Called to Lead, by Anthony B. Robinson and Robert W. Wall

In 2006, New Testament scholar Robert Wall and pastor Anthony Robinson coauthored Called to Be Church, a study of the book of Acts. Each chapter of that volume has two sections: Wall provides an interpretation of the biblical text, then Robinson reflects on how the text bears on the life of the church. The format is not unique. Many biblical commentaries include both scholarly exegesis and pastoral commentary. But the pairing of these two authors is particularly fruitful. Their writing has the feel of an extended dialogue between two smart and faithful Christians who share common commitments but bring different areas of expertise to the conversation. The book succeeds in delineating ways in which Acts is both relevant and helpful for church life today.

In Called to Lead, Wall and Robinson have teamed up again, using the same format. This time, however, they have taken on a much more challenging subject—the pastoral letters to Timothy. The authors are well aware of the challenge, granting that for nearly two centuries the letters “have suffered from bad press and neglect”—for two major reasons.

First, in scholarly circles there is considerable doubt that these epistles, attributed to Paul, were actually written by him. Rather, given a convention that was quite common in the ancient world, it is possible that they were written under Paul’s name to draw on his authority and to affirm that they were consistent with his teaching. For some contemporary readers, doubts about the authorship of the letters calls their authority into question. (In this review, I refer to the author as Paul, but more out of convenience than conviction.)