Galatians Chapter 2 11-15

We continue. This one isn’t quite as dense as the two previous.

11Οτε δὲ ἦλθεν Κηφᾶς εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν, κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντέστην, ὅτι κατεγνωσμένος ἦν.

Then, when Cephas came to Antioch, I stood against him to his face, (saying that) that he was reprehensible.

However, the contention seems not to be over.  Paul and Peter are at odds later, in Antioch.

Note that << ἀντέστην >>is the same word that Homer uses to describe how Achilles and Agamemnon stood against each other.  Not to suggest a conscious reference, but perhaps interesting.

11 Cum autem venisset Cephas Antiochiam, in faciem ei restiti, quia reprehensibilis erat.

12πρὸ τοῦ γὰρ ἐλθεῖν τινας ἀπὸ Ἰακώβου μετὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν συνήσθιεν: ὅτε δὲ ἦλθον, ὑπέστελλεν καὶ ἀφώριζεν ἑαυτόν, φοβούμενος τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς.

Before the coming of some (men) from James, he (=Peter) with the peoples (= Gentiles) used to eat; when they came he concealed himself and withdrew himself, fearing those of the circumcised.

Note that the men are from James, and that Peter is afraid of them.  This decidedly implies that James was in charge, not Peter as the gospels would have us believe. This is where the fact that Paul wrote before the gospels is very significant. In a situation like this, we have the story of an eyewitness and a participant, vs. the story of someone who wrote 20-30 years after the event, and probably close to 20 years after Paul, who was not there. In terms of history, the participant’s version carries more weight.

This is why I believed that it was more valuable to start with Paul and not the gospels.

12 Prius enim quam venirent quidam ab Iacobo, cum gentibus comedebat; cum autem venissent, subtrahebat et segregabat se, timens eos, qui ex circumcisione erant.

13καὶ συνυπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ [καὶ] οἱ λοιποὶ Ἰουδαῖοι, ὥστε καὶ Βαρναβᾶς συναπήχθη αὐτῶν τῇ ὑποκρίσει.

And the rest of the Judeans played along with him, so that even Barnabas was led together in the hypocrisy.

Remember that Barnabas went with Paul up to Jerusalem, when they first confronted The Pillars, so the fact that he went over to the side of the circumcised seems to have particularly rankled Paul.  Peter was bad enough; but Barnabas!

Quick note about the Greek: << καὶ>> basically means ‘ and‘  Here, though, it takes on the sense of ‘even’. Demonstrating once again how flexible some of these words can be.

13 Et simulationi eius consenserunt ceteri Iudaei, ita ut et Barnabas simul abduceretur illorum simulatione.

14ἀλλ’ ὅτε εἶδον ὅτι οὐκ ὀρθοποδοῦσιν πρὸς τὴν ἀλήθειαν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, εἶπον τῷ Κηφᾷ ἔμπροσθεν πάντων, Εἰ σὺ Ἰουδαῖος ὑπάρχων ἐθνικῶς καὶ οὐχὶ Ἰουδαϊκῶς ζῇς, πῶς τὰ ἔθνη ἀναγκάζεις Ἰουδαΐζειν;

But when I saw that they were not walking straight towards the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before everyone, “If you, a Jew from the beginning, gentilize and don’t live Jewishly, how can you compel the peoples to Judaize?”

The issue is that Peter, when left to his own devices, started to live like a Gentile.  That is, he stopped eating kosher ( note: that term is anachronistic for this period).  The implication seems to be that keeping kosher was seen to be something of a burden, or a nuisance, that some Jews at least, would rather have done without.  Peter, apparently, was one of these.  What this does is give some insight into how important the discussion between Paul and the Jerusalem assembly, led by James, brother of Jesus, was for the future of what became Christianity.  Had Paul not won this argument, what we know as Christianity may have ended up with Mithraism and the worship of Magna Mater: sort of a footnote, or trivia question of history.

About the Greek: “To Gentilize” and “To Judaize”, meaning to “behave like a Gentile”, and “to behave like a Jew” are words pretty much coined here by Paul.  The same with “Jewishly”.  Paul is showing a remarkable conservation of words.

14 Sed cum vidissem quod non recte ambularent ad veritatem evangelii, dixi Cephae coram omnibus: “ Si tu, cum Iudaeus sis, gentiliter et non Iudaice vivis, quomodo gentes cogis iudaizare?”.

15Ἡμεῖς φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἐθνῶν ἁμαρτωλοί,

“We are by nature Jews, and not sinners of the peoples.”

Interesting that he equates “sinners” with “Gentiles” (= “the peoples”).

15 Nos natura Iudaei et non ex gentibus peccatores,


About James, brother of Jesus

I have a BA from the University of Toronto in Greek and Roman History. For this, I had to learn classical Greek and Latin. In seminar-style classes, we discussed both the meaning of the text and the language. U of T has a great Classics Dept. One of the professors I took a Senior Seminar with is now at Harvard. I started reading the New Testament as a way to brush up on my Greek, and the process grew into this. I plan to comment on as much of the NT as possible, starting with some of Paul's letters. After that, I'll start in on the Gospels, starting with Mark.

Posted on September 2, 2012, in epistles, Galatians, Paul's Letters and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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