The Church has frequently ignored that Paul considered the heart to be ametanoetos, incapable of repentance: therefore the Church often zealously requires the individual to repent.But because the heart is ametanoetos, Paul was an evangelist, rather than a preacher of repentance. Hence he was able to bring the individual into relationship with Jesus and thereby implanted in his heart that which is new, which broke apart the old thought constructs and resisted the old pattern of volition
Adolf Schlatter: Romans, The Righteousness of God.
Schlatter talks about the difference between the prophet, and the evangelist. The evangelist is the one who lives with, and serves the community. He does NOT preach at them. That is the job of the prophet, the prophet who has been properly educated in the scriptures, and who is called to bring the things of God to the understanding of the people ONCE they have been evanglised and decided they need to know more.
That is to say, the evangelist brings people in touch with the loving heart of God, through Christ, where the prophet brings revelation and understanding to those who have begun to be made new.
Adolf had this right nearly 100 years ago, and yet nearly all the Church STILL think that they need to stand on the street corner and insult the intelligence of people is the way to convert them. It wasnt the right way in the first century, and it sure isnt now.
This is going to be short, but one of the questions we should ask ourselves as interpreters of Paul is how did he read Scripture?
I believe Paul looked past Scripture and attempted to decipher it through the lens of Christ. Meaning, he wasn’t always the “historicist” (or literalist) we want to make him out to be. Let me give you two examples.
The first is rather small:
Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law say the same? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of a share in the crop. (1 Co. 9.8–10)
The “biggest” use of Paul’s “other reading” is found in Galatians 4.24–26:
Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia;she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
Paul sees something in this story that he is able to bring out in order to help his readers understand the Gospel. It may simply be Paul sees in the Genesis passage what he says he sees in the Deuteronomic passage — something written for us, for the new age under Christ.
So, then, why would we think Paul is intent on seeing the Genesis story as an historical event rather than a literary event (dare we say myth)? In Romans 5, the story of Adam’s great sin is used not so much as a way to tell us who evil and depraved we are (thanks, Jean) but to tell us how great the grace of Christ is. Jesus is not seen as the “Second Adam” but as one greater than Adam.
Now, to be sure, Paul uses this metaphor in 1 Cor 15.44–49 and in 2 Cor 3.13–18; however, there is a deeper exegesis required than that which is usually given.1
So, how do we understand Paul and his use of allegory? Does he see some of the Torah as allegory or does he use allegory to shape the Torah under the lens of Christ? Regardless, Paul does not necessarily require a historical event or historical meaning (hence the, “this was written for us!”) in order to understand the stories of his people as continuing and being made alive under the lens of his fellow Jew, Jesus.
Because I am working with Galatians and its original intent, I try to spend time in the Greek, rather than the usual translations. It reminds me that a translation is itself not the text, but simply a succinct commentary on the original text. However, as I am not a Greek scholar, I still need help from time to time in reading the Greek text. Accordance provides a real easy way to do this.
As I have noted before, my Mac runs Accordance like a dream. Indeed, Accordance beats nearly every program I have in operation speed, agility, and resource management. Those are big words for “It fits like a glove” with Mac. When I am reading GrGalatians, the words pop up immediately, without any lag time. Immediately below are pictures from my Macbook, followed by pictures from the iPad.
Admittedly, I have used Accordance more on iPad than I have in real life (i.e., my Macbook). I almost prefer it, actually.
One of the things I wish to highlight here is the learning curve. I almost refuse to read the directions because I want to see what it is like to dive in. It took me all of 2 minutes to figure how to install the NA28 on my iPad. Go to library, installed purchases, select the new module, hit the arrow and you are done. Because the app is stripped down, the learning curve is small. I don’t mean stripped down as in useless, but stripped down as in minimalism so as to make room for more usefulness.
In all honesty, the NA28 (or other Greek modules, I assume) in the Accordance Bible app is my favorite way to read it.
Back the desktop version, for a minute. The original language features includes speaking, parsing, a word chart, and a diagram. Screenshots are below:
Overall, reading the Original Languages are easy in Accordance and should benefit students and scholars of these marvelous tongues.
What follows is an unedited portion of my dissertation. In the larger context, I am trying to establish that the particular image for the death of Christ would have been known by the people(s) of Galatia. In the end, I believe the image would have been, but the use of an image does not mean St. Paul was writing against the image, rather, like others, he was using the image familiar to others — an image that carried significant weight. Admittedly, I am more surprised over the connection between Galatians and the Celts, not the mention human sacrifice.
Recent Scholarship on The Imperial Cult and Galatians
With the act of the devotio seemingly drawn from Roman sources, it behooves me to mention the current state of scholarship around the imperial cult and the Epistle to the Galatians. While I will not pass judgment on the rise and use of Empire as a lens in reading the New Testament, mainly in American scholarship, one must remember the use of an image found in other cults does not mean Paul is using it to counter or otherwise overtake he previous cult. While devotio as an image is one primarily associated with Roman imperial ideology, I maintain this does not mean Paul used it as an argument against Rome. However, it is necessary to examine recent scholarship, if for nothing else but to show Paul’s audience would have at least known the religious and political implications of the image.
In the recent decade, there have been two major works examining the connection of the imperial cult to the epistle. The first is Galatians Re-Imagined by Brigitte Kahl, a work removing the Judaism of Paul’s opponents, replacing it with a juxtapose against Roman views of law and order. The second work, Galatians and the Imperial Cult, sees the argument of Galatians something akin to a civic rebellion. Rather than delve into the merits and conclusions of their argument, I will examine their evidences of the imperial cult with the corollary that context does not mean argument, rather only serves as an allowance for the use of known images.
Kahl avoids the distinction between North and South as the province of the letter, going much further and connecting it to the whole of the Gaul-Galatia bloodline. She bases this on history as well as the linguistic plight in not separating the Gauls inhabiting the area now known as France and the descendants of the Celtic diaspora occupying an area in Asia Minor as well as a post-Constantinian interpretative strategy she abhors. After promoting her view by using binaries and other linguistic turns, Kahl finally delves into re-imagining Galatians. She removes the Jewish ethnocentrism that is the usual exegetical framework only to replace it with the visual images of the Great Altar of Pergamon. Because of this, she is able to then compare each statement by Paul against Roman images of somewhat equal standing. For instance, God is juxtaposed against the Emperor while the freedom promised by the Gospel is contrasted with Roman (and not Jewish) law. Of course, as usual with Empire critics, “gospel” becomes solely the answer to the Emperor’s news of victory. Kahl adds to the discussion of the possible imperial cult in Galatians only what we already know, that as a Roman province, it was prevalent; however, she does add the ability to see cultic images in Galatians, even if the caol áit are too thin.
One particular image is the use of gladiatorial games as a form of human sacrifice. As often is the case, Kahl begins with the Great Altar where the images of human sacrifice are explicit and then moves to Galatians. She notes the arena is bereft of the usual connotations of ritual sacrifice such as the absence of priests and the need for the community to be reconciled with the deities. However, what are present are segregated spaces, a well-regulated public stage, mythological overtones of blood, and the act of a sacrifice meant to bind the community together. She notes, “the games can be seen to have a cathartic effect by vicariously eliminating violence and evil dwelling not only outside but also inside the social body, for example, in terms of slave or gladiatorial rebellions, treachery, and civil wars (emphasis mine).” The battle becomes a sacrifice to purify the community of violence, reuniting the community after a struggle. That the Galatians were not foreign to human sacrifice is forever recorded by Diodorus. The act of human sacrifice had become abhorrent to the Romans, but was still welcomed and proclaimed among the Galatians.
Justin K. Hardin’s work fleshes the imperial cult out, adding another dimension. Hardin writes, “It is clear that often the public worship of the emperor, rather than supplanting the local pagan religions in the Greek East, was simply amalgamated with it.” Galatia was a unique province within the Roman Empire. Augustus colonized both north and south, although the southern portion of the province required quelling (c. 5 BCE). Because of this, unlike other Greek ruling cults brought in with various new rulers, the Roman imperial cult began by Augustus, moved into all realm of the public and private life exactly because it was designed too. It “superseded traditional religious worship with a uniform system of religious devotion” binding the colonized lands with the Emperor, rather than other forms of Roman religion. While the people inhabiting the province of Galatia had long roots back to Gaul, with those roots transporting and preserving their native religion, their indigenous deities and temples were replaced (at least in importance) with the Roman ritualistic caste. For instance, Pessinus, while often thought to be the temple of Cybele (who will factor into our discussion later) is devoted instead to the Roman cult. While this substitution took place, the people of the province were able to avoid assimilation. Even at the Pessinus temple, Celtic priests still performed rituals making use of both Rome and indigenous cultic aspects.
While both Kahl and Hardin go one to reinterpret Galatians in light of the surrounding, provincial, imperial cult they see, they both fail to make use of the non-assimilationist stance held by the non-Jewish population of Galatia. If the native religion could prevent assimilation, then it is more than likely the Jews (with their imperial protection) would not feel the overall pressure as both Kahl and Hardin suggest they do, even a new sect within Judaism. However, what both show is that the imperial cultic images were prevalent in Galatia while not acting as a major threat and at times were themselves transformed to aid the local religion. This allowed other images to be used in dialogic currency. Further, while Hardin does not focus on it, Kahl does mention the very visual presence of human sacrifice in the public arena, and it is a sacrifice used for both civic and cultic binding. Finally, neither sees the death of Christ as any particular theological or ideological turn in Paul’s letter. It is imply another part.
 Brigitte Kahl, Galatians Re-Imagined: Reading With the Eyes of the Vanquished (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010).
 Justin K. Hardin, Galatians and the Imperial Cult: A Critical Analysis of the First-Century Social Context of Paul’s Letter (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008).
 For instance, Kahl attempts to compare Paul’s prologue (Galatians 1.1–9) with the physical image of the Great Altar (246–47). It is based on the imagery of war and wrestling.
 Kahl connects the human sacrifices of the Gauls/Galatians to the sacrificial act of sacking Rome as well as the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi (42–3). Of a particular note is the sacrifice of a Galatian man and woman (as well as Greek pairing) twice in Rome during the Second Punic War in a devotio meant to save the city from devastation. Hannibal, the threat to Rome, never managed to sack Rome, but would soon find Carthage itself sacrificed to the gods in the place of Rome. See James Smith Reid, “Human Sacrifices at Rome and Other Notes on Roman Religion,” in Journal of Roman Studies. Vol. 2. (1912), 34–52 and Zsuzsanna Várhelyi, “The Specters of Roman Imperialism:The Live Burials of Gaulsand Greeks at Rome,” Classical Antiquity. Vol. 26. (2007), 277–304.
 Kahl suggests Nero reenacted the return to human sacrifice on behalf of easing social tension and creating a new social order (or city, in this case) when he charged the Christians with setting Rome on fire (296).
 Hardin, Galatians and the Imperial Cult, 40. Unlike either the Roman imperial cult or the indigenous Celtic cults, Judaism was not local, but rather focused back to Jerusalem.
 Hardin, Galatians and the Imperial Cult, 49, 56.
 Hardin, Galatians and the Imperial Cult, 41. See also Marc Waelkens, “The Imperial Sanctuary at Pessinus: Archaeological, Epigraphical and Numismatic Evidence for Its Date and Identification.” Epigraphcia Anatolica, Vol 7 1986, 37–72; and, John Devreker, Thoen Hugo, and Vermeulen Frank, “The Imperial Sanctuary at Pessinus and its Predecessors: A Revision.” Anatolia Antiqua, Tome 3, 1995. 125-144.
 Hardin, Galatians and the Imperial Cult, 69. Hardin mentions the use of sacrifices performed by the priests, much as Kahl above. What not as clear as Kahl, Hardin notes that the Temple had as part of its complex a Roman-style arena. These priests would provide gladiatorial games and other hecatombs during their tenure, allowing the priest to offer sacrifices that combined civic and cultic intents. See Stephen Mitchell, “Galatia under Tiberius,” Chiron, Vol 16., 1986, 17–33.
I had hoped to invest some time in exploring this subject, either for a chapter or a paper, but right now I am swamped. I was recently reminded of this, first in reading this book and second via an email. So, I wanted to take a quick second and sketch out an idea.
I think Mark 13 is something of a chaotic chiastic passage. By that, I mean Mark does not using a simple pattern like A B B C B B A, but rather, has a focal point from and to which all things flow, even if the pattern is “messed up.” It is the cosmic battle between the Abomination of Desolation and the Son of Man. Everything leads to that and from that. It is the center point of this chapter and is the historical event of the destruction of the Temple.
The cosmic battle is the counterpoint, or the mimetic refraction.
Further points of consideration:
Mark 13.19: “those days” – points both to the future (from Jesus’s standpoint) and to the days mentioned in 13.7–9, 12–13.
13.5-6 is explained further in 13.21–22.
13.18 founds a counter in 13.28.
The abomination of desolation is earthly, looking down but finds the opposite in the Son of Man descending whereby we are told to look up.
This is due to my dissertation which at some point may be completed or even, one day, started on. This is more of an exercise to put some words down on paper.
The use of the scapegoat image is prevalent in describing Paul’s intention in Galatians 3.10–14; however, to do so leaves us open to the possibility of a God who has sinned, or at the very least, a God who has previously offered a sacrifice for himself before he offered Jesus as the scapegoat.
By using this linguistic pattern the early Christian who formulated the confession quoted in 2 Corinthians 5:21 expressed two convictions: (a) sin is something that can be transferred from one person to another; (b) God transferred our sin to Christ, thus freeing us from its effect.1
Before I tackle this statement outright, let me draw your attention to Leviticus 16.6:
He must offer the bull reserved for his purification-offering and make expiation for himself and his household. (REB)
The “he” in this first is the Aaronic priest. Notice, the priest requires a sacrifice himself to atone for his sins. This is not akin to baptism or any other act we find in the Gospels attributed to Jesus. Or, rather, there is no act recorded in the New Testament whereby Jesus first atoned for his sins before offering himself as a sacrifice. Indeed, there is some contention as to whether Paul thought Jesus sinless (Romans 8.3). But, this doesn’t matter so much as what it would require of God. If Jesus is the sacrifice offered by God, then to have Jesus as a scapegoat would require God to have previously atoned for his own sins.
Unless, of course, we ignore that part because God is sinless. But can we? The priest atoned for his sins in order to transfer the sins to the scapegoat. He could act only as a conduit for a short time because he would soon be sinless. The scapegoat would then take away the sins of all of Israel, including the priest. It was all inclusive. Added to this, Jesus is referred to as our high priest in Hebrews, not God. In John, Jesus is the lamb that removes the sins of the world. But, I’m getting canonical here.
Is there something better to explain the language of Galatians 3.13?
Christ bought us freedom from the curse of the law by coming under the curse for our sake; for scripture says, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a gibbet.’ (REB)
I don’t think we can get the idea of transference here. If we go outside Galatians, even in incorporating 2 Co 5.21, there is plenty of other language to prevent the idea that God transferred our sins (acting as a high priest) to Christ. Yes, Christ took our sins, but he became a curse. He did it.
I don’t think there is one particular image of the death of Christ in Paul, although they all revolve around a sacrifice. I’m not saying that scapegoat (if by this we mean a transference-then-sacrifice) is not one of them. I think we can clearly see that 2 Co. 5.21 is a perfect example of this. However, I don’t think it is what is intended here.
J. Louis Martyn, Galatians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (vol. 33A; Anchor Yale Bible; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 318. ↩
You’ll just have to deal with me for a minute. I am not a sales rep nor do I participate in the Logos Affiliate program. More power to those bloggers who do. I would rather not, so that at least in appearance, I can presume to give you unbiased advice. I say this because I am biased to serious bible study and I believe you can actually get serious through Logos.
For instance, there is a textual variant in Mark 9.49 that I like to play around with from time to time. I believe it points to a time of rehabilitation after….well, I’ll leave it there for the moment.
First, I start with the Lexham Textual Notes on the Bible. This is a commentary on the entire bible and the textual variants found therein. Rick Brannon, one of my favorite people and one of the editors/authors of this volume, writes,
The Lexham Textual Notes on the Bible (LTNB) cover both the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) and New Testament with over 2,000 notes. These notes are situated somewhere between what is found in footnotes in modern English Bibles and the sort of material covered by Bruce Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. But the discussion in LTNB is geared toward readers with little to no text-critical knowledge. The goal is to provide English translations of several important variation units and some brief non-technical but relevant information about the unit.
In the LTNB, I go to Mark 9.49:
As you can see, there is a difference, although some may argue against it being that much of a difference. I mean, unless you want to argue for purgatory or something…
After this, because I’m not satisfied, I go to the Ancient Literature Database. When this first started, the references were something like 60,000 but now, it racing past 180,000 entries. So, what do I come up with?
The Testament of Levi reads,
And of all thy first-fruits and of wine offer the first, as a sacrifice to the Lord God; and every sacrifice thou shalt salt with salt.
If I wanted to go further, I could commentaries, but these two things helps to make a reasonably informed decision.