While I'm glad to see that David has adopted this attitude, I do need to take issue with him.
In an earlier paragraph in the same comment, he said:
Further, Robert Lee Williams (a Baptist) in his book, “Bishops Lists” (linked to above), disagrees with Lampe on some crucial historical issues, one of which Lampe is for sure mistaken—i.e. that Irenaeus was the first to persuade “a Roman bishop to curtail tolerance” of the theological diversity in Rome (hope to create a new post soon to document this).I've looked through that work, briefly, and I would love to see a Baptist take on the issue of "apostolic succession." I would also be interested in seeing a Baptist interact with Lampe.
(I would note that on page 108 your author, Williams, cites Elaine Pagels. Just sayin'.)
But the fact is, Lampe’s work is extremely solid. Both Schreiner and Moo interact with his work on Romans 16 in a favorable way. It was a thorough and effective study, and it is, you might say, "state of the art." It has effectively silenced those critics who may have wanted to say that Romans 16 was not part of the original letter, but rather was appended to it at a later date.
You may think that his belief that Paul did not write the Pastorals somehow leads him to arrive at conclusions that you would not accept, but you cannot possibly say his work is anything less than stellar work. And it's not even as if Lampe has written in any scholarly capacity to argue that the letters of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus were pseudepigraphic works. You are measuring the man’s work by what are almost off-handed comments that he has made.
Again, I cannot stress enough, that the bulk of Lampe’s work is not a “New Testament Criticism,” but it is rather a historical (and sociological) analysis of Rome, largely in the second century.
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As for the issue of pseudonymity, Towner, in the introduction to his commentary, says that pseudonymity as a theory about the writing of these epistles, "can be seen as a solution that sought a middle ground between the earliest critical view -- in which a judgment of non-Pauline authorship meant 'forgery' and at best a reduced authority within the canon -- and the unpalative [in the academy] conservative insistence on authenticity. Existence of pseudonymity in the ancient world is well documented. And studies of the phenomenon in Greco-Roman and Jewish cultures have shown that it was a literary means of drawing on ancient authoritative voices to address current situations, and, most significantly, that the process was accepted and understood by the communities and free from allegations of deception"(20-21).
This is to say that Lampe's view (which represents an incidental mention and not a major writing) is not a radical view, but rather a "middle ground" in the scholarly discussions that go on about these letters.
(For those who are interested, Carson and Moo, citing Lewis Donelson in their Introduction to the New Testament, affirm that there are no instances of the earliest [New Testament era] church of having "accepted a document as religiously and philosophically prescriptive which was known to be forged. I do not know a single example" (pg 342). They go on to say, however, that "we should surely sympathize with the second-century presbyter who composed a 'Pauline' writing 'from love of Paul' and find little difficulty in imagining an earlier example of the same kind of thinking. The difficulty is not the idea of pseudonymity but the lack of evidencethat the New Testament Christians gave any countenance to the idea" (343-44).)
But I do believe that we may look to that period between 100 and 200 as a time when, after the death of the last apostle, that there was a void in the earliest church. There was, as O’Connor said, a time when “the Early Church was so eager for details that within another century it created the full accounts which are found in the apocryphal Acts.” And there is, as you are aware, a long, long list of pseudepigraphic and even forged works from this time. A huge number of these cropped up in support of legends of Peter – this is why Eamon Duffy can say that virtually everything that individuals like Origen, Ambrose and Augustine (and Roger Collins extends this list to Irenaeus and Tertullian) believed about Peter was “pious romance.”
Ken is right – Irenaeus did put forth some nonsense – such as that Jesus lived to be 50, and that Peter and Paul “founded” the church at Rome.
So I have no problem accepting the analysis that Hegesippus “drew up,” or “crafted” (his word, as reported by Eusebius) the list of Roman bishops – using names from that city’s historical memory, to be sure – but that such a list had not been kept from the beginning.
Just as an aside, I recall reading that you are from Northern California? Quickly, who are the mayors of San Francisco going back 100 years? (Hegesippus wrote in 166, and so it would have been approximately 100 years-worth of names he’d have had to come up with.) Who are the mayors of your current home town going back 100 years? What were their names – be sure to get them in the correct order – and affix dates to them. If you can’t do it, what would you do? Ask old folks for some of the names they remember. There’s no guarantee that would be a successful effort though. And if you were arguing against heretics, as Hegesippus was, and going back 20 or 30 years, there weren’t actually any “mayors” but maybe just councils or itinerant sheriffs, well, you might be tempted to incorporate those names in the drawing up of those lists. But it doesn’t make for an accurate list.
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It may be possible for you to question Lampe’s analysis of the Hegesippus/Irenaeus lists, but I cannot imagine you can challenge his analysis of episcopoi/presbuteroi -- he relies incredibly heavily on primary sources such as Clement and Hermas and others, and you certainly can’t (easily) challenge his entire fractionation-and-house structure. The “presbyterial style” of government also has deep roots within the New Testament.
The Victor/Irenaeus situation you alluded to somewhere seems highly plausible, especially given that Polycarp had made a similar kind of intervention with Anicetus with regard to the Eastern church in the dating-of-Easter situation.
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The bottom line is that you can’t simply dismiss Lampe’s work because of his “presuppositions” (which you may well be wrong about). The field of New Testament scholarship is just too small of a society – like a small town, in which very many of the players know very many of the other players, and even though a writer may think that Paul didn’t write the Pastorals, other more conservative New Testament scholars (such as Schreiner and Moo) still quote and cite and even rely on their work in other situations. Lampe’s thoughts about 2 Timothy is not dependent on his work regarding Romans. And the reverse is true as well. Each conclusion (by each writer) must be, and is, worked out on its own.
In the world of technology, there are two ways that people create systems. One is to assemble “Best of Breed” networks, whereas others may use something like Microsoft end-to-end. There are certainly better security solutions than a Microsoft security solution. There are just some situations in New Testament (and early church) studies that you want to look for a “best of breed” understanding of things.
The best New Testament scholars I've read don't go around saying, "I reject your work because you're liberal". (Though some used to do that.) No, the proper thing to do -- and the thing that is done -- is to look at each item, point-by-point, and interact with it. That's why these commentaries are so long. Because commentators do go word by word, and verse by verse, and consider all of the options -- what past writers have said, and what current writers are saying, and only then do they suggest what the best interpretive option is, and why.
Lampe's work "From Paul to Valentinus" is a thorough and thoughtful analysis of virtually everything we know about the church in the city of Rome in that era. If some of his presuppositions (which you cannot fully discern) slip out as he is building the sub-points for certain supporting arguments, it shows at worst that he his human. It does not reflect on the overall shape of the work.