September 2010

I’ve been working through Galatians as part of my Life and Letters of the Apostle Paul class, and it has been immensely rewarding! I worked through the letter in the early days of my renewed faith, but never really figured out what Paul was saying. This time I’m better equipped, but the text is even more difficult and ambiguous in Greek!

One thing I’m trying to figure out is the shape of the heresy (or heresies) in Galatia. I’ve always heard and accepted that Paul has Jewish Christians in mind. These are fellow disciples of Jesus who are insisting on circumcision and other Jewish practices for Gentile converts. Yet I’m wondering if Paul has broader Jewish thinking in mind too. Certain features make it clear that Jewish Christians were problematic. Chapter 2 talks about certain men coming from James. But 3:1-5 lead me to think there were also Jewish “rejecters” of Jesus in Galatia as well, who were advocating whole scale abandonment of Jesus. Paul’s statement that “before your very eyes the Messiah was clearly portrayed as crucified” doesn’t make sense of a Jewish Christian argument. It would require docetism on one hand (I don’t think that is what’s going on here), or a more mainstream Jewish rejection of Jesus on the basis of his crucifixion. I’m not sure how that statement could be targeted at Jewish Christians.

Multiple “heresies” makes better sense of the letter, at least what I’ve looked at so far. Paul reacting against a non-Messianic sect makes more sense of his very strong rhetoric in Galatians. I think he would have been more conciliatory with fellow brothers insisting on Mosaic law (which we see him practicing in Acts and even in his own letters à la 1 Cor 9). Hypothesizing on the basis of style is quite weak though.

So what’s your take on Paul’s opponents in Galatia? I actually have to write a letter as one of his opponents for my class, so I need to decide on the shape of their beliefs!


It’s been a while since I posted on Campbell’s massive volume, The Deliverance of God.  I mostly stopped reading when I realized that I didn’t know Romans well enough to follow his argument.  However, as I was looking for the bibliography this morning I noticed the one of the opening pages of the book (right before the title page) contains the Greek text: “οὐαι μοί ἐστιν ἐὰν μὴ εὐαγγελίσομαι.”  (Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!).  Campbell is of course quoting the great apostle himself from 1 Corinthians 9.  I had missed this bit of rhetorical flair, but I appreciate it.  His conviction is evident throughout the book, and he’s writing with an eye toward the Church and the Academy.

As I was reading through 1 Thessalonians this morning, I stumbled across a mistake in the text.  In chapter 4 verse 11, a portion of the text reads: “καὶ ἐργάζεσθαι ταῖς χερσὶν✝ὑμῶν.” The problem is bolded, there needs to be a space after χερσὶν✝. The ✝ denotes a deviation from the UBS text, and normally there are spaces the symbol, but not here.

On another note, is there any rhyme or reason to how they write UBS at the bottom of the page? Usually the UBS reading is followed by “(UBS).” However, there are several points where it’s transliterated into Greek: “ὙΒΣ.” Seems this seems rather odd to me.

I love this handy little volume, but it does look like there is room for improvement in version 3. Is there any formal way to submit little bugs like these?