April 16, 2018

Situating 1st Timothy at Troas (Acts 20:6)

In my well received post on Pauline Chronology, nine years ago, I suggested the provenance of 1st Timothy as such:
1st Timothy - 57 AD - handed off in person, in Troas, giving Timothy one week to appoint the Ephesian Elders Paul met at Miletus. This most natural conclusion has been frequently put off without justifiable cause, and only requires 2nd Corinthians to be written in late 56 AD. (Look again at the discussion of Illyricum, Timothy and 2nd Corinthians, above.
That discussion ("above") included these points:
2nd Corinthians - 56 AD, around November... This must be at the end of Paul's Macedonian trip, for two reasons. First, the trip to the Adriatic and back (Acts 20:1-2 & Romans 15:19) must have taken over a year, and second, Timothy must have intercepted Paul in Thessalonica on Paul's way back from Dyrrachium, before Paul headed to Corinth. Timothy, of course, had been struggling in Ephesus since Paul left him there to go into Macedonia, and must have spent the winter of 54/55 building up enough angst & frustration to make Timothy, desperately, flee Ephesus to go seek out Paul's help (just as Timothy had done at least twice before, in Thessalonica). All of this means 2nd Corinthians cannot have been written until after Paul's trip to Illyricum, probably only a month or two before Paul himself returned to Achaia. Timothy simply had to leave Ephesus in time to be in Macedonia with Paul, in time to co-sign this epistle.
One year ago, on Facebook, Jonathan Bernier challenged me to write up a better explanation of how this scenario works. After I did, he further challenged me to address the potential objection that Acts 19:22 puts Timothy in Macedonia before Paul, rather than after Paul. Again, there on Facebook, I did.

Rather than attempt to revise my words from that day, here follows a transcription of our exchange.

First, Jonathan posted on my wall, linking to my 2009 post and saying:
I was just rereading this post. I am continually intrigued by your suggestion that Paul handed 1 Timothy off to Timothy in person in Troas. There is one thing that bothers me however: Paul explicitly says that he urged Timothy to remain in Ephesus when he was setting off for Macedonia. It's not entirely clear to me exactly where in Acts 20 you are situating this hand off, as I don't see any instance in which 1) they are together in Troas, and 2) Paul is setting off for Macedonia, and 3) Timothy proceeds to Ephesus. Help!
To this, I replied at length:

Bless you, sir! There's a version of this answer that's two hours long, and I'm tempted to do a blog post on this... but for starters, here's a quick outline. 

Acts 20:1 -- Paul leaves Ephesus for Macedonia. This is where I suggest he told Timothy "st
ay in Ephesus..." (1Tim.1:3)

Acts 20:2 -- This one verse covers an awful lot of time and travel... including the mission to Illyricum (Rom.15:19; an inscription places the earliest church in Dyrrachium, exactly where it should be, on the crossing between the Egnatian and Appian ways)... and also including the writing of 2nd Corinthians, which must have taken place at Thessalonica (probably not Berea), from which point Paul proceeds down to Achaia (Acts 20:2, still!).

Note 1: At the occasion of writing 2Cor, Timothy was present, because he's named as a co-signer. Ergo, Timothy has left Ephesus and come to wait for Paul in Thessalonica, because he knew Paul was planning to run the length of the Egnatian and then head back to Corinth. Thessaonica is the perfectly most logical place to catch up with Paul, if you knew that was Paul's plan. 

Note2: The reason Timothy needs to find Paul is the same reason he needs Paul's written authorization and documented reiteration of the aforementioned assignment. Evidently, Timothy has been having so much trouble maintaining his position that he left to get help.

Note3: The extended time Paul would have spent planting a new church on the Adriatic is more than enough time for Timothy to face challenges to his authority, get stymied, decide to leave, and make his way to Thessalonica. 

Note4: We are still in the time period covered by Acts 20:2.

Acts 20:3-4 -- Having just sent the Corinthians a letter, and following in person soon after, Paul now spends three months in Corinth, where he writes Romans. Apparently, Timothy has stayed with Paul, perhaps because there's enough else going on that Paul was wise enough to be patient about the Ephesus situation, and probably also because Paul had become skittish about sea travel by now even in the Agean, and he wanted to wait before sending Timothy from Corinth to Asia. 

Acts 20:4 -- Three men from Macedonia travel with Paul by land, while four men from Asia sail directly to Troas. This is where Timothy reaches Troas. 

Acts 20:6 -- Paul (with Luke and Paul's three Macedonian companions) takes a slow boat near the coastline from Philippi to Troas. This is when I believe Paul finally has time to focus on writing 1 Timothy. Paul arrives in Troas, hands Timothy his "letter" and Timothy immediately departs. 

Acts 20:6-16 -- The seven days Paul spends in Troas, and the four (3-4?) days sailing to Miletus, gives Timothy just enough time to gather the church, lay down Paul's written requirements, and help everyone recognize who the rightful elders ought to be. 

Acts 20:17 -- From Miletus, Paul sends for the newly appointed Elders. 

Ta da!

At this point, Dr. Bernier very astutely added:
Re: 20:1: isn't Timothy already in Macedonia when Paul sets out? Certainly, that's the last location we can place him (cf. 19:22), and as noted he returns with Paul when the latter comes back from Macedonia (cf. 20:4). That's the detail that is tripping me up here. It also pertains to your Note 1.
And to this I responded:

Right. Well, after 19:22, what happened to Erastus? Luke doesn't mention him again. Is he still in Macedonia? Likewise Aristarchus in 19:29. How does he get to Greece by the time of 20:4? I'm going beyond simple anti-positivism here. There's an evident randomness to Luke's mention of travel companions. There's also specific times when we know he leaves something out. In 1&2 Thess we learn about Silas and Timothy going back and forth to Corinth, and in Galatians we learn Paul returned to Damascus. We don't know why Luke keeps doing this, but it's an evident pattern. 

I suppose some would say the weak spot in my argument is that my use of acts requires stretching the end of 19:22 (αὐτὸς ἐπέσχεν χρόνον εἰς τὴν Ἀσίαν) and I'd have to agree, except I don't think it's very weak. 

Either Timothy cane back to Ephesus after 19:22 or he stayed in Macedonia. We have good reasons to think Luke's silence tells us nothing, and (imho) our need to explain 1st Timothy is a substantial reason to "stretch" the end of 19:22 as I do. 

If there were a better explanation for 1Tim, I'd have no need to propose any of this.


For now, I can happily leave it at that.

Philosophically and methodologically, this rough sketch could probably be worked up more carefully into an historical reconstruction, but it could also be kept merely as an imaginatively contextualized reading of Acts. In terms of a formal argument, I haven't even remotely begun to think about laying out any defensibly academic treatment of all the various layers of presuppositions and methods. Nevertheless, it remains, as Jonathan said, an intriguing suggestion.

If I never circle back to working on Paul again, I hope someone else will pick up this flag and carry it further uphill.


April 3, 2018

#Narrative2018 Wishlist

I wish I could afford to be in Montreal this April 18-22 for Narrative 2018. (I blogged about last year's conference herehere and here). To give you some sense what the brightest minds in Narratology are discussing these days, here are 40 papers (of the hundreds being presented) that look very interesting indeed..
"Toward a Theory of Interest Structure," Justin Ness, Northern Illinois University 
"Chronological Order, the Narrative Present, and Dialogue," Eyal Segal, Tel Aviv University 
"Being in History: Creating the Present through Imagined History in Robin Hobb’s Farseer," Markus Laukkanen, University of Tampere 
"History After the End: Folded Temporalities and Building History in Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven," Mikko Mantyniemi, University of Tampere 
"The Misty Beginning of History: Narrativization of Mythical and Historical Knowledge in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Buried Giant," Elise Kraatila, University of Tampere 
"Creativity-Narrativity-Fictionality: A Critical Genealogy," Paul Dawson, University of New South Wales 
"Fictionality as Rhetoric," Richard Walsh, University of York 
"Rearranging the Furniture: The Synthetic, Mimetic, and Thematic Aspects in Rhetorical Narratology," Matthew Clark, York University 
"Narrative as Rhetoric and the MTS Model," James Phelan, The Ohio State University 
"Previously On…The Iliad: A Field Report on Epic Episodes," Lynn Kozak, McGill University 
"Re-thinking Narratives: Composing Images into Poems Within Late Eighteenth-Century Women’s Novels," Yasemin Hacioglu, University of Oslo 
"Theatricality and the Un-narrated in Jane Austen," Marcie Frank, Concordia University 
"When is a Character? Draft, Variants, and Versions of Storyworlds," John Young, Marshall University 
"Chaos Narrative and Experientiality in Graphic Memoirs about Mental Illness," Lasse Gammelgaard, Aarnus University 
"Understanding Narrative Through Text World Theory," Joanna Gavins, University of Sheffield 
"The Speed of Plot: Narrative Acceleration and Deceleration," Karin Kukkonen, University of Oslo 
"Sourcing Story: Broken Narrative Time in Alice Munro’s “Friend of My Youth” and Tan Dun’s "Ghost Opera"," Alex Creighton, Harvard University 
"The Role of Narrative in the Social Construction of Risk: Crime in Mexico as a Case Study (2004-2012),"  Gonzalo Soltero, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México 
"An Argument for Narrative Truthiness: Tim O’Brien and Using Complex Narrative to Counter Fake News," Annjeanette Wiese, University of Colorado, Boulder 
"Reconstructing LOST: Connecting Storyworld to Narrative Comprehension in Online Wiki Communities," Laura Bucholz, Old Dominion University 
"Technologies of Remembering and Theories of Forgetting: Revising the Archival Metaphor for Memory," Torsa Ghosal, California State University, Sacramento 
"Listening Silences: Phenomenological Hermeneutics and Narrative Theory in Contemporary Poetics," Samuel Caleb Wee, Nanyang Technological University 
"A Study of Episodic Value Created by Personal Narratives," Huiyuhl Yi, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology 
"The Paradox of Eventfulness: Narrative Thinking, Doubleness, and the Predestinarian Structure," Marina Ludwigs, Stockholm University 
"Narrative Mapping as Cognitive Activity and as Active Participation in Storyworlds," Marie-Laure Ryan, Independent Scholar 
"Managing Movement: Time-Space Arrangements in Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West," Birgit Spengler, University of Wuppertal 
"The (Im-)Possibility of Narrating Europe: The Affordances of Length and Cyclicality in British Short Story Cycles," Janine Hauthal, Vrije Universiteit Brussel 
"What Makes a Very Long Story Very Long?," Dan Irving, Stony Brook University 
"Mieke Bal: Reading Biblical Narrative Otherwise," David Richter, CUNY 
"An Eye for Detail Like No Other: Mieke Bal as a Close Reader," Esther Peeren, University of Amsterdam 
(After these papers, Mieke Bal is being presented with this year's Wayne Booth Award) 
"Information and the Novel: Margaret Drabble’s The Radiant Way," Carol Colatrella, Georgia Institute of Technology 
"The Philosophical Roots of Narratology: A Defense of Structuralism," Andreea Deciu Ritivoi, Carnegie Mellon University 
"Assessing the Preventability of an Accident in Conversational Storytelling," Luke K. Kwong, Nanyang Technological University 
"Narrating to Oneself and to Another: Within and between the Pieces of Chris Ware’s Building Stories," Hannah Rosefield, Harvard University 
"Counterfactual Narratives as a Tool for Macro-Level Meaning Making," Tabitha Holmes, SUNY New York 
"Time in Dream Narratives," Anna Narinsky, Al-Quds University 
"The “New” New Journalism: Long-Form Narrative Journalism in a Media Landscape Increasingly Driven by Shareable and Clickable Content," Brett Popplewell, Carleton University 
"Diagnostic Lists and Narrative Experientiality," Anna Ovaska, University of Helsinki 
"Cognition and Counter-Narratives: Mind-Modeling and the Critical Reception of Political Discourse," Sam Browse, Sheffield Hallam University 
"Accidental Events and the Problem of Contingency in 18th -Century Novelistic Narrative," Bridget Donnelly, UNC Chapel Hill

Again, I dearly wish I could go to Montreal to enjoy letting these fine scholars tickle my brain so delightfully. As for you, dear reader, if you make it to any of these papers, feel free to comment here later with a helpful report. The 2019 International Conference on Narrative will be held in Pamplona, Spain. For news about 2020 and beyond, stay tuned to the organizational home page.

Recent Posts
Recent Posts Widget
"If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient observation than to any other reason."

-- Isaac Newton