Galatians 3.28 with N.T. Wright and Philo – Neither ‘Male and Female’

Thanks to TC for the link to Wright’s sermon from which I draw this post.

οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην, οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ· πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.   (Galatians 3:28)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28 NASB)

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28 NLT)

Wright contends that Paul is not saying the traditional ‘male nor female’ but is actually quoting Genesis 1.27 (from the Septuagint),

καὶ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον κατ᾽ εἰκόνα θεοῦ ἐποίησεν αὐτόν ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς (Gen 1:27)

Some see two creation stories in Genesis, with the second giving us Adam and then Eve. The first sees no separation throughout all of Creation of creating male first and then female second. This is the Creation order commonly cited by those who opposed women in the ministry. Is the traditional interpretation fine? The two stories are the same, just one is drawn out longer? Philo goes beyond that, in which he sees that first the species of man was made which contained both genders, and only later did God set out Adam and then Eve,

On which account Moses says, “And besides he made…” and that what had been previously created were genera is plain from what he says, “Let the earth bring forth living souls,” not according to species but according to genus. And this is found to be the course taken by God in all cases; for before making the species he completes the genera, as he did in the case of man: for having first modelled the generic man, in whom they say that the male and female sexes are contained, he afterwards created the specific man Adam. (Leg 2:13)

I wonder how Philo would have handled evolution….

But, back to the passage at hand, which I note that the NLT is actually more literal than the word-for-word NASB.

The Jewish Hellenist philosopher Philo, a contemporary of Paul, noted that in Genesis 1.27, there was an equality as to the purpose and plan of ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ, although that equality didn’t permeate all areas of life, namely that of the phyiscal,

For it is equality which allotted night and day and light and darkness to existing things. It is equality also that divided the human race into man and woman, making two divisions, unequal in strength, but most perfectly equal for the purpose which nature had principally in view, the generation of a third human being like themselves. For, says Moses, “God made man; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” He no longer says “him,” but “them” in the plural number, adapting the species to the genus, which have, as I have already said, been divided with perfect equality. (Quis rerum divinarum heres sit 1:164 )

Philo, if you take more than one sampling of the passage, points to inequality as the parents of war.

and inequality has been the parent of two wars, foreign and civil war, as on the other hand equality is the parent of peace.  (1:162)

This passage of Philo’s work concerns equality and injustice, so maybe if we place 164 within that context, Philo might be pointing to something larger – in that ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ presents a picture of equality as God first intentioned. It is a picture of night/day in which both are equal parts of the Day.

But, is Paul going back to that and saying that in Christ the original order is somehow restored, but if so, then how is it that there is no longer ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ?

This is not likely to be the last interaction with T.C.’s post – a great blogger which I encourage all my readers to read – nor Wright’s line of thinking here.

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