Bibliotheca Sacra 150 (October-December 1993) 416-39.

          Copyright © 1993 by Dallas Theological Seminary.  Cited with permission.

 

 

 

                RHETORICAL ANALYSIS OF

                 THE BOOK OF GALATIANS,

                                    PART 2*

 

 

                                             Walter B. Russell III

 

 

            The previous article in this series presented rhetorical

analysis as a tool for analyzing the Bible.  A six-step procedure

was adopted and the first four steps were discussed.1

            1. Determine the rhetorical unit to be studied, which corre-

sponds to the pericope in form criticism. (Obviously the unit in

this study is the Epistle to the Galatians.)

            2. Define the rhetorical situation of the unit. This roughly

corresponds to the Sitz im Leben of form criticism. (The situation

in Galatia that called forth Paul's epistle is the entry into the re-

gion of Jewish Christian teachers, apparently from Jerusalem or

elsewhere in Judea, who advocated the long-held Jewish model of

Gentile attachment to Israel by becoming proselytes. Perhaps they

questioned Paul's credentials and appealed to the Jerusalem

apostles. They taught that Gentile Christians must be "Judaized"

if they were to become a part of God's people I Gal. 2:141.)

            3. Determine the one overriding rhetorical problem that may

be present and particularly visible at the beginning of the dis-

course. (The rhetorical problem that functions as an organizing

principle for Galatians is twofold: Paul was responding to the two

problems created by the Judaizers regarding the Galatians' iden-

tity and their behavior as the people of God. Should they adopt Jew-

 

Walter B. Russell III is Associate Professor of New Testament, Talbot School of

Theology, La Mirada, California.

 

*  This is article two in a two-part series.

 

1   The six steps are from George A. Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation

through Rhetorical Criticism (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina

Press, 1984), 33-38. See the previous article for a discussion of the first four steps

(Walter B. Russell III. "Rhetorical Analysis of Galatians, Part 1," Bibliotheca Sacra

150 (July—September 19931: 341-58).

 

                                                416



            Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians                    417

 

ish practices to become a part of the true people of God? Should they

take up the yoke of the Law to guide their behavior?)

            4. Determine which of the three species of rhetoric the rhetor-

ical unit fits judicial, deliberative, or epideictic. (Galatians is

of the deliberative species because Paul was seeking to persuade

his audience to make a definitive decision about their identity

and behavior in the immediate future.)

            5. Consider the arrangement of material in the text in terms

of its subdivisions, persuasive effect of their parts, their coordina-

tion, and devices of style.

            6. Review the process of analysis by looking over the entire

unit and its success in addressing the rhetorical situation and

what the implications may be for the speaker or audience.

 

STEP FIVE IN THE RHETORICAL ANALYSIS OF GALATIANS:

     DETERMINE THE ARRANGEMENT OF THE MATERIAL

            The fifth step in rhetorical analysis is obviously the longest

and most difficult because it demands painstaking analysis of

the flow of argument in the epistle.

            The rhetorical purpose of Galatians may be stated as follows:

To persuade the Galatians to reject the Judaizers' false gospel and

to continue in the true gospel Paul had preached to them because

(a) its nature alone was legitimately confirmed, while the Ju-

daizers' false gospel was rejected, (b) it alone placed the Gala-

tians among the true people of God through their faith in Christ,

and (c) it alone gave them true deliverance from sin's power

through their receiving the Holy Spirit.

 

PRESCRIPT/SALUTATION (1:1-5)

            While identifying himself (1:la) and his cosenders (1:2a),

naming the recipients (1:2b), and greeting the Galatian churches

(1:3), Paul also introduced his three main points that were then

proved successively in the three main sections of the epistle.2 (1)

 

2   While the overall form of this section is that of the salutation or prescript of an

epistle and not that of a formal exordium (the introduction to a speech), it nonethe-

less has additional features normally found in an exordium (or proem/princip-

ium), as Robert G. Hall has observed ("The Rhetorical Outline for Galatians—A Re-

consideration," Journal of Biblical Literature 106 [1987]: 282-83). These features

are the unusual additions of Paul's declaration of apostolic identity in 1:1 and his

declaration of Christ's deliverance in 1:4. In this sense the salutation evidences at

a micro level what is true at the macro level of Galatians: Paul integrated epistolary

and rhetorical features into one smooth-flowing entity. One key element of this in-

tegration is Paul's use, from the epistle's start, of antithesis, a rhetorical device.

"Antithesis occurs when the style is built upon contraries" (Rhetorica ad Heren-

nium, trans. Harry Caplan [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 19541,

4.15.21). Antithetical argumentation pervades every section of Galatians.

 



418     BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / October—December 1993

 

His apostleship was through Jesus Christ and God the Father

(1:1). This was proved in the defense of his apostleship and gospel

in 1:11-2:21. (2) God is truly Father over them (emphasized by the

threefold repetition of qeou? patro>j [h[mw?n], 1:1, 3-4, which is unique

in Paul's salutations).3 This was proved in Paul's defense of

their true identity in chapters 3 and 4. (3) The Lord Jesus Christ

died substitutionally for them and that alone gave them deliver-

ance from the present evil age (1:4-5). This was proved in the de-

fense of their true deliverance from sin's power in 5:1-6:10.

PROLOGUE OR PROEM OR EXORDIUM (1:6-10)4

            Paul stated the two options (gospels) before the Galatians and

the general proposition or cause of his letter (to be progressively

specified in his following argumentation): "to persuade the

Galatians to reject the Judaizers' nongospel and to continue in the

true gospel which he had preached to them." As Betz has observed,

 

3   Also this kind of subtlety may be an example of insinuatio or the "subtle ap-

proach" that ancient rhetoricians developed as a technique of introducing a diffi-

cult rhetorical problem. "Now I must explain the Subtle Approach. There are three

occasions on which we cannot use the Direct Opening, and these we must consider

carefully: (1) when our cause is discreditable, that is, when the subject itself alien-

ates the hearer from us; (2) when the hearer has apparently been won over by the

previous speakers of the opposition; (3) or when the hearer has become wearied by

listening to the previous speakers" (ibid.. 1.6.9).

      However, in Galatians this subtlety is found in an expanded salutation, not in

an exordium. Nevertheless in the oral setting of the Galatian churches, the saluta-

tion functions somewhat as an exordium functions in a speech. Paul was appar-

ently aware of this and introduced the major themes of Galatians in subtle fashion

from the very beginning of the epistle. He did the same thing in the expanded salu-

tation in Romans 1:1-7. After introducing his main themes with this salutatory sub-

tlety in Galatians, Paul was then free to state his proposition in the next, section

(Gal. 1:6-10) in stark direct language. Such skillful and sensitive communication

would not be lost on the expert listeners of an oral culture. For a defense of this

emphasis on orality, see Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy (New York: Methuen,

1982). Also underscoring the importance of oral communication due to the previ-

ously overstated literacy level in the Roman Empire is William V. Harris, Ancient

Literacy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 175-284.

4   As many have noted (e.g., J. H. Roberts, "Transitional Techniques to the Letter

Body in the Corpus Paulinum," in A South African Perspective on the New Testa-

ment, ed. J. H. Petzer and P. J. Hartin [Leiden: Brill, 19861, 198), in place of the cus-

tomary thanksgiving section at this point, Paul presented a confrontive official in-

troduction. It has the characteristics of and functions like the rhetorical exordium

or prologue of a speech. As Aristotle observed, "The exordium (prooi<mio<n) is the be-

ginning of a speech, as the prologue in poetry and the prelude in flute-playing, for

all these are beginnings, and as it were a paving the way for what follows.... So

then the most essential and special function of the exordium is to make clear what

is the end or purpose of the speech" (The "Art" of Rhetoric, trans. John Henry

Freese [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 19261, 3.14.1, 6).

            See also the discussion of the exordium in Quintilian, The Institutio Oratoria

of Quintilian, trans. H. E. Butler, 4 vols. [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University

Press, 19211, 4.1!2:7-49); and Rhetorica ad Herennium, 1.4.6-7.



            Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians                    419

 

this general statement of Paul's intent has three parts.5

            1. 1:6-7. Verse 6 is the ironic statement of the causa with a

sense of qumasmo<j or wonderment in verse 6a at the desertion

(metati<qesqe) of his readers, instead of a simple statement of

fact,6 so "solemnly is our attention called to the whole subject-

matter of the epistle."7 This statement of the causa is then fol-

lowed with an e]pano<rqwsij or correctio in verse 7 in which Paul

retracted the status of "gospel" from these disturbers (oi[ tara<s-

sontej), and added the charge against them of wanting to distort

(metaste<yai) the gospel of Christ.8 The key terms of this section

are political terms,9 or better, the terms of community and com-

munity loyalty. Paul's appeal is for unity of the community that

the true gospel of Christ had previously created among them.

            2. 1:8-9. The gospel they had received is the true gospel and

Paul pronounced a curse on anyone who preached a contrary

gospel (v. 8). He reiterated that curse in verse 9. The antithesis

Paul created between his opponents and himself was between an

apostle of Jesus Christ (v. 1) and the community-disturbers and

gospel-distorters (v. 7) who are under a divine curse.10

 

5   Hans Dieter Betz, "The Literary Composition and Function of Paul's Letter to

the Galatians," New Testament Studies 21 (1975): 359-62.

6   About the content of an exordium Aristotle observed, "Hearers pay most atten-

tion to things that are important, that concern their own interests, that are aston-

ishing, that are agreeable; wherefore one should put the idea into their heads that

the speech deals with such subjects" (The "Art" of Rhetoric, 3.14.7).

            According to Stanley K. Stowers (Letter Writing in Greco-Roman Antiquity

[Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986], 22), the ironic rebuke is another convention

used in place of a thanksgiving in the papyrus letters. This "signals the mood and

purpose of the letter" (22) and also introduces blaming letters (139). Cronje notes

that this is one of many rhetorical techniques Paul used in Galatians to create "de-

familiarization" and thus to influence recipients more powerfully (J. Van W.

Cronje, "Defamiliarization in the Letter to the Galatians," in A South African Per-

spective on the New Testament, 214-17). Also Paul's amazement made their waver-

ing personal and set up his relational discussion in Galatians 4:12-20 (see Steven J.

Kraftchick, "Ethos and Pathos Appeals in Galatians Five and Six: A Rhetorical

Analysis" [PhD diss., Emory University, 1985], 220). Hansen sees this as an

"astonishment-rebuke" formula that is a major indicator of the type of epistle and

the structure of the letter (Walter G. Hansen, Abraham in Galatians—Epistolary

and Rhetorical Contexts, Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement

29 [Sheffield: JSOT, 1989], 33-44).

7   E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible Explained and Illus-

trated (1898; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968), 923.

8   Paul was using the direct approach in this exordium, which many times in-

cluded boosting the speaker's own ethos or credibility with his hearers and attack-

ing the credibility of his opponents (e.g., Rhetorica ad Herennium, 1.5).

9   Betz, "The Literary Composition and Function of Paul's Letter to the Galatians,"

359.

10   Aristotle underscored the significance of this kind of language in deliberative

exordia: "Deliberative oratory borrows its exordia from forensic, but naturally they



420     BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / October—December 1993

            3. 1:10. Paul's harsh words toward the Galatians (vv. 6-7a) and

toward his opponents (vv. 7b-9) proved that he was not now (a@rti) seeking

to please men, nor was he still (e@ti) trying to please men.11  Rather, he was

now a bondservant of Christ and thus was willing to displease men by preaching

the gospel of Christ, which had obviously displeased his opponents.12

            Paul's causa or general purpose for the epistle, stated in 1:6-

10, was then developed in a linear argument from 1:11-6:10 (un-

til the conclusio of 6:11-18). In this lengthy linear argument, Paul

proved through three major arguments why his gospel is the trues;

gospel and why the Judaizers have "no gospel."

 

are very uncommon in it. For in fact the hearers are acquainted with the subject, so

that the case needs no exordium, except for the orator's own sake, or on account of

his adversaries, or if the hearers attach too much or too little importance to the

question according to his idea. Wherefore he must excite or remove prejudice, and

magnify or minimize the importance of the subject. Such are the reasons for exor-

dia" (The "Art" of Rhetoric, 3.14.12). Of course Paul had theological reasons for pro-

nouncing this curse that goes beyond the techniques of oratory.

11 Regarding verse 10 Betz observed, "The two rhetorical questions and the asser-

tion in v. 10 put a clear end to the exordium. They deny that Paul is a rhetorical

‘flatterer,’ ‘persuading’ (a]nqrw<pouj pei<qw) or ‘pleasing’ men (a]nqw<poij a]re<skein),

or a magician, trying to ‘persuade God’ (pei<qw to>n qeo<n)" ("The Literary Composi-

tion and Function of Paul's Letter to the Galatians," 362). While Betz's observation

is generally accurate, it misses the main thrust of Paul's words, which is to con-

trast himself with Judaistic behavior. Verse 10 has this twofold temporal contrast:

(1) Now there are those who are seeking to please men (e.g., Peter [Gal. 2:11-14] and

the Judaizers -6:12-131) and (2) previously Paul himself was trying to please menv

with Judaistic behavior (e.g., 1:13-14). Paul's ethical appeal in 1:10 has a narrower

focus than Betz has allowed.

12   Among those who have rhetorically analyzed Galatians no consensus exists

about whether verse 10 is connected with the preceding or the following verses. For

example Betz connects it with verse 11 and calls both of them transitus or trans-

gressio (after Quintilian, The Institutio Oratorio of Quintilian, 4.1.76-79) because

they end the exordium and provide the smooth transition in the narratio ("The Lit-

erary Composition and Function of Paul's Letter to the Galatians," 361-62). Hester

disagrees with this grouping and connects verse 10 to 1:6-9 as part of the exordium

because he calls 1:11-12 a stasis which serves as the thesis for the narratio in 1:15—

2:10 (James D. Hester, "The Rhetorical Structure of Galatians 1:11-2:14," Journal of

Biblical Literature 103 [1984]: 225-29). Hall follows Hester in seeing 1:11-12 as the

thesis for the narration section, but he adds verse 10 to this thesis because it re-

lates to the theme of Paul's seeking divine not human approval in the narration of

1:10-2:21 ("The Rhetorical Outline for Galatians—A Reconsideration," 285).

            The best suggestion seems to be that of Kennedy, who sees verse 10 as the ex-

planatory conclusion (ga<r) of the exordium: "Verse 10 is very interesting in that

Paul here shows how rhetorically conscious he is by calling attention to the fact

that his proem does not seek favor with the audience. The verse is a written aside

which contributes to his ethos by its candor" (New Testament Interpretation

through Rhetorical Criticism, 148). Theologically Kennedy's suggestion makes the

most sense also in that Paul was beginning a recurring contrast in Galatians be-

tween the true pattern of behavior in following Christ (which risks rejection by

people) and the man-pleasing pattern of behavior (which fears the rejection of men

and seeks status among them. See 1:13-14; 2:6, 11-14; 3:3-4; 4:15-20, 28-29; 5:10-12; 63-

5, 12-16. The man-pleasing pattern is truly accursed (5:21 and 6:8).



            Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians                    421

 

PROOF OR PROBATIO OR CONFIRMATIO (1:11–6:10)13

            The Galatians should reject the Judaizers' nongospel and

continue in the true gospel Paul had preached to them because (1)

its nature alone was legitimately confirmed, while the nature of

the Judaizers' nongospel was rejected (1:11-2:21), (2) it alone

placed them among the true people of God through faith in Christ

(3:1-4:31), and (3) it alone gave them true deliverance from sin's

power through their receiving of the Holy Spirit (5:1-6:10).

 

A HISTORICAL ARGUMENT PROVING THE SUPERIORITY OF PAUL'S

GOSPEL VIA NARRATIVE OR NARRATIO (1:11–2:21)14

            Paul preached the true gospel and the Judaizers preached a

nongospel. His gospel was divine, not "according to man."

            Thesis of the narrative (1:11-12).15 Echoing 1:1, Paul stated

 

13   This is the most decisive section of a speech because it gives proof or reasons

why the hearers should accept the speaker's proposition. The ancient rhetoricians

gave much of their attention in their handbooks to the proof section of the writing.

This is especially true of the role of proof in the judicial or forensic species of

rhetoric (Rhetorica ad Herennium, 1.10.18-25; Quintilian, The Institutio Oratoria

of Quintilian, 5/2:153-369). Paul, however, within the deliberative species of

rhetoric, was presenting evidence as to why the Galatians should reject the false

gospel of the Judaizers and continue in the true gospel he had preached to them.

Proof was a necessary part of this species also (Aristotle, The "Art" of Rhetoric,

3.17.4; and Rhetorica ad Herennium, 3.4.8-9).

14   This argument seems to anticipate the question forming in the minds of the

Galatians: "Which gospel has been confirmed by the Jerusalem apostles and

Jerusalem church?" Normally in the forensic species of rhetoric, the purpose of

narratio was to recount in brief fashion "the statement of facts" (dih<ghsij) (e.g.,

Quintilian, The Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian, 4.2.40). Though it was rare, Quin-

tilian also allowed for narratio to be used in deliberative speeches: "As regards the

statement of facts, this is never required in speeches on private subjects, at least as

regards the subject on which an opinion has to be given, because everyone is ac-

quainted with the question at issue. Statements as to external matters which are

relevant to the discussion may however frequently be introduced" (ibid., 3.8.10-11).

            In a discussion of forensic rhetoric Quintilian explained that external matters

are those facts that have a bearing on the case, but are not the specific facts of the

case itself (The Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian, 4.2.11-12). They do, however, con-

tribute to one's understanding of the speaker. In light of this, Kennedy has re-

marked, "This well describes the narrative in Galatians, the function of which is to

establish Paul's ethos and thus to support his claim of the truth of his gospel"

(New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism, 145).

15   Most commentators agree that Galatians 1:11–2:21 is about the origin of Paul's

gospel and his independence as an apostle. This is only partially true, however.

Through the rhetorical analyses of Joop Smit ("Paulus, de galaten en het judaisme.

Een narratieve analyse van Galaten 1–2," Tijdschrift voor Theologie 25 [19851: 337-

62) and Bernard Lategan ("Is Paul Defending His Apostleship in Galatians?" New

Testament Studies 34 [1988]: 411-30), the theological and rhetorical purpose of this

autobiographical section of Galatians is also seen to be a defense of the nature or

qualiy of Paul's gospel that originated with Christ and was preached indepen-

dently from the Jerusalem apostles. This is seen from Paul's opening statement in

Galatians 1:11 that his gospel is not tcara avopwrrov. This is not so much a statement



422     BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / October–December 1993

 

that the gospel he preached is not kata> a@nqrwpon ("according to

man") that is, it is from Christ, not man. Apparently the Judaiz-

ers claimed they received their teaching from the Jerusalem

apostles and were taught by them (cf. Acts 15:24); hence the nature

of their teaching was kata> a@nqrwpon. Paul then defended the na-

ture of his gospel and dispensed with theirs in the two main points

of his narrative.

            Point one in the narrative (1:13-17). Christ's direct revelation

of the true gospel to Paul led to a radical change in Paul's identity

and his behavior (a]nastrofh<n, 1:13) apart from any consultation

(prosaneqe<mhn, v. 16) with the Jerusalem apostles. The true gospel

changed Paul from a Jewish zealot who persecuted the church to a

Christian proclaimer of the gospel among the Gentiles.16

            Point two in the narrative (1:18-2:21). That Paul's message

was the true gospel was repeatedly confirmed by the Jerusalem

apostles because it did not contradict nor distort their understand-

ing of the universal nature of the gospel.

            The first confirmation of this is presented in 1:18-24. Three

years after Paul's conversion, his 15-day visit to Jerusalem to see

Cephas (and James) was too brief for him to be catechized by them

 

about its origin (which occurs in 1:12), as it is a statement about the gospel's quality

or nature. In essence Paul was saying that his gospel is kata> qeo<n (cf. Gal. 1:1 and

Rom. 1:1). Specifically Paul focused on the universal nature or quality of the gospel

in Galatians 1:13–2:21. This universal nature is characterized in this section as "the

truth of the gospel" (2:5, 14). It is a gospel that is nonparticularistic and nonethno-

centric. This true gospel was opposed by the Judaizers' gospel, which was particu-

laristic and ethnocentric (e.g., 2:3-5), and thus kata> a@nqrwpon. This false gospel is

therefore also contrary to "the grace of God" (2:21). See especially Lategan, "Is Paul

Defending His Apostleship in Galatians?" 416-26, for a helpful analysis. In a sense

this thesis for the narrative section is also a thesis for the whole proof section

(1:11–6:10). See also F. F. Bruce, "Further Thoughts on Paul's Autobiography," in Je-

sus and Paulus. Festschrift fur Werner Georg Kummel zum 70. Geburtstag, ed. E.

Earle Ellis and Erich Grasser (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1975), 21-25.

16   Paul accomplished several things in this section of the narrative that made

powerful contributions to his credibility with the Galatians. One is his modeling of

his changed identity and pattern of behavior, since these were two issues perplex-

ing the Galatians. Paul proved that he had identity with Judaism and that his pat-

tern of behavior as a persecutor of the church and as a zealot for Jewish traditions

gave him status within that community beyond many of his peers. In other words he

already had what the Judaizers were promising the Galatians. Paralleling Philip-

pians 3:1-11, Paul readily gave up this status for the privilege of having Christ re-

vealed within him (Gal. 1:16). The second boost to his credibility is that his status

within Israel was probably much greater than that of any of the Judaizers. Yet he

had readily given up that status to preach Christ among the Gentiles (v. 16b). The

nature of the gospel demanded these changes in Paul's identity and pattern of be-

havior, contrary to the Judaizers' charge. For a rousing defense of the paradigmatic

purpose in Paul's autobiographical remarks in Galatians 1–2 see George Lyons,

Pauline Autobiography: Toward a New Understanding (Atlanta: Scholars, 1985),

123-76. Also see B. R. Gaventa, "Galatians 1 and 2: Autobiography as Paradigm,"

Novum Testamentum 28 (1986):309-26.



            Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians                    423

 

(his oath recorded in 1:20 underscores this fact17). Yet afterward

(vv. 21-24), the churches of Judea glorified God because of Paul's

gospel proclamation in Syria and Cilicia, which they considered

"preaching the faith" (eu]aggeli<zetai th>n pi<stin, v. 23).18

            The second confirmation of Paul's preaching is recorded in

2:1-10. After 14 years Paul went to Jerusalem again. He presented

the gospel to the Jerusalem apostles in private. The noncircum-

cising nature of Paul's message was confirmed by the apostles

when Titus, a Greek, was not compelled to be circumcised (vv. 1-

3). "The truth of the gospel"—that is, its noncircumcising nature

for Gentiles—was defended by Paul and the Jerusalem apostles

against yeudade<lfouj ("false brothers"), who advocated the

bondage of "Judaizing" Gentile Christians (vv. 4-5). Again, the

apostles19 contributed nothing to Paul (ou]de>n prosane<qento, v. 6)

in terms of teaching him, but they did confirm that they and he

had been entrusted with the same gospel (vv. 7-8) and apostleship

(v. 9), but to different groups (Jews and Gentiles).20

            The third confirmation of the truth of Paul's message is

given in 2:11-21. The Judaistic behavior in Antioch by Cephas

and certain men from Jerusalem contradicted and distorted "the

truth of the gospel" (v. 14) they had previously confirmed.21 Paul

 

17   See J. Paul Sampley, "’Before God, I do not lie’ (Gal. 1:20): Paul's Self-defence in

the Light of Roman Legal Praxis," New Testament Studies 23 (1977): 477-82, for fur-

ther legal and rhetorical significance in this oath.

18   Recounting this incident showed that Paul and the Christian churches of

Judea were unified in their understanding of the gospel.

19   For a wide range of views on the Jerusalem apostles as "pillars," see R. D. Aus,

"Three Pillars and Three Patriarchs," Zeitschrift fur die neutestamentliche Wis-

senschaft 70 (1979): 252-61; C. K. Barrett, "Paul and the ‘Pillar’ Apostles," in Studia

Paulina: In Honorem Johannis de Zwaan Septuagenarii (Haarlem: De Erven F.

Bohn, 1953); David M. Hay, "Paul's Indifference to Authority," Journal of Biblical

Literature 88 (1969): 36-44; and Ronald Y. K. Fung, "A Note on Galatians 2:3-8,"

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 25 (1982): 49-52.

20   When Paul spoke in Galatians 2:9 of the "grace" that had been given him, this

was his favorite term for Christ's calling him and appointing him as the apostle to

the Gentiles (Gal. 1:15-16; Rom. 1:5; 15:15-16; 1 Cor. 3:10; 15:10-11; Eph. 3:1-13; Phil.

1:3-7). This term became a sort of theological abbreviation for the doctrine of the

universal nature of the gospel (Hans Dieter Betz, Galatians: A Commentary on

Paul's Letter to the Churches in Galatia, Hermeneia [Philadelphia: Fortress,

1979], 27-28). See the insightful note on this term in J. Armitage Robinson, Com-

mentary on Ephesians, 2d ed. (London: Macmillan, 1904; reprint, Grand Rapids:

Kregel, 1979), 221-26.

21   While this part of the narrative was embarrassing for Cephas and Barnabas, it

served an edifying function for the Galatians. Aristotle observed this function of

narrative in deliberative rhetoric: "In deliberative oratory narrative is very rare,

because no one can narrate things to come; but if there is narrative, it will be of

things past, in order that, being reminded of them, the hearers may take better

counsel about the future" (The "Art" of Rhetoric, 3.16.11).

 



424     BIBLIOTHECA SACRA I October—December 1993

 

rebuked this behavior (2:11-14) and then presented the theology

behind the confirmation (2:15-21).22

            This public rebuke was necessary because the Judaistic be-

havior was not consistent with "the truth of the gospel," which

eliminated the Judaizing of Gentiles (cf. vv. 3-5).23 "The truth of

the gospel" also had specific application to Jewish Christians who

still attempted to live Torah-observant lives (e.g., Cephas, Barn-

abas, and the rest, vv. 11-14). The gospel eliminated the barrier

that Torah-observance created between Jewish and Gentile Chris-

tians for four reasons. (1) Neither Jew nor Gentile is justified by

keeping the Law, but only through faith in Christ (vv. 15-16).24 (2)

Being justified through faith in Christ apart from Torah-obser-

vance does not make Jewish Christians like nonobservant Gen-

tile "sinners" because no one can be judged as a "transgressor"

(paraba<thn) of the Law if he is not required to obey it (vv. 17-18).25

 

22   Betz ("The Literary Composition and Function of Paul's Letter to the Gala-

tians," 367-68) and those who have followed him label this section the propositio,

which is supposed to be a summation of the narratio and an easy transition to the

proof section that follows. The following analysis shows that it does provide a

significant transition into the next section (3:1-4:31). However, it is not a summa-

tion of the legal content of 1:11-2:14, but rather a specific application of "the truth

of the gospel" (2:5, 14) to Jewish Christians. Further, Kennedy argues that "the

main objection to calling it a proposition, as Betz does (pp. 113-14), is that it is ar-

gumentative, and it may indeed be derived as some have believed from an earlier

speech" (New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism, 148-49).

23   While Paul stated in Galatians 2:11 that Cephas "stood condemned"

(kategnwsme<noj h#n), scholars persist in asserting that Cephas was unmoved by

Paul's rebuke, so that this event in Antioch became the watershed experience that

led to a break between Jewish Christianity and Paul's Gentile mission (e.g., David

R. Catchpole, "Paul, James and the Apostolic Decree," New Testament Studies 23

(1976-77): 428-44; James D. G. Dunn, "The Relationship between Paul and Jerusalem

according to Galatians 1 and 2," New Testament Studies 28 (1982): 461-78; and idem,

"The Incident at Antioch (Gal. 2:11-18)," Journal for the Study of the New Testa-

ment 18 (1983): 3-57. Effectively refuting this thinly supported thesis are J. L.

Houlden, "A Response to James D. G. Dunn," Journal for the Study of the New Tes-

tament 18 (1983): 58-67; and Daniel Cohn-Sherbok, "Some Reflections on James

Dunn's: ‘The Incident at Antioch (Gal. 2:11-18)’," Journal for the Study of the New

Testament 18 (1983): 68-74. See also John M. G. Barclay, Obeying the Truth: A Study

of Paul's Ethics in Galatians (Edinburgh: Clark, 1988), 76-83.

24   See James D. G. Dunn, "The New Perspective on Paul," Bulletin of the John Ry- .

lands University Library of Manchester 65 (1983): 103-18, for an excellent discus-

sion of these verses. "Covenant works had become too closely identified as Jewish

observances, covenant righteousness as national righteousness" (ibid., 114).

25   As Paul did in Romans 7:1-7a, he also here began his discussion of the Jewish

Christians' relationship to the Torah in the first person plural and thereby

emphasized his solidarity with this, his group. However, in both Romans 7:7b-25

and Galatians 2:18-21 Paul soon shifted to the first person singular. As Betz has ob-

served, "rhetorically there is no difficulty with this form" (Galatians, 121) because

of Paul's ongoing modeling within Galatians of how Jewish Christians should re-

spond to the true gospel and its free offer to the Gentiles (e.g., 1:13-16a). It is un-

thinkable that this first person singular would signal Paul's uniquely individual



            Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians                    425

 

(Cf. Rom. 4:15 for this principle.) (3) Jewish Christians died to the

Law and live to God because of their cocrucifixion with Christ,

which applied His substitutionary death to them to free them from

the bodily constraints of the Law on them (Gal. 2:19-20). (4) If

Jewish Christians nullify (a]qetw?) the universal nature of the

gospel (th>n xa<rin tou? qeou?)26 by emphasizing Torah-observance,

then Christ died needlessly (2:21).

AN EXPERIENTIAL ARGUMENT PROVING VIA SCRIPTURE FULFILLMENT

THE SUPERIORITY OF SONSHIP THROUGH FAITH (3:1–4:31)27

            The Galatians should reject the Judaizers' nongospel and

continue in the true gospel Paul had preached to them because it

alone placed them among the true people of God through their faith

in Christ.

            First external proof:28 The evidence of their own experience

of the Holy Spirit and miracles (3:1-5). The undeniable physical

evidence of the reception of the Holy Spirit by the Galatians

clearly validated that they were already true sons of Abraham

 

response to the Torah-free gospel, because such an emphasise would immediately

undercut the point he was making about his solidarity with Jewish Christians.

Therefore Paul's first person singular language in 2:18-21 is considered a rhetori-

cal and stylistic change that lowered the threat level to the Jewish Christians and

held Paul up as the model while still directly addressing the application of the

truth of the gospel to them. See especially Werner George Kummel, "’Individual

geschichte’ and ‘Weltgeschichte’ in Gal. 2:15-21," in Christ and Spirit in the New

Testament, ed. Barnabas Lindars and Stephen S. Smalley (Cambridge: Cambridge

University Press, 1973), 157-73, for a defense of this stylistic usage.

26   See note 20 for an explanation of Paul's use of xa<rij in connection with the Gen-

tile inclusion. Note this previous usage in 1:15-16 and 2:9. This is another example

of Paul's theological shorthand.  

27   This argument overturned the Judaizers' central claim by causing the Gala-

tians to view their experience in the light of Scripture. The twofold question Paul

addressed is, What is the identifying mark God promised to the sons of Abraham

(circumcision or the Holy Spirit), and by what means is that identifying mark to be

received (by taking up the yoke of Torah or by believing in Jesus Christ)?

            Paul developed this argument in 3:1–4:31 with six diverse proofs. Quintilian

strongly advocated diversity in argumentation: "Are we to have nothing but

premises and conclusions from consequents and incompatibles? Must not the ora-

tor breathe life into the argument and develop it? Must not he vary and diversify it

by a thousand figures, and do all this in such a way that it seems to come into being

as the very child of nature, not to reveal an artificial manufacture and a suspect art

not at every moment to show traces of an instructor's hand? What orator ever spoke

thus?" (The Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian, 5.14.32).

28   An "external proof" is a proof that exists outside the author's creation of it.

"Internal proofs" (artistic proofs) are invented by the author. As Kennedy has

noted, there are three common kinds of external proofs in the New Testament: quo-

tations from Scripture, the evidence of miracles, and the naming of witnesses (New

Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism, 14). Paul used all three

forms of external proof in Galatians 3:1–4:31. In his first argument (esp. 3:5) he

cited the evidence of miracles and the Galatians' own witness of these.

 



426     BIBLIOTHECA SACRA ! October–December 1993

 

who had received the blessing of the Spirit through faith, not

through Torah-observance. Paul interrogated them about the evi-

dence of which they were witnesses.29

            Second external proof: The evidence of an enthymematic ar-

gument (3:6-14).30 Verses 6-7 present the premise. Just as (kaqw<j )

Abraham believed and was reckoned righteous, then (a@ra) those

who are of faith are sons of Abraham. Verses 8-14 present

supporting proof from Scripture. In verses 8-9 Paul stated that

God's justifying of the Gentiles through faith was foreseen in

Scripture (Gen. 12:3). Then in Galatians 3:10-12 Paul wrote that

God's justifying of the Gentiles through faith is not replaced by the

works of Law because the Law can bring a curse (Deut. 27:26) and

operates on a quid pro quo basis (Lev. 18:5), whereas God justifies

through faith (Hab. 2:4).31 In Galatians 3:13-14 Paul stated that

God's justifying of the Gentiles through faith is accomplished in

Christ Jesus, who redeemed Jews from the curse of'ihe Law (Dent.

21:23) so that Abraham's blessing (the promised Holy Spirit)

might come to the Gentiles through faith.

            Third external proof: The evidence of another enthymematic

argument (3:15-29). As in verses 6-14 so here in verses 15-29,  Paul

again presented a premise (vv. 15-16) followed by supporting

proof from Scripture (vv. 17-29). His premise is that the universal

promissory aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant could not be set

aside nor conditionally modified after it was ratified and these

aspects are fulfilled in Abraham's singular seed, Christ.

            The Mosaic Law was a covenant added 430 years after the

Abrahamic Covenant (Exod. 12:40). Its addition did not nullify

God's previous granting of inheritance based on His promise

 

29   "In regard to interrogation, its employment is especially opportune, when the

opponent has already stated the opposite, so that the addition of a question makes

the result an absurdity.... Again, interrogation should be employed when one of

the two propositions is evident, and it is obvious that the opponent will admit the

other if you ask him. But the interrogator, having obtained the second premise by

putting a question, should not make an additional question of what is evident, but

should state the conclusion.... Thirdly, when it is intended to show that the oppo-

nent either contradicts himself or puts forward a paradox" (Aristotle, The "Art" of

Rhetoric 3.18.1-4). Paul brilliantly executed the rhetorical use of interrogation in

Galatians 3:1-5.

30   An "enthymeme" is a deductive proof in the form of a statement with a support-

ing reason and is a truncated syllogism of sorts. Aristotle called the enthymeme "a

kind of syllogism, and deduced from few premises, often from fewer than the regu-

lar syllogism" (The "Art" of Rhetoric, 1.2.13). See Edward P. Corbett, Classical

Rhetoric for the Modern Student, 2d ed. (New York: Oxford University Press,

1971), 72-79, for a full discussion of the enthymeme.

31   See Francis Watson, Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: A Sociological Ap-

proach (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 63-72, for a helpful discus-

sion of the real issue within this passage and the broader context of Galatians 3-4.

 



            Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians                    427

 

(Gal. 3:17-18). Verses 19-25 are a digression.32 Because of trans-

gressions (paraba<sewn) and until Christ the Seed should come, the

Mosaic Law was added (prosete<qh) for the temporary purposes of

shutting up (sune<kleisen) all under sin and becoming a tutor

(paidagwgo<j) to lead the Jews to faith in Christ. Then in verses 26-

29 Paul affirmed that faith in Christ is now all that is needed to

enter into the full-privileged covenantal relationship of a son of

God and Abraham's offspring.

            Fourth external proof: The evidence of their experience of the

Holy Spirit again (4:1-11). The Galatians' experience of the Spirit

of God's Son crying "Abba! Father!" ("Abba o[ path<r") in their

hearts proves that they had been adopted as God's sons and had left

behind the previous childish, slavish era of the Law (4:1-7). To

give up their status as God's full-privileged sons and to turn back

again to the status of slaves under bondage to the weak stoixei?a

("elements") and to Torah-observance caused Paul to fear for

them (4:8-11).

            Fifth external proof: The evidence of their previous accep-

tance of Paul33 and their resulting happiness34 (4:12-20). In 4:12

 

32   Betz identifies this section as an extremely concise digressio (Galatians, 20),

and notes that "it does not add a new argument to the defense, but prevents a wrong

conclusion the readers might reach on the basis of the preceding" (ibid., 163). Given

this strategic function in Paul's argumentation, one should not conclude that a di-

gression by Paul is a wandering off into irrelevant material. Digressions were

noted elements in classical rhetoric (Quintilian, The Institutio Oratoria of Quin-

tilian, 4.3.15-17). See Wilhelm Wuellner, "Greek Rhetoric and Pauline Argumenta-

tion," in Early Christian Literature and the Classical Intellectual Tradition, ed.

W. R. Schoedel and R. L. Wilken (Paris: Bearchesne, 1979), 177-88, for a discussion

of Paul's rhetorical use of digressions in 1 Corinthians.

33   While one might conclude that this is a rambling and personal digression

within a tightly reasoned section (Gal. 3:1-4:31), such a conclusion would miss the

powerful argumentative force of an appeal to an existing friendship and the expe-

rience of past hospitality in Mediterranean cultures. Paul's proof draws on both of

these highly exalted values within the culture of his day. Betz notes the rhetorical

value of this section. "A personal appeal to friendship is entirely in conformity

with Hellenistic style, which calls for change between heavy and light sections and

which would require an emotional and personal approach to offset the impression

of mere abstraction. The argumentative force lies in the topic itself, the marks of

‘true’ and ‘false’ friendship" (Galatians, 221). Hansen regards 4:12 as a request for-

mula (Gi<nesqe w[j e]gw<) within the personal appeal section (4:12-20) that initiates

the long request section of the epistle (4:12–6:10) (Abraham in Galatians, 44-50).

34   Paul's rhetorical question in 4:15a ("Where then is that sense of makarismo>j

u[mw?n, your happiness or blessedness?") reflects the most basic appeal of the delib-

erative species of rhetoric. This appeal is to what is most beneficial to the hearers:

"The end of the deliberative speaker is the expedient or harmful; for he who ex-

horts recommends a course of action as better, as he who dissuades advises against

it as worse; all other considerations, such as justice and injustice, honour and dis-

grace, are included as accessory in reference to these" (Aristotle, The "Art" of

Rhetoric, 1.3.5). "Since in causes of this kind [deliberative speeches] the end is Ad-

vantage, and Advantage is divided into the consideration of Security and the con-



428     BIBLIOTHECA SACRA I October–December 1993

 

Paul appealed to his readers to continue to imitate him.35 He

pleaded with them to identify again with his non-Judaistic behav-

ior as he did with them because there was no alienation between

them. They initially identified with Paul in spite of his bodily

condition and received (e]de<casqe<) him with great hospitality as

Christ Jesus Himself, but their present entertaining of the Judaiz-

ers' theology made Paul now seem like their enemy and made

continued friendship unlikely (4:13-16). The Judaizers sought to

influence the Galatians for their own personal benefit, not be-

cause of true friendship, whereas Paul was deeply concerned for

them as if he were again a mother in labor with them (4:17-20).36

Sixth external proof:37 The ironic reversal of a Judaizers'

proof text to prove in a climactic manner the Galatians' true

Abrahamic sonship38 (4:21-31). To those who want to be under the

 

sideration of Honour, if we can prove that both ends will be served, we shall prom-

ise to make this twofold proof in our discourse" (Rhetorica ad Herennium, 3.4.8).

            Paul had already dealt with the advantage of security in inheritance by promise

(Gal. 3:6-14). He had also dealt with the advantage of honor in his explication of the

Galatians' present status within the people of God as ui[oi> qeou? ("sons of God"  not

dou?loi in 3:26–4:11. Therefore this appeal to their advantage is just another facet of

the advantage of honor that they will have if they continue in the true gospel Paul

preached. This facet of honor deals with their corporate concern for their reputa-

tion and their loyalty. See Bruce J. Malina, The New Testament World: Insights

from Cultural Anthropology (Atlanta: Knox, 1981), 25-50, for a discussion of how

pivotal the "honor-shame" values were in the first-century Mediterranean world.

35   See Lyons, Pauline Autobiography: Toward a New Understanding, 164-68, for a

helpful discussion and defense of the imitatio Pauli nature of Galatians 4:12-20.

36   All throughout 4:12-20 Paul used antithetical argumentation, and this section is

no exception. On the maternity of Paul see B. R. Gaventa, "The Maternity of Paul:

An Exegetical Study of Galatians 4:19," in The Conversation Continues: Studies in

Paul and John in Honor of J. Louis Martyr, ed. Robert T. Fortna and Beverly R.

Gaventa (Nashville: Abingdon, 1990), 189-201.

37   This is both the climactic and most memorable of the six proofs of 3:1–4:31, as

the rhetorical handbooks suggested: "In the Proof and Refutation of arguments it is

appropriate to adopt an Arrangement of the following sort: 1) the strongest argu-

ments should be placed at the beginning and at the end of the pleading; 2) those of

medium force, and those that are neither useless to the discourse nor essential to

the proof, which are weak if presented separately and individually, but become

strong and plausible when conjoined with the others, should be placed in the mid-

dle. For immediately after the facts have been stated the hearer waits to see

whether the cause can by some means be proved, and that is why we ought straight-

way to present some strong argument. 3) And as for the rest, since what has been

said last is easily committed to memory, it is useful, when ceasing to speak, to leave

some very strong argument fresh in the hearer's mind. This arrangement of topics

in speaking, like the arraying of soldiers in battle, can readily bring victory"

(Rhetorica ad Herennium, 3.10.18). Paul's first proof in 3:1-5, which appealed to

the Galatians' experience of the Holy Spirit by faith, and this final proof in 4:21-31

seem to fit the rhetorical qualifications of the strongest proofs, as the following

analysis should reveal.

38   Many commentators contend that Paul had already "fired his powder" and now

as an afterthought reiterated his argument about the seed of Abraham (e.g., Hein-



            Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians                    429

 

Law the Mosaic Law speaks about the slave-son Ishmael, who was

born according to the flesh to the slave woman Hagar, and the

free-son Isaac, who was born through the promise (di ] e]paggeli<aj,

4:23) or by the Spirit (kata> pneu?ma, 4:29) to the free-woman Sarah.

            In 4:24-27 these two women allegorically represent (a) the

Hagar-covenant associated with the present Jerusalem and her

"children" who are in slavery to the Mosaic Covenant (i.e., Ju-

daizers), and (b) the Sarah-covenant associated with the heavenly

Jerusalem and her children who are in the freedom of the New

Covenant (i.e., the Galatian Gentile Christians).39

            Those "Ishmaelites" who are born kata> sa<rka, the Judaizers, were still

persecuting the "Isaacites" who were born according to the Spirit and therefore the

Judaizers should be cast out from the people of God (4:28-31).40

 

rich Schlier, Der Brief an die Galater, 5th ed., Kritischexegetischer Kommentar

uber das Neue Testament 7 [Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1971], 216, and

Ernst DeWitt Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the

Galatians, International Critical Commentary [Edinburgh: Clark, 1921], 251).

However, such a perspective shows insensitivity to the weight of this kind of ar-

gumentation in Paul's day and it shows insensitivity to the rhetorical coup that

Paul achieved by reversing what appears to be a proof text, in the Judaizers' argu-

mentation. Barrett has argued that almost all the Old Testament passages Paul

used in Galatians 3–4 are Judaizer proof texts to which he responded by putting

them in the proper redemptive historical framework (C. K. Barrett, "The Allegory

of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar in the Argument of Galatians," in Essays on Paul

[Philadelphia: Westminster, 1982], 154-70). This seems true of the Sarah-Hagar

story in Genesis 16 and 21, which Paul would have no normal reason to use in his

ministry. However, the Judaizers' use of these narratives would underscore their

central point: Gentiles are "Ishmaelites" and are not sons of Abraham and can enter

into the Abrahamic promise only by attaching themselves to the Israelite sons of

promise—the "Isaacites"—by the approved means of circumcision. This may have

been the pinnacle of Judaistic argumentation and may explain why Paul saved this

proof as his climactic one. See Gijs Bouwman, "Die Hagar-und-Sara-Perikope (Gal

4,21-31)—Exemplarische Interpretation zum Schriftbeweis bei Paulus," Aufsteig

und Neidergang der romischen Welt, Teil 2, Band 25 (1987): 3135-55 for a bibliogra-

phy on the Sarah-Hagar pericope. Also see Hansen, Abraham in Galatians, 141-50.

39   Paul created historical correspondences by the use of these historical narra-

tives. His connection of the Genesis narratives to the present Galatian situation is

described by him in 4:24a as a{tina< e]stin a]llhgrorou<mena ("This contains an alle-

gory," NASB; "These things may be taken figuratively," NIV). However, this method-

ology may be more a mixture of what is presently called "typology" and "allegory"

(Betz, Galatians, 238-40), with typology being the predominant method. Such his-

torical correspondences were appropriate and effective types of proof within the

Jewish hermeneutics of his day (E. Earle Ellis, Paul's Use of the Old Testament

[Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1957; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981], 51-54). See

Hansen, Abraham in Galatians, 201-15, for an up-to-date discussion of the debate

over this passage. Hansen's conclusion seems most judicious: "Our examination of

Paul's hermeneutical approach to the Hagar-Sarah story confirms the position that

his basic typological interpretation is supplemented by an allegorical treatment in

order to relate the people in the story to the specific issues in the Galatian church,

and so to counteract the troublemakers' use of the same text" (ibid., 214-15).

40   Again this climactic proof of Paul's does not rest on his allegorizing, but on the

 



430       BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / October–December 1993

 

A CAUSAL41 ARGUMENT42 PROVING VIA COMMUNITY COMPARISONS

THE SUPERIORITY OF PRESENT DELIVERANCE IN CHRIST (5:1–6:10)43

 

first proof that he established in this heading (3:1–4:31). In that proof (3:1-5), Paul,

appealed to the Galatians' own witness of their possession of the Holy Spirit by

faith in Christ alone and therefore their supernatural birth by God's Spirit (3:3, 5).

By returning in 4:21-31 to the issue of possession of the Spirit, Paul effectively

bracketed the whole argument of 3:1–4:31 with his most powerful evidence: the

Galatians' prior reception of the Spirit who was promised as part of the Abrahamic

universal blessing (3:8-9, 14). The interrogatio method in both proofs also under-

scores the bracketing sense. The point of this sixth proof in 4:21-31 is that the

"Isaacites" are characterized by a supernatural birth by God's Spirit, while the

"Ishmaelites" are simply characterized by a birth according to human bodies un-

aided by God's Spirit. Given this simple means of identifying the sons of Abraham

who will inherit (cf. Jub. 16:15-19), then the Galatian Christians ironically qualify

according to a strict reading of the Genesis narratives. They are the Isaacites be-

cause of their Isaac-like birth (kata> pneu?ma), while the Judaizers are actually the

Ishmaelites because of their Ishmael-like birth (kata> sa<rka). Paul took what was a

prime piece of Judaistic argumentation and turned it on its head to his advantage.

41 The limitations of epistolary analysis of Galatians manifest themselves quickly

when scholars seek to find the beginning of a purely paraenetic or exhortative sec-

tion of the letter. As Merk has noted, six different beginnings for the moral exhor-

tation section of Galatians have been championed (4:12; 4:21; 5:1; 5:2; 5:7; 5:13), and

he prefers 5:13 (Otto Merk, "Der Beginn der Paranese im Galaterbrief," Zeitschrift

fur die Neutestamentliche Wi,ssenschaft 60 [1969]: 104). If Paul had used some of

his more obvious stylistic transitions for the beginning of the paraenetic section

(e.g., Rom. 12:1; 1 Thess. 4:1), the task of analyzing his letter to the Galatians would

be simpler. But these transitions are more the exception than the rule. Also past

commentators have sought to separate this so-called paraenetic material too

sharply from the theological argumentation of Galatians 3–4. The following are in-

sightful comments about this section: "Gal. 5.1–6.17 forms the culmination of Paul's

argument to the Galatians, the point he has intended to make from the beginning of

the letter: the Galatians must not submit to circumcision. Thus, although these

chapters contain a great deal of moral exhortation, they should not be viewed exclu-

sively as paraenesis. They are the climax of Paul's deliberative argument aimed at

persuading the Galatians not to be circumcised" (Frank J. Matera, "The Culmina-

tion of Paul's Argument to the Galatians: Gal. 5.1–6.17," Journal for the Study of the

New Testament 32 [19881: 79-80). Beginning this section at 5:1 rather than 5:13 (or

elsewhere) is not so much based on a change to paraenetic language (which really

begins in 5:13) as on a change in subjects: from the Galatians' identity as sons of

Abraham (Gal. 3–4) to their experiencing or using that freedom as sons (Gal. 5–6).

Greater emphasis on the flow of Paul's rhetoric in Galatians reveals more readily

this seam in his argument.

42   A "causal argument" is an argument that says, "If A is the cause, then B should

be its effect or manifestation." Many times it is argued backwards from the effect to

the cause. This is the case here.

43   The question Paul was answering in 5:1–6:10 is, Which community pattern of

behavior manifests true freedom from sin's power? This issue of freedom from the

power of transgressions was apparently the primary felt need to which the Judaiz-

ers appealed (H. D. Betz, "Spirit, Freedom, and Law: Paul's Message to the Galatian

Churches," Svensk Exegetisk Arsbok 39 [19741: 153-55). Of course their answer was

to take up the yoke of the Law and the mark of circumcision so that the Galatians

could be included within the safety of God's covenant community—ethnic Israel.

Paul's answer in 5:1–6:10 is found in a comparison of the behavior patterns of these

two competing identities of the people of God. While the content of this section is



            Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians        431

 

           The Galatians should reject the Judaizers' nongospel and

continue in the true gospel Paul had preached to them because it

alone gave them true deliverance from sin's power through their

receiving of the Holy Spirit.44

            Paul's exhortation and warning about the antithetical conse-

quences of their identity choice for their continued deliverance

from, sin's power (5:1-12).45 In the exhortation (5:1) Paul stated that the

choice the Galatians faced was between continuing in the freedom of Christ

or submitting again to the yoke of slavery (the Mosaic Law).46

 

ethical and exhortative in nature, its function is argumentative and not purely ex-

hortative within Paul's epistle. First, he continued his antithetical or contrasting

argumentation between the Judaizers and himself. Of course he argued for the su-

periority of his position over theirs. Second, he was proving the superiority of his

true gospel over their nongospel in three areas. The first area concerned their anti-

thetical natures (kata> a@nqrwpon verses kata> qeo<n) and the confirmation by

Jerusalem of his gospel (1:11–2:21). The second area involved the conflicting

"gospels," both of which sought to impart true Abrahamic sonship (3:1–4:31). Now in

the third major area, Paul was proving the superiority of his gospel within the eth-

ical realm. The gospel provides the only adequate and appropriate constraint for

the believers' behavior: the Holy Spirit (versus the constraint of circumcision and

Torah-observance). There is nothing new about Paul's exhortation to choose between

these two. What is new in 5:1–6:10 is the realm of choice—the ethical or behavioral.

Therefore this paraenetic material serves a vital, perhaps climactic function,

within the whole rhetoric of Galatians. See Kraftcheck, Ethics and Pathos Ap-

peals, 3-61, and Barclay, Obeying the Truth, 1-35, for recent surveys of the role of

Galatians 5–6 in the whole epistle.

44   The moral exhortation found in this argument is considered one of two kinds of

deliberative rhetoric by Quintilian (The Institutio Oratorio of Quintilian, 3.4.9).

The other kind of deliberative oratory is dissuasion. These same two are echoed by

Aristotle, The "Art" of Rhetoric, 1.3.3, and in Rhetorica ad Herenniuna, 1.2.2. Let-

ters of exhortation and advice were also a common type of epistle in the Mediter-

ranean world. Galatians evidences many characteristics of letters of this type

(Stowers. Letter-Writing, 91-152). See also the epistolary handbook of Pseudo

Demetrius and his comments on types of epistles in Abraham J. Malherbe, Ancient

Epistolary Theorists, ed. Bernard Brandon Scott (Atlanta: Scholars, 1988), 31-41.

45   Paul used the term e]leuqeri<a ("freedom") three times in Galatians (2:4; 5:1, 13)

to express the opposite condition of slavery to the Mosaic Law. While Paul did not

use e]leuqeri<a in 4:1-7 to describe slavery's opposite, it is obvious that such a term

would be appropriate to describe the condition of sonship and heirship into which

the Christian has entered (4:5-7). God sent forth His Son that He might redeem

(e]cagora<s^) those under Law unto freedom (4:4-5). This is significant in the dis-

cussion beginning in 5:1 because "freedom" in 5:1, 13 is specifically freedom from

the daily constraints of the Mosaic Law. Christ has delivered the believer from the

bondage of the stoixei?a that existed during the era of the Mosaic Law (4:3, 9).

Therefore to return to Torah-observance is to be enslaved to these stoixei?a again

(4:8-10). Conversely standing firm in e]leuqeri<a is experiencing the continuing de-

liverance by Christ from sin's power. Paul's point in 5:1–6:10 is that the indwelling

Holy Spirit, not Torah-observance, is the only adequate and appropriate constraint

that Christ has provided to carry out His continuing deliverance. Therefore

"freedom" in Galatians 5–6 is freedom from sin's power by Christ's deliverance.

46   Paul's consistent message in this area is that Christ had delivered the Gala-

tians from "this present evil age" (1:4) and from the bondage under the stoixei?a tou?



432     BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / October—December 1993

 

            In 5:2-647 the apostle solemnly warned against identifying

with the Judaizers. The deliverance from sin's power that Christ

offers to His own would be of no benefit (ou]de>n w]felh<sei) if they

became part of the Judaizers' community (with its identifying

mark of circumcision) and severed themselves from Christ and

His grace that was at work within His community by "faith work-

ing through love."48

            The antithetical impact of the Judaizers and Paul on the

Galatians49 is discussed in 5:7-12. The Judaizers were hindering

the continued obedience of the truth by the Galatians, while Paul

was being persecuted for preaching the Judaizing-free truth to

them. The Judaizers had hindered their "running" and their

hearing of God's voice with their leaven-like persuasion, which

is not from God (vv. 7-9). By contrast, Paul had confidence that

the Galatians would choose to follow him, even though he was still

being persecuted (vv. 10-11). Then in a ridiculing curse Paul

wished that the Judaizers would even' emasculate themselves (v.

12)

            The fundamental manifestation of deliverance from sin's

powers (5:13-26).50 This deliverance is manifested among God's

 

ko<smou during the era of the Mosaic Law (4:3, 8-11). Therefore it is absolutely amaz-

ing to him (1:6) that they would be so foolish (3:1) as to do this fearful reverting

(4:11) to the anachronistic and inferior mode of childish slavery that existed before

the fullness of the time of the Son (4:1-7). The “yoke of slavery” in 5:1 is the Mosaic

Law in the sense that it was the guardian and manager during the period of slavery

to the stoixei?a (4:1-7).

47   See Kraftchick, Ethos and Pathos Appeals, 233-39, for a helpful explication of

the rhetorical features of irony, amplification, contentio, and especially of pathos

appeal in Galatians 5:1-6.

48   The issue here is not maintaining the eternal deliverance from sin's penalty

(i.e., justification by faith), but going on to maturity in Christ (3:3) and continuing

to experience Christ's earthly deliverance from sin's power. This is only achieved

"through the Spirit, by faith" (5:5). In Romans 7:6 Paul affirmed that this serving in

"newness of the Spirit" is possible because believers have been severed (kathrgh<qhte)

from the Law. Ironically in Galatians 5:4 Paul said that seeking to be justified

by Law will lead to being severed (kathrgh<qhte) from Christ! Both instances speak

of releasing the Christian from the authority and benefit of another as he lives the

Christian life. In other words this is an existential, not an eternal deliverance that

is achieved only when God's people are (a) appropriately arrayed around Christ

(5:4a), (b) operating on the principle of God's grace (v. 4b), and (c) emphasizing

"faith working through love" (v. 6b). As Paul later sketched out in verses 13-16,

these three ingredients were not present within the Judaizers' community which

emphasized circumcision and Torah-observance.

49   Again, see Kraftchick, Ethos and Pathos Appeals, 240-47, for a more in-depth

rhetorical analysis of 5:7-12, especially in terms of the pathos and ethos content

within this section.

50   Betz and those who follow his structuring of Galatians divide 5:1—6:10 into

three sections, each begun by a restatement of the "indicative" of salvation: 5:1-12;

5:13-24; and 5:25—6:10 ("The Literary Composition and Function of Paul's Letter to



            Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians                    433

 

people not by their competitively striving with each other but

rather by their serving each other through love.51

            In introducing the subject of the antithetical choices (5:13-15)

Paul stated that the manifestation of freedom from the constraints

of the Mosaic Law within the community of God's people should

not be used as an opportunity for continued fleshly failure, which

is vitriolic and self-consuming, but rather as an opportunity

through love to serve one another, which is the summarizing

principle of the whole Mosaic Law.52

 

the Galatians," 376-77). This is an appealing structure, but not altogether convinc-

ing, especially in using "if we live by the Spirit" in 5:25 as the third indicative

statement. A more accurate description of these three "indicatives of salvation" is

that each of them is half of an antithesis contrasting the appropriate response to

freedom from the Mosaic Law's daily constraints with the inappropriate Judaizers'

response. One must then see how these antitheses are being used in Paul's argu-

ment. The latter two antitheses in verses 13-15 and 25-26 seem to function as brack-

ets for verses 13-26 because they deal with the same topic of community unity and

coherence versus community jealousy and competitive strife. Also verse 25 is re-

lated to verse 24 by asyndeton (no particle) and this makes for a forceful connec-

tion. Paul's use of the vocative  ]Adelfoi< in 6:1 is typical of the beginning of a new

section of the argument (e.g., 1:11; 3:15; 4:12; 5:13).

51   The causal argument of 5:1–6:10 is manifested in 5:1-12 in comparing the anti-

thetical effects or impacts that the two groups were having on the Galatians. The

Galatians were being persuaded by Paul to question the cause behind the Judaizers'

effect (5:7-9). Now in 5:13-26 Paul continued his causal argument by again arguing

frorn the effects backward to the cause that produced them. He was inviting the

comparison of the two communities—the Judaizers and his—in the area of com-

munity unity and coherence. If, in fact, Christ was delivering them from sin's power, then that

deliverance should manifest itself in a unified and loving community of believers. This is the only

appropriate community manifestation for those born kata> pneu?ma.

            Speaking about the phenomena of human transformation in a causal argument,

Sherry observed, "It is assumed that certain phenomena in the world are effects

brought about by the spirit of God, and that such effects resemble their cause. St

Paul speaks of men being changed by degrees into the likeness of God by the Spirit

(2 Cor 3:18), and Aquinas maintains that human perfections like goodness and wis-

dom are caused by and participate in their divine exemplars (S. T. la.13.5, 6, 10;

14.6). To parody Scripture, by their fruits you shall know Him" (Patrick Sherry,

Spirit, Saints, and Immortality [Albany: State University of New York Press,

1984], 35). Conversely, those born kata> sa<rka will approach community as an op-

portunity for the sa<rc (5:13) and will manifest community phenomena or effects

that are readily observable as a fulfilling of the desire of the sa<rc (5:16).

            Therefore structurally Paul bracketed the listing of these two antithetical ef-

fects or manifestations of community life in Galatians 5:16-24 with the correspond-

ing antithetical causes of those effects in 5:13-15 and 5:25-26. He was persuading

the Galatians that the people of God, having been born kata> pneu?ma, should manifest a life in

community that is directly traceable to God's Spirit. An objective comparison of the community

lives of the two groups will clearly reveal both the standards a nd causes of such a life.

52   These verses introduce the theme of this section (5:13-26). Paul was showing the

contrary ends of the two gospels the Galatians had heard. The "gospel" preached by

the community of the flesh provides more opportunity for fleshly expression. The

end of this kind of Judaizing emphasis is mutually destructive relationships. Ironi-

cally the end of the true gospel and its manifestation is the fulfillment of the basic



434     BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / October—December 1993

 

            The two choices are clearly delineated in 5:16-24. Those who

insist on living according to the past standard of fleshly behavior

within the community under the Mosaic Law will share in the

sins of a community composed of those who will not inherit the

kingdom of God. However, those who identify with the commu-

nity of God's Spirit will be enabled by the Spirit to manifest the

fruit'of loving unity apart from the daily constraints of the Law.

            The standards of the Holy Spirit and the community of the

Spirit are diametrically opposed to the fulfilling of fleshly behav-

ior that takes place within the community of the flesh which is

under the Law (u[po> no<mon), so that those who possess the Spirit but

live within the flesh community will not be able to do what they

wish (vv. 16-18). The community of the flesh manifests the rela-

tionally destructive effects of fleshly behavior which confirm that

this community is not composed of the true sons of Abraham who

will inherit the kingdom of God (vv. 19-21). By contrast, the

community of the Spirit manifests the relationally edifying ef-

fects of spiritual behavior, which are not legally prohibited and

which evidence that those in the community of the Spirit have seen

their sa<rc and its manifestations crucified (vv. 22-24).

            In verses 25-26 Paul affirmed that being part of the commu-

nity of the Spirit means one should choose to live according to the

rule or standard of the Spirit and not according to the competitive

striving that characterizes the community of the flesh.53

            Some specific manifestations of the deliverance from sin's

power (6:1-10). The relational goal of the Law within the commu-

nity of the Spirit is manifested in the gracious restoration of sin-

ning members and in the generous financial sharing with ap-

propriate persons within the community.

            The reality that even some Christians will be caught in sin is

 

purpose of the whole Mosaic Law: loving edification of one's neighbor. In other

words the Law's fulfillment ultimately can be distilled into relational terms.

Therefore in another manifestation of the causal argument of this whole section

(5:1-6:10), Paul was arguing that observing the effects of community relationships

and unity should reveal the true cause of those effects. This is why mutual destruc-

tion is powerfully tied to sa<rc and mutual edification to pneu?ma. Observing the

community effects reveals the root community cause.

53   In addition to the rhetorical devices of contrarium (which may be called anti-

thetical expressions) and repetitio (of flesh and Spirit) in 5:13-26, Kraftchick has

observed the use of synonymia in this section (Ethos and Pathos Appeals, 248).

Paul described the Christian life in relationship to the Holy Spirit with the terms

peripatei?te (v. 16), a@gesqe (v. 18),  zwmen (v. 25), and stoixw?men (v. 25). Duncan para-

phrases verse 25 to bring out the corporate nature of Christians' relationship with

the Holy Spirit that stoixw?men seems to indicate: "If our individual lives are lived

‘by the Spirit,’ let us allow the Spirit to marshal us in our corporate relationships"

(George S. Duncan, The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians [London: Hodder &

Stoughton, 1934], 178).



            Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians                    435

 

to be dealt with by those in the community of the Spirit (u[mei?j oi[

pneumatikoi<) in gentleness and humility as restoration is sought

in mutual concern and burden-bearing, not in arrogant competi-

tion (6:1-5).54 Also the community of the Spirit should manifest

generous financial sharing, especially with its teachers and

other believers, because this is sowing to the Spirit and contrasts

with sowing to the flesh, which emphasizes circumcision and

Torah-observance and ends in corruption (6:6-10).55

POSTSCRIPT OR EPILOGUE OR CONCLUSIO (6:11-18)56

            In an appended personal conclusion written in his own hand,

Paul recapitulated57 the Judaizers' man-pleasing, their fleshly

 

54   Strelan's thesis that Galatians 6:1-5 (with 6:6-10) is about bearing a common fi-

nancial burden is appealing but not totally convincing (John G. Stelan, "Burden-

bearing and the Law of Christ: A Reexamination of Galatians 6:2," Journal of Bibli-

cal Literature 94 [1975]: 266-76). As Barclay and Young have noted, the phrase "bear

burdens" (ta> ba<rh basta<zete) usually has a more general reference to the many

physical and spiritual burdens of everyday life. This less restricted sense seems to

fit more smoothly into the general relational picture Paul had been sketching

(Barclay, Obeying the Truth, 131-32; and E. M. Young, "’Fulfil the Law of Christ,’ An

Examination of Galatians 6:2," Studia Biblica et Theologica 7 [1977]: 31-42).

55   Hurtado makes a strong case that this financial sharing is specifically Paul's

appeal for the Jerusalem collection and therefore it relates to Galatians 2:10 (Larry

W. Hurtado, "The Jerusalem Collection and the Book of Galatians," Journal for the

Study of the New Testament 5 [1979]: 46-62). However, this appeal is most allusive

and oblique if that is what Paul was doing. Two problems exist if Galatians 6:6-10 is

related to the Jerusalem collection. First, Galatians 2:10 clarifies that the motive

for a Jerusalem collection was poverty. This clarification may have been necessary

in light of a Judaistic collection for the Jerusalem church under the motive of a

temple offering of some sort as if the Galatians were new proselytes. Second, it

might be that Galatians 6:6-10 is also an antidote for a Judaistic collection. The

Galatians' financial "sowing" should be with their local teachers and the household

of faith, not with the fleshly system of the Judaizers. Therefore rather than a very

subtle appeal for his Jerusalem collection for the poor (which was still future),

Paul may have been correcting an inappropriate Judaistic collection (cf. F. F.

Bruce, "The Church of Jerusalem in the Acts of the Apostles," Bulletin of the John

Rylands University Library of Manchester 67 [1985]: 651-61). While all this is

speculative, it does seem to treat Paul's language in Galatians 6:6-10 in a more

straightforward manner than Hurtado's thesis.

56   Aristotle describes the ideal content and function of an epilogue: "The epilogue

is composed of four parts: [1] to dispose the hearer favourably towards oneself and

unfavourably towards the adversary; [2] to amplify and depreciate; [3] to excite the

emotions of the hearer; [4] to recapitulate. For after you have proved that you are

truthful and that the adversary is false, the natural order of things is to praise

ourselves, blame him, and put the finishing touches. . . . In the exordium we should

state the subject, in order that the question to be decided may not escape notice, but

in the epilogue we should give a summary statement of the proofs" (The "Art" of

Rhetoric, 3.19.1). Paul included all four of these elements with great passion in his

epilogue, which has both the epistolary and rhetorical elements of a conclusion.

57   Betz notes that 6:12-17 is technically the peroratio or brief conclusion contain-

ing the indignatio of 6:12-13 and the conquestio of 6:17 (Galatians, 23). This perora-

tio/recapitulatio is bracketed by Paul's handwritten authentication in 6:11 and the

benediction in 6:18. See also Hansen, Abraham in Galatians, 51-52, 65-66, 69-70.



436     BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / October—December 1993

 

motives, and his Cross-oriented motives, and he reiterated the

rule of the new creation (kainh> kti<sij) which negates the neces-

sity of circumcision. Also before pronouncing his final benedic-

tion (v. 18), Paul recapitulated his apostolic authority by pointing

out how the "marks of Jesus" (sti<gmata tou?  ]Ihsou?) on his body

should negate any further trouble from the Judaizers (v. 17).

 

STEP SIX IN THE RHETORICAL ANALYSIS OF GALATIANS:

REVIEW THE PROCESS

            The sixth step in the process of rhetorical analysis is to "look

back over the entire book and seek to recapture the picture of the

whole. The rhetorical analysis of Galatians is as follows:

            I. Prescript/Salutation (1:1-5).

            II. Prologue/Proem/Exordium (1:6-10).

                The general proposition or causa of the letter is to persuade

                the Galatians to reject the Judaizers' nongospel and to con-

                tinue in the true gospel Paul had preached to them.

            III. Proof/Probatio/Confirmatio (1:11-6:10).

                 (The causa is expressed in three proofs.)

                        A A historical argument proving the superiority of Paul's

                            gospel via Narrative or Narratio (1:11-2:21). (The na-

                            ture of Paul's gospel alone was confirmed, while the

                            nature of the Judaizers' nongospel was rejected.)

                            1. Thesis of the narrative—The nature of the gospel

                                    (1:11-12).

                            2. Point one in the narrative: It radically changed

                                    Paul (1:13-17).

                            3. Point two in the narrative: It was confirmed by the

                                    Jerusalem church (1:18-2:21).

                                    a. It was confirmed three years after Paul's con-

                                        version (1:18-24).

                                    b. It was confirmed 14 years later in Jerusalem

                                        (2:1-10).

                                    c . It was confirmed in Paul's confrontation with

                                        Cephas and others over Judaistic behavior

                                        (2:11-21).

                        B. An experiential argument proving the superiority of

                            their sonship-through-faith via Scripture fulfillment in

                            six external proofs (3:1-4:31).58 (Paul's gospel alone

                            placed them among the true people of God through their

                            faith in Christ.)

 

58   As explained in note 28, an external proof is a proof that exists outside the au-

thor's creation of it. An internal or artistic proof is a proof invented by the author.

 



            Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians                    437

 

            1. First external proof (3:1-5): The evidence of their

                own experience of the Holy Spirit and miracles.

            2. Second external proof (3:6-14): The evidence of an

                enthymematic argument (faith of Abraham/sons of

                Abraham).

            3. Third external proof (3:15-29): The evidence of an-

                other enthymematic argument (The particularistic

                Mosaic Covenant does not invalidate the universal

                Abrahamic Covenant.).

            4. Fourth external proof (4:1-11)The evidence of their

                experience of the Holy Spirit again (crying "Abba"

                in their hearts).

            5. Fifth external proof (4:12-20): The evidence of their

                previous acceptance of Paul and their resulting

                happiness.

            6. Sixth external proof (4:21-31): The ironic reversal

                of a Judaizers' proof text to prove in a climactic

                manner the Galatians' true Abrahamic sonship.

C. A causal argument proving the superiority of their pre-

     sent deliverance in Christ via community observation

     (5:1--6:10). (Paul's gospel alone provided true deliver-

     ance from sin's power through their receiving of the

     Holy Spirit.)

            1. Paul's exhortation and warning about the antitheti-

                cal consequences of their identity choice for their

                continued deliverance from sin's power (5:1-12).

            2. The fundamental manifestation of deliverance

                from sin's power in the community of God's people:

                loving service, not competitive striving (5:13-26).

            3. Some specific manifestations of the deliverance

                from sin's power: relational restoration and finan-

                cial generosity (6:1-10).

IV. Postscript/Epilogue /Conclusio (6:11-18).

 

            Looking at this brief recapitulation of the argument of Gala-

tians causes one to marvel at the genius and continuity of Paul's

rhetoric. Was his rhetoric successful in helping him achieve his

rhetorical purpose for Galatians? The following rhetorical pur-

pose has been suggested for Galatians: "To persuade the Gala-

tians to reject the Judaizers' false gospel and to continue in the

true gospel which Paul had preached because (a) its nature alone

was legitimately confirmed, while the Judaizers' false gospel

was rejected, (b) it alone placed the Galatian Christians among

the true people of God through their faith in Christ, and (c) it alone

 



438     BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / October—December 1993

 

gave them true deliverance from sin's power through their receiv-

ing of the Holy Spirit." If this states the rhetorical purpose of Gala-

tians, it seems reasonable to conclude that Paul achieved this

purpose. The combination of his powerful logical arguments, his

authoritative use of Scripture, and his passionate appeal to his re-

lationship with the Galatians seems more than adequate to have

persuaded the Galatians to continue in the true gospel.

 

                                    CONCLUSION

            An epistolary analysis of the Book of Galatians is a frustrat-

ing endeavor because it is an exercise in discovering the absence

of normal Pauline epistolary features.59 While Galatians begins

and ends with an identifiable prescript and postscript, the mate-

rial in between is problematic. First, the absence of a thanksgiv-

ing section must be explained. Second, without a thanksgiving

section ending in an eschatological climax, the beginning of the

body of the epistle is not as definitive as one would like.60 Third,

there are no clear travel plans (only 4:20?) or a definitive begin-

ning of a parentheses section. Is Galatians an epistle? Yes. How-

ever, the absence of these typical epistolary features reveals the

limitations of using an epistolary analysis only. Additionally

the presence of rhetorical features throughout the epistle under-

scores the value of using rhetorical analysis to understand both

the form and function of this epistle within the Galatian

churches.61 In the heat of the moment and in the face of an ex-

treme need for immediate persuasion, Paul seems to have natu-

rally integrated rhetorical elements with epistolary form. An

intimate knowledge of both rhetoric and epistle-writing would

make this a natural response.

            Hopefully this lengthy rhetorical analysis of Galatians has

accomplished three things. First, it has demonstrated the value of

 

59   However, Hansen seeks to demonstrate that there are a number of customary

epistolary formulae that indicate the epistolary structure of Galatians (Abraham

in Galatians, 21-54, esp. 30-31). And yet these formulae are not as definitive nor as

conclusive as Hansen seems to believe, as evidenced by the significant degree of

disagreement about the structure of the epistle, even among those who recognize

the epistolary formulae.

60   This is noted by J. H. Roberts, "Pauline Transitions to the Letter Body," in

L'Apotre Paul, ed. A. Vanhoye (Leuven: Peeters/Leuven University Press, 1986), 93-

99; and John L. White, "New Testament Epistolary Literature in the hramework of

Ancient Epistolography," Aufsteig and Neidergang der romischen Welt, Teil 2,

Band 25 (1987): 1744.

61   Hansen lists at least 15 rhetorical arguments Paul used in Galatians (Abraham

in Galatians, 79-93).

 



            Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians        439

 

rhetorical analysis as an interpretive tool. The genius of Paul's

argument in this epistle has been adequately highlighted more

than previous descriptive analyses have done. Ideally, this ap-

proach enables one not only to describe what is there, but also to

understand the argumentative value and function of each part of

the epistle.

            Second, tracing Paul's argument/rhetoric hopefully has

demonstrated the continuity in his argument from Galatians 3–4

through Galatians 5–6. This continuity should help remove the

chasm between chapters 4 and 5 that has hindered most exposi-

tions of the epistle.62 At the minimum, the change in topics most

commentators posit at Galatians 5:13 should be seriously ques-

tioned. Its existence is due in large part to misunderstanding the

flow of Paul's argument.

            Third, by noting the continuity in argumentation, one is

helped in noting afresh how Paul used sa<rc ("flesh") and pneu?ma

("spirit") in chapters 5 and 6. These terms can now be seen in

light of the antithetical, argumentative fashion in which Paul

used them.  Sa<rc and pneu?ma in Galatians 3–6 are seen as external

entities (i.e., community identities), not as internal dualities.

Given the traditional understanding of chapters 5 and 6 as almost

a separate line of argumentation, this insight is obviously the

most difficult one to accept and would need more validation.63

However, the centrality of the flesh/Spirit antithesis in the spiri-

tual life underscores the importance of clarifying this widely

used paradigm.

 

62   Also seeing this continuity is Andre Feuillet, who outlines the argument of

Galatians according to salvation history and sees Galatians 4:21–6:10 as a continua-

tion of Paul's argument, not as a closing paraenesis only ("Structure de la section

dectrinale de 1'Epitre aux Galates [III, 1-VI, 10]," Revue thomiste 82 [1982]: 5-39).

63   For a fuller validation of this point, see Walt Russell, 0 Wretched Man! Re-

thinking the Flesh/Spirit Conflict in Paul's Writings (Grand Rapids: Baker,

forthcoming).

 

 

 

This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Dallas Theological Seminary

            3909 Swiss Ave.

            Dallas, TX   75204          

www.dts.edu

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at:  thildebrandt@gordon.edu