While most Christians might accurately identify Timothy as an associate of the apostle Paul, they probably conjure up images of Timothy and his relationship with Paul in twenty-first-century terms. In Timothy: Paul's Closest Associate, Bruce J. Malina ventures off the path of modern biography, with its interest in psychological development and introspection, toward a more likely description of Timothy. Malina draws us out of our individualistic worldview and into the first-century Mediterranean world, where introspection was unheard of and collectivism prevailed. Here alone, within a network of friends and associates, can we discover the real Timothy. Moreover, Malina's fascinating explanation of social-scientific group development over generations, while perhaps challenging readers to rethink traditional biblical interpretation, provides readers with fresh and plausible insights about Timothy. These insights lead to a greater appreciation not only for Timothy but, more important, for the gospel of God that Paul enjoined on him to proclaim: the God of Israel raised Jesus from the dead, making him Lord and Messiah.
Bruce J. Malina, STD, is professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Creighton University in Omaha. He is the author of numerous works, including The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology (Atlanta: John Knox, 1981; rev. ed., 1993; Louisville: Westminster/Knox, 3rd rev. ed., 2001); with John J. Pilch, Social Science Commentary on the Letters of Paul (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2006); and with John J. Pilch, Social Science Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008).
'A string of pearls' describes Malina's Timothy. Although he has no more data than others, he is able to see those data with satisfying insight. When Malina focuses a cultural microscope on what is said about Timothy, he sees pearls of interpretation, valuable understanding more valuable than pearls. He is at his best, once more, in introducing new cultural ways of perceiving and understanding the figure Timothy in his cultural and social world. Timothy is interesting, but the lenses used to understand him are magical.
Jerome Neyrey, SJ, Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame
By integrating a variety of models, Malina shows the power of social-scientific interpretation for making intelligible the figures and phenomena from the biblical world. By means of these models he explores the historical and cultural worlds which produced Paul and his coworkers as change agents in the Jesus-movement groups. Malina offers a portrait of Timothy, Paul's coworker, which is not only fully embedded in that world but also opens up fascinating insights for the modern reader about one of the unsung heroes of the second-generation Jesus followers.
Professor P. F. Craffert, Chair of the Department of New Testament, University of South Africa, Pretoria
Malina's attention to the `big picture' on Timothy is instructive. His analysis of the way Timothy is portrayed throughout the New Testament and in the generations who remembered him thereafter offers the academic community much-needed encouragement to apply research to the larger context in biblical research.
Review of Biblical Literature
[I]ndispensable to students of the New Testament and to ongoing scholarship in New Testament studies.
Timothy, Paul's co-worker and co-writer, who often has been left out of focus by Christian collective memory, comes to a new light in this exciting book. Using social-scientific models about First Century Mediterranean persons, together with specific information, Bruce Malina uncovers one of the most influential individuals in the beginnings of Christianity. Very well written and a delight to read.
Santiago Guijarro, Pontifical University of Salamanca, Spain
Malina's book on Timothy provides an interesting interpretation of Timothy, one of Paul's closest associates.
Catholic Library World
This new series of books is a welcome and promising initiative. While Paul still continues to attract scholars' attention, his closest collaborators, friends, and relations remain all too often in the dark or are dealt with only incidentally. Yet giving proper consideration to Paul's web of social relations can help us understand the Apostle himself and his legacy.
God's Word Today
[I]mportant for understanding Paul and re-imagining the value of his letters for the modern church.
Catholic Books Review