Paul the Apostle, His Life Letters and Thought– Part Twenty Eight



p. 444- Lightfoot pointed out long ago that the people who know a region well do not call it by the names assigned by a conquering empire (e.g. Hapsburg Empire included Hungary and part of Italy). But no ordinary resident of the region would say that Budapest or Venice was Austrian.

p. 446— In Lightfoot’s day Galatians was usually seen as an early letter prior to 1 Cor. but Lightfoot put it later. He said was closest in tone and style to 1-2 Cor. and Romans. The atmosphere of turmoil and crisis in Gal. fits better with the Corinthian period rather than earlier. He finds it especially like the tone of 2 Cor. (which Sanders says is correct), and he places between 2 Cor. and Romans.

p. 447— there must have been an earlier or later letter to the Galatians about the collection, now lost (see 1 Cor. 16.1-4)— [surely what 1 Cor. 16.1-4 says makes it certain it was an earlier letter, and surely not a letter that was earlier than our Galatians which prepares for such an appeal in Gal. 2 by a reference to remember the poor.]

p. 448— For Sanders, the key reason to see Galatians as after the Corinthian letters is that the main issues in Galatians are nowhere to be seen in 1 Thess. or 1-2 Cor. He accepts the view of Tatum that Galatians was written after 2 Cor. 10-13 and before 2 Cor. 1-9 and Tatum shows how some of motifs of the Galatians debate are reworked in 2 Cor. 1-9.

He argues that in 1 Cor. 9.19-23 he presents himself as apostle to both Jews and Gentiles, living sometimes as a Jew sometimes as a Gentile.

p. 449— And faith and righteousness in 1 Cor. have the normal meaning of steadfastness and moral uprightness see 1 Cor. 6.11.

Circumcision could hardly be treated as it is in 1 Cor. 7 if Galatians had already been written [wrong the issues are totally different. In Galatians Paul is trying to head off the circumcision of Gentiles. This is a non-issue in Corinth. No one is trying this on with Gentiles in Corinth]. After Galatians, Paul’s language about righteousness and faith changed permanently.

p. 450– The language about righteousness, faith and circumcision in Romans and Philippians seems derivative of Galatians.

He disagrees with Lightfoot that we can describe what the Galatians were like on the basis of stereotypes about Celts. So he thinks we can know next to nothing about their religious background social and economic conditions, habits or preferences [but this is only the case if we ignore Acts, where we are told Paul actually went in south Galatia].

p. 451— We have allusions to opponents in 3.1 and 5.7 but we do not know what the basis is for their authority nor whether they saw themselves as apostles or acting for apostles. We do not know how Paul found out that the Galatians were considering circumcision.

p. 452– He deduces that Paul was perhaps some place in the hinter lands which he had not intended to visit when he preached to them based on Gal. 4.12-15 [This is an unnecessary and improbable deduction, and he should have paid more attention to the evil eye conventions that affect this whole passage and its presentation. See my Grace in Galatia commentary.]

p. 453— The reason Galatians is so important is because for the first time it enunciates positions that when carried through will support the separation of Judaism and Christianity. This is not to say that Paul wanted it to happen. “Paul’s Churches were socially distinct from Judaism, and this was probably also true of other churches in the gentile world, such as the church at Rome.” [notice no interaction with the huge enterprise of Mark Nanos, and other Jewish scholars to try and suggest this is false— that Paul’s folks were attending and part of synagogue]. He argues that in the 2nd and third century Christian theologians had to think through whether they were true Israel or a third race neither Jew nor Gentile, and whether the Jewish law was for Christians or just for Jews. And Galatians played a role as to how they viewed these things. It was then that Christianity was trying to come to ‘normative’ self-definition.

p. 454– He argues that in the second century Paul’s letters were read for edification but were not yet considered scripture [wrong— see 2 Pet. 3]. According to Tertullian, Marcion put Galatians at the head of a 10 letter Pauline collection as Christian Scripture along with Luke’s Gospel. Knox argued Marcion invented the Christian canon. Tertullian says Marcion’s chief work was the separation of the Gospel from the Law (see Frend, Christianity p. 214).

p. 455— It was F. Overbeck who suggested that Paul had only one student who understood him, Marcion, and he misunderstood him. H. Chadwick, The Church in Ancient Society, Oxford: 2001), p. 455 suggests that Paul’s letters helped lead Marcion to reject the OT, and other Christians how to give it an exclusively Christian meaning.

p. 456— According to Luther the righteousness in Galatians is mere passive righteousness, bestowed by God through imputation.

p. 457— “we shall see that mere imputation is not Paul’s view of Christian righteousness. He believed that those who died with Christ were really changed and no longer lived in sin.” i.e. Paul’s view was not simul justus et peccator. [with which assessment I totally agree]. Paul believed in real transformation (Luther had some sympathy for this view based on his reading of John). Luther was wrong that individuals were all desperately seeking salvation by trying to do good works. He was also wrong that by works of the Law Paul meant good works. Paul is no opposing a Jewish religion of self-salvation by meritorious good works.

p. 459– Paul does find Judaism wanting, but not on these grounds. Paul has special features of the Jewish law in mind, and he is particularly concerned to oppose the idea that gentiles had to become Jews to become Christians or enter the people of God.

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