[Paper for "Paul and Politics of Israel" at Nov. SBL Meeting, Orlando,
The Inter- and Intra-Jewish Political Contexts of Paul and the Galatians
(c) Mark D. Nanos
It is a political Paul who greets the reader of Galatians. The sparks fly immediately in a clear and antithetical definition of his affiliation: "Paul an apostle--not from a human agent nor through a human agency, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. . . ." (1:1; cf. v. 10). This contrast lights up the entire work, yet ironically provides only shadows from which the later interpreter must reconstruct the situation and the identity of those frozen therein.
Paul's unnerving employment of ironic rebuke in the initial declaration of astonishment (qauma/zw) captured the original addressees in the penetrating beam of parental disapproval from which there was no easy escape: "who do you think you are?" (1:6-7);1 which was intensified all the more by a curse-wish upon those who would bring such pressure to bear upon his children: "who do they think they are?" (1:8-9). Such exposure would have burned with unforgettable shame for the victims, caught in the act of compromising the minority principles once embraced for the undeniably seductive promise of majority acceptance. Oh, to be like everyone else. The pain of such capture is palpable; so too is the anguish of the one who seeks by this approach to thwart a feared betrayal. Such insider language is intended to stun the target quickly, but for healing, not harm, effecting a reflexive return to a former closeness, not movement away from the source; although it may scar the memory of the parties involved forever. For unlike sarcasm, this form of indirect speech renders a sterile wound, clarifying the appropriate path of reconciliation upon which the victim will find forgiveness. But while such ironic confrontation enhances the perspective of the historical participants, magnifying Paul's intentions,2 the later interpreter is confined to searching among the flickering traces that remain, easily misled without the communal experience that kindles, ironically, the eirôn's inescapable light.
It is perhaps an understatement to note that the smoldering rhetoric of the letter still fires the imagination. For it is impossible to engage this letter without speculating about the identity of these stereotyped human agents and the agency they represent. These decisions unavoidably set the political context of the situation imagined in Galatia, and the ultimate meaning to be derived from Paul's response.
Paul does make it clear that he does not consider the approval of these human agents or their agency worthy of the labors of a servant of Christ, even if he had once gained the highest honors from similar agents in the past, that is, before he received a revelation of Jesus Christ (1:10-16). For the enlightening revelation which now guides him is not fueled by the traditional interpretations of such agents or agencies; being directly from God, it has pierced the darkened interpretive mirror of human consensus. But we are left asking: Who were these human agents? What was their agency? Why were his addressees so taken by them? And why did Paul oppose them so vehemently? One wonders too whether they would accept the antithesis set out, that is, whether they consider themselves human agents or representatives of a human agency? Would this be a matter of honor among themselves? Paul does seem to allude to an earlier time when he was quite proud of just such an identity among his peers (1:14), perchance they might think the same. Although it is doubtful that they, or Paul formerly, would allow that such allegiance was appropriately characterized if juxtaposed with that of God.
This antithesis may remind one of the later rabbinic story of Rabbi Eliezer and the debate on the susceptibility of a specific oven to ritual purity or not, wherein the consensus view of the rabbis (that it is subject to ritual impurity) is finally considered more authoritative than even the revelatory miracles and voice of God in support of Eliezer's position (that it is not), since in this age such decisions have been removed from the realm of heaven and entrusted to the world of human agents and agencies, otherwise put, the traditions of the fathers. Rabbi Eliezer, after the confirmation of his halakhic position by successive miracles brought forth from a self-uprooting and transporting carob tree, a backward flowing channel of water and the inclining walls of the House of Study are each rebuffed, declares:
"If the Halakhah is in accordance with me, let it be proved from Heaven." A [heavenly] voice went forth and said: "Why are you [disputing] with Rabbi Eliezer, for the Halakhah is in accordance with him everywhere?"
The response of the majority opposing Eliezer appears apposite:
Rabbi Yehoshua rose to his feet and said: "It is not in heaven."
What does "it is not in heaven" mean?
Rabbi Yirmeyah said: That the Torah was already been given on Mount Sinai, and we do not pay attention to a [heavenly] voice, for you long already wrote in the Torah at Mount Sinai, "After the majority to incline." (Baba Mezia 59b; Steinsaltz 3.3)3
While anachronistic to make too much of this ostensible parallel, the issue of revelation in the interpretation of Scripture for appropriate thought and behavior was a live concern in this period.4 The claim for revelation in legitimating one's position might naturally come up against traditional or prevailing interpretations and legitimations, and this is the tension that Paul appears to be contrasting by reference to the agency or agents being of God or human/s.
Many labels have been proposed for those influencing the addressees. They include "judaizers," "opponents," "agitators," and "trouble-makers," among others; even "Teachers" has been suggested.5 While judaizing is something that gentiles seeking Jewish status may engage in, it is less appropriate for describing those who may be involved in initiating the interest in or facilitating this process among gentiles.6 And it is somewhat non-sensical as a label for Jewish people, although some might properly be described as re-judaizing. Moreover, it is not certain that these people actually oppose Paul, even if he clearly opposes them. Terms such as agitators or troublemakers merely mimic Paul's value judgments in the context of his interests concerning the addressees, but they are not very useful for getting beyond limited polemical stereotyping. Because these labels are used in the expression of ironic rebuke towared the addressees, not of those to whom they refer, nor in an interest to clarify their identity, they are simply too imprecise, as well as biased in unhelpful ways. Also, the interpreter should note that the distinction between those to be labeled in Galatia and those introduced from elsewhere by way of the autobiographical material is important to maintain. The identity of the agents in each of these must not be presumptively painted with the same brush.
Overall, these labels and others like them fail to help the interpreter imagine the fuller identity of these people, their affiliations or their motives. They remain wooden, mere shadows whose enormous influence upon the Galatian addressees is unimaginable. On the other hand, Teachers may be the best of the suggestions to date, and I will argue that this is at least a significant part of their identity. It avoids the limiting value judgments inherent in the other choices, though it is probably too restrictive. Might not their influence upon the addressees go beyond the formalities of teaching? They appear to manipulate in other ways as well, certainly as Paul sees the case. And surely the function of teaching is not an isolated task in this kinship/patronage culture.
I shall hereafter refer to these influential people in Galatia simply
as the influencers. For it seems that we can be certain, at least from
the rhetorical perspective of Paul, that they are influencing the addressees,
although the degree to which this is being actualized is less clear. That
is, Paul fears that the addressees desires have been engaged, but his (present
tense) grammar (e.g., 1:6; 5:1-16; 6:12-13) and rhetorical purpose to dissuade
from a course of action not yet completed,7
indicate that they have at this point only entertained or perhaps begun
the alternate ritual process of conversion [metati/qesqe: 1:6]. This label
will cover the various descriptions, including accusations of intentions
and methods that Paul explicitly makes throughout the letter, such as "intimidating
[tara/ssonteß; 1:7; 5:10]," "twisting [metastre/yai] the good news
of Christ" (1:7); able to "convince [pei/qw;
1:10; cf. 5:7]" and render "favor" or "acceptance" [ajre/skein; 1:10],
casting the "evil eye of envy [ejba/skanen; 3:1]," "courting [zhlouvsqai;
4:17]" and manipulatively "excluding [ejkkleivsai; 4:17]," effecting their
"desire [qe/lonteß]" to be "under Law" (4:21), "hinder[ing: ejne/koyen]"
progress in that for which the addressees were "convinced [pei/qesqai]
of the truth" of (5:7), engaging in "persuasion [peismonh/; 5:8]," "subverting
[ajnastatouvnteß]" the confidence of apart from circumcision (5:12),
and seeking to "compel [ajnagka/zousin; 6:12]" them "to be circumcised";
overall, influencing these gentiles to complete the ritual process of proselyte
conversion (3:2-3; 5:1-4, 10-13; 6:12-13).8 As
for labeling those referred to elsewhere in the narrative material in locations
other than Galatia, Paul provides labels within each context suitable for
my present purpose ("inspecting or informant [kataskophvsai] pseudo-brethren"
in Jerusalem, 2:4;9 "ones from James" and "ones
for circumcision" in Antioch, 2:12; figurative "persecutors" in the allegory,
The Consensus View of the Influencers and Context of Addressees
The overwhelming consensus in modern interpretation is that these shadowy figures in Galatia are representatives of or in some way associated with the Jerusalem apostles originally chosen by a human agent, Jesus. Or at least they claim to be. They thus represent the institution of what is variously labeled, for example, Jewish-, Jerusalem- or Palestinian-Christianity. Paul is not among them, and his gospel message is imagined to be at variance with theirs, his being "Law-free" while theirs is "Torah-observant." Thus the tension is understood to be between Pauline and other more Jewish forms of faith in Christ, which are seen to be inherently inferior and which will (by the way) ultimately prove themselves to be inadequate and heretical. This interpretation maintains the origins of Gentile Christianity as a sectarian movement were largely initiated by Paul.
The autobiographical comments from 1:11 to 2:21 appear to fit neatly into this antithetical package. They are then naturally extended to governing the direct material that is occasional for the Galatians, so that the political tension among them is understood to run along this same divide. The attacks of Paul must be against some kind of Jewish perpetrators of a Christ-message affiliated--even if misrepresenting the legitimacy of themselves and their message to some degree--with the "Torah-observant" gospel of the Jerusalem Christ-believing apostles and the churches under their control. They thus promote "another gospel." Paul's mission and gospel remain steadfastly independent of their influence. The perpetrators have encroached from outside of the Pauline communities addressed in Galatia, possibly from Jerusalem, or Antioch. Or they may even be local, for example, Jewish members of the Christ-believing group, yet at the same time still members of local synagogues whom they serve by bringing pressure to bear upon these gentiles; thus their aims should be understood in sympathy with those of the Jerusalem Christ-believing establishment. That is to say, Jewish believers in Jesus Christ--with the exception of Paul and possibly a few of his co-workers--do not believe in, or at least will not stand-up for the principle that gentiles in Christ need not (must not!) become proselytes.
We are, therefore, left to read the letter, as far as I can see, as an attack on the error of mixing Jewish identity and behavior with the confession of faith in Christ, as well as the unacceptable lifestyle which results for those who choose such a course.
Recent interpreters are quick to note that this criticism of things
Jewish by Paul and the Christian reader is not to be understood as a critique
of Jewish people or their behavior outside of the boundaries of the Christ-movement,
but only within it, as evidence of an inter- and intra-Christian political
affair. That is to say, it is confined "between" and "within" Christ-believing
groups, even though the intra-Jewish nature of the polemic may be noted.10
depreciation of proselyte identity or Torah-observance is to be contained
within the parameters of the Pauline mission; anyone who would interfere
therein with a message of the continued necessary place of Jewish identity
and behavior would be anathematized, presumably including even the original
Jerusalem apostles and other members of their communities who might find
themselves in such a place. It is sometimes noted that elsewhere Paul may
allow some latitude for those who are simply too weak to realize the passing
nature of these now obsolete commitments, and for those who exploit their
utilitarian purposes for mission among Jewish people.
Challenging the Consensus View
I do not have time to develop this widely held view any further. I am confident that it comes relatively close to representing the consensus position of modern interpreters on the political tensions of the letter, even if not some of the specific differences that each may want to emphasize, or the exact coloring its proponents may prefer. I will now seek to challenge this historical reconstruction of the dynamics of the situation addressed and the meaning of Paul's letter. Moreover, I will argue that, where the interests of Jewish people are concerned, it is not as benign or productive as it has been imagined to be. Furthermore, I propose that it obscures important aspects of the character of the good news message of this group to be found in this letter, and thus invaluable information for guiding Christian thought. I would add, however, that these insights are not necessarily antithetical to those found in Jewish tradition, but spring from them, and I believe that they are useful for the Jewish interpreter as well.
In my proposal the difference between Christ-believing coalition members and other Jewish people of different affiliations remains within a historical eschatological context, namely, in the realm of differing views regarding whether the age to come has dawned in Christ, and thus about the appropriate policies and actions to be taken toward gentiles seeking incorporation into the people of God.11 The issue that differentiated these groups was salient in their conflicting answers to the question: what is the time? Of course, while there is much disagreement about this particular historical faith-claim, outside of this specific matter no substantial difference exists between Christ-believing and other Jewish interpreters regarding the essential will of God for all of humanity in this "present evil age": every person should worship God and serve his or her neighbor. On this point the different traditions draw from the same Scriptures and agree.
As already noted, it is clear that our perception of the politics of Galatia hang on the identification of these human agents and the human agency they represent within the rhetorical intentions of Paul. Therein lies the antithesis as Paul constructs it; and thus the interpretative challenge. I propose that to get at their identity in Galatia we must consider several lines of investigation, limited of course by the present time constraints. Throughout this process we will carefully consider what this information may provide for reconstructing the situation and the identity of those Paul attacks.
First, the letter should be separated according to direct versus narrative material, in order to isolate the data most precisely bearing upon the identity of those influencing the Galatian addressees, that is, those who are actually involved now in Galatia. The more general narrative or illustrative material must be analyzed for the salient rhetorical connections, but it functions in Paul's argument to provide examples that illustrate his direct rhetorical points, and thus offers only a secondary level of information about the situation and identities of the players now actually in Galatia. The direct material should rather be expected to contain primary rhetorical information from which we may derive details of the situation in Galatia that has "occasioned" the letter.12 It is from this material that the hypothesis of the situation should be first constructed, and then tested by both the direct material first, and then the narrative sections, wherein special place would be given to any direct rhetorical connections made therein with the addressees situation (e.g., 2:5: what was done in Jerusalem was in order "that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you").
Second, the ironic nature of the language Paul employed for the purpose of rebuking the addressees must be considered. Far too much has been taken from the literal level of the text, but taking account of the rhetoric effects of ironic rebuke will profoundly alter what we may reconstruct from it.
Third, we must notice how Paul instructs the addressees. Precisely what response does Paul actually expect from them.
Finally, an analysis of some of the ideological concerns of the current
consensus versus the interpretation proposed will be offered.
1. Some Observations from Analysis of the Data of the Direct versus
Material from the narrative sections of the letter must be analyzed for its relevant purpose as it bears upon the rhetorical function of addressing the Galatians. It cannot be assumed that the various details of the illustrations are directly relevant. Rather, the rhetorical purpose must be carefully determined and applied to the intentions exposed in the material directly occasional to the addressees. Failure to make this move accounts for much confusion and lack of precision in identifying the situation of the Galatians and Paul's response.
With division of the direct and narrative material in mind, I propose that the letter breaks down as follows. Direct material is that most pertinent for seeking to reconstruct the situation in Galatia, and is to be found in the following passages: the opening language of 1:1-10, in which Paul sets up the fundamental political antithesis between human agents and divine, and strikes out in ironic rebuke; a tone which he picks up again in 3:1-5 after the autobiographical information; and again in 4:8-21 following several direct applications of the Abraham material; finally providing extensive instructions in the concluding arguments of 4:31--6:10, with the overall argument summarized tersely in the accusations and challenges of 6:11-18. Such contingent material is also identifiable within the rhetorical asides contained in the narrative material at 1:20; 2:5; 3:7, 13-14, 22, 25-29; 4:3-7, 28-29, 31. Special attention should be given within this direct material to the opening (1:1-10) and closing (6:11-18) sections, wherein Paul first sets the tone of ironic rebuke and then summarizes his perspective of the influencers, their motives, and the appropriate Galatian response.
Narrative material includes the autobiography of 1:11--2:21; the discussion
of Abraham and his rightful heirs in 3:6-24, which continues in principle
until 4:7, with 4:8-11 serving a transitional role back to direct speech;
and the allegory of Abraham's sons in 4:22-30. Some of the parenetic material
in chapters 5--6 may also reflect formal discourse rather than actually
articulating particulars directly evident in Galatia, such as the lists
of the fruit of the Spirit or flesh (5:19-23), even if many of the particulars
may be directly contingent to the agonistic context addressed. Each of
these breaks are identifiable on both thematic and semantic grounds, though
with some overlap in transition and application at the seams,13
reflecting an all-out argument to dissuade the Galatians from a course
that he fears they may have already had their deepest desires awakened
The Tensions in the Narrative Sections of the Letter
When this separation has been made, as I read the narrative material of the autobiographical section (1:11--2:21), Paul does not set his apostleship, mission or message in opposition to that of the Jerusalem apostolic establishment. Rather, he defines his own independent revelation of the good news of Christ in tandem with their independent revelation of the same (1:11-13, 15-18; 2:1-2, 5, 7-9). His trip to Jerusalem accents the co-dependent or dyadic nature of this association: Paul's own confidence now "toward the Galatians" is embedded in their mutual agreement about the truth of the gospel, in particular, the nature of the good news for the gentiles: he had not and is not "running in vain." Neither Paul nor the Jerusalem-based apostles before him understand the foundation of their coalitions to be upon the prevailing interpretation of the fathers where gentile adherents to the Christ-message are concerned. Rather, they have all come to the same conclusion--albeit separate from each other--based upon revelation: God has shown all of them that gentiles who believe in Christ are to remain gentiles, yet to be regarded as indiscriminate equals with Jewish members of this coalition. That is the "truth of the gospel" (2:5, 14).
When they did come together in Jerusalem this agreement was confirmed, and any nuanced differences arising from their disparate locations or conditions were negotiated to the satisfaction of all the apostles (messengers) of this movement. Some unexpected testing of this consensus was precipitated from outside agents who investigated the dangerous policy of granting non-proselyte gentiles indiscriminately equal membership among the ranks of this coalition. But these intruding investigators were turned back: Titus was not circumcised. And in Antioch, even insiders of the highest order (such as Peter) from time to time let such intimidation detour them from keeping consistent with this "freedom," that is, the "truth of the good news" whereby gentiles in Christ are granted indiscriminate inclusion as equals with Jews in Christ. But Paul confronted Peter's face masked by hypocrisy for "fear of the ones for circumcision" and set him, in the presence of everyone, straight (2:11-17). Otherwise "Christ died gratuitously [dwrea/n]" (2:21).
I thus understand the human agents with whom Paul puts his apostleship and the message of the good news of Christ into direct conflict in the autobiography to be other than the Jerusalem apostles or their emissaries. They are instead the interpreters of "the traditions of the fathers" who find fault with the particular conclusions of the Christ-believing coalitions regarding the matters at stake in the argument of Galatians. They are "flesh and blood" with whom Paul does not confer, to be distinguished from those who were apostles before Paul, with whom he did not consult immediately (1:16; cf. vv. 1, 10-15), but only in due course (1:17; cf. vv. 18; 2:1-10). The human agents represent the maintenance of the traditions of the fathers, and they thus maintain that these gentile believers in Christ seeking full inclusion must become proselytes, in which case the males need to be circumcised (e.g., Titus, 2:3; in Antioch, vv. 12-14). This view on the necessity of proselyte conversion (completed [for males] by circumcision) by the non-Christ-believing keepers of tradition offers few surprises for the interpreter, for it dominates the sources that inform us of common Jewish norms and practices of the period which would be expected to be operative among many if not all Jewish communities.14
Paul reminds his addressees of the good news that they believed in when he was among them in the past: that because of Christ the age to come has begun in the midst of the present age, and it is characterized by the indiscriminate inclusion of gentiles as gentiles, and not as proselytes, and therefore requires the reconsideration of some halakhic rulings in order to accommodate this new community creation. This is "the truth of the gospel" at stake in the autobiographical illustrations. It is the context of the call for "freedom" upon which Paul's message rides. And it is the rhetorical purpose of the autobiographic material for the sake of the Galatian addressees, who find themselves participants in a Jewish coalition that is at odds with the perspective of the larger Jewish communities and their social control agents: Titus was not circumcised, or the Antiochenes, and you must not be either!
The interpreter is confronted here with issues of authority and power: who defines and controls the situation of the addressees. For it is this particular conviction of their identity as children of God merely by faith in Christ and baptism into this coalition that continues to marginalize the addressees as merely righteous gentile guests in the eyes of those outside of this coalition, and thus continues their suffering. What suffering? The suffering of having an identity constructed upon a set of convictions and assurances given in the communal context of those believing in the gospel of Christ only to have it challenged or dismissed by another and seemingly more powerful or meaningful court of reputation. This leads to the experience of shame, which the victims may see as persecution, but the perpetrators as education, discipline or punishment. It is the experience of finding publicly that the honored place in which you imagined yourself(s) (on the teaching of this minority coalition) is not socially confirmed (by the dominant community): from the place you have presumed to take at the table you are now asked to step down.15 Sensitivity to public opinion concerning ones reputation is honorable, while the opposite, failure to be concerned with shame or maintaining ones honored reputation constitutes shamelessness, which is dishonorable.
This is the dyadic situation of the addressees, and Paul capitalizes upon this shared experience when he returns to take up occassional rhetoric in 3:1ff. Thus Paul's accusation of the addressees "foolishness": Paul rebukes the Galatians for shamelessness within the court of reputation of the Christ-believing subgroup, of failing to maintain the highest level of sensitivity to the honor of Christ and those in-him in view of their sensitivity to the experience of shame from the influencers' court of reputation, whom he accusses of seeking their harm rather than honor, a development which the "foolish Galatians" have failed to suspect or recognize (3:1-5).
The issue tempting the addressees is that this suffering may be alleviated by responding to the dominant communities' message of resolution. It is "another good news" that they need not suffer so, the welcome message that they can become full and equal members by completing the ritual process of proselyte conversion, thereby gaining the identity they so desire, and the access to honor and goods from which they may be otherwise "shut out" (4:17). The benefits to be gained outweigh the costs associated with some of the features which, by themselves, might prove obstacles to their interest, such as circumcision.
And they do not apparently suspect that the benefits necessarily subvert
the foundational principles of their faith in Christ. It is in such a context
that the inferred "compelling" took place because of Peter's withdrawal
within the Christ-believing subgroup in Antioch (2:14),16
though such consequences had apparently been directly sought by those from
outside this coalition in Jerusalem (2:3), as is the case addressed in
Galatia now (6:12-13). I suggest that those whom Peter fears in Antioch
are likewise outsiders to the Christ-believing coalitions, whether the
"ones from James" who have arrived by his permission to inspect matters
there as they do in Jerusalem, or "the ones for circumcision," who appear
to be Antiochenes already present but now more successful in their influence
upon the arrival of the Jerusalemites. Of course, this policy is not and
does not represent "another [good news of Christ]." And it must be resisted
by the addressees now, even as it has been and continues to be by Paul
and the other apostles of this movement.
The Tensions in the Direct Sections of the Letter
Turning to the direct or occasional material, it is to be noted that from Paul's perspective, the Galatians should not be surprised to find themselves now intimidated for their marginal (merely righteous gentile) identity by the influencers in Galatia. What else should they expect? The influencers are simply maintaining the operative boundary definitions of those who would judge such status inadequate for full inclusion for gentiles as though they had completed the ritual process of proselyte conversion. This dividing line or process is, after all, one which has been controlling such judgments from ancient times, being the interpretation of the traditions of the fathers, of which Paul himself had been a most zealous guardian; in fact, against this very coalition. It should not surprise the Galatians to find that the dominant Jewish community and its social control agents now seek to bring them into compliance with these approved norms for inclusion. Of this Paul has warned them already. In other words, it is not their faith in Christ that is in dispute, nor their welcome presence as guests within the larger Jewish community by means of participation in this particular coalition of Christ-believers. But it is their belief that they need not join the other righteous gentiles of the larger community engaged in the process of proselyte conversion as outlined by the traditions for gaining full rather than merely guest status, simply by their faith in Christ without such conversion, while expecting the same status and concomitant privileges.
I suggest that the Galatian addressees are members of a Jewish subgroup of Christ-believers operating within the context of the larger Jewish communities of this region, and that the influencers are proselytes within the larger community, but not members of the Christ-believing coalitions. Such an identity would correspond well with the participial reference in 6:13 to the oiJ peritemno/menoi, which seems to be about "those who receive circumcision" or "are" or "are being circumcised"; if it should refer to "those who cause to be circumcised," this would still provide a successful referent. Proselytes are the most natural contacts for education and social integration. They have been righteous gentiles themselves, and as such they have a vested interest in guarding as well as facilitating the ritual processes that negotiate the hierarchical distinctions obtaining between righteous gentiles and Jewish proselytes. Ritual circumcision functions as a symbol that defines their sense of self- and group-identity and governs social action; it defines their social reality and political worldview. They can sympathize, even empathize with the liminal situation of the addressees, but not with their claims of already acquired status or equality by faith in Christ without proselyte conversion.
For the influencers, such an acquired, and thus in some ways still distinct and perhaps marginalized identity as proselytes rather than natural-born Jews,17 coupled with a gatekeeping function with regard to proselyte ritual processes, would render salient many of Paul's accusations of agonistic comparison by means of the flesh, that is, completion of the ritual of conversion by circumcision in order to acquire status in terms recognized by those in view (cf. 3:1-5; 5:1-12; 6:12-13). In other words, proselytes, although they have crossed the threshold in question and gained status, would nevertheless likely still experience some social insecurity usually associated with liminality.18 For example, this would clarify his accusation of the evil eye of envy (3:1). From the perspective of the influencers, who do these "Johnnies-come-lately" gentiles think that they are. This presents a classic case in which envy is aroused, accented all the more to the degree that the influencers would have once shared status and fictive kinship with the addressees as gentiles themselves.19
And the influencers would not want to stand before the social control agents to whom they report to explain the resistance of these gentiles to compliance with conversion on the basis of this faith in Christ, if it is a faith which they do not share. Thus Paul's charge that they seek to avoid persecution for the cross of Christ (6:12). This also makes sense of his appeal to recognize the irony of the addressees' own failure to see that if they keep their eyes on the crucified one they would negate the force of the envious eye (3:1): instead of claiming honor by the court of reputation in this present evil age, "biting and devouring on another" like wild animals engaged in a territorial fight (5:13-15), they should identify with the one who suffered the shame of crucifixion, that is, the one who chose the seemingly weak and failing route of public shame in the interests of serving the other. Thus Paul instructs the Galatians to put off agonistic "passions" and "desires" for acquiring status because of their identity in Christ: "If we live by the Spirit, let us also conform to [the way of] the Spirit. We should not be vainly-proud, challenging one another [for honor], envying each other" (5:24-26; cf. Phil. 2:3-8). They are rather to turn their attention to humble service of the other, confident that their identity is secure, that God will bring justice and satisfaction in the end for those who do right (6:1-10).
In setting out a context for understanding the political tensions experienced by these minority subgroups wholly within the midst of a dominant Jewish communal context, the minority or marginalized situation of the majority Jewish community(s) with respect to the dominant non-Jewish population should not be overlooked. Yet surprisingly the rhetoric of the letter is not concerned with the politics of the larger Graeco-Roman pagan culture; it is noticeably not the issues of conversion from paganism and the former kinship and patronage networks that confront the interpreter. This fact is pertinent to efforts to understand the context of these addressees somewhere in Anatolia. It may be argued that some rhetorical material associates concepts or concerns of pagan life in this region with the desires of the addressees, such as allusions to the castration of the galli.20 While this might the case, these examples seem to remain at the level of background language, analogy or metaphor or irony Paul employed for the purpose of helping former pagans relate to deeper tensions involved in their current concerns with Jewish communal life. It is difficult to imagine how a letter addressed by Paul to a group functioning within, for example, Judaea or Antioch, where a large and lively Jewish communal context would be expected to provide the tensions for this minority Jewish coalition, would read very differently.
The identity issues confronted in the rhetoric of Galatians are those one might expect to arise within any Jewish social situation: How do these gentiles fit in, and how are their faith claims in Christ for establishing their new identity among the people of God to be regarded? The social control agents and any interested participants in the community would be concerned to bring the situation under the controlling norms governing such cases. They have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, for which tradition provides the foundation.21 The operative method, if these gentiles are seeking full membership, is to direct them toward proselyte conversion. This is for the benefit of the gentiles as well as the communities which they are entrusted to protect.
Additional motives such as those of self-interest, of which they are accused by Paul, must be considered also. For who is free of such motives? While the perspective of the critic must be qualified, it cannot be summarily dismissed. No doubt some human group- and self-interest is involved. But it should be noted that most of these accusations may be similarly returned in Paul's direction from the influencers point of view. From their perspective he may be accused of intimidating, hindering the progress of, troubling, courting, manipulating, convincing, persuading and subverting, seeking enhanced honor rating; even twisting the good news of Christ so that it is necessary to regard it as contrary to their message of proselyte conversion.
Resistance to the influencers as social control agents by the addressees would naturally be met with an escalating series of responses. Initially, education and friendly manipulation, even what Paul may label "courting," are to be expected. This might intensify as needed with such strategies as punishment and intimidation and limited censure. Continued resistance would likely be met with threats and ultimately with stigmatization and exclusion.22
But the perspective of the leaders of this Christ-affiliated coalition,
as articulated in this letter by Paul, is not to so direct these gentiles.
Rather, the addressees are to "stand fast" in their faith against the position
and policies of these human agents. They are beyond the liminal status
of proselyte candidates, for they have already received the Spirit which
confirms their equal status as children of Abraham, of God. They have witnessed
miracles in their midst. They bear witness of the dawning of the age to
come in this present age, a time when, according to the leaders of this
coalition, Jew and gentile baptized in Christ are one. These gentiles are
full children, free to live as aggregate (post-liminal) heirs. While it
may have been the case that other righteous gentiles stand as liminals
in need of completing the ritual process of conversion to proselyte status,
for the addressees this time is no longer, based on the revelation of God
in Christ. And this is precisely the rub, or perhaps better put, the inter-
and intra-Jewish politic of Paul and the Galatians.
The Rhetorical Purpose of the Overall Letter
By intra-Jewish politic I mean the context that takes place "within" a Jewish community in any given location, inclusive of the activity that takes place "among" the various groups (or Judaisms) that together constitute that community. Within any given context I understand the Christ-believing group to have functioned as a coalition within the community at this time, even if differentiated on some issues from other groups, including perhaps the prevailing leadership of the larger community. In a diaspora setting such as Galatia--wherever in Anatolia that may be--we simply do not know much if anything about these groups or the established leadership. What grows out of the rhetorical information of the letter suggests some form of Jewish identity and practice concerned with matters such as proselyte circumcision in a way familiar among Jewish people in the literature we do have from elsewhere during this period. Moreover, the interest in acquiring proselyte Jewish identity by the addressees suggests that Jewish identity was honored and desirable within their context. Their self- and group-identity is not sectarian where Judaism is concerned.23 The occasion in Galatia that has precipitated the letter is intra-Jewish. I have argued for such an intra-Jewish context for the addressees of Romans as well.24
Inter-Jewish politic, on the other hand, emphasizes the line Paul seeks to draw in this letter, particularly in the narrative material, "between" the defining theology and practice of this coalition of believers in Christ wherever they may be located, and the other Jewish people, especially leaders who do not share this conviction and thus may oppose some of the theological conclusions and social behaviour engaged in by this group. The inter-Jewish differentiation of the principles of this coalition are developed by Paul in these narrative examples to bring a broader perspective to the social dynamics that the addressees are experiencing within the intra-Jewish context in Galatia. This is boundary maintenance, a process in which Paul defines (or reacts to the defining of others regarding) the similarities within these Christ-believing coalitions and among their authorities, and sets-out the differences from other Jewish groups and authorities. He explains the identity of the Christ-believing coalitions, how it has been constructed, and the place of gentile addressees therein. Such boundaries are "definitively relational, simultaneously connecting and separating one side and another."25
In other words, the group situations of Christ-believing gentiles in various locations are abstracted by Paul in the narrative sections. The different group situations recalled constitute a category of shared experiences within the Christ-believing coalitions wherever they may operate. These coalitions, their Jewish members and their authority figures who have the power to successfully define the situations within these coalitions share viewpoints and experiences. These defining characteristics and experiences do not always put these coalitions in agreement with those in control of the larger Jewish communities, but they have the responsibility to resist together this "outgroup" influence in such cases at whatever cost may be required, symbolized by Christ crucified. Of course, this argument is not mounted in order to only inform the addressees how they are to think, but how they are to live. It is an institutionalizing perspective that instructs the addressees "how things should be" on the basis of "how things are."
This is the template for social identification that Paul constructs in the narrative material for the benefit of the Galatians, so that they may perceive the larger political currents which are flowing in their particular and perhaps isolated circumstance. So that they may understand, from the perspective of Paul and the other leaders of the Christ-believing coalitions, the enormity of what is at stake among themselves. Paul's appeal is legitimated by a shared faith and friendship, with the threat of the inherent denial of Christ and Paul's work among themselves if they continue on this other course, but not with excommunication. Yet while this indicates a pre-institutional stage in the group development, it is here that we may begin to speak of this reform movement as an identifiable Judaism. Prior to this letter, among the addressees, this does not appear to have been the case. It is also at this point that we may recognize that the sectarian shape it would take might ultimately lead to an identifiable break with many other Judaisms, though I suggest that it is too early to speak of a new religion or institution which came to be Christianity, essentially gentile in make-up, while Greek and Roman in character. The struggle was still understood to be for identity on behalf of the whole of Israel, what Paul seems to refer to as the Israel of God (6:15). It is taking shape in an emerging interpretation of Torah in view of God's new work among them, and thus in defining appropriate halakhot.
A caveat is imperative at this point. I am putting this Jewish coalition (or Judaism) in conflict with other Jewish movements and expressions and authorities of the period. But this is not the same as putting Christianity in conflict with Judaism. Such a move is not only anachronistic but extremely dangerous, as history has proven time and again, and it misses the political dynamic central to my interpretive construct. Paul and his addressees are insiders. These gentiles are struggling with issues of Jewish identity from within the Jewish community. They are not just gentiles; they are non-proselytes, an identity only meaningful with a boundary constructed from a Jewish perspective. And they want to be circumcised! Which demonstrates their desire to become full members of the Jewish community on terms acceptable to the majority, adopting norms by which they may escape their current disputable and thus marginal status, the categorization as merely--however welcome--righteous gentile guests.
Identification depends upon affective powers of attraction, in intimate dyadic relationships and in more collective or public contexts. Identification, of course, is related to the desire to stay in the good graces of others.26
This observation may be augmented by the realization that those on the margins are seeking predictability by way of conforming to membership criteria and behavior thought appropriate in order to overcome the ambiguity and uncertainty of their identity:
Strong pressures encouraging conformity--with penalties attaching to deviance--may oppress most those whose membership or social identity is insecure.27
The gentile addressees are out-grouped insiders seeking the dominant in-group's acceptance. They are liminal righteous gentile guests who want to be adopted into the family. Completion of the ritual process of circumcision may seem but a small price to pay. For the "rights" they have considered theirs as a result of their incorporation into this Jewish community only exist to the degree that they are recognized.28 At the heart of Paul's rhetoric is a calling to remain within the Christ-believing coalition's court of honor in which these rights are legitimated, albeit at the possible price of dishonor from the dominant social agents who may disagree.
It is important to recognize that Paul's message is not against the desire for full membership on Jewish terms. It is rather that these gentiles have already fulfilled the requirements and acquired the status they so desire, as set out in Israel's Scriptures for the time in which the restoration of Israel and the resultant ingathering of the nations takes place, a time which has begun in the understanding of Paul and the other apostles of Christ. That is the "truth of the gospel" from the perspective of this coalition. Their faith in Christ, who has brought the age to come even within the midst of the present evil age, has justified them, made them alive. Their baptism has confirmed this confession. The witness of the Holy Spirit, even miracles among themselves, testify to this reality. They are already full members of the people of God. They know God, or rather, they have come "to be known by God" (4:9). So too the community of those who believe in Christ knows them. These crucial concerns of identity are determined in Christ, and thus should dictate their appropriate behavior and expectations. They must "walk straightforward according to the truth of the gospel."
It is in the explanation of this full inclusion, even if disputed by other influential, even leading members of the Jewish community, that Paul's arguments must be considered. For example, their status as children of Abraham, and thus without or free of Israelite status with all of its history, whether considered from the negative perspective of culpability ("curse") for failure to observe all that this people has promised to observe, or positively as the privileged ones ("children/heirs") whose status as inheritors of the promises to the fathers is beyond dispute (3:6-4:7). For this coalition, with its belief that the age to come has dawned in Christ, challenges the need for these gentiles to become other than righteous gentiles to receive the acceptance of the Jewish community as full and equal members of the new community created by Christ, what Paul calls "a new creation" (6:15). Within this community, whether Jew of gentile, slave or free, male and female, all are one in Christ (3:28). Israel and those of the nations who worship her God as the One stand together as indiscriminate equals within this creation. There is no need to complete in the circumcision of the flesh that which was begun by the Spirit (3:3). In fact, now such a move is unacceptable.
Paul argues that if these gentiles decide otherwise, that is, if they decide instead that they need to become Israelites, which means they must complete the ritual process of proselyte conversion, then they would deny this reality as present already through the work of Christ. They would deny the grace of God through Christ, and the present manifestation of their equal membership as fellow inheritors of the promises made to Abraham in his seed. They would thereby disqualify their own experience of the receipt of the Holy Spirit and the expression of miracles witnessed in their midst. This case can be seen in the interrogatory rebuke of 3:1-5; consider but two verses (3-4):
Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain?--if it is in vain.
And it is manifest in the imperative instructions of 5:1-5:
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by law; you have fallen from away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness.
It is in making this case that we are confronted with the dark side of Paul's rhetoric, ostensibly against Israelite identity, what he seems to refer to in shorthand as the potential error of these gentiles, or even Jewish Christ-followers pursuing identity (living as though justified as the children of God) by way of the phrase "works of Law." This does not refer to working in order to gain such status (works-righteousness), or legalism. From Paul's perspective, it is the policy of those who do not share his belief that the age to come has dawned, bringing the full inclusion of gentiles into the people of God without becoming part of Israel by proselyte conversion (aimed at his gentile addressees if they should adopt this way=work/action, this means of acquiring status as righteous ones). From his perspective, it is the assertion of a required identity as members of the Israel of this age, so that anyone outside of this group (of the people of God defined [separated] as "righteous ones" by Torah) seeking inclusion may gain this only by also becoming a member of the group in the same way (namely, joining Israel by becoming a proselyte, i.e., Jew).29 It remains important to note that such a view, while ethnocentric, is not exclusive, but quite the opposite.30 It is inclusive, as it ritualizes the process for negotiating the boundary, rendering it permeable so that Jewish identity can be acquired and not only ascribed.
For Paul this is a new development resulting from an eschatological phenomenon that has already taken place and forever changed history. The error is in the denial of a new period of time because of Christ in which both Israel of this present age as well as members of the other nations (gentiles) join as equals through their faith in Christ; a manifestation of the age to come community of all of creation within the midst of "the present evil age." Thus the language of "works of Law" Paul employs appears to describe a new situation that has only developed with the inclusion of gentiles by faith in Christ, when these gentiles are compelled or otherwise seek proselyte identity in order to ensure their status as "righteous ones." (This criticism of ethnocentrism may be extended in principle to any other such group ethnocentrism as might surface in another context by the differentiating characteristics salient between any groups, whether they be race, economics, gender, or whatever, which would extend for example to the opposite case of requiring Jewish people to give up being Jewish, that is, becoming gentiles in order to become Christians. Such ethnocentrism is not a Jewish problem, but a human one. It is a characteristic which social identity theorists note as fundamental in all groups, namely, the impulse to discriminate on the basis of group membership alone, even independent of any other necessary qualification or value judgment.31 But in this case, Paul employs it to differentiate a group behavior that is salient because of a difference in eschatological viewpoint. Otherwise, he had found no fault with this policy, having been a zealous proponent thereof).
This is not an open-ended argument to be extended to all people in all situations; certainly it is not directed at Jewish people as though they ought not to incorporate their children as Jews through the initiation rituals performed in accordance with "ascribed" Jewish identity. It is framed in the particular context of gentiles already justified in Christ being compelled to believe that to be justified they must "acquire" Jewish status as proselytes, an inherent denial of their present justified state as gentiles as declared in the gospel of Christ. Such an approach to the Creator's wish for all of creation--for the nations as well as Israel--perpetrated by the influencers on behalf of an Israelite identity involves an inherent denial of faith in Christ. Ritual circumcision of proselytes functions as an interpretation or symbol of the way things are, and of how they are not. In other words, it manifests a decision that the age to come has not arrived, and thus that there is no justification for altering the traditions of the fathers as though the awaited age has dawned. This is why Paul sets out the situation in such antithetical, even anathematical terms.
It cannot be overstated that it is only in the context of the inappropriateness of making proselytes of gentile Christ-followers that such negative notions appear in Paul's argument. Otherwise Jewish identity and Torah-observance are to be admired as an advantage, for Paul maintains the privileged status and perspective of one who remains a "Jew [IOoudaivoi] by nature, and not a gentile sinner." It is only from a Torah-practicing Jewish person to the knowledge of the Galatian addressees that the rhetoric of 5:3 would have any teeth: "I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law." Otherwise, they would simply be expected to reply: "But Paul, we merely want what you have, Jewish identity without any obligation to observe 'the whole law.'" For Paul, being Jewish is an esteemed identity, but not one without responsibility to the irrevocable covenant obligations, or consequences (hence the language of curse in 3:10-14). It is also an identity that may involve suffering intra-Jewish marginalization, witnessed in Paul's persecution at the hands of his own people (5:11; cf. 6:17; 2 Cor. 11:24).
Paul and Peter and other Jewish believers in Christ may be confident
of their status, but this confidence must not be put in the service of
undermining the certainty of the gentiles that they are fully accepted
both by God and among his people as indiscriminate equals, yet remaining
gentiles, which results from the equally arrived at justifying faith in/of
Christ. The new community involves the drawing of a boundary around the
people on both sides of the line dividing Israel from the nations so that
they are now one in Christ, a new creation. That is the truth of the gospel
by which all within this coalition now "live."
2. Some Observations that Result from Analysis of this Letter as
I want to develop for a moment some implications to be derived from consideration of this letter within the epistolary category of ironic rebuke, although time (space) is insufficient to set-out the details.32 Paul's declaration of qauma/zw (astonishment/ surprise/ amazement) in the introduction (1:6) is in keeping with other letters of the period in which one wishes to express disapproval by way of indirect speech or irony. Papyrus examples include such expressions of surprise for unanswered mail or unfulfilled responsibilities. This does not usually mean that the author is actually surprised, or the action unanticipated. The matter may even be one about which they have taken precautions in the past, including direct instruction regarding avoidance of this behavior. In fact, in this case Paul apparently had anticipated the problem and addressed it in person before his departure (1:9). Its employment is explained in rhetorical handbooks concerned with letter writing as appropriate for rebuke and reproach: the author is disappointed. Many other features suggest the elaboration of a syllogism (enthymeme) of the few terse lines in the model or sample letter to the contingencies of the Galatian social situation is at work in the framing of the letter, including the oppositional nature of the accusations; the reference to suddenness ("quickly [tace/wß; 1:6]"); treating friends as though enemies (4:16); and other inappropriate behavior expected only of one being influenced, for example, by another force (1:6-7; 3:1; 4:9, 19-21).33 This being the case, some latitude must be given by the interpreter to the place of stereotypical language in the framework of Paul's comments, and interpretive weight must be hung on these features with great care.
Paul's employment of irony does not end in the introductory rebuke, but continues throughout the letter, including additional usage as rebuke (e.g., 3:1-5; 4:8-11, 12-21; 5:7-15). It is even characteristic of the narrative material which draws on earlier non-related situations in order to elucidate Paul's position on the Galatians current circumstance (e.g., in the undermining of those who "seem" to be something in Jerusalem; in ironic rebuke of Peter in Antioch; and in the ironic turn of fortunes resulting from Abraham's effort to fulfill the promise through Hagar).
When attention is given to the nature of irony, and Paul's employment of it in this letter, the plain sense of the surface text is subverted; so too are many of the premises of the prevailing interpretive consensus. I would like to briefly explore one in particular that bears upon my argument against the current interpretation of the political context, though it appears to be self-evident for many. Namely, that the identity of the influencers as Christ-believers (and their message as Christ-oriented) may be regarded as certain on the basis of Paul's reference to their consideration of "another gospel," even if it is a gospel so differently construed that Paul is unwilling to acknowledge it as a legitimate gospel of Christ: "which is not another, except in the sense that. . . ." (1:6-7). I suggest that this rhetorical feature has made interpreters overly-confident that the tensions in Galatia are inter- and intra-Christian.
For if Paul's usage of eujagge/lion (gospel/good news) is ironic then it may very well be that its unexpected pronouncement is a rhetorical strategy intended to shock the Galatians into realizing what they had not recognized, or at least had not been willing to admit: that this message promising them the good news of proselyte inclusion in order to escape their present liminal state is anathematically contrary to the good news of Christ in which they have believed and by which they have received their introduction into the Jewish coalition of believers in the same. This other message need not have any reference to Christ in order to be labeled a good news, and certainly not to be regarded as one. This language was not yet the sole domain of the Christ-believers, even if it was to become largely the case in later centuries.34
Moreover, and I suggest that this is the case, it may be that no one has called this other message a eujagge/lion, certainly not a eujagge/lion of Christ. The Galatians do not appear to have recognized the subversive implications of this other message, or why such a dangerous course has attracted themselves without appropriate regard for the consequences. Such unawareness is unlikely if this other message is called an eujagge/lion or set in direct opposition to Paul's. The contrary nature is not overt but latent.
Although Paul has explained this matter before (1:9), he must now re-enunciate the danger of the contradiction in terms which cannot be mistaken. More than reason is called for; the emotions must be engaged. For it is the nature of ironic rebuke to introduce an unexpected comparison that will shock the victim, making them realize in an instant the enormity of the offense, and hopefully calling them to abandon such attitudes or behaviour with a decisiveness not easily achieved by reasoned speech.
For example, consider the parental interrogation of the child who has taken the parents' labor for granted, or acted in an inappropriate manner that dishonors them or their concerns: "What am I"--or--"Who do you think I am, your maid?!" Now this child has hardly called their parent a maid, nor made this association in their own minds (that is not the usual situation, anyway!). The cutting edge of ironic rebuke reveals the victim's shame by unexpected self-deprecation and comparison. They are not likely to treat this matter in the same manner again. Had Paul made this statement, we would not need rush off to our studies to see what maids of this period were like, nor conclude that he would never choose to call himself by such a moniker if it had not been first used against him, nor conclude that this (seemingly defensive) posture defines the class of rhetoric from which the entire letter must be viewed. Or would we? Anyway, ironic rebuke of this nature is not a defensive but an offensive strategy.
I suggest that this is the case of Paul's introduction of the label eujagge/lion into the conversation. He has explained the contrariety of this message to the addressees before, but they have failed to realize the seriousness of the theological problem involved in their desire to achieve social acceptance, arguably the most powerful drive in humankind. He must break through and dissuade them from a course that is far more dangerous than they want to realize, much as a parent must approach a teenage child in the face of conforming to peer pressures that appear at times beyond their ability to resist alone, at least not for the sake of principles that may seem all too distant at the moment of temptation. They are intimidated; they simply cannot focus properly, or bring reason to bear.
To what degree may we be certain that this label is to be interpreted at the level of irony, and thus not a direct indication that the other message is so-called? The reasons are many; only a few will be noted here.35 For one, we have the introduction of this phrase by qauma/zw, an ironic marker exclaiming astonishment for the purpose of rebuke, as noted above. Second, it is qualified as "another," which is a part of word play differentiation. Third, within the same sentence it is immediately followed by the denial that this other message is "another." That is, it is not actually a eujagge/lion! Fourth, this denial is followed by another phrase--still in the same sentence--by which its denial is explained: "except in the sense that there are some who intimidate you and desire to turn upside-down the eujagge/lion of Christ." This exception clause informs the Galatians that the reason this other message may be now compared to the good news of Christ in Paul's rebuke is their own doing: they have let it so function for themselves. They have allowed themselves to be intimidated by proponents of a message which in effect empties the good news of Christ of its meaning. This message is rather "contrary" to the message of Christ and should be so regarded by themselves. On this they have heard Paul before. They should not be open to this influence.
Interpreters have in fact noted that this other message is defined as "not a gospel" or a "no gospel" in these following negating and excepting clauses, but they have not let this dissuade them from taking the initial announcement at face value. This is because of a strange twist that is at the heart of such verbal irony. The recognition and interpretation of irony depends upon the expectation and shared context of the listener or reader. It is communal in nature. One not party to the shared experience of the players faces an almost insurmountable obstacle in the fact that words have many meanings. Context determines usage, or better, usages. And irony explores several layers of meaning simultaneously. But later interpreters, of course, simply were not there. We must come only with our hypotheses.
In short, bringing to the text the presupposition that these other people and their message is a perverted Christ-oriented message explicitly referred to as a eujagge/lion, especially if it is maintained that this message is proclaimed in direct contrast to the eujagge/lion of Paul, has usually determined the interpretive options. When this expectation is shaped within the larger construct of a Paul who does not consider it appropriate to regard Jewish identity or Torah-based behavior any longer of ultimate significance, but rather detrimental to the desired lifestyle of a Christ-follower--the Paul and his circle of disciples central to the ideology of Paulinism in conflict with the Jerusalem apostles and those under their control--the options are narrowed in the direction of the current interpretive consensus. But on the other hand, if we imagine a situation in which this other message is not about Christ and not called or considered a eujagge/lion in the sense of the eujagge/lion of Christ, then the ironic dimension may penetrate and shape the interpretive possibilities in a vastly different direction. This is magnified if the addressees know Paul and the other Jewish believers in Jesus to maintain the value and honor of their Israelite identity, to observe Torah and nurture a communal ethos that is Law-respectful, even among the gentile members of this coalition.36
Again, I suggest that this other message is merely the apparently normative message of Jewish communities of this period (and later) regarding the inclusion of gentiles as full members, ensured of right standing before God and his people Israel. Namely, the inclusive good news that gentiles seeking this status may become proselytes (Jews/Israelites) by simply completing the ritual process of proselyte conversion. If so, then the context of the Galatian gentile addressees is maintained within the confines of an intra-Jewish affair, in which these gentile members of the Christ-believing subgroup are experiencing the pain of marginalization by other influential members of the Jewish community in which they are seeking full acceptance, and from which they may be suffering some real as well as perceived dishonor or various forms of discrimination. Not because they are gentiles, for any Jewish community offering proselyte conversion is presumably open to the association of gentiles as guests, since such conversion requires a ritual process begun by those gentiles drawing near for a variety of reasons and continuing to be gentiles throughout the stages of the process. But if they believe and expect to be regarded and treated as full members as though having the station of proselytes without having completed this ritual, then the concern and processes of social control this would likely engender are not hard to imagine.
It is likely that the influencers know of Paul, or at least of the eujagge/lion around which this coalition of believers in Christ is constituted, but I do not think that they oppose him or this movement per se. This would not make sense of the openness of the Galatians to the influencers or their message. Or their failure to see the antithesis Paul labors to clarify in this letter, even though he has made these points to the addressees before. Paul opposes the influencers, even as a parent may vilify the peers influencing their child. But they may not challenge Paul so directly, even as an influential parental figure is less likely to be out-right assailed in a corresponding way by a children's peers. Rather, they may emphasize the enormous advantages of their course of action, its normative role and offer of acceptance, perhaps even the failure of others (such as parents) to perceive or explain things fully: "they just do not understand."
It is far more likely that the influencers see and propose this as an additional message which offers a solution desirable to the gentiles regardless of their (disputable) convictions about Christ. It is one that serves the influencers purposes as social control agents also, by bringing these gentiles and this coalition into conformity with important, safer and long-standing communal norms. It is the expected process which results when two or more courts of reputation with conflicting values clash on an issue of grave importance. Simply put, it is the context of peer versus parental pressure, and Paul resorts to the expression of rhetoric throughout the letter which often accompanies such parental frustration. One is left to wonder if the influencers do not see the situation similarly from their side of things, and frame their arguments accordingly.
What the influencers find unacceptable may be confined to the conclusions regarding the current status of the gentile members of this subgroup. This position is after all based upon an unshared premise that the age to come has dawned already in the person of Jesus Christ. And thus the halakhic decisions being made among this group to facilitate the level of indiscriminate fellowship they embrace (what Paul calls their "freedom"), expose everyone in the larger community to a level of danger and vulnerability that the social control agents find unacceptable. Moreover, they call into question the very fabric of the hierarchical structure of the society, inherently judging the proselyte process and those who have completed it, perhaps especially those presently engaged in this ritual. That this would excite the social control mechanisms of a modern community, not to mention an ancient Mediterranean one should surprise no one.
This is but one feature among many that are profoundly effected by the recognition of this letter as one of ironic rebuke, and thus of needing to be approached with a willingness to play out several possible scenarios for its communicative context. This case is enormously important in the search for the political context of Paul and the communities to which this letter is addressed, and thus for the construction of any hermeneutic lens. I hope in forthcoming work to develop these insights more fully.
3. Some Observations from Analysis of Paul's Expectations of the
Another point of general consensus that appears to me to be questionable is the identification of these influencers as outsiders. This interpretive decision also has considerable bearing upon the political dynamics of the context imagined, and on the conclusions regarding Paul's response to it. There is not time to explain in detail here, but a summary glance at the expectations expressed by Paul for the Galatian addressees response is warranted. For example, Paul completes the allegory of the slave and free women (4:22-30) with the inclusion of a Scripture from Genesis 21:10 which he quotes thus (v. 30):
"Cast out the slave and her son; for the son of the slave shall not inherit with the son of the free woman."
This has been taken to mean that the influencers are outsiders who can be expelled by the addressees, especially by interpreters who draw a line between this notice and the curse and castration wishes elsewhere in the letter. Of course their identity as outsiders hangs on a great many other structures as well, but I find them similarly questionable. Particularly those built upon the identity of the players which exist only within the narrative examples, such as their association with Jerusalem or Antioch, which are not discussed in the material contingent to the Galatians.
Observe however, how Paul employs the allegory in application to the addressees in the next verses, and thereafter in the parenetic material which follows. He does not call the addressees to throw anyone out, but rather to resist them. They are to "stand fast, therefore" and "not submit" the "freedom" they have in Christ--which is compromised if they now seek proselyte status by conversion, for it denies that they are already full heirs by faith in Christ (5:1-4, 11-15)--which is the logic running through the rhetoric of the entire letter. They are to "wait for the hope of righteousness" (5:5); to avoid being "hindered," "intimidated" and "subverted" by those in a position to "persuade" them to this "other view" (5:7-12). They must not seek their status according to the agonistic methods of this world, which the current desire for proselyte status suggests at work in their motives: the search for acceptance and honor in comparative terms on a scale which Paul accuses the influencers of seeking to measure themselves by against the addressees (6:12-13). They are rather to walk in the assurance of their present status as children of God who have his Spirit at work among themselves, and thus to seek for the interests of the other as more important than their own status accomplishments, which come at the expense of the comparative other (5:15-26). They are to "restore" the other in "gentleness" (6:1); "bear one another's burdens" (6:2); "test one's own work" and thus have no reason to "boast in one's neighbor" (6:4); to "not grow weary in well-doing" and "not lose heart." Knowing that God will provide in the end should enable them to "do good to everyone, and especially to those of the household of faith" (6:9-10), a reference which might self-consciously distinguish this coalition's particular in-Christ bond within the midst of a larger fictive kinship group of which the influencers are also members. Finally, they are to avoid the pressure of those who are seeking to "compel" them "to be circumcised" (6:12-13), and that in order to increase their honor rating at the addressees' expense.
In other words, it is clear that the addressees are to resist those influencing them to complete the ritual process of proselyte conversion (3:2-3; 5:1-4, 10-13; 6:12-13; passim). It is far from clear that the addressees are in a position of authority over the influencers; rather, they are subordinate to them. They are not to comply in this matter, regardless of the price they must pay. This is the heart of the gospel message of Galatians. These gentiles have come to believe in one who has born the shame of public execution as a pretender (3:1); they have heard this message from one who has suffered similarly to preserve the truth of the good news of Christ for them (5:11; 6:17). What should they now expect from the social control agents for standing fast for their identity based in Christ and on this Paul's message of him, when that identity may be disputed and demeaned as mere pretense?: "Oh foolish Galatians! Who has cast the evil eye of envy upon you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?" (3:1).
That is the critical message of this Jewish coalition, which sees itself bearing the message, and the suffering it may bring upon themselves on behalf of Israel. But it is not a unique message in this way; nor is it a message against Israel or the Jewish people who do not share faith in Christ per se. It is a message one may find in other Jewish coalitions independent of Christ or even a messianic conviction. It is the message of Torah and the source of Wisdom. It is the plight of Israel in the midst of the nations; of the psalmist in the den of his accusers; of the prophets in the presence of their enemies. It is the circumstance of all of those who live according to a revealed standard when it conflicts with the norms of those who do not share this conviction, with those of this "present evil age." Particularly when a minority in the midst of a differing majority. I believe this is the politic of Galatians.
Moreover, it is to be noted that the villains of the allegory are not associated with Christ in any way. The tension is simply along the lines of those who appeal to the traditional way of resolving the dissonance that arises in the present evil age, in this case in the context of including gentiles into the people by proselyte conversion, even as Abraham sought to bring about his promised son by means of human conventional processes for doing so when his wife is perceived as incapable of bearing a child. The association with the addressees is rather as those who do not conform with the conclusions which are derived from the traditions of the fathers for gentile inclusion in this age--because they are children of the miracle of the age to come dawning in the midst of this evil one, corresponding with the miraculous birth of Isaac according to promise.
The identity of natural born Jews is not in view, but two methods for the inclusion of gentiles according to two different yet entirely Jewish perspectives, about which this letter is concerned, are allegorized. The conflict surrounds how to facilitate gentile inclusion in an intra-Jewish context: the traditional means arrived at by human consensus and enforced by the dominant community's social control agents is by proselyte conversion, which renders them Jews, Israelites. But the position of this minority coalition is that by faith in Christ while remaining gentiles (non-Jews, non-Israelites), though believers in Israel's God as the One God of all creation, these gentiles do not become members of Israel but remain representatives of the nations, yet equal within the new community of believers in Christ. The point is that seeking the way of the influencers "human" solution will put the addressees in jeopardy of negating the "divine" work of God in Christ ("the seed"), undermining the very promise upon which their current faith stands, even as Abraham's descendants born according to the human mechanisms for solving his problem end up threatening those born by miraculous means. In each the judgment is case specific. In the case of Abraham, there is nothing wrong with this traditional "human" or "in the flesh" method per se, but it is wrong for Abraham in view of God's revelation of the promise being fulfilled in another (heaven sent) way in Sarah. Likewise, there is nothing wrong with traditional "human" or "in the flesh" proselyte conversion per se, but in this case it is wrong for the addressees in view of God's revelation of the promise fulfilled in Christ.
The politic of this allegory is therefore consistent with that argued
throughout the other narrative and direct material of the letter: the tension
in Galatia is intra-Jewish. But Paul provides a larger inter-Jewish perspective
in his illustrative rhetoric in order to establish as ultimately divisive
a line which for the addressees, and the influencers, may have still appeared
The Interests of Jewish People
Finally, I want to briefly suggest that the trend toward emphasizing the supposed strengths of an entirely inter- or intra-Christian context for the letter are not as benign or helpful as perhaps imagined. I must be careful here, for I believe that this concern is well-intentioned and an improvement over past readings of Christianity versus Judaism. I do not mean to judge the intentions of anyone. The post-Holocaust sensitivities are welcome and for the most part likely to bring the interpreter closer to the original spirit of the rhetoric as in-house, and therefore in no way to be taken as derisive or dismissive of Jewish people or religion.
However, the fact is that an inter- or intra-Christian context for the addressees as it has been currently fashioned characterizes the Jewish leaders of the Christ-movement as anathematized for their maintenance of Jewish identity and behavior, as though these were inherently antithetical to exercising the "freedom" or the full and spiritual lifestyle that comes through faith in Christ. And it expresses this premise as though necessarily the bent of those Jewish members who do not follow Paul (and Paulinists) in supposedly giving up entirely or relativizing Jewish identity and behavior to the status of "indifference," useful only when serving the utilitarian purpose of bringing other Jews into the same ultimately non-Jewish fate. Moreover, it is part and parcel with the stereotyping of these Jewish expressions of faith in Christ as ethnocentrically exclusive where gentiles are concerned. It is as if Jewish people handling the gospel are unavoidably stingy in a way that gentile people, and those Jewish people who become in effect gentiles--like this Paulinist Paul--supposedly are not. It appears to me to serve, intentional or not, the larger interests of the Pauline construct upon which so much Christian supersessionism in the form of eliminating Jewish identity and behavior as appropriate for believers in Christ is based. This ideological perspective may well be the most difficult aspect to penetrate without threatening bedrock convictions. The perceived dangers of Torah-identity and observance are obviously deeply rooted in the rhetoric of Christian identity and spirituality. This phenomenon strikes me as thoroughly anachronistic and extraordinarily odd, but consideration of this position and whether it should be so privileged must wait for another time.
The present problem may be set out simply. If these Jewish people are considered Christ-believers, it is argued, the criticism is not against Jews per se. However, it is but a small, even if subconscious step from seeing these Jews as behaving stubbornly or stingily to allowing if not supporting the already existing stereotypes of Jewish people along these lines. How much worse must those be who do not even share this faith in Christ?
I do not know that the mind must make this leap, but I fear that it
somehow does. I cannot avoid reacting to the depreciation of things Jewish
that surfaces repeatedly in the interpretations that I read, even among
those who seek to challenge such conclusions. I hope my pointing out this
perhaps unrecognized trap will appeal to your already no-doubt shared realization
that any interpretation is a human construction that will have its potentially
dangerous blind-side. In this case I suggest that the dominant one is not
as useful or compelling as has been supposed. I suggest that the politics
of this letter as inter- and intra-Christian would be improbable, if not
impossible. Rather, Galatians reveals a political Paul and situation which
predate the establishment of Christianity as a separate institution and
thus precedes the parting of the ways between these two faiths.37
The context addressed in Galatia is intra-Jewish, although it may be that
Paul's position and the inter-Jewish rhetorical approach he adopts bring
a perspective to light that adumbrates such later developments as entirely
likely, if not altogether unavoidable.
1. The nature of the letter as ironic rebuke will be defined and discussed more fully below.
2. It has been recently suggested that Galatians was not written for Galatia, but is a general letter distilling his theology and attached to Paul's other letters, which would mean that any efforts at reconstructing the Galatia situation are misguided, see F. Vouga, "Der Galaterbrief: kein Brief an die Galater?: Essay über den literarischen Charakter des letzten großen Paulusbriefs," Schrift und Tradition: Festschrift für Josef Ernst zum 70. Geburtstag. (Eds. Knut Backhous and F. G. Untergaßmair: Paderborn, et al.: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1996), pp. 243-58.
3. Cf. Deut. 30:12. Rambam comments on the phrase it is not in heaven thus: "The Torah states of itself: 'It is not in heaven,' and from here we learn that a prophet is not authorized to introduce new laws which do not appear in the Torah. Even if a prophet performed signs and wonders, declaring that God sent him to introduce new laws or cancel existing ones, or to suggest novel Halakhic interpretations, he is false prophet" (Sefer HaMada, Hilkhot Yesodel HaTorah 9:1).
Yet ironically, account is taken of a heavenly voice as the Talmud continues in relating what Rabbi Natan is told upon meeting Elijah: "'What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do at that time?': He said to him: 'He smiled and said: "My sons have defeated Me, My sons have defeated Me"'"; note also the halakhic decision in m. Yeb. 16.6.
4. Cf. 1:12; 2:2; 1 Cor. 2:7-10; 2 Cor. 3:18; 4:3; Acts 9:3-19; 22:6-21; 26:12-23; Rev. 1:1. The role of revelation in the interpretation of Torah or Scripture in this period varies. In Ben Sira, wisdom is in Torah and revealed through the sages (24; 39.1-8). 1 Enoch 92-105, on the other hand, emphasizes the role of revelations in validating the proper understanding of Torah. The Qumran community possessed a revealed knowledge of the interpretation of Torah not shared by other Israelites, which was entrusted to the authority of the community leaders (esp. 1QS 5; 8), and this is revealed especially to and through the Teacher of Righteousness, as it had been with the fathers on behalf of Israel (CD 1--3; 1QpHab 7.1--8.3). Cf. G. W. E. Nickelsburg, "Revealed Wisdom as a Criterion for Inclusion and Exclusion: From Jewish Sectarianism to Early Christianity," "To See Ourselves as Others See Us": Christians, Jews, "Others" in Late Antiquity (Ed. J. Neusner and E. Frerichs; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1985), pp. 73-82; A. Segal, Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee (New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 1990), pp. 34-71; C. Rowland, "The Parting of the Ways: the Evidence of Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic and Mystical Material," Jews and Christians: The Parting of the Ways A. D. 70 to 135 (ed. J. D. G. Dunn; Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1992), pp. 213-37; L. Thompson, "Social Location of Early Christian Apocalyptic," ANRW II.26.3 (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1996), pp. 2617-56; M. Bockmuehl, Revelation and Mystery in Ancient Judaism and Pauline Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997 ).
5. J. L. Martyn, Galatians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (The Anchor Bible, Vol. 33A; New York, et al.: Doubleday, 1997), pp. 117-26.
6. Dunn, The Theology of Paul's Letter to the Galatians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 10.
7. Paul's rhetorical approach seeks to alter their thoughts and behavior, and thus appears to come closest to deliberative rhetoric as defined by Aristotle, Rhetoric 1.3ff.; so too his use of examples examining the past in order to judge the right course for the future fits best deliberative speech, Rhetoric 1.9.40; as well as his appeal to common suffering and hope for a positive conclusion in the end, Rhetoric 2.5.14-22.
8. For ritual processes, cf. A. Van Gennep, The Rites of Passage (Transl. M. Vizedom and G. Caffee; Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1960 ); V. Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1969); D. Kertzer, Ritual, Politics, and Power (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988); C. Bell, Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).
9. I have discussed this section and the identity of the parties involved in an unpublished paper presented at the 1997 International Research Consultation: Ideology, Power and Interpretation, Birmingham, England: "Intruding 'spies' and 'pseudo' brethren: The intra-Jewish context of 'those of repute' in Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1-10)," the publication of which is planned.
10. J. D. G. Dunn, "Echoes of Intra-Jewish Polemic in Paul's Letter to the Galatians," JBL 112:3 (1993) pp. 459-77.
11. J. Boissevain, Friends of Friends: Networks, Manipulators and Coalitions (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1974), esp. pp. 170-205, for general discussion of coalitions and group identities. His defining of coalition as "a temporary alliance of distinct parties for a limited purpose" is useful, especially the emphasis he develops on the temporariness implied in such groups in order to achieve a limited purpose, yet accumulating more tasks as time passes without yet achieving that purpose (p. 171). "Coalitions may comprise individuals, other coalitions, and even corporate groups; and most show a concentric form of organization, with core and peripheral members" (p. 173). There are many terms to denote coalitions, including cliques, gangs, action-sets, and factions, as well as salons, coteries, entourages, machines, social circles, teams, clienteles, and so on.
12. I do not mean by this the rhetorical device common to forensic rhetoric labeled narratio, referring to that part of an oration which sets out the events that have brought the case to court (see Kern, Rhetoric, pp. 104-5).
13. The division of the letter according to ironic rebuke was suggested by N. Dahl, "Paul's Letter to the Galatians: Epistolary Genre, Content, and Structure" (Unpublished paper presented to 1973 SBL Paul Seminar), pp. 35, 79-81. See also the linguistic approach of J. Holmstrand, Markers and Meaning in Paul: An Analysis of 1 Thessalonians, Philippians and Galatians (CBNTS 28 Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1997).
14. One finds this view, for example, in Paul: Romans, Galatians, and Luke: Acts; and in other Jewish writings of the period: 1 Macc. 1.15, 44-48, 60-61; 2.45-46, 2 Macc. 6.10, Jub. 15:25-34; Josephus: Antiquities 1.192; 13.318-19; 18.34-48; Against Apion 2.137, 140-42; Philo: Mig. Abr. 92; and Graeco-Roman literature including Petronius, Satyricon 102.13-14; Martial, Epigrams 7.35.3-4, 82, 94; Tacitus, Histories 5.5.2; Juvenal, Satires 14.96-106; Persius, Satires 5.179-84; Horace, Satires 1.9.60-72; Suetonius, Domitian 12.2; Paulus, Sententiae 5.22.3-4. It is attested also in the later rabbinic material (Jerusalem Talmud, Megillah 3.2.74d; Midrash Exodus Rabbah 30.12). The governing statement is of course Gen. 17:9-14. See also discussion in J. Nolland, "Uncircumcised Proselytes?" JSJ 12 (1981), pp. 173-94; J. Collins, "A Symbol of Otherness: Circumcision and Salvation in the First Century," "To See Ourselves", pp. 163-86; S. Cohen, "Crossing the Boundary and Becoming a Jew" HTR 82 (1989), pp. 26-33; Segal, Paul the Convert, pp. 72-109; L. Feldman, Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 153-58 G. Porton, The Stranger within Your Gates: Converts and Conversion in Rabbinic Literature (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1994), pp. 132-154.
15. Cf. J. Pitt-Rivers, "Honor," International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (New York: Macmillan Co., 1968), pp. 503-11; idem, "Honour and Social Status," Honour and Shame: The Values of Mediterranean Society (Ed. J. G. Peristiany; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), pp. 19-77, esp. pp. 21-24, 72; Malina, The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981), pp. 25-50.
16. See my "Peter's Hypocrisy (Gal. 2:11-21) in the Light of Paul's Anxiety (Rom. 7)," Mystery of Romans: The Jewish Context of Paul's Letter (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), pp. 337-71.
17. This concern is suggested in Philo's discussion of nobility, Virtues 187-227, esp. 218-19, and Special Laws 1.51-53, 308-10; and is present in rabbinic tradition, cf. G. Porton, The Stranger within Your Gates.
18. A. Cohen, Self Consciousness: An Alternate Anthropology of Identity (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), p. 128; Esler, Galatians, pp. 216-17, 223.
19. Aristotle, Rhetoric 2.10, explains the dynamics of envy along these lines. He notes it is most likely among those closest in status. The evil eye is the result of envy, and is thought to harm the one upon whom this gaze falls. Thus Paul's accusation that the addressees have been evil eyed by the influencers suggests that the addressees have something that the influencers envy, though they had failed to suspect this at work in the present circumstances they "suffer" (3:4: ejpa/qete), or in the motives of the influencers toward themselves. That which is enviable appears to be the presence of the Spirit and miracles in their midst (3:5), which would seem to indicate that the influencers regard such things inappropriate for those who have not completed the ritual process of proselyte conversion, as have the influencers. Paul's argument appears to be this: as long as the addressees have their eyes on acquiring honor from the influencers they provoke or are vulnerable to the effects of this glance; but if they turn their eyes rather toward the crucified (dishonored) one in whom they believe they will be protected.
20. E.g., Susan M. Elliott, "The Rhetorical Strategy of Paul's Letter to the Galatians in its Anatolian Cultic Context: Circumcision and the Castration of the Galli of the Mother of the Gods." (Vols. 1-3; Dissertation at Loyola University, Chicago, 1997).
21. Of course the tradition may be based itself upon an appeal to revelation, as is the case for Jewish communities which maintain that circumcision was revealed to Abraham and Moses.
22. Cf. J. Pitts, "Social Control: The Concept," International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (New York: Macmillan Co., 1968), pp. 381-96; J. Braithwaite, Crime, shame and reintegration. Cambridge, et al.: Cambridge University Press, 1989), esp. pp. 54-83.
23. Sectarianism as defined by B. Wilson, Religion in Sociological Perspective (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 91-93.
24. Mystery of Romans; forthcoming CBA paper.....
25. These sociological and anthropological observations draw especially upon the work of R. Jenkins, Social Identity (New York and London: Routledge, 1996), pp. 80-118; F. Barth, "Introduction," Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Culture Difference, Ed. Fredrik Barth (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1969), pp. 9-38; P. Berger and T. Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (New York, et al: Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1966); A. Cohen, The Symbolic Construction of Community (London and New York: Routledge, 1985); political theory of M. Mann, The Sources of Social Power: Vol. 1: A History of Power from the Beginning to A.D. 1760 (Cambridge et al: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 1-33; and social identity theory as developed by Henri Tajfel, e.g., in idem, Differentiation between Social Groups: Studies in the Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations, London, et al: Academic Press, 1978; Michael A. Hogg and Dominic Abrams, Social Identifications: A Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations and Group Processes, London and New York: Routledge, 1988; W. Peter Robinson, ed., Social Groups and Identities: Developing the Legacy of Henri Tajfel, Oxford et al: Butterworth Heinemann, 1996. Application of this theory to Galatians is available in Philip Esler, Galatians, Routledge, 1998; note also its application in A. Saldarini, Matthew's Christian-Jewish Community (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1994).
26. Jenkins, Social Identity, p. 120.
27. Jenkins, Social Identity, p. 124.
28. Jenkins, Social Identity, p. 135.
29. Esler, Galatians, pp. 141-77, for discussion of identity as "the righteous ones" at issue in Paul's rhetoric.
30. Ethnocentrism is appropriate for describing the requirement of proselyte conversion for inclusion, when defined in the general social scientific sense as "evaluative preference for all aspects of one's own group relative to other groups" (Michael A. Hogg and Graham M. Vaughan, Social Psychology [Second Edition, London, et al.: Prentice Hall Europe, 1998]).
31. See note [?] above.
32. A full discussion of ironic nature of Galatians is planned in forthcoming book project. The following observations regarding the letter type include insights from the works of, for example, N. Dahl, "Paul's Letter to the Galatians"; J. L. White, "Introductory Formulae in the Body of the Pauline Letters," JBL 90 (1971), p. 96; T. Mullins, "Formulas in New Testament Epistles," JBL 91 (1972), pp. 385-86; S. Stowers, Letter Writing in Greco-Roman Antiquity (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986), pp. 134, 139; G. W. Hansen, Abraham in Galatians: Epistolary and Rhetorical Contexts (JSNTSS 29 Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1989); idem, Galatians (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1994).
33. Correspondence is noted with the ironic type of letter in Pseudo-Libanius, Epistolary Styles,  from A. Malherbe, Ancient Epistolary Theorists (Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1988), pp. 74-75: "I am greatly astonished at your sense of equity, that you have so quickly rushed from a well-ordered life to its opposite--for I hesitate to say to wickedness. It seems that you have contrived to make, not friends out of your enemies, but enemies out of your friends, for your action has shown itself to be unworthy of friends, but eminently worthy of your drunken behavior." See also the example of a letter of reproach in Pseudo-Libanius, and Pseudo-Demetrius, Epistolary Types, in Malherbe, Theorists, pp. 40-41. For social implications of these letter types see also Stowers, Letter Writing, pp. 52-56; idem, "Social Typification and the Classification of Ancient Letters," The Social World of Formative Christianity and Judaism: Essays in Tribute to Howard Clark Kee, Eds. Jacob Neusner, Peder Borgen, Ernest S. Frerichs, Richard Horsley (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), pp. 78-90.
34. This will be discussed fully in a forthcoming book project on Galatians.
35. Quintilian discussed how the real meaning of irony is revealed to the audience: "This is made evident to the understanding either by the delivery, the character of the speaker or the nature of the subject. For if any one of these three is out of keeping with the words, it at once becomes clear that the intention of the speaker is other than what he actually says" (Inst. Oratore 8.6.54). See also W. Booth, A Rhetoric of Irony (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1974), pp. 47-86.
36. Of course this behaviour may appear modest in such diaspora settings compared to the zealous lifestyles of those believers in Jesus, or most Jewish people for that matter, still living in the Land or worshipping in the Temple.
37. On the process of institutionalization and its
unanticipated consequences in the development of networks of extensive
("ability to organize large numbers of people over far-flung territories
in order to engage in minimally stable cooperation") and intensive ("ability
to organize tightly and command a high level of mobilization or commitment
from the participants, whether the area and numbers covered are great or
small") power relations for goal attainment which may outrun the existing
level of institutionalization or existing institutions, see Mann, The Sources
of Social Power: Vol. 1, pp. 7-8, 15-16; also Berger and Luckmann, The
Social Construction of Reality, pp. 47-92.