N.T. Wright’s Galatians– Part Five

N.T. Wright’s Galatians– Part Five July 10, 2021

Q. Early on you make the point that the term ‘Judaizer’ does not refer to what the agitators were up to in Antioch and Galatia, but rather to what Gentiles might or could do to join Judaism. They were Judaizing their lives. I wonder then what we should call ‘the men who came from James’ who were insisting not only that Peter not have table fellowship with Gentiles, but, if they are the same folk who went on to bewitch the Galatians, who were telling Gentiles to get circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law in order to fully become part of God’s people?

A. It’s a tricky one. In the commentary I have sometimes called them ‘the rival teachers’ and sometimes ‘the agitators’ which is what Paul says about them. Of course we’ve been stuck with the challenge that ‘well, that was Paul’s polemical view but actually those guys had a point of view and we mustn’t prejudge them’ – though ironically J L Martyn, who simply calls them ‘the Teachers’ for that reason, then goes on to saddle them with a whole bunch of views of which he disapproves… Actually the question of ‘what to call them’ is equally puzzling in regard to the Jesus-followers, who didn’t have a regular word for themselves at this point; calling them ‘Christians’ can be quite anachronistic, since even if that was indeed in use in Antioch we tend to ‘hear’ the word in a way which is already binary (i.e. ‘as opposed to ‘the Jews’’)…

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