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The Pastoral Epistles (The New International Greek Testament Commentary) Hardcover – August, 1999
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"Knight is to be congratulated for his significant contribution to New Testament study. An excellent supplement and balance to the Dibelius-Conzelmann commentary, Knight’s Pastoral Epistles will well serve teachers of the Greek text. And for preachers whose Greek is serviceable, Knight’s commentary is arguably the one to turn to first."
"An exegetical handbook to the Pastoral Epistles. . . . Well-written, clear, and concise . . . this commentary offers an excellent summary of modern scholarship on the Pastorals in addition to giving a sound and helpful discussion of the text by a seasoned scholar. It deserves to be on the reference shelf of every serious pastor and student."
The Bible Today
"Following the style of this fine series, Knight’s commentary is most valuable for its detailed analysis of the Greek text of the epistles."
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Top Customer Reviews
In preaching Titus, I had eight commentaries that I consulted. It quickly became apparent that there were two which were clearly the cream: this commentary, and John Stott (who is taking a more expositional approach). I feel like I could have had only these two and would not have been missing anything. Commentaries are expensive and a pastor's time is valuable ... do yourself a favor and get this commentary,
Another fairly-recent and very helpful treatment of the Greek text should not be overlooked: George W. Knight's The Pastoral Epistles in the New International Greek Testament Commentary series, edited by I. Howard Marshall and W. Ward Gasque.
Given the modern history of studies in the Pastorals, it comes as no surprise that the 50-page introduction focuses on the question of authorship. Knight, acknowledging the help of Donald Guthrie, fends off the arguments against Pauline authorship and upholds the traditional position: Paul wrote 1 Timothy and Titus during the time between his two Roman imprisonments (i.e., during the early-to-mid 60s). He wrote 2 Timothy during the second Roman imprisonment (as early as 64 and as late at 67). He was martyred in Rome around that same time.
In defending this reconstruction, Knight deals with the alleged and real differences in vocabulary, style, ecclesiology, and theology between the Pastorals and other letters ascribed to Paul. In dealing with the revived suggestion that Luke wrote these letters, Knight accepts no more than the possibility that Luke served as Paul's amanuensis.
In the commentary proper, Knight briefly introduces each section and then seriously engages the Greek text verse by verse, treating phrases and individual words. He discusses significant textual questions, carries on a conversation with the immediate and broader biblical contexts, and responds to both ancient and modern secondary literature. Instead of asserting a determined position, he discusses every exegetical alternative with thoroughness. For example, more than a page is taken up discussing whether the Greek term kyrios in 1 Tim 1:14 refers to the Father or to the Son.
In two excursuses Knight crosses the line that traditionally divides exegesis from hermeneutics. In the first, "Bishops/Presbyters and Deacons," he builds a strong case that churches of the New Testament era typically recognized the two classes of leaders (1 Tim. 3:1-13; Phil. 1:1). The author says that a plurality of bishops and deacons serving a congregation is the New Testament "pattern."
In the second excursus, "Motivations for Appropriate Conduct," he argues that in Titus 2:1-10 Paul insisted upon such standards not merely because their violation would be offensive to outsiders and thus hurtful to the reputation of the gospel, but also because those standards square with healthy teaching, are intrinsically right, and were recognized by many first-century Cretans as such. In taking this stance Knight rejects the view that some of the regulations (notably, the wife's submission to her husband) are purely cultural and should not be bound in more egalitarian societies like ours. (For an overview of Knight's argument on the wider question, see his article, "The Role of Women in the Church"). He also rejects the notion that the high ethical standards of Pauline Christianity and the culturally accepted norms of the Pastorals do not match. Citing the ideal of citizenship in Romans 13 and the popular ethics of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, the author denies any sort of tension between "the real Paul" and the author of the Pastorals. Furthermore, the Pastorals do not uniquely represent an "early catholicism" that upheld a sort of pedestrian, middle-class morality.
As expected, readers will find in this work any number of likes and dislikes. In my opinion, the best aspect of this commentary is its exegetical detail on the Greek text. Knight also does a better job of drawing the reader into the text than do, say, Dibelius and Conzelmann (although their commentary remains a gold mine of historical and literary parallels).
I think that the primary flaw of Knight's commentary is that its linguistic focus is so intense, other contours of the biblical text are frequently ignored. For example, on 1 Tim. 5:23 ("No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and frequent ailments"), he says nothing of wine drinking in the Greco-Roman world, nor does he respond to the common suggestion that this verse gives us a glimpse into how the ascetic demands of the false teachers at Ephesus were affecting timid Timothy. Though shorter commentaries might ignore such questions, one expects a full-length work to treat them. A second criticism is that the historical notes, as well as the reported positions of other scholars, sometimes lack precision.
These quibbles aside, Knight's commentary is a significant contribution to New Testament study. An excellent supplement and balance to more liberal works like Dibelius-Conzelmann, this work will be a help to professors and other students of the Greek text. And for preachers whose Greek is serviceable, this guide is arguably the one to turn to first after working through the text itself.
The book opens with a foreword, a preface and bibliography. After the detailed textual and historical introduction it addresses the attestation of the early church and its relationship with the Acts of the Apostles and the other NT epistles. Afterwards, the author continues with a meticulous presentation of critical arguments concerning the authorship of these epistles. After presenting the absence of basic Pauline concepts and the relationship between Luke and Paul he examines the Lucan proposal and concludes that Paul is the author after all. Then, G. W. Knight III proceeds with his detailed, verse-by-verse exegetical commentary of the Pauline Epistles. Very good book.