Twice in the Pastoral Epistles the author uses the term “scripture” (graphe).

1 Tim 5:18 for the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves to be paid.”
2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness

Does the term refer solely to the OT Law, Prophets, and Writings, or could the author have a wider referent in mind? Could he also be thinking of at least some of the apostolic writings that now appear in the NT? In his recent book, What is Scripture? Paul’s Use of Graphe in the Letters to Timothy, L. Timothy Swinson argues that graphe represents a technical term that referred to both OT and NT texts as early as the late apostolic period. More specifically, Swinson contends that a written version of the Gospel of Luke is the source of the second referent of “scripture” in 1 Tim 5:18. He further contends that “all scripture” in 2 Tim 3:16 includes as its referent the apostolic writings extant in Paul’s day, especially Luke’s gospel and Paul’s epistles.

Swinson offers a brief treatment of the authorship issue; his conclusion is that it is most judicious to treat 1 and 2 Timothy as authentic Pauline letters (chapter two). The heart of the work is a grammatical-historical analysis of 1 and 2 Timothy, focusing on graphe and related terms (chapters three to six). In chapter seven, Swinson explores the uses of graphe in Philo, Josephus, the LXX, the NT, and the Apostolic Fathers. In chapter eight, he summarizes his findings and fleshes out implications of his work for the wider discussions of canon and biblical authority. Most notably, Swinson finds an unambiguous sense among the apostolic witnesses that they served as the new agents of God’s revelatory word to his people, an extension of “the word of the Lord.”

This concise study will be of great import for students and scholars working on the Pastorals, the Gospel of Luke, and those investigating the question of whether or not the NT authors viewed their own writings as being on a par with the OT scriptures.


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