Saturday, December 8, 2007

Galatians 3:10 and Works of the Law (Part 1)


When it comes to interpreting the book of Galatians there are many difficult interpretive issues that shape one’s understanding of Galatians. Was the letter written before or after the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15?[1] Was it written to South Galatia or North Galatia?[2] In Galatians 2:16, is the genitive an objective or a subjective genitive?[3] What does Paul mean by “law” or “works of the law” in Galatians? How one answers these questions will, of necessity, impact the way one understands Paul’s letter to the Church of Galatia.[4] It is the final question listed that we will take up here. That is, what does Paul mean by e;rgwn no,mou or no,moj specifically in Galatians 3:10? There are two main interpretations that carry sway in New Testament studies today—what has been called the “New Perspective on Paul” and what could be called the “Old or Reformed Perspective on Paul.” We will set forth both of these views on Galatians 3:10 and defend the classic or Reformed view on this passage. But before we turn to this text, it would be helpful to see how Paul uses this phrase in his broader corpus.[5]

[1] J.B. Lightfoot, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (London and Cambridge: MacMillan and Co., 1869), 36-56.
[2] Ibid., 1-35
[3] pi,,stewj VIhsou/ Cristou/.For a discussion on this issue see: Arland J. Hultgren, “The Pistis Christou Formulation in Paul,” Novum Testamentum XXII, no. 3 (July 1980): 248-263. D.A. Carson, Peter T. O'Brien, and Mark A. Seifrid, eds., Justification and Variegated Nomism: Volume 2 The Paradoxes of Paul (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 217-248. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 115-116.
[4] Galatians 1:2
[5] We are working from the conclusion that the Pauline corpus includes: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. For Pauline authorship questions relevant to this discussion see: Guy Waters, Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul: A Review and Response (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2004), 5-6 and 167. D.A. Carson, and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005).

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