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Title: Forward to the past : regression in Galatians
Author: Martin, Neil
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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Paul's letter to the Galatians indicates not only that his Gentile readers stand on the brink of Jewish proselyte conversion but that compliance will involve returning to the norms of their pagan past (Gal 4.8-9; 5.1). In what sense can this possibly be true? This thesis accords Paul's warnings about regression greater significance in his argument than has previously been acknowledged, and finds existing explanations (Paul's readers had substantial past exposure to Judaism, he played the regression card merely for rhetorical effect etc.) inadequate. None of these alternatives explains the striking difference between Paul's tolerance of law-observance among Jews (Gal 2.6-10; 5.3, 6; 6.15) and his insistence upon its dangers among Gentiles. On the basis of a thorough and original study of Graeco-Roman and Jewish backgrounds in central Anatolia and characterisations of Gentile religion and the weaknesses associated with it in Paul (e.g. 1 Cor 8.1-13) and in his wider Jewish milieu, I propose that his regression terminology reflects a concern about the enduring magnetism and intuitive plausibility of his readers' entrenched religious presuppositions. Interpreting στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου in Gal 4.3 as basic elements of religious behaviour common to Judaism and paganism but implemented with different motives and significations in each case, I argue that exposure to these elements through the medium of Jewish observances was reawakening assumptions associated with them in the Galatians' pagan past. Reading 'enslavement under the στοιχεῖα' in Galatians 4 as equivalent to 'imprisonment under in the law' and 'life under the curse' in Galatians 3, and noting that belief in the possibility of justification by works is limited to Gentiles in Gal 2.15-16, I argue that pagan, and not Jewish, presuppositions about the efficacy of works in divine-human interactions emerge as the foil against which the letter's call to action is designed to make sense.
Supervisor: Bockmuehl, Markus Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Bible. New Testament ; Paul. Pauline Theology ; Galatians. Epistle to the Galatians