Thursday, June 8, 2017

Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles

Decrees of the Pontifical Biblical Commission

June 12, 1913 (AAS 5 [1913] 292f; EB 425ff; Dz 2172ff)

I: In view of the tradition of the Church universally and firmly maintained from the beginning, as is witnessed in many ways by ancient ecclesiastical records, should it be held as certain that the Pastoral Epistles, the two, namely, to Timothy and another to Titus, notwithstanding the effrontery of certain heretics, who without giving any reason expunged them from the number of Pauline Epistles as being opposed to their tenets, were written by the Apostle Paul himself and were always listed among the genuine and canonical Epistles?

Answer: In the affirmative.

II: Can the so-called fragmentary hypothesis introduced and propounded in different ways by certain recent critics, who without any plausible reason and even at variance among themselves, maintain that the Pastoral Epistles were put together by unknown authors at a later date out of fragments of the Epistles or out of lost Pauline Epistles with notable additions, cause even any slight weakening of the clear and unshaken testimony of tradition?

Answer: In the negative.

III: Do the difficulties commonly alleged on many grounds, either on account of the style and language of the author, or of the errors, especially of the Gnostics, described as already then current, or of the presupposition that the ecclesiastical hierarchy was in an already developed state, and other similar arguments to the contrary, in any way weaken the opinion that holds the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles to be established and certain?

Answer: In the negative.

IV: As the opinion that the Apostle Paul was twice imprisoned at Rome should be considered certain on account no less of historical reasons than of ecclesiastical tradition in harmony with the testimonies of the holy Fathers both in East and West, and also on account of the evidence readily available both in the abrupt conclusion of the Acts and in the Pauline Epistles written at Rome and especially in the second to Timothy; can it be safely stated that the Pastoral Epistles were written in the interval between the liberation of the Apostle from the first imprisonment and his death?

Answer: In the affirmative.

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