Re: Gal 6:11

From: Ben Crick (
Date: Mon Jan 19 1998 - 22:04:43 EST

On Mon 19 Jan 98 (01:49:16 +1000), wrote:
> I'd welcome opinions etc re Gal 6:11 and the PHLIKOIS GRAMMASIN with
> which Paul writes THi EMHi CEIRI.

 Dear Rick,

 The standard explanation is that Paul was using an amanuensis, and took the
 pen into his own hand just to do the final salutation in his own handwriting.
 His problems with his eyesight (since his experience on the Damascus Road)
 meant that he had to write with large letters in order to be able to re-read
 what he had just written. The Galatians knew of this problem; "for I bear you
 witness, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own
 eyes, and would have given them to me" (Galatians 4:15).

 There was also a problem with forged letters supposedly written by Paul:
 "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor
 by word, *nor by letter as from us", as that the day of the Lord has come"
 (2 Thessalonians 2:2). So Paul took to autographing the final salutation
 in his own hand: "The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand, which
 is the token in every epistle" (2 Thessalonians 3:17). "The salutation of me
 Paul with mine own hand" (1 Corinthians 16:21); "The salutation by the hand
 of me Paul" (Colossians 4:18); "I Paul have written it with mine own hand"
 (Philemon 19).

 with us, adding "The boldness of the handwriting answers to the force of
 the Apostle's convictions. The size of the characters will arrest the
 attention of his readers in spite of themselves" (JB Lightfoot, /Saint Paul's
 Epistle to the Galatians/, Macmillan, London, 1921, p 221).

 Lightfoot also writes: "In the English version the words are translated
 'How /large a letter/ I have written with mine own hand.' It is true indeed
 that GRAMMATA sometimes signifies 'a letter' (Acts 28:21; 1 Macc 5:10, comp
 Ignat. Polyc. 7, Clem. Hom. 12:10), and therefore PHLIKA GRAMMATA might mean
 'how long a letter'; but on the other hand, it seems equally clear that
 GRAMMASIN GRAFEIN 'to write with /letters/ cannot be used for GRAMMATA
 GRAFEIN 'to write a letter'. On this account the other interpretation must
 be preferred" (ibid, pp 220f). Jerome seemingly understood this when he
 translated "Videte qualibus litteris scripsi vobis mea manu".

 Hope this helps.

 Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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