Human beings are embedded in a set of social relations. A social network is one way of conceiving that set of relations in terms of a number of persons connected to one another by varying degrees of relatedness. In the early Jesus group documents featuring Paul and coworkers, it takes little effort to envision the apostle's collection of friends and friends of friends that is the Pauline network. The persons who constituted that network are the focus of this set of books. For Christians of the Western tradition, these persons are significant ancestors in faith. While each of them is worth knowing by themselves, it is largely because of their standing within that web of social relations woven about and around Paul that they are of lasting interest. Through this series we hope to come to know those persons in ways befitting their first-century Mediterranean culture.
Paul's network is a complex collection of people, many of whom receive only the slightest acknowledgment in the New Testament. While Titus receives more than a cursory mention, the writings that include him come from different generations of Jesus followers. In Titus: Honoring the Gospel of God, Ken Stenstrup makes the distinction between these generations of writings and, by employing social-scientific methods, uses Titus to shed light on Paul as a change agent and leader. As one of Paul's coworkers, Titus provided stability and guidance to early Jesus groups. He was welcomed by these groups and reported their hospitality to Paul. Stenstrup emphasizes the collectivistic culture of the first century and explains how this influenced the relationships between Paul, Titus, and the early Jesus groups.
Ken Stenstrup teaches a variety of introductory level Scripture courses at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. For several years he has been a member of the Social Sciences and New Testament Interpretation task force of the Catholic Biblical Association.
Stenstrup emphasizes Titus's `collectivistic' perspective-giving precedence to the needs of the community over individual concerns-and his role as a figure in the general evolution of early Christianity.
The Bible Today
An incisive and cogent writer, Ken Stenstrup provides his readers with models that unravel the cultural norms, perceptions, and values that shaped first-century Mediterranean persons such as Titus. The author's skillful analysis of how hospitality, gift-giving, and boasting functioned in the cultural world of Titus provides information essential for a fair reading of the New Testament. As one who successfully resolves sensitive issues within Jesus groups, Titus emerges as an innovative and respected change agent, one of Paul's most trusted partners in his proclamation of the gospel of God.
Joan C. Campbell, Atlantic School of Theology, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Paul's partner and co-worker Titus has been an underappreciated figure in New Testament studies. Ken Stenstrup's analysis of Titus is thus welcome. By explaining in simple terms the first century Mediterranean context-such as cultural presuppositions concerning hospitality, gift giving, and collectivistic behavior-Stenstrup brings Titus to life, especially as he is portrayed in Galatians and Second Corinthians.
Thomas D. Stegman, S.J., Associate Professor of New Testament, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Stenstrup's rigorous application of the 'generational approach model' in the analysis of New Testament documents mentioning Titus maintains the high quality of books in this series. Titus as presented in fourth generation documents (Luke-Acts and the letter to Titus) is very different from the 'real' Titus, co-worker of Paul, presented in second generation documents (Galatians and 2 Corinthians). Earlier believers routinely recast or re-presented their ancestors for the edification of their own generation. By his thorough examination of this process, Stenstrup offers contemporary believers a solid method for and classic examples of actualizing or contextualizing biblical texts in a new generation.
John J. Pilch, Visiting Professor of Biblical Literature, Georgetown University, Washington, DC