Comment on Polycarp and the Pastorals

Edward Hobbs (
Mon, 19 Aug 1996 17:36:11 -0500 (EST)

From: LUCY::EHOBBS "Edward Hobbs" 19-AUG-1996 17:34:16.56
To: IN%""

A comment on:
"2 Timothy seems to appear first known to Theophilus of Antioch,
Irenaeus, and the Muratorian Canon. The trail of 2 Timothy, to me, seems to
deadend at Polycarp. The very primitive formula of 2:8 seems very Polycarpish
to me." --Jack Kilmon

I'm sure that Jack knows this, but for any that may have been surprised by
the suggestion that Polycarp wrote 2 Timothy, you might be interested in
the proposal over three decades ago by one of the German nobility who is
(was?) also a great scholar of early Christianity, Freiherr Hans von
Campenhausen, that Polycarp of Smyrna wrote all three of the Pastoral
Letters. See his article "Polycarp von Smyrna und die Pastoralbriefe"
-- it may be found in his volume _Aus der Friehzeit des Christentums_
(1964), pp. 197-252.

It used to be argued that the Pastorals had to precede Polycarp, since he
seemed to make so manmy allusions to passages in them; but of course if he
actually wrote them, the point becomes totally moot.

This is one of those scholarly theories which my romantic mind thinks OUGHT
to be true, like John Knox's theory about Onesimus collecting Paul's
letters and authoring Ephesians as a cover-piece. But of course in
teaching, honesty drives me to explain that they ARE theories, about
matters wherein we lack certitude. I even do this on Synoptic theories,
having students write papers on the assumption that the "Two-Source"
Hypothesis is correct (since it is the majority position), though I find
the James Hardy Ropes hypothesis much more plausible (the one incorrectly
called the Farrer-Goulder theory, analogous to Henry Owens' theory being
called the "Griesbach" hypothesis, after the man who plagiarized it from

All of these theories of authorship are outside the scope of B-Greek; my
excuse (aside from having a few minutes remaining before I leave my office)
is that the Polycarp-Pastor identification had not been mentioned on
the List before, to my knowledge.

--Edward Hobbs