The long-awaited commentary by Dieter Lhrmann is now available to English-speaking audiences for the first time. It is a profound, succinctly written dialogue with the text that carefully follows the main points of Paul's arguments in his most controversial letter. The author presents a theological interpretation which takes seriously Paul's claims about the gospel and also provides a distinctive outline based on this close reading of the text. Also included are helpful discussions of the competing theologies of Paul and his opponents, a chart on Paul's career, and a map of the Roman world. Lhrmann is a highly acclaimed interpreter of the New Testament. This volume will be a valuable addition to a well-received commentary series.


The German original of this commentary (1978, 2nd ed. 1988) is part of the series Zürcher Bibelkommentare, which is intended to introduce New Testament scholarship to readers familiar neither with the technical terms of exegesis nor with Greek as the language of the New Testament writings. Thus the interpreter’s task is to transfer the highly sophisticated means of scholarship into suggestions plausible for any interested reader. I am very glad that the English translation will become part of a series with comparable aims.

The bibliographic notes give some hints to literature available in English. Some of those readers may discover that my interpretation is quite “Lutheran,” not least in my understanding of Paul’s conception of faith (on this see my article “Faith (NT)” in the Anchor Bible Dictionary). The German version of this commentary, however, appeared in a publishing house that is deeply indebted to the Zwinglian heritage, having its basis in the Zurcher Bibel, the frequently revised edition of Zwingli’s translation of the Bible.

I intended to present a theological interpretation of one of the fundamental documents not only of a specific Lutheran tradition but of Christianity in general, and at the same time I intended to take seriously Paul’s claim in this very letter that there is no other gospel than the one whose truth he had defended for the Galatians. Others may thus determine to what degree my interpretation is Lutheran or not.

The first edition of my commentary in German almost coincided with the appearance of Hans Dieter Betz’s great commentary on Galatians in the Hermeneia series (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979; German translation, Munich: Kaiser, 1988). At that time I knew Betz’s view of Galatians from some previous articles, especially “The Literary Composition and Function of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians” (New Testament . . .

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