Friday, November 25, 2011

Exegetical notes on Galatians 3:15-29


Text

15 Ἀδελφοί, κατὰ ἄνθρωπον λέγω· ὅμως ἀνθρώπου κεκυρωμένην διαθήκην οὐδεὶς ἀθετεῖ ἐπιδιατάσσεται. 16 τῷ δὲ Ἀβραὰμ ἐρρέθησαν αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ. οὐ λέγει· καὶ τοῖς σπέρμασιν, ὡς ἐπὶ πολλῶν ἀλλʼ ὡς ἐφʼ ἑνός· καὶ τῷ σπέρματί σου, ὅς ἐστιν Χριστός. 17 τοῦτο δὲ λέγω· διαθήκην προκεκυρωμένην ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ μετὰ τετρακόσια καὶ τριάκοντα ἔτη γεγονὼς νόμος οὐκ ἀκυροῖ εἰς τὸ καταργῆσαι τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν. 18 εἰ γὰρ ἐκ νόμου κληρονομία, οὐκέτι ἐξ ἐπαγγελίας· τῷ δὲ Ἀβραὰμ διʼ ἐπαγγελίας κεχάρισται θεός.
19 Τί οὖν νόμος; τῶν παραβάσεων χάριν προσετέθη, ἄχρις οὗ ἔλθῃ τὸ σπέρμα ἐπήγγελται, διαταγεὶς διʼ ἀγγέλων ἐν χειρὶ μεσίτου. 20 δὲ μεσίτης ἑνὸς οὐκ ἔστιν, δὲ θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν. 21 οὖν νόμος κατὰ τῶν ἐπαγγελιῶν [τοῦ θεοῦ]; μὴ γένοιτο. εἰ γὰρ ἐδόθη νόμος δυνάμενος ζῳοποιῆσαι, ὄντως ἐκ νόμου ἂν ἦν δικαιοσύνη· 22 ἀλλὰ συνέκλεισεν γραφὴ τὰ πάντα ὑπὸ ἁμαρτίαν, ἵνα ἐπαγγελία ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοθῇ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν.
23 Πρὸ τοῦ δὲ ἐλθεῖν τὴν πίστιν ὑπὸ νόμον ἐφρουρούμεθα συγκλειόμενοι εἰς τὴν μέλλουσαν πίστιν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι, 24 ὥστε νόμος παιδαγωγὸς ἡμῶν γέγονεν εἰς Χριστόν, ἵνα ἐκ πίστεως δικαιωθῶμεν· 25 ἐλθούσης δὲ τῆς πίστεως οὐκέτι ὑπὸ παιδαγωγόν ἐσμεν. 26 Πάντες γὰρ υἱοὶ θεοῦ ἐστε διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· 27 ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε, Χριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε. 28 οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην, οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ· πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. 29 εἰ δὲ ὑμεῖς Χριστοῦ, ἄρα τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ σπέρμα ἐστέ, κατʼ ἐπαγγελίαν κληρονόμοι.

Translation

15 Brothers, I speak in respect of human affairs: likewise[1] no-one sets aside or adds a codicil to a ratified human contract. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed; it does not say ‘and to seeds’, as in the case of many, but as in the case of one, ‘and to your seed[2]’, which is Christ. 17 this is what I mean: the covenant[3] previously-ratified by God, the law[4] having come after 430 years does not nullify – unto the destroying the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is of law, it is no longer of promise: but God showed grace to Abraham through [the] promise.
19 Why then the law? it was added because of transgression, until the seed to which it was promised might come, mediated through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator is not of one, but God is one. 21 Is then the Law against the promises [of God]? Not so! For if a law were given, one that was able to make alive, righteousness would truly be by law; 22 but the Scripture shut all things up under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ be given to those that believe.
23 Before the coming of faith we were held in custody under law, shut up until the coming faith be revealed, 24 so that the law became our pedagogue until Christ, so that we might be justified by faith; 25 but with the coming of faith we are no longer under a pedagogue. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus; 27 for as many [of you] were baptised into Christ, you were clothed in Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male and female; for you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 and if you are of Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.

Comments

Silva’s historical redemptive take is explicit in the way he connects 3:6-14 to 3:15, and the introduction of the term διαθήκη.[5] Almost directly contrary to this, Martyn links 3:15 with Paul’s apocalyptic and anti-redemptive historical argument. For Martyn, the reference in v15 to διαθήκη is a secularises reference, a move to disassociate the word from the Judaisers' use of it in Mosaic terms, and part of Paul’s argument to align διαθήκη with the promise to Abraham. Key to Martyn’s argument is that the analogy of an alteration to the will is illustrated in v19 by the giving of the Law through angels. For Martyn’s Paul, the Law is an angelic addition seeking to alter the prior promise of God.
However the suggestion that Paul employs διαθήκη in a purely secular sense in v15 is severely open to question. Given the context of Paul’s own argument and background, it’s difficult to see how Paul could try and secularise and detheologise the term at exactly this point alone.
            The citation in 3:16 forms the hermeneutical crux of the passage, and casts it in distinctively redemptive-historical terms. At least, that seems obvious, but Martyn argues that this particular verse is the death-knell to a redemptive historical reading. Martyn grounds this is Paul’s punctiliar and singular understanding of τὸ σπέρμα, over against the Teachers’ linear and corporate reading.[6] And yet, once you connect the distinct singularity of the seed in v16, with the corporate and incorporated reading of the same in 3:26-29, it is hard to maintain that Paul’s reading is only individual. Indeed, 3:15-29 continues Paul’s argument about who οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ Ἀβρααμ are, οἱ ἐκ πίστεως contra οἱ κατὰ σάρκα. The language of promise in 3:16 implies fulfilment, which rests upon a temporal distance, and thus a historical trajectory. That Paul sees that summarily instanced in the singular Christ is by no means a defeater for a salvation history reading.
            With regards to the citation that Paul employs, he is primarily referring to Genesis 13:15 and 17:8, but in regards to the singularity of the seed reference, the final and summative set of promises that Abraham receives comes in Genesis 22:17, “he shall possess the gates of his [sg] enemies”.
3:17 then does not simply pit the inferiority of the Covenant against the Promise, but relativises the Covenant by its temporal sequencing after the Promise. That is, the Covenant can only be understood with attention to its posteriority to the Promise, which conditions how exactly the Covenant may be understood. Paul’s argument depends upon the sequencing of salvation history.
Martyn, to be fair, is not without real insights into the text at this point. For example, he highlights the way in which the motif of transferring or entering into the people of God is probably more the theological language of the Judaisers, not Paul, and that in Galatians Paul speaks repeatedly of who the blessing comes to the Gentiles, that it is the God-directed invasion of the cosmos, not the ‘human movement into blessedness’ that is the focus.[7] And yet, even if entry language is being taken from the Judaisers, Paul redefines and re-employs their terms, so that while it is God who is the agent of blessedness, there is an incorporation motif operating for Paul, incorporation into the Christ, not under the Law.
Silva highlights the distinct chronological references ἄχρις (3.19), πρό (23), ἐφὅσον χρόνον (4.1), ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου (4:4), and relates this to (at least) 3 epochs of history: Promise, Law (Sinai -> Christ), Faith.[8] This, if ever there was, is a redemptive-historical scheme, and Paul’s precise point is not to abstract Law and pit it against Promise & Faith, in a kind of conceptual conflict, but to re-align the redemptive historical place of Law over against the Teachers’ placement of the same.
The effect of v18 is to marginalise the Law’s role in salvation history. If the Law had the function the Judaisers are attributing to it, as the basis of the inheritance, then this would effectually undermine the promises as promises; the fact that Abraham was shown grace by God through promise and not Law, establishes the counter-factuality of the Judaisers’ interpretation. This naturally raises the question of why the Law, which is framed as a redemptive-historical question.
3:19, then, is an answer to that redemptive-historical question, not merely an abstract question about why the Law at all. Paul’s answer is three-fold, giving a purpose (τῶν παραβάσεων χάριν), a temporal telos (ἄχρις οὗ ἔλθῃ τὸ σπέρμα ἐπήγγελται), and a comparative point with the Promise (διαταγεὶς διʼ ἀγγέλων ἐν χειρὶ μεσίτου.) In reverse order, the point of comparison cannot be read as Martyn does, as if the Law were the work of angels contra God, and so offering some kind of false promise to Israel. This would destroy all integrity in Paul’s use of the Law both in Galatians and his other letters. Rather, the comparison has the object of subjugating the Law to the Promise, by pointing out its dual mediation (angels, Moses), against the unilateral and direct nature of the Promise spoken by God to Abraham.
The second element also subordinates the Law, by giving it a temporal frame that finds its fulfilment, not purely in its own terms, but in terms of the prior-existing Promise and the Seed. Thus the pattern of Promise-Fulfilment encloses, includes, and concludes the Law. This of course raises the very first question and answer-clause, why the Law at all? Fung understands this, and I agree, as making sin ‘illegal’.[9] It matches the slavery and confinement language of 3:22ff.
The enigmatic verse, “Now a mediator is not of one, but God is one” requires some kind of redemptive-historical interpretation, given the strongly redemptive-historical focus of the verses before and after. The Law involves a somebody giving something to a somebody else; there is an ‘external’ movement in the covenant dimension. In relation to God, the movement of the covenant is humanward, but this functions alongside another ‘covenant’ which is entirely within God’s being, i.e. between the Father and the Son, the divine Son incorporating and uniting humanity within his two natures  in the one person. The mediatorial yet oneness of this covenantal relationship implies a superiority to it, compared to virtually all Pentateuchal passages dealing with the presence of God, which involve mediation through angels. There is something abundantly ‘one-sided’ about the promise which does not have its counterpart in the (Sinai) covenant.
Further reflection on the salvation-historical place of the Law continues in 3:21, with the rhetorical question about whether the law is κατὰ τῶν ἐπαγγελιῶν? If Paul’s point were purely antagonistic, the answer would have to be affirmative. Martyn takes the very question as proof of the strong and ‘genuine antimony’ between law and Promise in Paul.[10] But surely Paul’s emphatic denial of the opposition is not merely about the ‘effective opposition’, but whether the opposition is purposeful. Indeed, his answer in 21b denies to the Law an enlivening and justifying role. Paul’s point is precisely that the Law was not able to do it, because if it was it would have, but it doesn’t, therefore it can’t, (implied) therefore it wasn’t designed to do so. Paul’s aim here is to tackle head on the Judaisers’ version of salvation-history, in which the place of the Law is to give life and justify, with his gospel-driven alternative placement of the Law, which is not to give life and justify, but rather preparatory (however we understand the hemmed-in and παιδαγωγός language) until the coming of the promised Seed.
It is interesting that v22 introduces ‘the Scripture’ as the agent, rather than ‘the Law’, which shuts all things up under sin. Given Paul’s context, a reference to the Old Testament, and thus primarily the Law, is undeniable. Paul continues to locate the salvation-historical purpose of the Word of God, but this time broadens it, so that all things are under sin. In doing so Paul gives us a further insight into the place of sin within the sovereign and redemptive purposes of God. The reference to promise in the second half of the verse should be taken to refer to the, by now, broad encompassing promise given to Abraham, which, by faith in Jesus, finds its reception among believers. The so-called ‘redundancy’ of the double use of faith does not require the first use to be taken as ‘faithfulness of Christ.’
The same thought is continued and reiterated in v24, as the Law gives way in salvation history until the time of Christ. In antiquity, the pedagogus is a slave who makes sure the boy gets an education, he is not a tutor at all; rather, he is a kind of educational bouncer, taking the boy to school and sitting at the back and making sure he goes home and does his homework. The Lutheran existential school-master interpretation does not work here, particularly since Galatians works with a fairly clear Jew/Gentile distinction that does not allow the application that the Law teaches Gentiles in order to lead them to Christ. A boy who had reached adulthood would not hang around his pedagogue, it would have suspect connotations. Thus, to go back under the pedagogue would be childish, stupid, and a little creepy. Yet with v25, ‘adulthood’ has come, and in terms of a different metaphor, ‘slavery’ is done with. Those who exhibit faith in Jesus are no longer children, no longer slaves, and so are no longer to live as such.
This is the thought that leads into vv26-29, and returns Paul to the question of who the sons of Abraham are (3:7) which is here re-configured as the sons of God. Adoption into Abraham’s family is adoption into God’s family and in both cases is instrumentally through faith, and objectively in Christ. The connection in v27 is to express this in terms of baptism and ‘clothing’. The close connection within the New Testament between faith and baptism should not be diminished, insofar as baptism is the ordinary, consequent, public, incorporating sign of (repentance and) faith. For Paul, it is simply normal to equate those who have faith in Jesus with those baptised in Christ, and this extends to the clothing metaphor. Those who are sons of God are clothed with this new identity. The outcome of such clothing is a radical alteration of the status of the believer, as expressed in v28. So constitutive of the new identity is its in-Christ nature, that the former distinctions are rendered abolished both (a) as making any difference in regards to entrance and incorporation into Christ. That is, with regards to being in Christ, there is no difference of instrumentality in becoming in Christ, and no difference in regards to status within the believing community, on the basis of (formerly) being a Jew or a Gentile. This is the primary distinction that has been operative within the discourse of the epistle, but Paul extends it further to the social distinction between slaves and free citizens, no doubt in part because slavery has been a part of this discourse both metaphorically and literarily-historically. Furthermore, Paul applies this abolition of distinction to gender identity as well.
Some have pushed v28 as the basis for an abolition of difference as a factor of identity at all, particularly in the gender and ministry debates. There are several problems with this approach. Firstly, it pays scant attention to the context of Paul’s argumentation within Galatians, which does not deal with either ministry roles or ethical instruction in regards to role differentiation at all. Secondly, it creates a canonical inconsistency within Paul’s literary corpus that is difficult to reconcile without violating canonical integrity. Simply put, Paul elsewhere uses exactly such differences, both slave and free, and male and female, as the basis for applying the same ethical principles in differentiated application. For example, Paul is prepared to use “God is our Master” as the principle that informs the pattern for both earthly masters (fair and just treatment, Col 4:1), as well as earthly slaves (Eph 6:5).
Paul’s argument, then, is about status, identity, and entry into Christ, not about ontological existence. One is ‘in Christ’ as a Jew or as a Greek, as a male or as a female, as a free citizen or as a slave, but one’s primary identity in Christ is determined by that very being in Christ. At the same time one does not cease to possess these idiomata, and to live out that unity and equality in Christ in terms of the diversity of human existence.
This oneness in Christ leads Paul in his flow of thought back to the assertion that to be in Christ (v27-28), is to be a son of God (v26), is to be Abraham’s descendant. The fact that Paul has shifted back here to a ‘plural’ understanding of ‘seed’ should not mislead us to conclude inconsistency on his behalf. Paul is fully aware of the plural interpretation and that the very word seed can function as singular for collective, but the whole thrust of his argument in this respect has been to assert the individual nature of the seed as the basis for understanding the corporate fulfilment of the promise in terms of incorporation into the one heir. It is only in Christ that, Jews and Gentiles alike, believers are heirs to the promise. There’s nowhere else to be except in Christ; to impose Law is to step outside the blessing[11], and bring people under curse, and it’s a perverse thing to do.


[1] used to introduce comparisons;
[2] singular
[3] object
[4] subject
[5] Silva, 804.
[6] Martyn, 347-8.
[7] Martyn, 348-9.
[8] Silva, 805.
[9] Fung interprets the χάριν phrase as giving a purpose rather than causal basis, suggesting that the sense is ‘to make wrongdoing a legal offence’.
[10] Martyn, 358.
[11] What is the blessing? Justification (3:6-9) and the Spirit (3:14).

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

PhD ponderings

It appears that my application for a PhD will not be successful, predominantly because I was going to be doing it from Mongolia. This is understandable, but I am a little frustrated. Frustrated that it has take 11 months from the submission of my MTh to get to this point, and frustrated because I am not sure what to do next.

Option 1: Apply for an alternate Australian institution

I could apply for another Australian university. The problems here are similar. (i) I would need to find a department that is competent and willing to supervise something in Late Antique Christianity, (ii) and a supervisor willing to supervise in that area, and (iib) willing to supervise a student not in-country. The pro would be financial, I should be able to do an Australian-based doctorate at virtually zero personal cost.

Option 2: Apply for a distance PhD program from a UK institution

I think this would alleviate some of the problems of the Australian difficulty – there seem to be a small number of universities more willing to do distance-education PhD students, and I could possibly to probably get a supervisor in my field. The main drawbacks are (i) I would need to pay International student fees, so something like A$8000/yr part-time, which is a lot, and (ii) the probably need for annual or so trips to the UK.

Option 3: Delay starting a PhD and later take time out to tackle it full-time, residential.

The drawbacks to this option include (a) there is still a funding issue, especially if outside Australia, though scholarships are more likely, (b) financial viability of studying full time in my late 30s is not great, (c) taking 3 years off the mission field will really dent the progress of our ministry work, and it would cause problems in terms of our mission support.

Option 4: Attempt to pursue a PhD sneakily (aka by publication)

This is a sneaky option in my view, possibly but improbable. It would require working independently, with a strong sense of purpose, to get a dozen or so inter-related papers published in peer-reviewed sources. Problems include (a) I don’t really approve of these peer-reviewed journals and their locking up of knowledge so that the world can’t have it, (b) this is not a popular approach for awarding PhDs, so I would still need to do some hard yards at the end of the process to convince a university of the merits of my application.

Option 5: Forgo a PhD

Part of me thinks this is a great option – stuff the academic establishment and its pointless pieces of paper. The thing that drags me back to reality on the issue is that the aim of our work in Mongolia is bound up with providing greater academic gravity and opportunity for Mongolian believers. So that piece of paper does count for something, even if the something is not ‘meaningful academic contribution’.

Option 6: ???

Of course, perhaps there are solid alternatives I have not considered, perhaps even some that you have thought of. There are always options out of the box.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Exegetical notes on Galatians 3:1-14

Text

3:1 ῏Ω ἀνόητοι Γαλάται, τίς ὑμᾶς ἐβάσκανεν, οἷς κατʼ ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς προεγράφη ἐσταυρωμένος; 2 τοῦτο μόνον θέλω μαθεῖν ἀφʼ ὑμῶν• ἐξ ἔργων νόμου τὸ πνεῦμα ἐλάβετε ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως; 3 οὕτως ἀνόητοί ἐστε, ἐναρξάμενοι πνεύματι νῦν σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε; 4 τοσαῦτα ἐπάθετε εἰκῇ; εἴ γε καὶ εἰκῇ. 5 ὁ οὖν ἐπιχορηγῶν ὑμῖν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἐνεργῶν δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν, ἐξ ἔργων νόμου ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως;
6 Καθὼς Ἀβραὰμ ἐπίστευσεν τῷ θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην• 7 γινώσκετε ἄρα ὅτι οἱ ἐκ πίστεως, οὗτοι υἱοί εἰσιν Ἀβραάμ. 8 προϊδοῦσα δὲ ἡ γραφὴ ὅτι ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοῖ τὰ ἔθνη ὁ θεὸς, προευηγγελίσατο τῷ Ἀβραὰμ ὅτι ἐνευλογηθήσονται ἐν σοὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη• 9 ὥστε οἱ ἐκ πίστεως εὐλογοῦνται σὺν τῷ πιστῷ Ἀβραάμ.
10 Ὅσοι γὰρ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου εἰσίν, ὑπὸ κατάραν εἰσίν• γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὃς οὐκ ἐμμένει πᾶσιν τοῖς γεγραμμένοις ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τοῦ νόμου τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτά. 11 ὅτι δὲ ἐν νόμῳ οὐδεὶς δικαιοῦται παρὰ τῷ θεῷ δῆλον, ὅτι ὁ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται• 12 ὁ δὲ νόμος οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ πίστεως, ἀλλʼ ὁ ποιήσας αὐτὰ ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς. 13 Χριστὸς ἡμᾶς ἐξηγόρασεν ἐκ τῆς κατάρας τοῦ νόμου γενόμενος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν κατάρα, ὅτι γέγραπται• ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὁ κρεμάμενος ἐπὶ ξύλου, 14 ἵνα εἰς τὰ ἔθνη ἡ εὐλογία τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ γένηται ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ἵνα τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ πνεύματος λάβωμεν διὰ τῆς πίστεως.

Translation:

3:1 O foolish Galatians, who ensorcelled you, to whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly displayed as crucified? 2 This alone I desire to learn from you: did you receive the spirit by works of the law or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you thus foolish, having begun by the spirit you now finish by the flesh? 4 have you suffered such great things in vain? If in fact in vain. 5 Then the one who furnishes to you the spirit and [who] works miracles among you, [is it] by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?
6 Just as Abraham believed God and it was credited to him unto righteousness,a 7 know then that those who are of faith, these are the sons of Abraham. 8 For the Scripture foreseeing that God justifies the nations by faith, fore-evangelised to Abraham that all the nations will be blessed in youb 9 so that those of faith are blessed together with the believing Abraham*. 10 For as many are of works of the law, they are under curse; for it is written ‘Accursed is everyone who does not cleave to all the things written in the book of the law to do them’c. 11 that no one is justified by law before God is plain, because the one righteous-by-faith will lived; 12 but the law is not by faith, but the one doing these things will live by theme. 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law [by] becoming curse for you, because it is written: accursed is everyone hung upon a treef, 14 so that the blessing of Abraham might come to the nations in Christ Jesus, so that we might receive the promise of the spirit through faith.

a Gen 15:6, b Gen 12:3 c Dt 27:26 d Hab 2:4 e Lev 18:4 f Dt 21:23

Commentary:

The foolishness of the Galatians that leads of v1 is not necessarily a slight on the Galatians’ intelligence, but is referred by the question ‘who ensorcelled you?’ to an external agent – they have been tricked, bewitched, hoodwinked. The gravity of such deception is brought home by the fact that Jesus Christ was publicly displayed before their eyes as crucified. As Galatians it is unlikely that any at all were present to visually witness the crucifixion, but the declaration of the gospel has displayed before them this truth, and now they are being tricked as to its consequences.

Paul’s questions in v2-3 rest on the principle that the way we begin the Christian life is the manner in which we continue it. It does not start on one basis and continue on another, but has a cohesive shape to it. And so Paul frames the question in those terms – how did these believers commence the Christian life (marked by the reception of the Spirit)? Paul knows that the answer to this is ‘by the hearing of faith’. The options for rendering both ‘hearing’ and ‘faith’ are various, Fung listing at least 8 combinations of active and passive senses in his commentary. For my part I read them as a passive sense of ‘hearing’ (what is heard’), and an objective genitive, so that the import of the phrase is the content of the hearing – the message of the Faith. The Galatian believers received the spirit when they heard (and believed) the gospel proclamation. They did not receive the spirit by performing works of the law (a point the Jewish-background believers in Galatia would well know). Why then (v3), would they think that they ought to continue (‘finish’) and complete the Christian life ‘by flesh’. The contrast between law and faith in v2 and flesh and spirit in v3 is meant to be parallel, but not identical. It is the work of the spirit to produce faith, and the one who has faith lives by the spirit, not under law. The one under law lives life apart from the spirit, and so entirely in the flesh. Attempting to live under the law, in the flesh, can only be a life lived in vain, since that was their previous way of life that leads to death.

I have already expressed my view that ‘works of the Law’ will not work in the NPP way, and so repeat here that its sense is that ‘it expresses Torah-obedience within a Mosaic covenant context’. Paul is not opposed to works, but to works of the law, rather than works of the Spirit. Works in the first sphere are under a curse, because they are (a) not unto justification, (b) no one does them anyway, while the works of the Spirit are the grace and faith lived out in the believer.
Introduced in v4 is a further question, that relates to that aspect of Christian life linked with suffering, and so with perseverance. If they are attempting to go back under law, and live by the flesh, then their suffering will indeed have been in vain.

The particle ‘then’ in v5 ought not be read as following directly on as a logical consequence of v4, but as a continuance of the series of questions, referring to the work of God amongst them, and whether (again) such work is instrumentally related to Torah-performance or to faith in the gospel.

The καθώς that introduces the citation links it immediately with 3:1-5, and the implied comparison is between the Galatians’ reception of the Spirit and Abraham’s being reckoned righteous. The premises then include the work of the Spirit in Abraham, and the exclusive dichotomy between faith and works. I agree with Martyn that the verse is distinctly Paul’s, given its use in Romans (though for slightly different purposes). Paul thus in this verse establishes the connection between faith – hearing – Spirit-reception. The textual form of the citation is almost identical to the LXX except for the dislocation of Abraham’s name. To the extent that we can read the Judaizers’ argument out of the text, it seems that they are preaching a need to become ‘sons of Abraham’ in order to receive the blessings. Part of the effect of citing Genesis 15 is that it is both post-promises, and pre-circumcision.

The second thesis that Silva identifies lies in vv7, 9, that the sons of Abraham are those of faith, and these in turn are blessed along with Abraham. Verse 7 is emphatic in its identification of the sons of Abraham, and probably represent Paul’s counter-claim to the opponents’ appeal to the Galatians to become ‘sons of Abraham’ (i.e., sons of the Covenant). There is a sense of status associated with the use of ‘sons’ over against ‘children’.

The second scriptural citation, in v8, has a number of distinctive features. Firstly, Paul personifies scripture in a rare way. Secondly, he characteristically pre-empts the reading of the verse, with his phrase ‘God justifies the Gentiles by faith’. The use of προευηγγελίσατο is also remarkable, underlying the continuity of the Gospel with the OT scriptures, so that whatever discontinuity Paul asserts later, it cannot be read as fundamental disjunction between the scriptures and the new revelation in Christ. The citation itself conflates Gen 12:3/18:18:

Gen 12:3 καὶ εὐλογήσω τοὺς εὐλογοῦντάς σε, καὶ τοὺς καταρωμένους σε καταράσομαι, καὶ ἐνευλογηθήσονται ἐν σοὶ πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς.

Gen 18:18 Αβρααμ δὲ γινόμενος ἔσται εἰς ἔθνος μέγα καὶ πολύ, καὶ ἐνευλογηθήσονται ἐν αὐτῷ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη τῆς γῆς.

cf. also Sir 44:21 διὰ τοῦτο ἐν ὅρκῳ ἔστησεν αὐτῷ ἐνευλογηθῆναι ἔθνη ἐν σπέρματι αὐτοῦ, πληθῦναι αὐτὸν ὡς χοῦν τῆς γῆς καὶ ὡς ἄστρα ἀνυψῶσαι τὸ σπέρμα αὐτοῦ καὶ κατακληρονομῆσαι αὐτοὺς ἀπὸ θαλάσσης ἕως θαλάσσης καὶ ἀπὸ ποταμοῦ ἕως ἄκρου τῆς γῆς.

The replacement of αἱ φυλαί with τὰ ἔθνη is not exceptionally significant, except that it reinforces the Gentile-focus of Paul’s argument. The parallel with Sirach 44:21 is also not particularly illuminating, except for the way in which Sirach speaks of ἐν σπέρματι αὐτοῦ which links with Paul’s further argument.

That v8 functions as a ground for the thesis of v7, 9 depends upon Paul’s assertion concerning v8 that the Gentiles blessing comes about in Abraham, in conjunction with the identification of the sons of Abraham with those of faith, not the descendants according to the flesh. Indeed, if the blessing of the Gentiles was for those according to the flesh, then the blessing of Abraham would never come to Gentiles per se, since covenantal incorporation would always be necessary. The first participial phrase may suggest (qua Kern), that Abraham is being viewed here as a Gentile.

Verse 9 summarises 6-8, with its result clause, that (a) those of faith (v7) are (b) blessed (v8) (c) along with believing Abraham (v6). There exists a unity with Abrhahm that is prior to Moses, and that unity is by faith. There is a translation conundrum over the phrase σὺν τῷ πιστῷ Ἀβραάμ, whether it is best rendered ‘with believing Abraham’, ‘with faithful Abraham’, ‘with Abraham by faith’. The insertion of τῷ πιστῷ between the preposition and the name seems to rule out the last of the three options, despite Kern’s backing. That the unity exists by faith can be established on other grounds. The second option seems over-nuanced – Abraham’s faithfulness in this context is exactly in believing the promise(s) given to him.

Silva splits 10 into 10a and b, identifying 10a as the 3rd thesis, and 10b as the grounds. Again, Paul pre-empts the interpretation of his citation, with the principle that ‘for as many as are of the works of the law, are under a curse.’ Comparing verse and source:

10 Ὅσοι γὰρ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου εἰσίν, ὑπὸ κατάραν εἰσίν• γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὃς οὐκ ἐμμένει πᾶσιν τοῖς γεγραμμένοις ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τοῦ νόμου τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτά.
Dt 27:26 Ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ἄνθρωπος, ὃς οὐκ ἐμμενεῖ ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς λόγοις τοῦ νόμου τούτου τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτούς, καὶ ἐροῦσιν πᾶς ὁ λαός Γένοιτο.

A number of distinctive elements are apparent. Silva highlights that Paul retains the two instances of πᾶς which the LXX adds to the MT, and that his variation in the first instance suggests it is not unintentional. Secondly, and more interestingly, is the change from ‘of the Law’ to ‘in the book of the Law’. The effect of this change is to expand the reference from a specific part of the law, which Dt 27:26 has in view, to the Law as a whole. Silva suggests that the phrase may be taken from Dt 30:10, and on this basis I think it’s fair to say that Paul is not unfaithful in his reading of the text at this point.

One must still wrestle with the difficulty that Martyn et alii raise, that Paul seems to read the verse against its plain meaning. Surely, one would think, the curse of the Law is for those who don’t keep the Law, which is what it seems to be saying. Silva identifies the argument’s assumed premise as ‘all are disobedient’, which he recognises as a disputed premise. The contrast between οἱ ἐκ πίστεως and οἱ ἐξ ἔργων is surely not to be by-passed. For Paul’s citation here speaks of πᾶς, but his application concerns ὅσοι ἐξ ἔργων. Non-proselyte Gentiles would certainly be a hard category to fit into οἱ ἐξ ἔργων, and so his argument demands a reading in terms of Jewish observers of the Law apart from faith. It is thus, not those who observe or do not observe the Law (both failing), nor even those who suppose themselves to be observing the Law, but all those under the Law who fall equally under its curse. In this vein, I find myself concluding that v10 has a primary redemptive-historical reference to Jews under the old covenant.

Sanders would raise a different issue: that failing in the Law was not such a big deal, one would offer the appropriate sacrifices. The curse in view is probably to be linked to the larger redemptive-historical picture, and so to the Deuteronomic curses for covenant failure which for Israel lead to exile and judgment, to the extent that v10 represents individual curse, it is because the story of Israel’s failure is paradigmatic for individual covenant failure, exile, and judgment.
Silva identifies 11a as the fourth thesis, which complements thesis 3. The grounds for this thesis is the citation from Hab 2:4. Martyn argues that this verse, as with Gen 15:6, is part of Paul’s scriptural ammo, and given that these two verses are the only 2 OT texts that bring together faith and righteousness, it seems likely. Silva sees part of the function of 11 as to identify Paul’s opponents as οἱ ἐξ ἔργων and not οἱ ἐκ πίστεως, in conjunction with v10’s condemnation of those ἐξ ἔργων under the Law.

The citation itself is problematic, the MT reading ‘but the righteous one by his faith will live’, which LXX takes as ‘my faith’ with μου which Paul excludes from his citation. Some have argued that Paul deliberately ambiguates the faith on view, but if so he is only doing so by bringing it closer to the MT. More likely, the context of Paul’s argument itself adequately resolves the question of the faith in view, the believer’s. Whether the ἐκ πίστεως be attached to ‘the righteous one’ (so Fung), or ‘will live’, is almost incidental, since even the latter reading must relate eschatological enlivenment to faith, correlated elsewhere with justification. Whether one could in fact keep the law thus becomes irrelevant, because it is the righteous one, who is so by faith, that will live.]

Silva spends some time (802) defending Paul’s use of Habakkuk contextually, against the reading that Habakkuk 2:4 has only in view the faithfulness of the Law-keeper, ‘for Habakkuk, there was no such dichotomy between faith and faithfulness as we often assume’.

Concerning v12, Silva reads this as the stated premise for thesis 4 (v11a), along with the grounds for that premise. This reading incorporates the fourth citation under the third, seeing Lev 18:5 as a proof of Paul’s justification-by-faith reading. This is a long way from Martyn, who basically sees Lev 18:5 as a proof against Paul’s justification by faith, which Paul raises only to discount as false!
The adjustments made to the text from Lev 18:5 are slight, and not dramatically interesting. They are almost all occasioned by the new context of the verse and the removal from the original context, grammatically rather than theologically. More difficult is the theology of Paul’s argument. Again he seems to be reading the verse over and against the Law itself from which he quotes. Fung, rightly, recognises that ‘while the goal envisaged is the same, faith and law appear as two diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive principles.’ And yet, this must raise some questions. Is the goal of the law faith by works? And if so, hasn’t Paul done either violence to the context of Lev 18:5, which seems to have more to say than a Torah-based works-righteousness, or else violence to the scriptural canon, in rendering Lev 18:5 false, as Martyn argues.

Personally, I can only find the resolution in the hidden premise that it is not the failure of the Law, but the failure of Law-observers, that renders this verse intelligible in context. For Paul, there is indeed a theoretical life through Law-observance, but this is in reality unobtainable, not because of the Law’s deficiency, but the Flesh’s. The Law is quite right to say that the one who does these things will live by them, but we are quite wrong to suppose that any of us can do so. This, I would argue, is further reinforced by comparison with Paul’s triangulation of Law/Sin/Grace in Romans 7. I would posit an implicit reference then to the righteousness of Christ, which is both by his faith, and his faithfulness, expressed in perfect and active obedience to the Torah. For, in Paul’s curse language, otherwise the Christ himself would be under the Curse of the Law, since he was under the Law and did not keep it.

In v13 Paul’s use of Dt 21:23 raises a number of issues. Firstly, he alters κεκατηραμένος to ἐπικατάρατος, aligning his citation with 3:11. This raises the question to what extent it is valid to identify the curse of Dt 27:26 with 21:23. Secondly, Paul omits ὑπὸ θεοῦ from his citation, almost certainly intentional, but with what intention? Silva suggests he may simple be trying to avoid an unnecessary distraction to his main argument. Fung suggests he is avoiding the implication that Christ was cursed by God because of its theological import. This, I suspect, comes closer to the truth, but needs more nuancing, because in becoming ‘a curse’ for us he was, in some sense cursed by God, so that Paul’s omission carries more refinement than simple avoidance of the plain text. Indeed, as Silva posits, perhaps Paul simply doesn’t wish to draw out the cursed yet not cursed distinctions.

This is Silva’s fourth thesis and grounds, and its relation to the preceding is slightly discontinuous. That is, having to some extent resolved the faith/law dichotomy by divorcing the blessing from the Law and attaching it to faith, and aligning the curse with the Law and the inevitable failure to keep it, Paul re-orients the reader to the only means of escaping the curse of the Law, the Cross.
The double-barrelled purpose clause of v14 completes the argumentative flow of Gal 3:6-14.

Following Kern, we read these two clauses consecutively, so that the initial result if the blessing of Abraham to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, which in turn leads to the reception by (Jewish believers) of the promise of the Spirit through faith. That these two elements are not exclusive should be already apparent by the way Paul has linked Abrahamic blessing with reception of the Spirit in 3:1-5, 6-9.
The argument of those who want to read Galatians apocalyptically, at this point insists upon the salvation-historical logic of the Judaizers, who trace Abrahamic lineage through the Mosaic Law and so regard incorporation into the covenant people a necessary pre-condition of receiving the Abrahamic blessing. Over against this, Paul relativises and polemicises against the Law, instead treating the punctiliar and cosmically invasive event of the Christ’s crucifixion. To this point, though, Paul has not spoken concerning the Law’s role, and so it is too soon to disregard any salvation-historical element to his OT usage. His treatment of the sons of Abraham, faith, Law, and curse, are all predicated on a different reading of redemptive history, not the absence of one, as is seen in the second half of the chapter.

It is worth noting the flow of thought here: Jesus became a curse for those under the law, which leads the gentiles to inherit the blessing of Abraham by Christ, which leads to the Jews entering the eschatological inheritance; the blessing/promise is the Spirit: the Spirit is how we enter and continue in the Christian life. cf. 3:8 both justification and the Spirit appear to be hand-in-hand the content of the promise/blessing. v14 is the exposition of Christ’s redeeming work in v13.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Electronic version of my Master's Thesis now online

Having submitted the hardbound copies of my MTh thesis, I have also uploaded an electronic version to the web. It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial - No Derivation licence, as outlined in the appendix or online here

The thesis is downloadable here:
Pro-Nicene Hermeneutical Techniques in the preaching of John Chrysostom: A case study of the homilies on John, 2011.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Languages and learning, 2 quick links

I'm really pleased to see that Daniel Streett has started bloggin. He and I are on the same page when it comes to language pedagogy and ancient languages.

I'm also pleased to see Polis is being developed for Biblical Hebrew and Latin, as you can read here.

Home from travels

For the last 3 weeks my wife and I have been travelling overseas. My brother was married in Munich about 3 weeks ago, and then we spent some time travelling in Scotland, and Rome. One of my highlights was simply joining in fellowship with Christian believers in Stornoway and Rome. Anyway, we are back now, and ready to resume more 'ordinary' life.

My college has finally given me some paperwork asserting that my MTh was passed, this hopefully will finally complete my PhD application and I can begin work on that.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Things I am not doing very well this year

..and that I'd like to be better at.

1. Blogging
2. Studying Gaelic
3. Reading in other languages
3a Reading Patristics
4. Writing exegetical notes and commentary


Post-script:

Have taken action on 3/3a by getting together a copy of Athanasius' De Incarnatione and Cyprian's De Unitate, compiled a digital copy and printed a physical copy, and will start reading away at them. Hopefully the first of many patristic reading endeavours in the original languages.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Reflections on my first lifting Competition

I've just come back from a Christian camp for high-schoolers, but just before that I entered my first powerlifting competition.

It was an interesting experience. One of the things about powerlifting is that it is a sport in which virtually all the important aspects occur before the actual competition. It's the months of training that really determine what happens on the day. Secondly, the amount of actual time spent competing on the day is incredibly small. You perform 9 lifts in total, one at a time, and all up the time you actually spend in lifting a weight is probably less than two minutes. Powerlifting is really a sport about disciplined lifting, resting, and eating, not about the competition day.

Thirdly, while it is a competition, the real competition is with yourself. You have a fair idea of what you can lift, and choose your own lifts on the day, and when you step up to the platform, everyone is actually cheering for you to succeed - it's you + the crowd + competitors versus the iron. This makes it a very positive sport. Everyone wants to see you succeed (even the judges!).

I'm pretty happy with how the day went. I missed a few lifts, but I expected that and it was because I was going for new PBs. I also came last out of the men, but that didn't bother me at all. I have no real natural talent for lifting. In the end, a fun day, and I'm proud of my efforts.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Good news on the thesis

Today I heard the news that the two markers have passed my MTh thesis "Pro-Nicene Hermeneutical Techniques in the preaching of John Chrysostom: A case study of the homilies on John", and the College has agreed, and so I've fulfilled all the requirements for my Masters of Theology!

Once I finalise the library copies, I'll also release a copy of the same to the web under a creative commons licence.

Very grateful to have this finished off and move on with studies, ministry, and life.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Jesus as priest in the gospels?

Someone asked me last night whether Jesus referred to himself in priestly terms. I'm pretty sure the answer to this is no, but I'm wondering if the gospels protray that aspect of Christ's work in any particular passage. Nothing has come to my mind yet. Thoughts?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sneaky sneaks and gender in Bible translation

I don't really like to get into arguments about gender in Bible translation. I just want some honesty in debates. And the honesty I want is for people who are arguing for gender inclusivity to recognise that the Greek (that's where my interest lies here) uses masculine language in a way that is inclusive of feminine objects. This is not unique to Greek, it doesn't (in my opinion) reveal some deep-seated masculinist program of the Greek language, it's just a feature of grammatical gender linked to real gender.

So, for example, αδελφοι does not 'mean' "brothers and sisters". It would be more accurate to say it 'means' "brothers" (when referring to a group of exclusively male siblings), and "brothers and sisters" (when referring to a group of mixed-gender siblings).

It's no problem to recognise this, just as it shouldn't be a problem to recognise that historically in English "Man" and "Mankind" have been gender-inclusive terms. The fact that contemporary English-speakers now regard them as gender-exclusive terms shouldn't blind us to the fact that this is a shift in our own language.

Insisting that αδελφοι means "brothers and sisters", and ανθρωπος always means "human being" with no gender marking, is misrepresenting the Greek language, even when these are accurate translations of the contextual meaning of the words.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Truly last mention of the sermon podcast

I've set it up to automatically post a sermon through virtually all of May, thus getting through past sermons, and new content should then appear afterwards. So, the links are at right for the blog and the podcast subscription through itunes, otherwise you can just click through here, and this is the last time I'll mention it or post sermons to this blog, leaving us all free to think more about biblical texts, patristic exegesis, and important matters like learning Gaelic and lifting heavy objects.