«Date:_ Approved: _ Richard B. Hays, Supervisor _ Douglas Campbell _ Mark Goodacre _ Stephen Chapman Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of ...»
Sons, Seed, and Children of Promise in Galatians:
Discerning the Coherence in Paul’s Model of Abrahamic Descent
Bradley R. Trick
Department of Religion
Richard B. Hays, Supervisor
Stephen Chapman Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Religion in the Graduate School of Duke University 2010
Sons, Seed, and Children of Promise in Galatians:
Discerning the Coherence in Paul’s Model of Abrahamic Descent by Bradley R. Trick Department of Religion Duke University Date:_______________________
Richard B. Hays, Supervisor ___________________________
Douglas Campbell ___________________________
Mark Goodacre ___________________________
Stephen Chapman An
of a dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Religion in the Graduate School of Duke University 2010 Copyright by Bradley R. Trick 2010 Abstract The central portion of Paul’s letter to the Galatians consists of three main arguments, each of which invokes a different image of Abrahamic descent: sons (3:7) in 3:6-14, seed (3:16, 29) in 3:15-4:11, and children of promise (4:28) in 4:21-5:1. Current interpretations of these Abrahamic appeals typically portray them as logically problematical, collectively inconsistent, and/or generally unpersuasive, a situation that then leads most scholars to identify them as ad hoc responses to the Galatian agitators.
This inability to find a coherent model of Abrahamic descent in Galatians, however, threatens to undermine the very gospel itself by suggesting that it cannot effectively counter a Judaizing call that derives from a simple appeal to Abraham.
This dissertation argues that Paul does indeed present the Galatians with a coherent account of Abrahamic descent that accords with his persuasive intent of refuting a law-based circumcision. Its key insight lies in the suggestion that Paul understands the Abrahamic διαθήκη in 3:15-18 as akin to a Hellenistic adoptive testament. As a result, the promised Abrahamic seed must be both a son of Abraham and, because of Abraham’s divine adoption through the διαθήκη, a son of God, hence Paul’s identification of Christ as Abraham’s sole seed (3:16).
This twofold nature of the Abrahamic seed then suggests a distinction in Paul’s other terms for Abrahamic descent. The dissertation accordingly contends that “sons of Abraham” in 3:7 designates, as it typically did in the mid-first century C.E., the Jews, i.e., those physical descendants of Abraham who also share his faith. In contrast, “children of
blessing, i.e., the Spirit of sonship that makes them children of God. Each group thus requires incorporation into Christ to establish their status as Abrahamic seed: the Jews so that they might share in the gentiles’ divine sonship, the gentiles so that they might share in the Jews’ Abrahamic sonship. This interdependent union of the Jewish sons of Abraham and the gentile sons of God in Christ then constitutes the single divine Abrahamic seed who inherits (3:29).
Paul employs this model to refute the necessity of law observance as follows. In 3:6-14, he argues that Christ’s accursed death on the cross divides faith from law observance as a means of justification for Jews; the full sons of Abraham accordingly become those Jews who, by dying to the law and embracing Christ, exhibit the same radical trust in God as their forefather exhibited. In 3:15-4:11, he argues that God added the law and its curse to ensure that the Jews could not receive the Abrahamic blessing promised to the nations—i.e., the Spirit that would make the Jews sons of God and, thus, Abrahamic seed—apart from the one seed, Christ. Finally, in 4:21-5:1, he argues that, like Hagar, the non-adoptive Sinaitic διαθήκη produces Abrahamic descendants (i.e., non-Christian Jews) who share the general human enslavement to the στοιχεῖα, whereas the adoptive Abrahamic διαθήκη produces Abrahamic descendants (i.e., Christian Jews) whose divine adoption frees them from this enslavement. Each appeal to Abraham thus undermines the gentile Christians’ motivation for submitting to the law by demonstrating that Jewish Christians do not even remain under the law.
1. Sons, seed, and children of promise: Abrahamic descent in Galatians
1.1 The challenge of Abrahamic descent in Galatians
1.2 Paul’s persuasive intent as a crucial constraint on interpretations of his Abrahamic arguments
1.3 Identifying a coherent model of Abrahamic descent that accords with Paul’s persuasive intent
2. “These are sons of Abraham”: Jewish sonship and the Abrahamic blessing of the gentiles in Galatians 3:6-14
2.2 Galatians 3:6-7: Justification by faith as the basis of Jewish Abrahamic sonship
2.2.1 The role of 3:6 in Paul’s argument: Establishing 3:6-7 as a deductive argument for sonship based on Abraham’s example of justification by faith..........48 126.96.36.199 Problems with 3:5-6 as an inductive argument
188.8.131.52 The coherence of 3:6-7 as a deductive argument that appeals to the authority of Abraham’s example rather than the authority of scripture.................53 EXCURSUS: Douglas Campbell and the nature of “justification by faith”..........65 2.2.2 Problems with 3:6-7 as a christological argument for gentile sonship............71 2.2.3 Putting it all together: The case for Jewish sonship in 3:6-7
2.3 Galatians 3:8-10: God justifies the gentiles by faith apart from law
2.3.1 Problems with 3:8-9 as an argument from Abraham
EXCURSUS: Problems with 3:8-9 as an argument from experience..................108 184.108.40.206 Problems determining the function of the conclusion in 3:9
220.127.116.11 Problems understanding why ὅσοι ἐξ ἔργων νόµου are under a curse in 3:10
2.3.2 Resolving the problems: 3:8-10 as an argument from the integrity of scripture for the gentiles’ justification by faith
2.4 Galatians 3:11-12: Jewish justification also ultimately rests on faith, not law observance
2.4.1 Galatians 3:11 as a reference to Jewish—not Christian—justifying faith.....159 2.4.2 Galatians 3:12 as an argument for faith’s primacy over—not independence from—law
2.5 Galatians 3:13-14: The christological twist
2.5.1 The C-C´ twist (3:11-12, 3:13): Freeing the Jews from (the curse of) the law
2.5.2 The B-B´ twist (3:8-10, 3:14a): So to the gentiles the blessing might come in Christ
2.5.3 The A-A´ twist (3:6-7, 3:14b): So the Jews might receive the promised Spirit of sonship
3. “One [seed], who is Christ”: Abrahamic inheritance, the law, and the dual sonship of the Abrahamic seed in 3:15-4:11
3.2 “One [seed], who is Christ”: Testamentary adoption and the identification of Christ as Abraham’s seed in 3:15-4:11
3.2.1 The historical viability of Greek testamentary adoption as a potential background for Gal 3:15-4:11
3.2.3 The Greek background of Paul’s adoption (υἱοθεσία) language..................255 3.2.4 Greek testamentary adoption as the overarching background for Gal 3:15Testamentary adoption and the identification of Christ as Abraham’s sole seed
3.3 “Not... as concerning many but as concerning one”: The singular seed and the elimination of the law as a basis for the promised inheritance in Gal 3:15-20....288 3.3.1 The structural unity of Gal 3:15-20
3.3.2 The law’s inability to cancel the promise inherent in the earlier Abrahamic διαθήκη in 3:17-18
3.3.3 The singular seed in Gal 3:16 and the plurality of Israelites who receive the law in Gal 3:19-20
3.4 “Until the seed should come”: The united Abrahamic seed as the fulfillment and end of the law in Gal 3:19a and 3:21-4:11
3.4.1 “It was added for the sake of transgressions”: The twofold role of the law in promoting both faith and Christ according to Gal 3:19, 21-22
3.4.2 “All of you are one in Christ Jesus... You are Abraham’s seed”: The dual nature of Abraham’s single seed and the end of the law in Gal 3:23-4:11.....330 18.104.22.168 “We are no longer under [law]”: Implications for Jews of gentiles’ becoming sons of Abraham in Christ (Gal 3:23-29)
22.214.171.124 “You are no longer slaves”: Implications for gentiles of Jews’ becoming sons of God in Christ (Gal 4:1-11)
4. “You are children of promise”: The gentile children according to Isaac and the Jewish children of the free woman in Galatians 4:21-5:1
4.2.1 The Sinaitic διαθήκη: A non-adoptive testament failing to liberate its charges from the στοιχεῖα rather than a covenant enslaving them to the law.......403 126.96.36.199 The enslavement associated with the Sinaitic διαθήκη
188.8.131.52 Situating a Sinaitic enslavement to the στοιχεῖα in the flow of Paul’s argument
4.2.2 The Abrahamic διαθήκη: An adoptive testament enabling entrance into the free Jerusalem above according to Isa 54:1
4.2.3 “These women are... διαθῆκαι”: The typological nature of a testamentary reading in Gal 4:24-27
4.3 Identifying the free children of promise: Distinguishing non-Christian Jews, Christian Jews, and Christian gentiles as sons of Abraham in Gal 4:21-5:1.............468 4.3.1 Problems with a two-column approach to Gal 4:21-5:1
4.3.2 Sons of the slave woman and sons of the free woman in Gal 4:24-27:
Distinguishing non-Christian Jews and Christian Jews as sons of Abraham.........484 4.3.3 Sons of flesh and sons of promise in Gal 4:28: Distinguishing Jews and gentile Christians as sons of Abraham
4.3.4 Merging the typologies in Gal 4:29-30: The union of Jew and gentile in Christ as the true fulfillment of the free woman’s children of promise..................496 184.108.40.206 Galatians 4:29: Locating Jewish Christians in the flesh (Jew) / promise (gentile Christian) typology
220.127.116.11 Galatians 4:30: Locating gentile Christians in the slave (non-Christian Jew) / free (Christian Jew) typology
4.3.5 Concluding summary and exhortation in Gal 4:31-5:1: Gentile Christians must stand firm with their free Jewish counterparts
5.1 Jewish sons, Christ the seed, and the gentile children of promise: A coherent model of Abrahamic descent in Galatians
5.2 Implications and areas for further research
program at Duke University. Many people have accordingly contributed to its completion in one way or another, only a few of whom can I highlight here.
First, the generous financial support of The Duke Endowment (academic years 2002-2007; summer 2007) and, subsequently, the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund (academic years 2007-2010) enabled me to take the time that I needed to research an argument that took many unexpected turns.
Second, I am indebted to my colleagues and friends at Duke—many of whom were also working on Galatians—for their collegiality and scholarship. In this regard I should also mention the attendees of the October 2009 Duke New Testament and Judaic Studies Colloquium, where I delivered a paper on the Hellenistic background of Paul’s διαθήκη language. The lively discussion that followed my presentation helped to shape what is now a section of Chapter 3.
Third, I would like to thank the members of my dissertation committee: Richard Hays, Douglas Campbell, Stephen Chapman, and Mark Goodacre. Of this group, Hays and Campbell deserve special mention for meticulously reviewing preliminary drafts of each chapter. Their comments and questions have greatly strengthened the final product by exposing unclear arguments, sharpening my understanding of others’ positions, and highlighting potential problems. Problems that remain are, of course, entirely my own.
enabled me throughout this process in ways both big and small, and for my 2-year-old daughter Makara, who always brings me the books I have failed to put away with an exultant smile, I am eternally grateful. This dissertation is as much theirs as it is mine.
Finally, I pray that this dissertation might glorify the God who has made it possible and whose grand design it seeks to articulate. To him and to his son, the sole seed of Abraham, be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
1.1 The challenge of Abrahamic descent in Galatians The concept of Abrahamic descent looms large in Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia. It first appears in Gal 3:6-14, which infers from a citation of Gen 15:6 that οἱ ἐκ πίστεως are “sons of Abraham” (υἱοὶ Ἀβραάµ, 3:7). Galatians 3:15-4:11 then focuses on the single “seed of Abraham” (τοῦ Ἀβραὰµ σπέρµα), a designation that Paul applies to Christ (3:16) and, subsequently, to those who are “of Christ” (3:29). Finally, Gal 4:21develops an allegorical interpretation of Abraham’s two sons and their mothers in which Paul identifies the Galatians as Abrahamic “children of promise” (ἐπαγγελίας τέκνα, 4:28). The bulk of Gal 3-4—roughly a third of the total letter—thus consists of
three main arguments, each of which invokes a different image of Abrahamic descent:
sons, seed, and children of promise, respectively.