Monthly Archives: October 2012

Summary Galatians Chapter 4

To summarize the entire chapter.

In Chapter 4:1-10, we get the extended metaphor regarding the Law as a tutor that was necessary during our time as spiritual minors.  It’s an interesting way to minimize Judaism, the Judaic roots of the Jesus faith without actually dismissing it completely.  It was a necessary step, but the need has now ended.

Starting with 4:11-20, we pick up sort of where we were in 1 Thess chapter 3, with Paul sort of whining about how he doesn’t get no respect.  He worked so hard to bring them the gospel, and, the minute his back is turned, the Galatians are chasing another gospel.

In this stretch I finally figured out that the Galatians had been converted from paganism as the Thessalonians had been.  In addition, this ‘other gospel’ was most likely the gospel as promulgated by James and the Jerusalem assembly.  That is why they preached the need to follow the Law in order to be fully disciples of  Jesus.  This then explains why Paul dedicates most of this letter to contrasting the Promise to Abraham–which now includes Gentiles–with the followers of the Law, and why the former is validated while the latter is decidedly inferior.

This theme is continued in 21-31. There, we go back to the relative values Paul placed on the Law and faith in Jesus. For this, we go back to the story of Abraham, and are presented with two new metaphors. The first is slave vs freeborn, the second flesh vs spirit. Paul flat-out says that Jewish tradition and the Law are slavery; this is the heritage of Hagar, and the followers of the Law are the heirs of Ishmael and not the heirs of Isaac.  Followers of Jesus, OTOH, who don’t put their hopes in the Law are freeborn, the true heirs of Isaac, the children of the Promise.  This is true whether they are Jew or Gentile, slave or free.


Galatians 4:21-31

Chapter 4 continues:

21Λέγετέ μοι, οἱ ὑπὸ νόμον θέλοντες εἶναι, τὸν νόμον οὐκ ἀκούετε;

Tell me, those under the law wishing to be (translated from Yoda-ese: wishing to be under the law), do you not hear the law?

21 Dicite mihi, qui sub lege vultis esse: Legem non auditis?

22γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι Ἀβραὰμ δύο υἱοὺς ἔσχεν, ἕνα ἐκ τῆς παιδίσκης καὶ ἕνα ἐκ τῆς ἐλευθέρας.

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one of the servant and one free-born ( born of the free woman).

We’re back to Abraham.  Thus begins an extended metaphor for the superiority of faith in Jesus over following the law.  He goes even further than before, since this time he equates the distinction between faith and the Law to be one of freedom vs slavery.  

Despite the sordid history of slavery in the USA, it, perhaps, hard for us to appreciate fully the impact of this distinction for someone in the ancient world.  “Freeborn” vs being born into slavery, or even having been emancipated from it (which happened not infrequently), bestowed huge legal advantages over and above not being the property of someone else.  Even those emancipated were often excluded from a lot of civic rights, even to owning property in some places.`

So, to argue, as Paul is about to do, that faith in Jesus is the heritage of the freeborn and the bondage to the Law is the heritage of the slave carries huge emotional impact.  It’s like the disgrace of crucifixion.

22 Scriptum est enim quoniam Abraham duos filios habuit, unum de ancilla et unum de libera.

23ἀλλ’ ὁ μὲν ἐκ τῆς παιδίσκης κατὰ σάρκα γεγέννηται, ὁ δὲ ἐκ τῆς ἐλευθέρας δι’ ἐπαγγελίας.

But while one is born from the slave according to the flesh, the one (born) from the free woman is by way of ( = through) the promise.

And not only do we have the distinction of free/slave, we have the distinction of spirit/flesh to reinforce the negative connotations and implications of not being freeborn.  This disparagement of the Law is part of the reason that St Paul is often cited as the font of anti-Semitism in the later Christian tradition.

What makes this especially interesting is that this was written prior to the Jewish Revolt that culminated in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem.  This revolt was bitterly fought, and included the mass suicide at Masada. Afterwards, the Romans did not think kindly of things Judean; in fact, this is when the name was officially changed from Judea to Palestine. This was part of a newspeak Roman attempt to obliterate as much of the nationalism of the Judeans as possible.  In such a context, later proto-Christian writers had a pretty decent incentive to distance themselves  from their Jewish heritage.

Paul, OTOH, is writing before this, so his aversion seems less political and more of the zeal of the convert who reacts against his former way of thinking.

Just to note: there was an initial benefit to tie Jesus to the Jewish tradition.  In the Graeco-Roman world, the age of the tradition gave credibility to one’s belief.  Judaism had a very long (if somewhat artificial) history, so this gave it weight among Greek-speakers who valued such antiquity.  New things were, by their nature, suspect.  In fact, in the Latin of the period << res novae >>, which literally means “new things”, was the term for “revolution.” So by the end of the first century CE,  followers of Jesus had to do a bit of a dance between embracing and distancing themselves from their Jewish roots.  

23 Sed qui de ancilla, secundum carnem natus est; qui autem de libera, per promissionem.

24ἅτινά ἐστιν ἀλληγορούμενα: αὗται γάρ εἰσιν δύο διαθῆκαι, μία μὲν ἀπὸ ὄρους Σινᾶ, εἰς δουλείαν γεννῶσα, ἥτις ἐστὶν Ἁγάρ.

Which things have been allegorized: for they are the two covenants; while the first is from Mt Sinai, it is born into slavery, for this was Hagar.

This is really interesting. Paul is flat-out saying that the tradition of Abraham and his two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, is an allegory.  This is, obviously, difficult to reconcile with the idea that every word in the Bible is literally true. Thus, for Paul to say something is an allegory in words that are literally true, is on par with the idea of God making something so heavy that even God cannot lift it.  A bit of a logical quandary; literally, this presents the horns of a dilemma: either Paul cannot be taken literally, or the Abraham story cannot be taken literally.

And, just for good measure, note that our word for ‘allegory’ is a direct transliteration of the Greek word.  As was the case with ‘anathema’.

24 Quae sunt per allegoriam dicta; ipsae enim sunt duo Testamenta, unum quidem a monte Sinai, in servitutem generans, quod est Agar.

25τὸ δὲ Ἁγὰρ Σινᾶ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ, συστοιχεῖ δὲ τῇ νῦν Ἰερουσαλήμ, δουλεύει γὰρ μετὰ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς.

But while Hagar is Mt Sinai in Arabia, this corresponds to the one now in Jerusalem, for she is enslaved with her children.

25 Illud vero Agar mons est Sinai in Arabia, respondet autem Ierusalem, quae nunc est; servit enim cum filiis suis.

26ἡ δὲ ἄνω Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐλευθέρα ἐστίν, ἥτις ἐστὶν μήτηρ ἡμῶν:

But the one above Jerusalem is free, which one is our mother.

This is interesting: above Jerusalem.  We get back to the sky/heavens/heaven thing. Note that this ties into the Greek idea of spirit and lightness: the spirit is more refined, so it is lighter, which is “better” in both a qualitative and a moral sense.

For a really interesting perspective on the conflicting ideas about lightness and weight in the Western tradition, read the first dozen or so pages of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being.  However, seeing the movie is not at all the same thing.

26 Illa autem, quae sursum est Ierusalem, libera est, quae est mater nostra;

27γέγραπται γάρ, Εὐφράνθητι, στεῖρα ἡ οὐ τίκτουσα: ῥῆξον καὶ βόησον, ἡ οὐκ ὠδίνουσα: ὅτι πολλὰ τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἐρήμου μᾶλλον ἢ τῆς ἐχούσης τὸν ἄνδρα.

For it is written: You rejoice, the barren one who has not produced children: break out and shout, the one who did not labor, for the many children of the desolate ( = barren ) oneare more than the husband has.

(childbirth sense; see above, Gal 4:19

27 scriptum est enim: /“ Laetare, sterilis, quae non paris, / erumpe et exclama, quae non parturis,
quia multi filii desertae / magis quam eius, quae habet virum ”.

28ὑμεῖς δέ, ἀδελφοί, κατὰ Ἰσαὰκ ἐπαγγελίας τέκνα ἐστέ.

For you, brothers, according to the promise, are the children of Isaac.

And we circle back to the promise to Abraham. Very nicely done from a rhetorical point of view.

28 Vos autem, fratres, secundum Isaac promissionis filii estis.

29ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ τότε ὁ κατὰ σάρκα γεννηθεὶς ἐδίωκεν τὸν κατὰ πνεῦμα, οὕτως καὶ νῦν.

But just as the one according to the flesh was born, they persecuted the one (born) of the spirit, then and now.

IOW, (more or less) the flesh is evil, to the point that it persecutes the spirit, pretty much as a given and a constant.

29 Sed quomodo tunc, qui secundum carnem natus fuerat, persequebatur eum, qui secundum spiritum, ita et nunc.

30ἀλλὰ τί λέγει ἡ γραφή; Ἔκβαλε τὴν παιδίσκην καὶ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς, οὐ γὰρ μὴ κληρονομήσει ὁ υἱὸς τῆς παιδίσκης μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἐλευθέρας.

But what does the scripture say?  Throw out the one of the slave and your own son, for the son of the slave is not the heir with the son of the free-born.

30 Sed quid dicit Scriptura? “ Eice ancillam et filium efius; non enim heres erit filius ancillae cum filio liberae ”.

31διό, ἀδελφοί, οὐκ ἐσμὲν παιδίσκης τέκνα ἀλλὰ τῆς ἐλευθέρας.

And so, brothers, we are not slaves, but children of the free.

IOW, we are not Hagar’s children, born into the slavery of the law, but Isaac’s children, born into the freedom of the Christ.

Again, I want to point out Paul’s referral to Judaism as slavery. Frankly, I find his vehemence about this surprising.  But then, the accusations of his anti-Semitism had to come from somewhere.

31 Itaque, fratres, non sumus ancillae filii sed liberae.

Galatians 4:11-20

Chapter 4 continues:

11φοβοῦμαι ὑμᾶς μή πως εἰκῇ κεκοπίακα εἰς ὑμᾶς.

I fear you, lest how in vain I labored among you.

11 Timeo vos, ne forte sine causa laboraverim in vobis.

He’s laying a guilt trip.  “I worked so hard, and this is what I get?”

Honestly, until just about now, I’ve been rather uncertain whether he’s afraid of them reverting to paganism, or if it’s the Judaizers that are the problem. Then I took a step back and looked at the forest and realized that this whole letter could be titled “Why Followers of Jesus Need Not Be Jewish.”  

The problem is the James Gang, the ‘other’ gospel he rails about in Gal 1:5.  Having not gotten that until now, well, a little slow on the uptake, what can I say? This is the downside of coming into this cold, without a background in what has been said about these letters already.  I hope this is outweighed by the benefit of seeing everything fresh, even if that means getting lost in the trees and missing the forest from time to time.  

12Γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ, ὅτι κἀγὼ ὡς ὑμεῖς, ἀδελφοί, δέομαι ὑμῶν. οὐδέν με ἠδικήσατε:

So become as me, as I also become also as you, brothers, I beg you.  You have not dishonoured me.

 << ἠδικήσατε >> is, literally, dishonoured.  This is almost a technical term, or, a religious or theological concept in Greek thought.  Recall the discussion of << τιμη >> and << δικη >> in Galatians 2:15, above.  The question becomes, how aware was Paul of the import and implications of this word?  Doesn’t matter, ultimately, because it’s the proper word, but it is an important question to ask if one is trying to pin down where Paul stands on certain things.  How Jewish is he?  To what extent has he been Hellenized by the Greek presence in this part of the world for the past 2 or 3 centuries?

12 Estote sicut ego, quia et ego sicut vos fratres, obsecro vos. Nihil me laesistis;

13οἴδατε δὲ ὅτι δι’ ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν τὸ πρότερον,

You know, however, that through weakness of the flesh ( = illness ) I evangelized you in the first/at the beginning.

This seems like it might be another of those situations where a certain meaning has come to be taken for granted, when it may not actually be the case.  The word, and the concept, centres on << ἀσθένειαν >>.  What the word actually means is ‘weakness’.  So, it’s not at all odd to consider this as ‘sickness,’ especially when we see the Latin is << infirmitatem >>, right?  Well, maybe.  The Latin also means, primarily, ‘weakness.’  The standard Latin word for ‘illness/sickness is << morbus >>  I bring this up because ‘weakness of the flesh’, especially in a context like this, could be moral as well as physical.  Recall Paul asking the Galatians Having begun in the spirit, will you now be finished by the flesh? (Gal 3:3).

 There is every possibility in the world that I’m wrong on this, but I do want to point out the possibility.  It’s a situation that the underlying connotations are easily ‘lost in translation,’ as it were.

Addendum: I have learned from a secondary source that one possible interpretation of this is that Paul had not actually intended to preach to the Galatians. Rather, his intent was to pass through, but he was laid up by an illness, which sort of forced him to stay.  And, while there, he began preaching.  This is from Paul, The Founder of Christianity, by Gerd Luedemann.

(Note: the ue is meant to represent a “U” with an umlaut.)

13 scitis autem quia per infirmitatem carnis pridem vobis evangelizavi,

14καὶ τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου οὐκ ἐξουθενήσατε οὐδὲ ἐξεπτύσατε, ἀλλὰ ὡς ἄγγελον θεοῦ ἐδέξασθέ με, ὡς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν.

And the testing of you in (the illness/weakness of) my flesh you have not set as naught (= disregarded) nor spat out (= rejected), but as an angel of God you have received me, as the Christ Jesus.

Or, so you can read it: And my physical infirmity (illness) was a trial (= ‘burden’ ) for you, but  you did not disregard or reject (me), but you accepted me as an angel of God, as Jesus Christ.

Is it me, or does this whole sequence not really make a whole lot of sense?  It’s more or less OK through the guilt part, but the physical infirmity?  Is he continuing the guilt thing?  He labored, even though he was sick?

Per the note above, this question has been answered, pretty much in the affirmative.

See, the thing is, I could totally just delete these parts about my lack of understanding, and no one would be the wiser.  By doing that, though, I lose the sort of befuddlement that one has when reading some of this stuff the first, or second, or third time.  Somehow, I think it’s important to get this across because a big part of this exercise is to look at the words themselves, w/o paying too much attention to what the scholarly/theological consensus is about what they supposedly mean.  So I’ll continue in the ‘accidental tourist’ sort of mode, and beg your patience for doing so.  

14 et tentationem vestram in carne mea non sprevistis neque respuistis, sed sicut angelum Dei excepistis me, sicut Christum Iesum.

15ποῦ οὖν ὁ μακαρισμὸς ὑμῶν; μαρτυρῶ γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι εἰ δυνατὸν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑμῶν ἐξορύξαντες ἐδώκατέ μοι.

So where is the blessing of you?  For I provide witness (attest) to you that if able the eyes of yous having been dug (pulled) out, you would give them to me.

 Or, so you can read it: So where is your blessing?  For I attest to you, that if it were possible, having pulled out your eyes, you would have given them to me.

 What the heck is this all about? Going from laying on the guilt to them pulling out their eyes for him.  Perhaps this is supposed to mean that, back in the day when he was doing all that work to bring them to the Jesus faith, they thought so highly of him that they would have pulled out their eyes for him.  Or something.  I’m totally open to suggestion.

 Just a quick note here.  The tense of << ἐδώκατέ >> here is aorist.  This is the most common of the past tenses.  To translate as “would give”, this should be a subjunctive.  As, indeed, the Latin is. To translate  << ἐδώκατέ >> here as a simple aorist, without the element of unreality implied by the subjunctive doesn’t quite feel right.  And it seems the translator of the Vulgate came to the same conclusion. I don’t think I’m doing violence to the Greek, but I’m willing to hear arguments to the contrary.

 Again, though, this makes me wonder what sort of process we’re dealing with here.  This whole section seems odd, and the Greek is a bit…idiosyncratic.  The problem is, when the Greek gets this odd, we have to ask if the author did it deliberately, or if s/he did simply because s/he didn’t know any better.  Above, in 1:10, we talked about Paul having a secretary who was from Athens, and so, presumably, a bit more versed in Greek prose.  This section seems rough; not just the Greek, but the flow of the thought overall.  Did Paul not have the secretary rewrite this?  Or did Paul add something to the text?  Or what?

15 Ubi est ergo beatitudo vestra? Testimonium enim perhibeo vobis, quia, si fieri posset, oculos vestros eruissetis et dedissetis mihi.

16ὥστε ἐχθρὸς ὑμῶν γέγονα ἀληθεύων ὑμῖν;

Therefore, did I become an enemy of you, having told the truth to you?

16 Ergo inimicus vobis factus sum, verum dicens vobis?

17ζηλοῦσιν ὑμᾶς οὐ καλῶς, ἀλλὰ ἐκκλεῖσαι ὑμᾶς θέλουσιν, ἵνα αὐτοὺς ζηλοῦτε.

They (wish to) rival you not well ( = in a bad way), but they wish to shut you out, so that you may (wish to) rival them.

 Honestly not sure I get this sentence at all.  First, the verb << ζηλοω >> is difficult.  Liddell & Scott define this as “to rival, to vie with, emulate.”  It cross references it to the Latin verb we see here, <<aemulor>>, which Lewis & Short also define as ‘to rival, to endevour to equal, or to excel one, to emulate, to vie with.’  The thing is, the base definition of ‘to emulate’ is not ‘to imitate’, but ‘to strive to equal or excel.’  So you get

“They strive to equal you , not in a good way, but they wish to shut you out, so that you may strive to equal them.”

 The ‘they’ is the preachers of the other gospel; at least, that’s the most likely antecedent.  Now, this makes more sense when we realize that ‘they’ are the Judaizers,  this makes more sense. They are trying to convince the Galatians that proper followers of Jesus keep the Jewish Law, too.  This becomes a badge of one’s seriousness, or one’s piety.  RL Fox called these sorts “religious overachievers”, and I like that. So, in that way, they strive to equal, or outdo the Galatians by following the Jewish Law, but then that means the Galatians have to play catch-up, so that they will then have to strive to equal those maintaining Jewish Law.

So, we go from guilt, to physical infirmity, to pulling out eyes, to being enemies, to this whole thing with rivals.  Understanding whom Paul is talking about makes this more clear, but it also makes me worry (probably unnecessarily) that we’re simply heading down the path well-trodden.

17 Aemulantur vos non bene, sed excludere vos volunt, ut illos aemulemini.

18καλὸν δὲ ζηλοῦσθαι ἐν καλῷ πάντοτε, καὶ μὴ μόνον ἐν τῷ παρεῖναί με πρὸς ὑμᾶς,

But it is good to be sought always in a good way, and not only in the me being with you.  (…not only when I am with you.)

When the cat’s away, the mice will play.  Some things never change, do they?  Love these little very human touches.

18 Bonum est autem aemulari in bono semper, et non tantum cum praesens sum apud vos,

19τέκνα μου, οὓς πάλιν ὠδίνω μέχρις οὗ μορφωθῇ Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν:

My children, over whom I labor again until such time as Christ is formed in you.  

 Note that << ὠδίνω >> also has the sense of ‘labor’ as in childbirth.  This gives the sense that Christ is gestating in one’s spiritual womb. Of course, for anyone who’s seen Alien, other images are possible!

Cf below, Gal 4:27

19 filioli mei, quos iterum parturio, donec formetur Christus in vobis!

20ἤθελον δὲ παρεῖναι πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἄρτι, καὶ ἀλλάξαι τὴν φωνήν μου, ὅτι ἀποροῦμαι ἐν ὑμῖν.

For I wished to be present among you and make other (= ‘make different’ = ‘change’) my voice (often translated as ‘tone’, as in ‘tone of voice’) since I am uncertain in ( = of ) you.

Sounds like Paul wants to be on the spot to instill a little discipline.

20 Vellem autem esse apud vos modo et mutare vocem meam, quoniam incertus sum in vobis.

Summary Galatians 4:1-10

Much of this section was taken up with an extended metaphor about how the Law was our tutor while we were spiritual minors.  Then, upon reaching spiritual maturity, faith in Jesus liberated us from the need for a tutor.

Again, a clever metaphor, good rhetoric, and a meaningful message.

The most significant theological issues were the use of the word ‘adoption’, and whether << ἐξαγοράσῃ >> should be translated as ‘redeem’ or simply as ‘purchase’.

Adoption leads us to ask how it was, exactly, that Paul perceived Jesus.  He only very rarely mentions Jesus as a person, the historical Jesus; he’s only concerned with Jesus as the Christ.  When did Paul see Jesus become the Christ?  At birth?  Probably not.  However, this is an argument that needs to be developed from all of Paul’s authentic letters.

And the redeem/purchase question is a matter of some theological subtlety.  In fact, we have to ask if it’s so subtle that there really isn’t a difference.  I believe there is, but admit that this may be due to what came later.  Paul may have chosen–or coined–the word without a lot of thought.

Galatians 4:1-10

Now we start Chapter 4.

1Λέγω δέ, ἐφ’ ὅσον χρόνον ὁ κληρονόμος νήπιός ἐστιν, οὐδὲν διαφέρει δούλου κύριος πάντων ὤν,

But I say, for however much time the heir is underage ( = a child), he does not differ from a slave (despite) being the lord,

1 Dico autem: Quanto tempore heres parvulus est, nihil differt a servo, cum sit dominus omnium,

2ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ ἐπιτρόπους ἐστὶν καὶ οἰκονόμους ἄχρι τῆς προθεσμίας τοῦ πατρός.

But he is under a tutor and a steward until the (time) appointed by his father.

2 sed sub tutoribus est et actoribus usque ad praefinitum tempus a patre.

3οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς, ὅτε ἦμεν νήπιοι, ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου ἤμεθα δεδουλωμένοι:

And it was when we, being underage (minors), under the elements of the world, we being enslaved.

3 Ita et nos, cum essemus parvuli, sub elementis mundi eramus servientes;

4ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου, ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ, γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός, γενόμενον ὑπὸ νόμον,

But when the fulfillment of time came, God sent his son, being born of a woman, being born under the law.

4 at ubi venit plenitudo temporis, misit Deus Filium suum, factum ex muliere, factum sub lege,

5ἵνα τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον ἐξαγοράσῃ, ἵνα τὴν υἱοθεσίαν ἀπολάβωμεν.

In order that those under the law were bought out (of the Law), so that we received the adoption of sons (we became adopted as sons of God)

We get << ἐξαγοράσῃ >> again.  In this usage,  I can see it under either translation: simply ‘purchasing’ or ‘redeeming.’  Is there really a distinction here that makes a difference?  Somehow, I think so.  Otherwise, why didn’t Paul use the base verb without the prefix?  Had it just become the fad to add the preposition?  As in, using ‘utilize’ when ‘use’ works perfectly well, or using ‘functionality’ when you mean ‘function’. These words are faddish of the business world.

Purchase vs redeem.  Is there a difference?  Yes.  Does it matter in this case?  I say it does, if only because of the subsequent discussion that ensued among the Church.  “Redeem” has the implication of being in hock, or in debt, or maybe even in slavery.  Was Paul’s thinking already that advanced?  This was a topic that raged several hundred years later, as the implications of words became fixed and their meaning was more critical as the Church ossified into place.  What should a Christian believe? What exactly?  

Paul continues explaining the role of the Law, how it was preparation of a sort, or a sort of tutor for what was to come: the Christ.  Really, from a rhetorical standpoint, it’s a great analogy and a persuasive argument, cast in terms that most people could understand.  In short, it’s rather a parable.

Become ‘adopted’ as sons of God. This is an interesting word.  Or perhaps concept. It implies that we are not ‘children of God’ by birth. That another step is necessary. This is, needless to say, something different than the Church came to teach as dogma. It also, pretty much by definition, requires that God choose us to be his children, since God has to initiate the process of adoption.  This again foreshadows, or reinforces, the idea of Predestination, of God choosing those whom he will save ‘from (our) mother’s womb’, as Paul said of himself, if not ‘from the foundations of the world’ as Augustine would put it later.

My next step may be reading into the text.  Mark begins with Jesus’ baptism, not his birth. This has led to a position known as ‘Adoptionism’, which believes that Jesus only became the Son of God, and The Christ, upon being adopted by God at his baptism.  As we will see when we get to Mark, there is reason to believe that Mark may not have seen Jesus as fully divine. Akenson, in the book I referenced, presents a decent case that Paul saw Jesus becoming the Christ only after the Resurrection. So the use of ‘adoption’ here may be significant. If we don’t start as children of God, perhaps Jesus didn’t either.

5 ut eos, qui sub lege erant, redimeret, ut adoptionem filiorum reciperemus.

6Οτι δέ ἐστε υἱοί, ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν, κρᾶζον, Αββα ὁ πατήρ.

And since you are sons, God sent the spirit of his son into our hearts, crying “Abba!  Father!”

6 Quoniam autem estis filii, misit Deus Spiritum Filii sui in corda nostra clamantem: “ Abba, Pater! ”.

7ὥστε οὐκέτι εἶ δοῦλος ἀλλὰ υἱός: εἰ δὲ υἱός, καὶ κληρονόμος διὰ θεοῦ.

Thus you are no longer a slave, but a son: you are a son, and an heir because of/through God.

7 Itaque iam non es servus sed filius; quod si filius, et heres per Deum.

8Ἀλλὰ τότε μὲν οὐκ εἰδότες θεὸν ἐδουλεύσατε τοῖς φύσει μὴ οὖσιν θεοῖς:

But then, on the one hand, you did not know God, being enslaved to those by nature are not gods.

 Are/were they pagan, then?  See comment to 3:10.  There’s a lot of talk about circumcision, which makes me think that the Galatians are Gentiles. It wouldn’t be an issue if they were already Jews.  But I could be convinced one way or the other.

8 Sed tunc quidem ignorantes Deum, his, qui natura non sunt dii, servistis;

9νῦν δὲ γνόντες θεόν, μᾶλλον δὲ γνωσθέντες ὑπὸ θεοῦ, πῶς ἐπιστρέφετε πάλιν ἐπὶ τὰ ἀσθενῆ καὶ πτωχὰ στοιχεῖα, οἷς πάλιν ἄνωθεν δουλεύειν θέλετε;

But now, knowing God, or better, being known by God, how can you turn back again unto the weak and poor elements (of nature/of the universe/of the world), wishing to become enslaved to them again?

9 nunc autem, cum cognoveritis Deum, immo cogniti sitis a Deo, quomodo convertimini iterum ad infirma et egena elementa, quibus rursus ut antea servire vultis?

10ἡμέρας παρατηρεῖσθε καὶ μῆνας καὶ καιροὺς καὶ ἐνιαυτούς.

You observe days and months and seasons and years. 

This means that they follow the religious calendar of a specific group.  So they observe the days, etc as holy or sacred or of the divine.  Going back to the weak and poor elements, we may (or may not, but seems likely) be talking about the pagan calendar.  IOW, it seems like the Galatians are following the pagan feasts, but the reference could be to the Jewish calendar, too.

10 Dies observatis et menses et tempora et annos!

Summary Galatians 3:21-29

Basically, the comment to chapters 22-29 sums up the whole section.  A separate summation would be borderline redundant.

But, since I’ve got the floor, I’d just like to mention again that. Paul understood the distinction between Abraham and Moses, between the Promise of Faith and the Works of the Law. And, when he did this, that this understanding was his conversion moment.

And I would like to point out that this is, I believe, my humble contribution to the understanding of Paul and his role in the development of what came to be Christianity.

Galatians 3:21-29

Chapter 3 continues:

21 Ὁ οὖν νόμος κατὰ τῶν ἐπαγγελιῶν [τοῦ θεοῦ]; μὴ γένοιτο: εἰ γὰρ ἐδόθη νόμος ὁ δυνάμενος ζῳοποιῆσαι, ὄντως ἐκ νόμου ἂν ἦν ἡ δικαιοσύνη.

So is the law contrary to the promise [ of God ]?  Let it not be!  For, if the law was given, the one able to make life, being of/from the law, this would be the justification.

ESV translation: Is the law then contrary to the promises of God?  May it never be! For if a law gad been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on the law.

 << κατὰ >> here is interesting.  It can, and often does, mean ‘according to’, in the sense of the Gospel << κατὰ Markon >>,according to Mark.’ But it can also mean ‘against’ in the sense of ‘contrary to’, or ‘opposed to’, and that’s how it’s to be taken here.  Not completely obvious, or immediately obvious, but it works and is not at all unusual.

My translation is deliberately clumsy to give a sense of the convoluted (in terms of English syntax ) nature of the Greek.  I don’t especially quibble with the standard translations, however.  I believe the meaning is fairly clear.  The point Paul is trying to make throughout is that, in his reading of Torah and history, the law does not provide the means to salvation.  I’m not sure if it ever did in Paul’s mind.  Is it the case that it did in the past, but the reality has now changed, or did it never provide the means to salvation?  It’s moot, and I’m sure it has been argued.  But the fact is that, now, because of Jesus’ life and, especially, his death, the law is no longer the appropriate means to being righteous and justified in the eyes of God.  Now, the criterion is faith.

Re-reading this, I talk about law as being or not being the means to salvation, but the words he uses are ‘righteousness’ and ‘life’. Extra points to anyone who a) caught this; and b) objected to the bait-and-switch.  In our world, in the Christian world those three terms are, or have become, to some degree, interchangeable.  The point of all this is to determine whether this was also true for Paul.

He doesn’t completely jettison the Law, as we’ll see, but it’s not the way to approach our lives any more.  The law has been superseded.

I love the word ‘superseded.’  Unlike ‘procede,’ or ‘succeed’, or ‘recede’, it doesn’t derive from the Latin “cedere”, which at root means ‘to march.’  Rather, it derives from the Latin “sedere”, which is ‘to sit.’  So, to supersede, means, literally, “to sit on top of.’  The things a Classics geek finds cool.

21 Lex ergo adversus promissa Dei? Absit. Si enim data esset lex, quae posset vivificare, vere ex lege esset iustitia.

22ἀλλὰ συνέκλεισεν ἡ γραφὴ τὰ πάντα ὑπὸ ἁμαρτίαν ἵνα ἡ ἐπαγγελία ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοθῇ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν.

But the scripture closed off (locked up) all the things under sin so that the promise from faith in Jesus Christ would be given to the faithful.

See comment to V-29

22 Sed conclusit Scriptura omnia sub peccato, ut promissio ex fide Iesu Christi daretur credentibus.

23Πρὸ τοῦ δὲ ἐλθεῖν τὴν πίστιν ὑπὸ νόμον ἐφρουρούμεθα συγκλειόμενοι εἰς τὴν μέλλουσαν πίστιν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι.

But before the coming of faith under the law, closed off we werw guarded towards preferring faith being revealed.

 (Or, more fluidly: Before the coming of faith, we were closed off under the law, guarded from the faith that would (lit = shall) be revealed.)

See comment to V-29

23 Prius autem quam veniret fides, sub lege custodiebamur conclusi in eam fidem, quae revelanda erat.

24ὥστε ὁ νόμος παιδαγωγὸς ἡμῶν γέγονεν εἰς Χριστόν, ἵνα ἐκ πίστεως δικαιωθῶμεν:

Thus the law was the pedagogue of us to (until) Christ, so that from faith we will be justified.

Note: a ‘pedagogue’ was the person (always a man; generally a slave) responsible for a young child (pretty much always a boy).  The duties generally included education, or at least basic education.  As the child got older, the pedagogue would escort him to ‘school’.  This would be the place where a teacher of some repute would instruct the sons of the wealthy, for a fee, of course.

See comment to V-29

24 Itaque lex paedagogus noster fuit in Christum, ut ex fide iustificemur;

25ἐλθούσης δὲ τῆς πίστεως οὐκέτι ὑπὸ παιδαγωγόν ἐσμεν.

But faith having come, no longer under a pedagogue are we.

See comment to V-29

25 at ubi venit fides, iam non sumus sub paedagogo.

26Πάντες γὰρ υἱοὶ θεοῦ ἐστε διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.

For you all are sons of God through / on account of faith in Christ Jesus

See comment to V-29

26 Omnes enim filii Dei estis per fidem in Christo Iesu.

27ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε, Χριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε:

For whoever is baptized into Christ, you have put on Christ

See comment to V-29

27 Quicumque enim in Christum baptizati estis, Christum induistis:

28οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ελλην, οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ: πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.

For there is neither Jew nor Greek, nor slave nor free, nor male nor female, for all are one in Hrist Jesus.

See comment to V-29

28 non est Iudaeus neque Graecus, non est servus neque liber, non est masculus et femina; omnes enim vos unus estis in Christo Iesu.

29εἰ δὲ ὑμεῖς Χριστοῦ, ἄρα τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ σπέρμα ἐστέ, κατ’ ἐπαγγελίαν κληρονόμοι.

If you are of Christ, you are therefore the seed of Abraham, according to the promise we are(of which) inheritors.

This is to sum up verses 22-29.

 This is an enormously important topic in the history of what would become Christianity.  One could argue, as the priest of my church did one Sunday, when discussing Mark 7:5-15, that this argument represents the sine qua non of Christianity.  Without this argument, without this switch from following The Law, to following The Faith, the teachings of Jesus may well have died out with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  Certainly, anything bearing the name ‘Christianity’ would look very, very different than what we know today.

 In this section, Paul continues and concludes his case that faith has superseded The Law as the means to a righteous life.  To some degree, these two paths are mutually exclusive.  To do this, he uses extended metaphors, mixed metaphors.

 Overall, I find the argument very impressive.  In fact, it’s brilliant.  Paul has shown a real insight into the situation of Abraham, and how that was analogous to the situation of the followers of Jesus.  To instruct Gentiles, Paul felt compelled to make a case against following the Jewish law; this would include dietary restrictions, but also a lot of the ritual cleansings, and the things that would come to be described as ‘keeping kosher’.

 The question becomes ‘why’?  Paul makes references to ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’, things that the James Gang wanted to take away from the non-Jewish assemblies of Jesus.  Now, is Paul tipping his hand here?  Did he, to some extent, want to get himself out from under the (oppressive) thumb of The Law?  Did he feel this way despite his boast of being known for his zealousness?  Possibly.  Was some of this a reaction, guilt about having been a persecutor of the followers of Jesus?  Sure, why not?

IMO, Paul experienced a sincere conversion experience.  Whether it included a “Road to Damascus” event is fun to debate, but, ultimately, beside the point.  Is it possible that the “blinding light” described in Acts was the sudden realization that Abraham, the real Father of the Jewish (and Arab) people, did not follow Jewish Law?  That Abraham had faith, to an incredible degree, and that was what made him worthy?  What made him righteous in God’s eyes?

Again, IMO, this seems entirely possible.  To make a convincing case, we would have to look at Paul’s letters—all of them, or all of the authentic letters—and see what sorts of arguments he finds convincing.  Let’s not forget this is the man who wrote ‘love is patient, love is kind, etc’ in 1 Corinthians, a piece that gets read at a lot of weddings.

To anticipate, Mark’s gospel has John the Baptist telling people << μετανοιετε >>, << repent >>.  Is this a reflection of what Paul was saying?  Change your attitude?  Don’t worry about the externals, but be concerned with the internals?  And an excellent demonstration of this would be to believe, rather than follow a bunch of rules.  Mark goes so far as to call them ‘the rules of men.’ (Mk 7:7).

 What we have here is another case of possible independent corroboration.  Paul said something to the Galatians.  Mark came up with something very similar 20 years later.  Galatia is in modern Turkey; the Gospel of Mark is generally considered to have been written in Rome, so the two traditions were separated by a pretty good chunk of real estate.  Now, trade and travel were widespread in the Roman Empire.  Goods and people moved easily from one end to the other all the time, so it’s entirely possible that Mark derived this idea from someone who got it from Paul.

 Or, it’s possible that they both got it, independently, from Jesus.

 However, given the adamant—as Paul describes it—insistence of James that Gentiles had to follow the Law, maybe not so much.  The tradition of the early church—when it became the church—is that “Mark”, or whoever wrote the gospel with this name, was part of Peter’s group after Peter went to Rome.  And let’s recall that Peter was present at the “Synod of Jerusalem”, at the discussion between Paul and James that led to the official sanction of Paul’s gospel to the Gentiles.  And, in Rome, Peter was probably most concerned with gaining non-Jewish adherents.  So, it’s hardly a stretch that Peter would use theses ideas of Paul to appeal to non-Jews.  IOW, that it was Paul, not Jesus, who came up with this notion of faith vs the Law.

 The implication of this is that “Christianity” could, in some ways, be described more accurately as “Paulism.”  Or something.

 Regardless, these chapters of Galatians had enormous repercussions for the future development of Christianity.  In fact, without the events, and the ideas, described here, it’s possible that we wouldn’t be talking about Christianity at all.

 Now, those teachings that can be traced to Jesus is a very important topic.  It’s something that we will continue to follow as we move along here.

 29 Si autem vos Christi, ergo Abrahae semen estis, secundum promissionem heredes.

Summary Galatians Chapter 3:11-20

This next section brings us back into the content of the text a bit more.

  • We run right into a quote from Habakkuk, who claimed that justification was by faith before Paul. This leads to the question of when Habakkuk lived; I am extremely skeptical that he lived anywhere near the time he was writing about, which was before the Babylonian Captivity. There are commentaries on his book among the Dead Sea Scrolls, so he lived sometime before Paul, and Jesus, but taking him back any further than the third century BCE seems highly dubious. The point is open to contention, but this sort of assumption that Biblical authors only wrote about contemporary events is a serious failing of much of biblical scholarship. It is this sort of thinking that we are trying to get past. However, the topic is really only peripheral to our primary concern.
  • Leviticus: works of faith?
  • A very long discussion on a word that Paul may have coined. Or, he may have gotten it from contemporary use. The point is, this is the oldest cite of this word that we have, so pretending that we know what it means is really kind of silly. Liddell & Scott have two semi-contrasting meanings. This is truly a case where one’s translation has a major impact on the theology of the passage.
  • Paul ties his (Habakkuk’s?) concept of justification by faith to Abraham. This helps Paul build his case that the coming of the Christ was planned by God from the very beginning of his covenant with Israel.
  • Paul splits hairs with his seed/seeds of Abraham.
  • Note several instances where the modern translations tend to become slightly disconnected to the original.

Galatians 3:11-20

And we continue in Chapter 3.

11ὅτι δὲ ἐν νόμῳ οὐδεὶς δικαιοῦται παρὰ τῷ θεῷ δῆλον, ὅτι Ὁ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται:

But that no one is made just beside (i.e. aside from) God is evident, that ‘He who is just from faith will live.’

This is ends with a quote from Habakkuk*.  If you say “who?”, that’s kind of the point.  Habakkuk was late, decidedly minor prophet, but one who shows up fairly often in NT quotes.  What this indicates, I believe, is that some of these ideas were floating around in Judea in the last 1-2 centuries BCE.  As such, they’re not necessarily Paul’s inventions, or his original thought.  What Paul did was popularize them and expand their scope.

 *The Wikipedia entry states that he lived before Jeremiah; however, I’m extremely skeptical about this.  Dating him to the time of Jeremiah, or before, is squarely in the worst traditions of taking the chronology of the OT as basically accurate, and finding reasons to verify what it says.  This tendency, or trait, unfortunately, has dominated Biblical Scholarship pretty much since its inception.  Only in the last 1-2 decades has it been called into question.  There is reason to believe that the OT was not truly created until the Babylonian Exile in the early 6th century BCE.  So dating the book of Habakkuk to the 7th century BCE is doubtless very wrong.

 The reason for dating it so early is that it has prophecies about the rise of the Babylonians,  However, using an ancient setting to teach a contemporary lesson is a common literary device.  It’s why we got M*A*S*H, set in the Korean War, during the Vietnam War.

 Recall Paul was a Pharisee; he was very well versed in his Scripture.  He found what he needed in Habakkuk, and not from Elijah, or Jeremiah.  This indicates that Paul is not a mainstream thinker.  The question becomes, did Paul see Jesus through the lens of Habakkuk? Or, like a good lawyer, did he find Habakkuk and use him as a precedent to argue for his interpretation of Jesus.?  I suspect the latter.

NIV, KJV, NASB & ESV render this: He who is just will live by faith.  The basic meaning of << ἐκ >> is ‘from,’ so I would argue that my translation is more faithful to the original.  It’s the just from faith will live vs will live by faith, are two somewhat different concepts.  Both work, but the cause and effect are somewhat interchanged between the two translations. 

11 Quoniam autem in lege nemo iustificatur apud Deum manifestum est, quia iustus ex fide vivet;

12ὁ δὲ νόμος οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ πίστεως, ἀλλ’ Ὁ ποιήσας αὐτὰ ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς.

For the law is not from faith, but “He doing these things will live in them.”

Here’s what I mean about  << ἐκ >>.  In this context, ‘by’ simply doesn’t work. I guess one has to decide whether Paul repeated the same preposition for rhetorical purposes, or whether he used the same word because he meant the same thing.

This quote is from Leviticus.  IMO, the sentence, as it stands, doesn’t quite make sense.  Doing what things?  The things of faith?  Presumably, if that’s how he shall live.  But it seems like it could apply to the things of the law, too.  And the KJV, ESV, and NASB all basically agree with my translation.  The NIV, however, adds an “on the contrary” in the middle to, ahem, ‘clarify’ the meaning.  Granted, given the context, this addition seems perfectly reasonable, but it’s still the sort of intrusion and distortion that we’re looking to identify.

12 lex autem non est ex fide; sed, qui fecerit ea, vivet in illis.

13Χριστὸς ἡμᾶς ἐξηγόρασεν ἐκ τῆς κατάρας τοῦ νόμου γενόμενος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν κατάρα, ὅτι γέγραπται, Ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὁ κρεμάμενος ἐπὶ ξύλου,

Christ bought us out of the curse of the law, becoming for (lit = over) us cursed, that it was written, “Accursed are all having been hung/hanged from upon a tree.”

<< ἐξηγόρασεν >>: this word only occurs in the NT in Paul.  It is a very uncommon word.  The unabridged Liddell & Scott cites a single Classical usage, by Plutarch,  There, it means to “buy from”.

Since Plutarch was about 10 when Galatians was written, this means that Paul made the word up.  As such, we really have no idea what he meant exactly.  The base is  << ἀγοραζω >> “to participate in the agora = the marketplace”; hence, this is a standard word for  “to buy.”

 But Paul added the prefix << εκ >>.  Paul was, after all, fond of sticking prepositional prefixes to verbs.  In this case, the preposition can mean “out of”, or simply “from”.   So the word can simply mean ‘buy from’, as it did for Plutarch.

 Also cited by L&S are two usages by later writers, who wrote several hundred years after Paul.  There, the word is translated as “to redeem”.  This is important because the Vulgate chooses to translate this as <<redemit >>,the root of our word “redeem.”  

 This would indicate that several hundred years after Paul wrote, the word had come to mean ‘redeem’, in Greek, and so it becomes <<redemit >>  in Latin. 

But ‘redeem’ and ‘buy from’ are not exact synonyms.  So ‘redeem’—think, redeem something from the pawn shop—adds a layer of meaning that may—or may not—have been present in Paul’s mind when he chose the word.  So no matter how you translate this, you are imposing a theological implication, of which you cannot be certain that it is what Paul intended.

 So, we have what is a word, the meaning of which is hard to pin down, which means the theology is also questionable.  Norman  Cantnor’s fabulous Mediaeval History (especially the first edition) has one of the best discussions for non-specialists of the theological debate that took place among the church fathers about how to interpret Jesus’ death on the cross.  Was it a ransom?  Or a redemption?  The meaning of this word has a role in that debate.

 Now, it’s also easy to say that, given the trend of the word after Paul, we can take this as the way the word developed.  After all, who are we to argue with Liddell and Scott?  Or with St Jerome, who originally chose to translate this as <<redemit >>?  Answer, this argument has weight, and seems to make a strong case, but it still comes down to ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc.’  Just because that’s what the word came to mean, this does not necessarily prove this is how Paul intended the word.

 Update: on a second (maybe twenty-second) reading, the syntax of the sentence does lean towards the ‘redeemed’ sense.  The << εκ >> is repeated; as a prefix, then again as a preposition.  Given that we are bought “out of the law”, adding the prefix to << ἀγοραζω >>, it could be argued, must have been done to change the meaning.  Otherwise, why wouldn’t Paul have just used the base verb without a prefix?  And let’s not forget that Paul was a craftsman, which means a merchant, which means he was likely an active participant in the agora.  Does this mean he had a deeper understanding of commercial words?  That he knew the addition of the preposition changed the meaning, in some way, of the word?

 Against this, let’s remember that Plutarch was writing later than Paul, which may mean he captured the word as it was used after Paul.  To claim the word evolved from “redeemed” (in Paul) and then into “buy from” in Plutarch, then went back to “redeemed” seems a bit of a stretch.  More likely the later authors (e.g. Cassius Dio) and Jerome, who were closer in time to each other than to Paul or Plutarch, understood the word in the same way because they were close contemporaries, while Paul and Plutarch  similar time in which they all lived.

 So it may be logical to assume Paul meant to change the meaning of the word, but Repeating the << εκ >> could be done for emphasis, which is not an uncommon usage for Greek.  So, we keep going ‘round and ‘round the cobbler’s bench….

 Bottom line?  It probably means ‘redeemed,’ but there is a definite chunk of ambiguity there. 

 The point is that, IMO, there is definitely room for questioning what this word means in this context.   It is, I believe, a good example of how a word or idea gets encrusted with interpretation, which makes it very difficult to get past the accretions to what is underneath.   And, coming as it does after a verse in which the NIV simply adds a phrase that is not there, we really can appreciate the level of danger for messing with what the text actually says vs what “everyone knows” it says.

13 Christus nos redemit de maledicto legis factus pro nobis maledictum, quia scriptum est: “ Maledictus omnis, qui pendet in ligno ”,

14ἵνα εἰς τὰ ἔθνη ἡ εὐλογία τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ γένηται ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ἵνα τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ πνεύματος λάβωμεν διὰ τῆς πίστεως.

So that to the peoples the blessing of Abraham would be in Christ Jesus, so that the promise of the spirit we receive (is) through faith.

Very simply, Jesus the Christ died to grant the promise of the spirit made to Abraham to all peoples.  IOW, this was planned from the beginning.  An implication of Predestination, given that God foreknew what would happen when he made the original promise to Abraham.  Technically, this probably doesn’t count as Predestination, but foreknowledge is a very big chunk of the concept.

14 ut in gentes benedictio Abrahae fieret in Christo Iesu, ut promissionem Spiritus accipiamus per fidem.

15Ἀδελφοί, κατὰ ἄνθρωπον λέγω: ὅμως ἀνθρώπου κεκυρωμένην διαθήκην οὐδεὶς ἀθετεῖ ἢ ἐπιδιατάσσεται.

Brothers, I speak according to men ( = I speak as a man): In this way when the will/testament of a man having been confirmed, and no one may delete or add to it.

Interesting: all of my crib translations have this as something like, “though it’s only a man’s covenant / even if it be but a man’s covenant…”  Now, if someone more versed in Greek can point out where the ‘but’ or ‘though’ is, please feel free to do so.  There isn’t even a << καὶ >> or a << δὲ >> in here.

15 Fratres, secundum hominem dico, tamen hominis confirmatum testamentum nemo irritum facit aut superordinat.

16τῷ δὲ Ἀβραὰμ ἐρρέθησαν αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ. οὐ λέγει, Καὶ τοῖς σπέρμασιν, ὡς ἐπὶ πολλῶν, ἀλλ’ ὡς ἐφ’ ἑνός, Καὶ τῷ σπέρματί σου, ὅς ἐστιν Χριστός.

But to Abraham the promises were spoken, and that to his progeny.  He ( = God) did not say, “To your seeds (plural), as if to many, but as if to one, and to his progeny,who is Christ.

 OK, Paul may be playing this a bit fast and loose.  Generally, ‘seed’ ( etymologically the root of ‘sperm’), can be an aggragate, or plural, as well as singular noun.  So to read it purposely as a singular when it could just as easily been an aggragate or a plural feels, on the face of it, like a bit of verbal legerdemain.

 Situations like this are where Strong’s taxonomy is invaluable, as set out at the Great Tresures website is invaluable.  It allows you to scan all the uses of a given word in the NT.  Looking at other uses, it is almost always used in the singular form, except for a few instances when the plural is used, and is plainly indicated.  For example, the mustard seed is smallest of all the seeds, and the Greek is plural.  In most, if not all, when singular ‘seed’ is used for ‘progeny’, the Greek term is every bit as ambiguous as ‘progeny.’  When we use the latter term, our first sense may be singular, but it could easily be plural.

 So, IMO, Paul stretched the point a bit here to make his case.

16 Abrahae autem dictae sunt promissiones et semini eius. Non dicit: “ Et seminibus ”, quasi in multis, sed quasi in uno: “Et semini tuo”, qui est Christus.

17τοῦτο δὲ λέγω: διαθήκην προκεκυρωμένην ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ μετὰ τετρακόσια καὶ τριάκοντα ἔτη γεγονὼς νόμος οὐκ ἀκυροῖ, εἰς τὸ καταργῆσαι τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν.

I say this: a testament having been confirmed by God, the one beyond four hundred and thirty years having become the law is not without authority, into the invalidating the promise.

( I say this: the law, which having come into being four hundred and 30 years after (the covenant) does not make the covenant confirmed by God without authority to the point that the promise is nullified. )

( I say this: the law, having come into being 430 years after the covenant, does not make the covenant confirmed by God invalid, to the point that the promise is nullified. )

Trying to get the Greek and English to match up on this is a bit rough.  But, it’s a good example of the flexibility of Greek, and how concepts can be put together syntactically without being sequential, as English requires.

 The theological point is that the law did not invalidate  the promise to Abraham.  And note that he can cite the time lapse between Abraham and the law of Moses.

17 Hoc autem dico: Testamentum confirmatum a Deo, quae post quadringentos et triginta annos facta est lex, non irritum facit ad evacuandam promissionem.

18εἰ γὰρ ἐκ νόμου ἡ κληρονομία, οὐκέτι ἐξ ἐπαγγελίας: τῷ δὲ Ἀβραὰμ δι’ ἐπαγγελίας κεχάρισται ὁ θεός.

For if the law is the inheritance, no longer (is it—i.e. the law ) of the promise; to Abraham through the promises God granted the gift ( gave as free ).

 KJV: For if the inheritance be of the law,it is no more of (the) promise, but God gave it toAbraham by promise.

 ESV: For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise, but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

Another sentence that’s rather difficult to get across in English.  However, unlike the situation in V-15, the eventual meaning of the Greek is fairly clear.

 The idea is that God gave Abraham a promise, not the Law.  So the Law cannot be, and was not, part of of the promise. The Promise and The Law are separate and distinct.  The former,which came first, was based on faith; the latter was based on acts.

18 Nam si ex lege hereditas, iam non ex promissione; Abrahae autem per promissionem donavit Deus.

19Τί οὖν ὁ νόμος; τῶν παραβάσεων χάριν προσετέθη, ἄχρις ἁν ἔλθῃ τὸ σπέρμα ᾧ ἐπήγγελται, διαταγεὶς δι’ ἀγγέλων ἐν χειρὶ μεσίτου.

For what is the law?  It was established because of sin, until came the offspring (the seed) who had been promised, arranged through the angels into the hands of a mediator.

 KJV: Τί οὖν ὁ νόμος = Wherefore then serveth the law?

 ESV: Τί οὖν ὁ νόμος = Why then the law?

 NIV: Τί οὖν ὁ νόμος = Why then was the law given at all?

OK, this is a doozy.  First of, the text is corrupt in the sense that there are several divergent readings.  Text traditions disagree, so, right off the bat, you have a consensus opinion governing the words chosen, which necessarily affects the theology.

 Second, the NIV tries to render the first clause “why is there a law?”  Translating << Τί >> as ‘why’ is, while technically possible, not the ‘normal’ meaning.  This is especially true if you note that the Latin is “quid,” which any standard translation would render as ‘what’, not ‘why.’  Note that te KJV, which is consistently the translation closest to the Greek, doesn’ t translate this as ‘why’.  Granted, ‘why’ does make sense here, but it’s just that it wasn’t my first choice.  Nor was it St Jerome’s, nor the KJV’s first choice.

 Along with this, the word << χάριν >> is interesting.  This word did not exist in Classical Greek.  By the time Paul and Plutarch wrote, however, it has come to mean ‘because of.’  The route it took to get there is a bit circuitous.  At root, it’s the accusative case of << χάρις >>, which becomes ‘grace.’ 

 Finally, the last clause: the hands of a mediator?  What the hell does that mean?  Seriously.  I am by no means versed enough to be able to suggest an alternate word to replace a possibly corrupt text.  OTOH, the very bizarre nature of the word may speak to its authenticity.  Why would someone insert that meaning?

19 Quid igitur lex? Propter transgressiones apposita est, donec veniret semen, cui promissum est, ordinata per angelos in manu mediatoris.

20ὁ δὲ μεσίτης ἑνὸς οὐκ ἔστιν, ὁ δὲ θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν.

For the mediator is not one; but God is one.

Granted, this makes sense in that this is grammatical, but not much, IMO, beyond that.  Who is the mediator?  Jesus?  And who said the mediator was ‘one’, in the sense, I suppose, of a unity?

OK, in the interim I checked the other translations.  The idea is that the mediator is not a unity because a mediator implies (this word is used in ESV & NIV) more than one party.  So the Greek, taken that way, works.  However, take note that this introduces a concept that was simply not there in the Greek.  Even the KJV feels the need to insert “not a mediator of one

20 Mediator autem unius non est, Deus autem unus est.

Summary Galatians 3:1-10

In Galatians 3:1-10, a lot of time was spent discussing the Greek. In some ways, this may seem pedantic; anyone familiar with “Life of Brian”, the scene when the Roman soldier teaches Brian his Latin grammar, can, perhaps, appreciate this. However, the actual meaning of the “original”* Greek can be important. Even if scholars and translators have come to a general agreement that certain passages should be taken a certain way in cases where the Greek version is not exactly clear, is sort of the point of this exercise. The idea is to find out if we can trust a lot of translations or not. Remember, the choice of the word(s) used often has a huge impact on how the theology and implications ultimately work. The great example of this, IMO, is the Latin use of ‘gratia’, which became our ‘grace.’ That ‘gratia’ includes the sense of ‘free’ had a huge impact on the development of the concept of ‘grace’. Augustine had a big role in this, and Augustine did not read Greek. He was working from a Latin translation.

*”original” in quotes because there is no one, single source of The Greek NT. There are numerous textual traditions, not all of them agreeing with each other/

In addition, we came across these topics:

    • The existence of another gospel, or another set of teachings.
    • The distinction between flesh and spirit; is the concept ultimately Greek? Had it penetrated into Judaic thinking?
    • This is very important: the beginning of Paul’s case that faith in Jesus the Christ is what matters, not following the Jewish law
    • Concept of “justification”. This will become a very significant theme.
    • The covenant with Abraham extends also to the Gentiles
    • If one follows Jewish Law, one must follow all of it. Therefore, none of it is valid (?). How does this square with Matthew