Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians

Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians

Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians

Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians

Excerpt

On a superficial inspection of Galatians, it would seem possible to conclude that this is not one of the more difficult NT documents to comprehend. After all, there is no, or almost no, dispute by anyone, scholar or lay person, that Paul wrote this letter. Furthermore, with only very rare exceptions, no one disputes that this document as we have it (bearing in mind the occasional textual problems) is a unity. The problems one faces with 2 Corinthians in regard to the unity of the document, or the later Paulines in regard to authorship, are quite absent in the case of Galatians. Furthermore, there are few serious textual problems in Galatians.

This impression of lack of problems unfortunately is largely incorrect, for almost everything else about this document, including most of the other questions of introduction about the audience, date, structure, character of this document, and its relationship to data in Acts are in dispute. For instance, it is

1. See J. C. O'Neill, The Recovery of Paul's Letter to the Galatians (London: SPCK,
1972), but few if any scholars have really been persuaded by his arguments that various
glosses have been added to the text after Paul wrote it, but before the earliest copies we
have of the manuscript, such as p46.

2. The one manuscript that raises some interesting questions about the original
text of Galatians at various points is p46. This manuscript has recently been dated to the
late first century A.D. (see Y. K. Kim, "Paleographical Dating of p46 to the Late First
Century," Biblica 69 (1988), pp. 248–57), but the arguments of Kim are weak as B. W.
Griffin has urged in his Nov. 1996 SBL lecture "The Paleographical Dating of p46", and
probably the earliest possible date for this manuscript is the mid-second century A.D.

3. This is not to say that there are not some interesting and theologically motivated
textual variants, but they are relatively few, and few of them have much of a chance of
being original readings. But see the discussion of p46 by H. Eshbaugh, "Textual Variants
and Theology: a Study of the Galatians Text of Papyrus 46," JSNT 3 (1979), pp. 60–72.

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