The Bondwoman

The Bondwoman October 16, 2014

The crucial association in Paul’s reading of the Abraham story (Galatians 4) is the link between Hagar, Sinai, and slavery. It also seems to be the weakest link. Is it simply a geographic association?

Could the association turn on a pun?

Hagar is a “bondwoman,” paidiske in Greek (Galatians 4:22-23, 30-31). This is what Hagar is called in the LXX of Genesis 16 too. The paid– root points to her youth more than her social status; it could be translated as “young girl” as easily as “servant girl.” She is associated not only with slavery but with youth, minority.

Which reminds us of how Paul starts Galatians 4 – speaking of the law as guardian and manager over Israel in Israel’s childhood. And it reaches back further into chapter 3, where Paul describes the law explicitly as a paidagogos.

Hagar the paidikse is suitably linked with the paidagogos of the law.


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