Monthly Archives: November 2012

Galatians Chapter 5:11-26

Chapter 5 continues:

11ἐγὼ δέ, ἀδελφοί, εἰ περιτομὴν ἔτι κηρύσσω, τί ἔτι διώκομαι; ἄρα κατήργηται τὸ σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ.

But I, brothers, if I will yet preach circumcision, why yet am I persecuted?  Then the scandal of the cross is voided.

This is kind of interesting. First, who’s persecuting him?  Had to think about this one. If he preaches circumcision, he’s going along with mainstream Jewish thinking, so he’s not flaunting the differences of the Jesus followers. This means that he’s eliminated the scandal of the cross by not waving it in people’s faces.

Or something. Maybe even something like that.

11 Ego autem, fratres, si circumcisionem adhuc praedico, quid adhuc persecutionem patior? Ergo evacuatum est scandalum crucis.

12 ὄφελον καὶ ἀποκόψονται οἱ ἀναστατοῦντες ὑμᾶς.

Oh, would that also they cut themselves those disturbing you.

 They cut themselves.’  Rendered variously as ‘mutilate themselves’, and even ‘castrate (excuse me, ‘emasculate’) themselves.

Wow.  This is a bit harsh. Plus, notice the range of translations. I think the idea is something like ‘go circumcise yourself’, but, if it’s a mainstream Jew, then that’s already been done. Maybe he does mean ’emasculate’? I doubt it, despite the fact that both the ESV and the NIV translate it this way, but it’s possible.  The KJV, however,  renders it as ‘would that those bothering you were cut off” (language updated slightly.)

12 Utinam et abscidantur, qui vos conturbant!

13Ὑμεῖς γὰρ ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἐκλήθητε, ἀδελφοί: μόνον μὴ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν εἰς ἀφορμὴν τῇ σαρκί, ἀλλὰ διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης δουλεύετε ἀλλήλοις.

For you were called for the purpose of freedom, brothers.  Not only for the occasion of freedom of the flesh, but on account of/through love serve each other.

“Freedom of the flesh” here probably (?) refers to the lack of circumcision, and the relaxing of the dietary and other restrictions placed by Judaism. I’ve said this before, but the implication that Judaism is somehow ‘slavery’ while following Jesus is ‘freedom’ is also pretty extreme.

13 Vos enim in libertatem vocati estis, fratres; tantum ne libertatem in occasionem detis carni, sed per caritatem servite invicem.

14ὁ γὰρ πᾶς νόμος ἐν ἑνὶ λόγῳ πεπλήρωται, ἐν τῷ Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν.

For the whole law in one saying/expression/sentence  is fulfilled, in “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

14 Omnis enim lex in uno sermone impletur, in hoc: Diliges proximum tuum sicut teipsum.

15εἰ δὲ ἀλλήλους δάκνετε καὶ κατεσθίετε, βλέπετε μὴ ὑπ’ ἀλλήλων ἀναλωθῆτε.

But if you bite and devour each other, watch lest you are consumed by others.

“Bite and devour”: excellent rhetoric. Great image.

15 Quod si invicem mordetis et devoratis, videte, ne ab invicem consumamini!

16Λέγω δέ, πνεύματι περιπατεῖτε καὶ ἐπιθυμίαν σαρκὸς οὐ μὴ τελέσητε.

But I say, walk about in the spirit and the desires of the flesh will not be your final end. (you will not perfect/complete yourselves)

Note: here’s a great example of how a minor change in translation can deeply affect the meaning. “…will not be your final end” is very different from “you will not perfect yourselves.”  The first is perfectly correct, but it does not necessarily convey the same thing as the second.  The meanings definitely overlap, but it’s a case of how the meaning is taken.

16 Dico autem: Spiritu ambulate et concupiscentiam carnis ne perfeceritis.

17ἡ γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός: ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλήλοις ἀντίκειται, ἵνα μὴ ἃ ἐὰν θέλητε ταῦτα ποιῆτε.

For the flesh desires (things) contrary to the spirit, and the spirit desires (things) contrary to the flesh.  For they lie against each other, so that what you might want you cannot do these things.

To this point, I have not made enosugh of the whole theme in Paul about the difference between the flesh and the spirit.  To the best of my knowledge, this distinction does not go back deeply into Jewish thought.  It is, however, part of Greek thought going back several hundred years before the time of the Christ; indeed, the distinction between body and spirit, or soul, is found in Homer.  In The Illiad, the spirits of the dead are sent speeding to Hades when slain; in The Odyssey, Odysseus calls up the spirits of his father, Achilles, and others by performing a blood ritual.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no real Hebrew/Jewish equivalent until a century or two before Jesus.  IOW, after the Near/Middle East had been under Greek rule, and Greek cultural influence for a century or more.

 For dualistic religions, the distinction between Good Spirit, synonymous with, or equivalent to Light, and Evil Matter, synonymous with, or equivalent to Darkness, is fundamental.  One of the earliest such religions was Zoroastrianism; there was a long string of successors, passing through the Gnostics at about the time of Jesus, and continuing on from him, culminating in the ancient world with Manicheanism.  Gnosticism represents a real challenge for historians; in its ‘pure’ form, Gnosticism is truly a completely distinct religion.  In more ‘dilute’ forms, it can combine with Christian beliefs and become a Christian heresy.  In both Paul and Mark we have points where these two writers intersect with Gnostic beliefs.  Paul’s insistence on the distinction between the good spiritual traits, and the sinful traits of the flesh is one such intersection.  What Paul says here is completely orthodox, but crank it up a notch or two, and it could easily cross the line into heresy, if not outright apostasy.

 This spirit/flesh dichotomy is one of the areas, IMO, that Akenson does not consider in sufficient depth.  He is very intent on putting Saul/Paul in the Judaic (Judahist, a term he coined, and which I find very useful and very descriptive), to the point that he gives short shrift—or overlooks completely—aspects of the Jesus faith that seem to come more naturally from the pagan world.  Yes, Jesus and his band were Jews, but by Akenson’s own admission (it’s a central point of his thesis, in fact), that could—and did—mean a lot of different things. That there were pagan influences on Judaic thought seemed fairly obvious to me as an undergraduate, studying Classics/Classical history.  Now, much of what I saw as the pagan roots of Christian thought weren’t necessarily there when the gospels or Paul’s letters were written, but accrued as Christianity became co-opted by Gentiles with Classical education, but some parts were, and the good spirit/bad flesh distinction is one of the most fundamental.

 BTW: it’s these 2000 years of accretions that we’re trying to remove in this study.

And why << ἀντίκειται >>?  Why not <<ἀντέστην >> as we saw in 2:11 above? Why ‘lie against’ instead of ‘stand against’?  Can’t answer that.  Makes one wonder if Paul had any sense of the Homeric echo in 2:11.  It would seem to be very fitting here, too.

17 Caro enim concupiscit adversus Spiritum, Spiritus autem adversus carnem; haec enim invicem adversantur, ut non, quaecumque vultis, illa faciatis.

18εἰ δὲ πνεύματι ἄγεσθε, οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑπὸ νόμον.

For if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law.

This is really a confirmation of what has been said before.

18 Quod si Spiritu ducimini, non estis sub lege.

19φανερὰ δέ ἐστιν τὰ ἔργα τῆς σαρκός, ἅτινά ἐστιν πορνεία, ἀκαθαρσία, ἀσέλγεια,

For the works of the flesh are manifest (apparent, obvious), which are corrupt, unclean, and wanton,

Could you ask for a better clarification of how Paul views the ways of the flesh?

19 Manifesta autem sunt opera carnis, quae sunt fornicatio, immunditia, luxuria,

20εἰδωλολατρία, φαρμακεία, ἔχθραι, ἔρις, ζῆλος, θυμοί, ἐριθείαι, διχοστασίαι, αἱρέσεις,

Idolatrous, drug-addled, enmity,

20 idolorum servitus, veneficia, inimicitiae, contentiones, aemulationes, irae, rixae, dissensiones, sectae,

21φθόνοι, μέθαι, κῶμοι, καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις, ἃ προλέγω ὑμῖν καθὼς προεῖπον ὅτι οἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντες βασιλείαν θεοῦ οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν.

Jealousies, drunkenness, and the other things like this, I warn you, accordingly as I warned that those doing these sorts of things, will not inherit the kingdom of God.

We’ll take on the laundry list shortly.  Let’s talk about the Kingdom of Heaven.

In the letters that the consensus takes to be genuine Paul, the term is used a grand total of 8 times.  Six of these are in 1 Corinthians; the other three are scattered one each in Romans, here, and 1 Thessalonians.  This term, as far as I can tell, is never actually described, let alone defined.  It’s a good thing, but what and why is a tad vague.

21 invidiae, ebrietates, comissationes et his similia; quae praedico vobis, sicut praedixi, quoniam, qui talia agunt, regnum Dei non consequentur.

22Ὁ δὲ καρπὸς τοῦ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἀγάπη, χαρά, εἰρήνη, μακροθυμία, χρηστότης, ἀγαθωσύνη, πίστις,

The fruit of the spirit is love, charity, peace, blessedness, kindness, goodness, faith.

See comments at end of chapter

22 Fructus autem Spiritus est caritas, gaudium, pax, longanimitas, benignitas, bonitas, fides,

23πραΰτης, ἐγκράτεια: κατὰ τῶν τοιούτων οὐκ ἔστιν νόμος.

Gentleness, self-control; against these sorts of things there is no law.

23 mansuetudo, continentia; adversus huiusmodi non est lex.

24οἱ δὲ τοῦ Χριστοῦ [Ἰησοῦ] τὴν σάρκα ἐσταύρωσαν σὺν τοῖς παθήμασιν καὶ ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις.

Those of the Christ [ Jesus ] have crucified the flesh with the vices and desires.

24 Qui autem sunt Christi Iesu, carnem crucifixerunt cum vitiis et concupiscentiis.

25εἰ ζῶμεν πνεύματι, πνεύματι καὶ στοιχῶμεν.

If we live in the spirit, we walk in the spirit.

25 Si vivimus Spiritu, Spiritu et ambulemus.

26μὴ γινώμεθα κενόδοξοι, ἀλλήλους προκαλούμενοι, ἀλλήλοις φθονοῦντες.

Do not become vain, calling out each other, being jealous of each other.

26 Non efficiamur inanis gloriae cupidi, invicem provocantes, invicem invidentes.

As mentioned in 5:19 above, this gives a pretty clear sense of how Paul sees the distinction between spirit (good) and flesh (bad).  I suppose I could go on, but I’m not sure to what purpose.  So maybe I oversold with my ‘see comments at end of chapter’ note above.

I guess the question to ask is how, or even if, the spirit is related to the Kingdom of God.  Those participating in the matters of the flesh, we are told, will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  So the obvious–or the logical–implication is that the kingdom is related to the spiritual virtues.  I guess my question would be, why the very limp connection here?  Why not make it more robust? That seems a tad peculiar.

And beyond that, let’s talk about chronology. The kingdom becomes a big theme in the gospels, which follow these letters of Paul.  Given that, and the fact that Paul makes more references to it in 1 Corinthians, can we take this to mean that 1 Corinthians comes after 1 Thess and Galatians? That the theme developed with time? So that Galatians was written before, and not after 1 Corinthians?

That may be a valid inference, logically speaking, but that doesn’t mean it’s convincing, let alone conclusive.

Galatians Chapter 5:1-10

And so we begin Chapter 5.

1τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν: στήκετε οὖν καὶ μὴ πάλιν ζυγῷ δουλείας ἐνέχεσθε.

Therefore, stand in the freedom (into which) the Christ liberated us, and do not again take up the yoke of slavery.

Had to switch this around a bit to get it to make sense in English

More literarly, this would read:

In the  freedom (in/for which) the Christ liberated us, stand therefore and not again the yoke of slavery take up.

The slavery, essentially, would be to return to following the Law of Moses.  This continues the metaphor from Chapter 4, with the distinction between the heirs of the bondwoman Hagar, or of the free woman Sarah. Interesting choice of words: freedom vs slavery.  This is a pretty strong statement, indicating, it seems, a degree of repugnance for his former practices. Is that too harsh?  Remember he told us back at the end of Chapter 1 that he was noted for his zealousness as a Jew.  Now he’s referring to it—and not for the first time—as slavery.

See comments to 3:10 & 4:8.   

Does this give us any indication that the Galatians were Jews?  Not necessarily.  The distinction he’s making could just as easily be the distinction between the Judaizers—the James Gang and their followers—and preachers like Paul, or Paul, who believed it was not necessary to follow the Law as James & Co believed.  We are told of other gospels; that of the Jerusalem Assembly could easily be what is meant here.  So we don’t necessarily get any insight on whether the Galatians were Jews.

 Note: this could be a settled point among biblical scholars, and I could be simply wrong that there is even a question.

1 Hac libertate nos Christus liberavit; state igitur et nolite iterum iugo servitutis detineri.

2Ἴδε ἐγὼ Παῦλος λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐὰν περιτέμνησθε Χριστὸς ὑμᾶς οὐδὲν ὠφελήσει.

Therefore, I, Paul tell you that if you are circumcised, the Christ profits you nothing.

Here we go a step further.  The Christ profits you nothing if you follow the Law.  That’s a pretty strong statement, and it gives some insight why Jewish scholars have felt that Paul was one of the original sources of Christian anti-Semitism. 

2 Ecce ego Paulus dico vobis quoniam, si circumcidamini, Christus vobis nihil proderit.

3μαρτύρομαι δὲ πάλιν παντὶ ἀνθρώπῳ περιτεμνομένῳ ὅτι ὀφειλέτης ἐστὶν ὅλον τὸν νόμον ποιῆσαι.

For I attest again to all circumcised that the obligation is to do ( = keep) the whole law.

This sounds an awful lot like Paul is arguing against the Judaizers, the James Gang and their ilk.  The most likely reason he would be doing this is to convince his audience to follow him instead of the James Gang with their requirements to keep all of the Jewish Law.  In fact, this would help explain why he told the whole story of his meeting with the Jerusalem Assembly, and the concordat to which both parties agreed.  This gospel of the Jerusalem Assembly would then be the ‘other gospel’ to which Paul refers in Gal 1:5 (and subsequently).  These would be the people who ‘bewitched’ the Galatians in 3:1.

 So does this mean that the Galatians were Gentiles?  Would seem to.  Since circumcision seems to be an/the issue, this would only be—or most likely be—an issue for Gentiles.

3 Testificor autem rursum omni homini circumcidenti se quoniam debitor est universae legis faciendae.

4κατηργήθητε ἀπὸ Χριστοῦ οἵτινες ἐν νόμῳ δικαιοῦσθε, τῆς χάριτος ἐξεπέσατε.

You have been made useless from ( = for) the Christ, whoever is justified in the law, he has fallen out of grace.

Grace: this is a great example of a situation in which Paul’s words make sense in light of two thousand years of exegesis and the working out of a doctrine of Grace.  But we have to ask ourselves, if you take away all that we have learned since this was written,  is it completely clear what Paul means here?  I’m really not sure it is.  The REB translates this as “fallen out of God’s grace”, which obviously throws up and entire edifice of subsequent doctrine.

 Beyond that, Paul here is actively stating that followers of Jewish Law are out of God’s grace, whatever ‘grace’ happens to mean to him.  Whom does he include in this banishment?  The Jerusalem Assembly?  Is he peeved because they are not sticking to the agreement of the Synod of Jerusalem, and leaving the conversion of Gentiles to Paul?  That they are sticking their noses in where they don’t—in Paul’s opinion, anyway—belong?  It is very possible to read a certain level of anti-Semitism in this passage.  He’s gotten exasperated, so he’s, more or less, condemning the whole lot of them.

4 Evacuati estis a Christo, qui in lege iustificamini, a gratia excidistis.

5ἡμεῖς γὰρ πνεύματι ἐκ πίστεως ἐλπίδα δικαιοσύνης ἀπεκδεχόμεθα.

For we wait in the spirit the hope of justification by (from) faith.

The KJV, NASB, ESV, and NIV all capitalize “Spirit.”  This, I think, risks running off the tracks into fantasy, rather than sticking to the text. This is, IMO, exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about. There is no reason to believe that Paul is talking about The (Holy) Spirit. He has been, consistently, talking about the difference between flesh and spirit. Here, we are told, one is to be justified while waiting in/by the spirit, as opposed to in the flesh, which is what the Law entails. Making this The (Holy) Spirit, is the back-reading of several hundred years of theological development.

Here, it seems that the implication is that faith is spiritual, and the Law is not.  As for what Paul thinks of things that are not spiritual, see verse 17 below.  That may be too clever by half, or be giving Paul credit for being too clever by half.

5 Nos enim Spiritu ex fide spem iustitiae exspectamus.

6ἐν γὰρ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ οὔτε περιτομή τι ἰσχύει οὔτε ἀκροβυστία, ἀλλὰ πίστις δι’ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη.

For in the Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor non-circumcision is worth anything, but faith is working through love.

Notice: a few verses ago, he said that circumcision renders you useless for Christ.  How to square that with this passage?  The difference could easily be that above, he’s talking about those who accept circumcision as a necessary precursor to becoming a follower of Jesus.  Here, OTOH, he’s talking about those born into Judaism, as he was.  If it was your state from birth, well, there’s nothing to be done, and it’s irrelevant.  However, the warning is that one is not to accept circumcion as an adult in order to become a follower of Jesus.

 IOW, the Galatians are Gentiles.

<< δι’ ἀγάπης >> Greek famously has four words that can be legitimately translated as ‘love.’  The first, of course, is Eros; this describes erotic love.  Another is << φιλία >>, the ‘brotherly love’ that we encountered in 1 Thess 4:9; and, it’s the ‘brotherly love’ in the city of Philadelphia.  The third is << ἀγάπη >>.  The fourth is << χάρις / χάριτας >> and it doesn’t necessarily get translated as ‘love.’  We discussed this in relation to grace, doing a compare & contrast between ‘grace’, the Latin << gratia >> and << χάρις / χάριτας >>.  This, whether obviously or not, the root of “charity”.  In fact, it’s as much direct transliteration as root. In the old days, the translation of 1 Cor  [ ] was ‘faith, hope, and charity, the greatest of these being charity.’  Now, the last word is usually rendered ‘love,’ which throws a whole new slant onto the passage.

 But getting back to the word in this paragraph,<< ἀγάπη >>.  This excludes erotic love, and brotherly love, and, possibly, what we would call ‘charity.’  So, presumably, it would include all else, such as the love of a parent for a child.  That is probably the sense we encounter here.

6 Nam in Christo Iesu neque circumcisio aliquid valet neque praeputium, sed fides, quae per caritatem operatur.

7Ἐτρέχετε καλῶς: τίς ὑμᾶς ἐνέκοψεν [τῇ] ἀληθείᾳ μὴ πείθεσθαι;

You ran well.  Who hindered you from the truth to be obedient?  ( who hindered you from being persuaded by = obeying/following the truth?)

Again, seems to be excoriating those who have gone over to the gospel of the James Gang.

7 Currebatis bene; quis vos impedivit veritati non oboedire?

8ἡ πεισμονὴ οὐκ ἐκ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς.

The persuasion is not from the one calling you.

The argument of the James Gang, IOW, is not from God.  For God is the one calling them.

8 Haec persuasio non est ex eo, qui vocat vos.

9μικρὰ ζύμη ὅλον τὸ φύραμα ζυμοῖ.

A little yeast leavens the whole lump ( lit = ‘lump’, as in ‘lump of dough.’  Implication = ‘loaf’.)

Sort of saying, one bad apple spoils the bunch.  A little of this yeast of the Judaizers is enough to penetrate (and spoil?) the whole crowd.

9 Modicum fermentum totam massam corrumpit.

10ἐγὼ πέποιθα εἰς ὑμᾶς ἐν κυρίῳ ὅτι οὐδὲν ἄλλο φρονήσετε: ὁ δὲ ταράσσων ὑμᾶς βαστάσει τὸ κρίμα, ὅστις ἐὰν ᾖ.

I have been persuaded towards you in the lord, that you think nothing else.  The one disturbing you will bear the judgement, whoever he is.

The verb << πέποιθα ( = πέιθω0 >> here is interesting.  In Classical usage, it means ‘to persuade’, or in the passive ‘to be persuaded.’  This definition holds for most of the NT as well, with, of course, the exception of Paul.  In Paul, it often means ‘to have confidence.’  This is what the Latin ‘confido’ shows.  One can see the logic behind the development, but it’s interesting how Paul—or his translators—have their own peculiar meanings of what are fairly standard Greek words.  But then, it’s exactly the words that get used the most that evolve the most.  Right?

“Whoever he is.”  Like Paul does not know?  Have the Galatians not ratted the guy out?  But then, it’s possible that Paul doesn’t know.  He’s writing in response to a development that occurred after he left the Galatians.  He has heard reports of some of the Galatians, at least, going over to the side of the James Gang, and he’s writing in response to this development.  So, the corruption having occurred when he was not there, he may not know who the corrupter was.

10 Ego confido in vobis in Domino, quod nihil aliud sapietis; qui autem conturbat vos, portabit iudicium, quicumque est ille.