’t “domineering.” The very practice of women teaching men is inherently “domineering” because it’s out of order with the patriarchal order of the cosmos established by God. I absolutely agree with Hutson and Belleville (and against Köstenberger) that this passage stands in tension with much of the witness of Scripture. I suggest then that the biblical feminist move is not simply to force a loophole here where woman can teach if they don’t dominate, but rather to call out this fallen patriarchal stereotype for what it is and move toward the vista of a new heaven that Hutson directs our sights toward from the very beginning of the trail. Now again, I know this move would not be persuasive to my in-laws, who would be more persuaded by the arguments of Hutson and Belleville, so I’m thankful for them making such strong cases for their readings.

I also have a small scruple with Hutson’s identification of hidden transcripts at work in Pastoral Paul’s admonition to slaves to obey their masters. Hutson compares Pastoral Paul to a slave preacher before the American Civil War who was ambiguously for accommodation to the status quo or a promoter of slave autonomy (p. 141). Again, I’m not optimistic here that a hidden transcript is what we have, but rather, what we see is what we get in these passages. It may just be my cynicism, but I (along with Horrell 2001, p. 37) even think it may be the case that Pastoral Paul was a bit patronizing in 1 Timothy 6:1-2 in asking slaves to imagine themselves as benefactors to their masters. Could you imagine a McDonald’s manager encouraging their employees to think of themselves as “benefactors” to the restaurant by working extra hours without pay? Sometimes imagined honor is just that, imaginary. And so, I wouldn’t read this passage as ambiguous or as a hidden transcript that encouraged Christ followers to reimagine social relationships so as to significantly critique the status quo and the Roman imperial structures of domination. However, I certainly agree with Hutson that Christians then as throughout time selected and emphasized passages from scripture that justified their autonomy and liberation, even in 1 Timothy as shown by Hutson’s fascinating text box, “Jeff Calhoun Remembers Uncle Billy.” This aside tells the story of Uncle Billy, a slave, who justified his cutting down of his master’s collard greens, on the basis of a possible loose version of 1 Timothy 5:18: “You shall reap when you laboreth.” Uncle Billy is promptly told by his Master, “Get to hell out’n here.” I worry that Pastoral Paul would have had a similar reaction if a slave in his assembly used Scripture to justify their leadership, equal standing with masters, or even liberation.

Then again, maybe Hutson’s optimistic reading is correct. But this is the problem with using an ambiguous tool like “hidden transcripts” – without having or knowing the actual transcript, it’s up to us how to imagine what lies beneath or behind the text on the basis of the limited knowledge we have around it. Even what context and analogous sociological models we should prioritize in reconstructing the social-rhetorical situation of this text is ambiguous. There is just enough extant material and relevant analogues available to paint contrasting and perhaps equally justifiable portraits of Pastoral Paul. And to Hutson’s credit, he introduces readers to many of these resources, most notably, Jennifer Glancy’s important reality check that the honor and deference that slaves were expected to pay to their masters also included making themselves sexually available to them.  Nevertheless, we must paint something, and I very much appreciate Hutson’s portrait of Pastoral Paul, it’s one that I as a progressive evangelical certainly wish captured his actual likeness.

I’d also like to bring our attention to another problematic passage in these Letters that I found Hutson’s insightful analysis beneficial for the Church to wrestle with. Turning to his treatment of Titus 1:10-16, Hutson does a model job at walking audiences through Pastoral Paul’s notorious use of ethnic stereotypes to denigrate Cretans and Judaeans. The passage reads:

“For there are many insubordinate, worthless talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped who are upsetting whole households, teaching what they ought not for the sake of shameful gain. One of their own, a prophet, said: “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy bellies.” This testimony is true. For which reason, reprove them unceasingly, so that they may be healthy in the faith, not giving attention to Jewish myths and commandments of people who pervert the truth.”

As Hutson notes, although this hyperbolic rhetoric likely arises from intra-Jewish polemic, this passage certainly hasn’t aged well and shouldn’t provide any justification for anti-Semitic prejudice on the part of modern-day Christians. Taken together with the Cretan quote, I greatly appreciated Hutson’s recognition of the author’s use of prejudicial stereotypes – following Wolfgang Stegemann’s observation that both “Jewish myths” and Epimenides’ quote “reflect the sorts of stereotypes that ancient people routinely used to denigrate others” (Hutson, p. 223).

This stands in contrast to many commentators who have generally balked at the implications that Pastoral Paul could resemble a modern bigot in his use of ethnic stereotypes and antagonism toward Judean customs and stories, stressing that the actual historical situation of the text both reflected and warranted Paul’s severe remarks. In an effort to mitigate or dispel the seemingly prejudicial rhetoric at work in Titus, commentators have sought to identify and delimit the target and intent of the polemic and so contain its racist implications (Dibelius/Conzelmann, p. 135). Thomas C. Oden has stressed that the author does not aim to launch a “broadside against Cretans in general” (Oden 1989, p. 63). Rather, the author deploys a well-known caricature of the bestial Cretan in order to shame his opponents, whose Cretan lifestyles have corrupted their ethical vision. It is unimaginable that that the author of Titus actually thought that all Cretans were liars, brutes, and lazy, Ben Witherington III has argued, otherwise “there would have been none to appoint as elders!” (Witherington, p. 124). According to Philip H. Towner, Cretan Christ-followers would not have been “put off” by the author’s use of this Cretan stereotype, “for it would be understood that they should regard themselves as rescued from this perverse lifestyle.” (Towner, p. 703). Donald Guthrie has even found pastoral insight and application from the author’s use of such polemic: “every minister of the gospel must of necessity be cognizant with the character of his people, however distasteful the facts may be.” (Guthrie 1968, p. 188). And so, I praise Hutson, who in good company with Annette Huizenga in her recent commentary on the Pastorals, call a prejudicial spade a spade and draw our attention to consider how we can do better as Christians.

In the broader picture of this passage, Hutson did convince me that Patrick Gray and Albert Harrill are right to contextualize this primarily in terms of second-century rhetorical debates that denigrated the philosophical shallowness or sophistry of others while raising one’s own intellectual pedigree/legitimacy. Hutson’s commentary helped me to provide greater nuance to an article that is currently under review regarding the presence and negotiation of ethnic hierarchies in this passage.

As my time comes to a close, I again affirm my appreciation and praise for Hutson’s commentary. After reading it, I honestly thought to myself, “Good, now I don’t have to write a commentary. Chris said mostly what I would say.” Now, if there are any editors or publishers out there in the virtual audience, I’d gladly accept an offer to write a commentary in the future as more research is advanced – so please don’t hold me to this statement! But again, I commend this commentary to everyone who is looking to make another SBL purchase or looking for a commentary to recommend to their friends, students, or ministers. Thank you for your time and I look forward to the discussion.