Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

Paul's "Partisan éK" and the Question of Justification in Galatians

Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

Paul's "Partisan éK" and the Question of Justification in Galatians

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

In pursuing a final revision of my commentary on Galatians,1 while concurrently lecturing once more on the letter, I was forced to tackle again the issue of whether Paul depicts his opponents in Galatia as "legalists" rather than "reacting nomists," nowadays better known as "covenantal nomists" (à la E. P. Sanders's famous "covenantal nomism").2 In mulling the question over yet another time, I had to concede that if Paul's use of e'k retains a strict and exclusive sense of "origin," then the traditional rendering of justification "by (means of) the works of the law" might just have some merit. If, in fact, justification originates in "the works of the law," then said "works" could be construed as the "legal basis" of right standing before God. By conviction, I assume a stance within the camp of the so-called New Perspective on Paul. But still, I had to ponder matters afresh. In making my way through the relevant texts, it occurred to me that "origin" can entail the notion of position within or participation; that is, to be "from" (ék) a realm means to "belong" to it. Such being the case, ék is not so far removed from év in its locative sense. Having arrived at that tentative conclusion, I returned to BDAG (296) and read this: "In these cases the idea of belonging, the partisan use, often completely overshadows that of origin." The "cases" in question will be examined below. Suffice it to say for the moment that Paul's partisan ék, customarily overlooked in the justification debate, has a considerable amount to say about his take on the views of the other missionaries in Galatia and his response to them.3 If for no other reason, it is surely telling, as Udo Schnelle informs us, that ... occurs no less than twenty times in Gal 2:16-3:24.4 A more extensive study of ... throughout Pauls letters, including its Hebrew equivalent JD in various Jewish texts, would doubtless provide a useful backup and confirmation of these findings in Galatians. But because that would entail an enterprise of its own, I submit the following as a heuristic exercise for the purpose of stimulating further discussion, both linguistic and theological.

I. THE HEBREW BACKGROUND: PARTITIVE ...

A perusal of LSJ conveys the impression that Paul's employment of ... finds no particular parallels in nonbiblical Greek. A priori, this would stand to reason, given the factors of group identity and community solidarity so pronounced in the ancient East.5 In this setting, the preposition understandably takes on a sense of "belonging" perhaps not so evident in other cultures. As expected, LSJ (498) indicate that ... can denote position outside of, but, as we will see, the Pauline (Semitic) "partisan" usage is to the opposite effect: position within ....

The Hebrew partitive use of JD is well established and requires no particular elaboration.6 A few obvious examples should suffice.

Gen 28:11: Dlpon '31KD np'l ("he took one of the stones from the place")

LXX: ...

Exod 6:25: ... ("he took for himself one of the daughters")

LXX: ...

Exod 16:27: ... ("some of the people went out")

LXX: ...

Exod 17:5: ... ("some of the elders of Israel")

LXX: ...

Exod 18:25: ... ("from the whole of Israel")

LXX: ...

Lev 4:2: ... ("if he does any one of these things")

LXX: ...

Deut 15:7: ... ("any one of your brothers")

LXX: ...

Ruth 2:20: ... ("he is one of our kinsmen")

LXX: ...

1 Sam 9:3: ... ("take with you one of the servants")

LXX: ...

1 Sam 14:45: ... ("there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground")

LXX: ...

2 KgS 10:3: ... ("the best and brightest of your Lord's sons")

LXX: ...

Partitive ..., as classified by BDB, breaks down into at least five separate categories, but they all have one thing in common: the person or thing with whom/which the preposition is construed belongs to a larger entity and finds identification with that group. …

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