Monday, March 26, 2007

Duelling Quotes of the Day

A pair of divergent quotes from a pair of Norm's today, both on the "curse of the Law" in Galatians (is there a verse in Galatians that isn't disputed?)

I'll have to mull the two essays over and post more on this in the very near future. Particularly challenging is the question of whether or not Paul is addressing Judaizers (I'd tend towards "yes," but it really depends on what Peter is supposed to analogue at Antioch).

Likewise whether or not Paul is offering an apologia for his own gospel. Contrary to what I'd take to be the norm (though I've not read enough commentary on Galatians to affirm it to be a consensus), I'd tend toward rejecting that suggestion.

More on this later. . .

The key to an adequate interpretation lies in placing the passage firmly within the unfolding argument in the letter as a whole, always keeping in mind the situation facing the Galatian churches. In Gal.3.10-14, as well as in the ltter as a whole, Paul is not addressing his Judaizing opponents, nor is he aiming his arguments at Jews generally. Rather, the apostle seeks to dissuade those members of the Christian community who are being tempted to abandon the gospel as he had preached it for a derivative gospel based on a deficient appreciation of the consequences flowing from God's eschatological initiative in the death and resurrection of Jesus. . .The argument on the curse of the law is designed to show that, in espousing the other gospel, the Galatians would in the end be counterwitnessing to the truth of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.


Bonneau, Normand; The Logic of Paul's Argument on the Curse of the Law in Galatians 3:10-14; Novum Testamentum, Vol. 39, Fasc. 1. (Jan., 1997), p. 80.

From this it becomes clear that Gal. 3:10-14 is as much Paul's defense of his own position as it is a polemic against the Judaizer's view. Paul is here addressing the charge that his gospel promoted transgression and thus placed his Gentile converts under the curse of the law. Paul agrees with the Judaizers that those who belong to the Sinai covenant are obliged to fulfill all its demands. If such persons did not do so, he admits, they would invite the curse of the law. What Paul disputes is that those who live by faith in Christ come under the jurisdiction of the Sinai covenantal arrangement. Since those of faith are outside Sinai's jurisdiction, Paul's failure to circumcise his Gentile converts does not place them under the curse of the law. The death of Christ has brought the original promise to Abraham into play, and this has introduced a new salvific era within the covenant community.


Young, Norman H; Who's Cursed: And Why? (Galatians 3:10-14); Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 117, No. 1. (Spring, 1998), pp. 91-92.

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