Whoo hoo! The pastoral epistles!
I had to read these this week for my EFM course. Really had to read them because we'll be having one of the bishops of our diocese as a guest and I, being a relatively shiny, new Anglican, want to show him what of a keener I am.
The pastoral epistles are Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. They are written as if Paul wrote them but most scholars seems to think they were written by disciples of Paul and likely after his death. They do have a feeling of a church more structured then what's presented in genuine Paul and boy, they just go ratshit crazy telling women what they can't do. Especially 1 Timothy whose author seems obsessed with what young widows might be up to. Sort of makes me wonder whether, as the church became more of an institution, uppity women (who were once in leadership roles. Really. Check out all the female names in genuine Paul stuff) were becoming a problem for the boys in charge. Really, you don't tell people to sit down and shut the fuck up unless they've been standing up and making noise.
From what I gather they're important largely because they reveal something of the structure of the early church. At least to reasonable folk anyhow. Unreasonable people like to put their brains away in nice velvet-lined boxes and take all that obsolete and numb-nutted advice about household codes and young widows unquestioningly and fire their Sunday School teachers. Thankfully I think the bible was written by men, not God and so I don't have to buy one of those nice brain boxes. There's real value in The Timothies and Titus but it's mixed with a steaming pile of crap. One must tread carefully lest their shoes become soiled.
Anyhow, that's what I've been reading. And I still have to finish the course text on the matter as well as the Oxford NRSV footnotes.
For a great perspective on biblical literalism check out the link and essay at Cocking a Snook.