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Title: God the life-giver : 4 Maccabees, 4 Ezra, and Paul's Letter to the Galatians in conversation on the gift of life
Author: Griggs, Lowell Robert
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 8489
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis reads 4 Maccabees and 4 Ezra in dialogue with Galatians on the topic of God as life-giver and life as divine gift. Scholars have occasionally noted parallels between the vocabulary and themes of these texts—especially, Gal 3 – 4 and 4 Ezra 3 – 10 and Gal 5 – 6 and 4 Macc—but their conceptions of divine life-giving benefaction have not been analysed. This thesis aims to fill this scholarly lacuna and, by placing these texts in conversation, to expose and compare the theological logics of Galatians, 4 Maccabees, and 4 Ezra. Part one provides separate readings of 4 Maccabees and 4 Ezra 3 – 10 on divine life-giving benefaction. Chapter one argues that 4 Maccabees’ apologetic blending of Hellenistic virtue ethics with Jewish theology depends on a conception of God’s gift of the Torah to order the mind at creation as inviolable, while God’s life-giving and death-dealing activity in history and at the eschaton grounds and vindicates this order. Chapter two argues that, because 4 Ezra considers irrevocable the divine donation of life as Torah-ordered freedom at creation, its apocalyptic, two-ages theodicy explains the fall of Zion and occlusion of historical justice as a function of the epistemological (not moral) estrangement of the inhabitants of the fallen, ‘dying’ cosmos. Part two reads Galatians from the perspective of the concerns of 4 Maccabees and 4 Ezra. Chapter three considers how the presentations of Eleazar and Ezra as exemplary recipients of Torah-ordered created life raise questions about Paul’s understanding of the divine donation of creation and the Torah, given his presentation of himself as an unworthy recipient of life in the Christ-gift (Gal 1 – 2). Chapter four hosts a debate with 4 Ezra over Paul’s reading of scripture and salvation-history (Gal 3 – 4), arguing that Paul considers the law to be fitted to humanity’s ‘dead’ estate in view of the eschatological life created and ordered in the Christ-gift by the Spirit. Chapter five argues, through debate with 4 Maccabees, that Paul’s conception of the gift of ‘life’ to the unworthy ‘dead’ reaches its climax in an inchoate theory of moral agency and account of moral order (Gal 5 – 6). In this way, this study unites streams of scholarship on grace and ‘life’ texts both to further understanding of the theological relation between Paul and his Jewish contemporaries and to propose a new account of the theological logic of Galatians.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available