Posts Tagged ‘Death’

Death – An Essential Condition For Discipleship

April 28, 2015

Discipleship and death are inextricably intertwined. Discipleship is not possible without death. A disciple should, first and foremost, learn how to die – learn to die to some of the inherited legacies, traditions, assumptions and worldview.

The Greek term for “learning” or “education” is Paideia. This term denotes deep education, not cheap schooling, with an attention to what is authentic and important, not what is fleeting. So Paideia has to do with the formation of attention so the student moves from focusing on frivolous things to serious things, from superficial things to substantial things. In order for a student to do that he/she has to adopt a philosophy of Socratic questioning – Socratic unwillingness to accept convention without reflective evaluation. A student’s (or disciple’s) critical education should challenge his/her inherited legacies, traditions, presuppositions and worldview with an aim to learn what is authentic and important. It is an attitude of critical engagement with oneself and society – a proactive process of questioning and learning. In other words, deep education or learning has to do with a radical reordering of perception.

Jesus demanded the radical reordering of perception when he rebuked Peter at Caesarea Philippi, “For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things” (Mk. 8.33). This is in response to Peter’s reaction to Jesus’ prediction about his suffering, death and resurrection. Till this point, i.e. Mk 1-8.26, the disciples have witnessed tremendous displays of power and authority in the ministry of their master Jesus Christ, and people receiving new and astonishing teachings, liberation from oppression and restoration to wholeness. All of these characteristics begin to change in Mk 8.27-10.52, as Jesus makes a direct way toward Jerusalem and announces three times his impending death and resurrection.

The paradoxical yoking of Jesus’ powerful words and deeds of liberation and his self-giving powerlessness appears to be in contradiction to the disciples’ understanding of God’s Messiah. Thus far Peter and the other disciples have heard the kingdom of God announced and inaugurated only in victorious tones over nature, evil spirits, diseases and death. Not only were they awestruck by witnessing these powerful deeds, but they also participated in the same liberating ministry, having been appointed to preach the message of the kingdom of God and given authority over evil forces and diseases, just like Jesus (Mk. 3.13-15; 6.7-13). Jesus’ power and authority has corresponded well with their expectation or understanding of God’s Messiah. But the idea that the Christ is to suffer and die is in complete contradiction to their inherited Jewish tradition about the Christ of God. Also the disciples could not associate belief in resurrection with Christ (Mk. 9.9-10).

Moreover, the disciples are also the products of their environment. The standard preoccupation of the free male in the Mediterranean region is social status. The disciples of Jesus are no exception. They too seek for social superiority, namely “Who is the greatest?” (Mk. 9.35). This strong desire for personal advancement has motivated James and John, two of Jesus’ disciples, to request for positions of honor and privilege in the kingdom of God (Mk. 10.35-37).

At least on one occasion Jesus had to correct the disciples’ attitude of jealousy and intolerance. John reported to Jesus about a strange exorcist, an “outsider”, who is seemingly usurping a prerogative of the disciples. Earlier they were seeking for social status, and here they feel that their position is threatened.

In the Gospel of Mark on two occasions it is recorded that the disciples are given power to exorcise (3.15; 6.7,13). Immediately before the second passion-resurrection prediction Mark has shown the inability of the disciples to drive away the destructive spirit from a boy whose father brought him to the disciples to be cured (Mk. 9.14-19). The somewhat insecurely held prerogative of the disciples is threatened by the outsider.

Like the dispute about greatness, the episode of the strange exorcist reflects an attitude of the disciples that leads to conflict. In both cases Jesus intervenes. The disciples’ exclusiveness is rejected, as is their self-seeking!

Although the twelve have responded to Jesus’ call for discipleship and been accompanying their master for quite some time, there is so much that separates them from their master. The disciples are confounded again and again by the newness of deeds and teachings. They have repeatedly exhibited their obtuseness concerning Jesus (Mk. 4:41; 6:52; 8:14-21). Mark calls this their lack of understanding (Mk. 6.52; 8.21). The disciples’ proximity to Jesus did not automatically bring clarity about their master and their discipleship. Like the blind man at Bethsaida, the disciples too need to be restored in their vision (Mk. 8.22-26). They need to be transformed from a lack of clarity to a sharper focus on who Jesus is and consequently the nature of their discipleship. So Jesus had to tell them quite openly about the nature of his messiahship and of discipleship (Mk. 8.32, 34-38).

 

The Central Elements of Discipleship 

When Jesus called Andrew, Peter, James and John, he called them to “follow” him. The verb “follow” characterises the central quality of existence as a disciple. Discipleship demonstrates a close association with Jesus himself.

However, a clear distinction needs to be made between “following” and “imitation”. Discipleship means entering into a lifelong relationship with the person of Jesus, not merely to his teaching (Mk. 3.14: “to be with him”). The disciple not only learns from his teacher, but also shares his/her life with him without reservation. However, the qualitative difference between the master and disciple always remains preserved. It can, therefore, never be the goal of a disciple to become like the master.

When Jesus calls a person to follow, the focus of the follower should be the kingdom of God that Jesus embodies. Jesus has seen the embodiment of the in-breaking of the kingdom of God in his own person and ministry (Mk. 3.22-30; Lk. 11.20, 17.21). Since his own desires and ambitions are focused on doing the will of the Father, this becomes the goal of even the disciple. Discipleship is a radical way of life, radical also in obedience to the will of God, as is interpreted by the life, words and deeds of Jesus Christ.

In Mk. 8.34 Jesus seems to be saying that those who wish to follow should indeed follow. He emphasises the central elements – self-denial and cross-bearing – as constitutive of what it means to follow.

 

  1. Self-Denial

The term “to deny” appears in only one other context in the Gospel of Mark, i.e. Mk. 14.30,31,72. It refers to Peter denying Jesus three times. Peter’s action throws light on what it means to deny oneself.

Peter’s denial begins in response to an accusation made by one of the slaves of the high priest that he was “with” Jesus (Mk. 14.67; cf. 3.14). His response is not direct. He, rather, redirected the attention from acknowledgement of Jesus to the incredulity of the girl’s accusation: “I do not know or understand what you are talking about” (Mk. 14.68). The same slave girl utters a similar charge, “This man is one of them” (Mk. 14.69). Peter denies his membership in the company of Jesus’ followers. After sometime bystanders repeat the accusation: “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean” (Mk. 14.70). At this point Peter responds directly, getting to the heart of the question of his relationship with Jesus by denying Jesus himself: “I do not know this man you are talking about” (Mk. 14.71). Here Peter repudiates Jesus and not simply his affiliation with him. He severs himself from Jesus and all that he represents. In other words, Peter disowns the whole person of Jesus for the sake of his security in a hostile environment.

Just as Peter’s words to his accusers come to focus on the whole person of Jesus, so also the repetition of denials suggests the disciple’s intent to disown and not merely dissociate himself from Jesus. Peter moves from discrediting the content of an accusation to denying his allegiance to a group, to a profession of complete ignorance (“I do not know this man”). His confession of not knowing Jesus indicates complete separation between Peter and Jesus, and Peter’s refusal to entertain any sense of obligation to Jesus. That means, Jesus has no claim over Peter’s life either in the present or in the future.

The third characteristic of Peter’s denial is its public context and public implications. Peter’s denial consists of acts that openly declare no connection whatsoever between him and Jesus. His public denials define him and his standing with regards to Jesus within a social context.

What does it mean to deny oneself as a follower of Jesus?

  1. Just as the focus of Peter’s denial goes beyond renunciation of a relationship or obligation and targets Jesus himself, likewise Mark 8:34 calls a follower to something more radical than denying obligations to oneself or the desires that originate within oneself. Peter’s story suggests that Jesus’ imperative concerns the disowning of one’s own person. This extends beyond mere self-discipline. It calls every would-be follower no longer to live on one’s own behalf.
  1. The finality of Peter’s denial implies that Mark 8:34 calls for permanent and complete severance. Just as Peter claims not to know Jesus, so the self-denial that Jesus demands involves the renunciation of any obligation to oneself. In Eduard Schweizern words, “It indicates a freedom in which one no longer wills to recognize his own ‘I’.”
  1. Third, as Peter’s actions in Mark 14 involve a public context and public consequences, so too does the self-denial envisioned in Mark 8:34. To deny someone, including oneself, includes the public demonstration of disavowal and the willingness to enjoy or suffer the public effects.

One who follows Jesus continually enacts self-denial through living without regard for the security and priorities that people naturally cling to and that our society actively promotes as paramount. This enactment is not a matter of private piety but of public testimony.

Self-denial obviously involves the relinquishment of an individual’s autonomy, running counter to human habits of self-preservation and personal advancement (cf. 9:35; 10:42-44). In addition, the following verse (8:35) offers an explication that underscores the gravity of Jesus’ summons: the imperatives of 8:34 are tantamount to losing one’s life for the sake of Jesus and the gospel. The paradoxes of 8:35-38 describe surrendering one’s self, one’s being, in response to Jesus in order to gain or experience true and authentic life.

However, one should be clear that it is the call of Jesus to discipleship that demands the break from self-centered life, and a break from the past in order to experience a new and authentic life. But the break from the past should not be equated with discipleship.

  1. Cross-Bearing

The image of cross-bearing, which immediately follows the command to deny oneself in Mark 8:34, reinforces and complements the characteristics of self-denial.

People living in the Roman empire understand the purpose of cross. It is an instrument for a particular form of execution reserved by the Roman empire for slaves, criminals and insurrectionists – the lowest of the low in the society. It is a public spectacle accompanied by torture and shame – one of the most humiliating and cruel deaths ever devised by human beings.

Cross identifies those judged of setting themselves menacingly against the ways of the Roman empire and, by Mark’s account, against dominant and oppressive religious, political and ideological structures. In other words, cross signifies a person who, on account of his life, attitude, worldview, values and actions, set himself/herself against the standards of this world and as a consequence incurs the wrath of dominant forces.

The cross, which the followers are to bear according to Mk. 8.34, is not Jesus’ cross. Every follower is to take up his/her own cross, each declaring the forfeiture of one’s life and self-preservation. Cross-bearers embrace a way of life that threatens the existence of dominant, oppressive and exploitative systems, structures and ideologies.

Thus, cross-bearing complements the notion of self-denial, and informs the three characteristics of self-denial.

  1. As an instrument of death, cross threatens a person’s being.
  2. Cross performs its function with finality.
  3. Cross-bearing occurs in public. Just as one can not deny oneself without denouncing ways of self-interest, self-preservation and self-advancement, so too cross indicates that Jesus’ followers have devoted their lives at any cost to the public demonstration of God’s kingdom or God’s reign and its righteousness.

Conclusion

Thus, the demand of Jesus in Mk. 8.34 is absolute, summoning his followers away from inclinations of personal aggrandizement and from loyalty to the world’s canons of status, power, self-preservation and self-promotion, to an inclination of an authentic life of humility, neighbourly service and peacemaking (Mk. 9.33-50, 10.42-45). A disciple dies to the individualistic and self-seeking life, and lives a new, authentic life of neighbourly love (Mk. 10.42-45).

Jesus’ imperatives to anyone to deny oneself and take up one’s cross reveal a thoroughly prospective orientation – one that points ahead to the future and calls its hearers to regard their lives, securities and ambitions according to their association with Jesus and participation in God’s kingdom. It is a call to live “against the grain” of whatever is taken to be distractingly or deceptively normative in a given cultural context, in order to experience here and now an authentic life.

 

References

Hans Weder, “Disciple, Discipleship.” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 2 (D-G), David Noel Freedman, ed., (New York: Doubleday, 1992), pp. 207-210.  

Harry Fleddermann, “The Discipleship Discourse.” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 43 (1981), pp. 42-75.

Kent Brower, “’We are Able’: Cross-Bearing Discipleship and the Way of the Lord in Mark.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 29 (2007), pp. 177-201.

Leif E. Vaage, “An Other Home: Discipleship in Mark as Domestic Asceticism.” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 71 (2009), pp. 741-761.

Marvin Mayer, “Taking Up the Cross and Following Jesus: Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark.” Calvin Theological Journal 37 (2002), pp. 230-238.

Matthew L. Skinner, “Denying Self, Bearing a Cross, and Following Jesus: Unpacking the Imperatives of Mark 8:34.” Word & World 23/3 (Summer 2003), pp. 321-331.

Sanders L. Willson, “Discipleship according to Jesus: A Sermon on Mark 3.13-19.” Presbyterian 16/2 (1990), pp. 73-80.

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Freedom Through The Death of Jesus Christ In Galatians: A Nonviolence Reading

September 26, 2009

Conclusion

The death of Jesus Christ reveals that Judaism is a system of sacred violence, and the law is distorted and used as an instrument of sacred violence against the Gentiles and those perceived to be a threat to the existing system. God’s revelation of God’s son discloses that Jesus Christ, the victim of sacred violence, is innocent and so exposes the founding lie of Judaism as the system of sacred violence. Paul’s Damascus road experience has called into question his zealotic understanding of the law and the way of life patterned according to such an understanding. When he experienced God’s revelation of God’s son, the victim of the curse of the law, he realized the problem of Judaism, to which he belonged, to be its zealotic interpretation of the law. He understood that it is the way of life in Judaism based on exclusionistic understanding of the law that has led to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, whom God has vindicated. In other words, the law that has excluded the Gentiles was the same law that caused the crucifixion of God’s son. God is rejecting that system of sacred violence and the way of life pertaining to it. Thus, the death of Jesus Christ has exposed what has been concealed in Judaism that it is a sacrificial structure of sacred violence. By disclosing this system of sacred violence, Jesus’ death has provided for believers in Jesus Christ a basis for withdrawal of credibility and allegiance to sacrificial structures, and paved way for freedom from the system of sacred violence into the new creation, where the law is understood in terms of agape love and the unity of human beings is realized. Paul calls this law of love as the law of Christ (Gal. 6.2). Freedom from the system of sacred violence to the new creation happens when a person acknowledges his/her enslavement to the system of sacred violence and its violence against the innocent victim, and breaks free from it by mimetically identifying with the crucified victim of the system of sacred violence, Jesus Christ. The believer in Christ mimes the nonacquisitive desire of Jesus Christ, the agape love. This agape love is expressed in building, supporting and serving the community.

Thus, the death of Jesus Christ deconstructs, not destroys, the system of sacred violence. The latter remains a threat and its evidence is seen everywhere, particularly in the present socio- political and economic situation in the world.

There is a tendency to spread violence beyond ourselves onto the weak and vulnerable in order to contain violence from consuming one’s society or country, or to relieve one’s own suffering by inflicting suffering on others. We try to enhance ourselves by diminishing others through military and economic violence. We live by victimizing others, oppressing, marginalizing, accusing, attacking and exploiting. As suffering and insecurity grows and consequently threatens the order of a society or a country, the more it is likely to find a weak and vulnerable internal or external “enemy” and blame the latter as the cause of suffering and insecurity. This will eventually lead to unleashing violence against this “enemy”, leaving a trace of sacred violence. Thus, there is a renewal of unanimity of “lynching mob” against the victim and reenactment of institutionalized ritual of scapegoating.

Obscurity surrounds the present day state sponsored violence. Often this violence is concealed in the garb of national security, or promoting “values of civilized countries” and “freedom” and “democracy”. Thus, the state sponsored violence is mythified as “holy, legal and legitimate”. The persuasive power of this myth may be seen in the overwhelming public gesture of unanimity by means of support to this “holy, legal and legitimate” slaughter of innocent people and destruction of sovereign countries’ political and economic structures. How else can one explain the public frenzy to unleash violence against sovereign countries and their citizens, and public euphoria at the sight of death and destruction in those countries? It is nothing but celebration of their bloodthirsty God in a holocaust of innocent human flesh and blood. As the Gospel of John says: “(A)n hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God” (John 16.2). Those who belong to this religion are prisoners of the system of sacred violence. This is the religion that the death of Jesus Christ has exposed as a lie and a system of sacred violence. Jesus Christ is the victim slain since the foundation of the world, whom God has vindicated. Thus, the myth of the religion as a system of sacred violence is unveiled, and its deception is disclosed. The system of sacred violence, by destroying the voice and language of its victim, has perpetuated its own story about the victim, thus justifying its genocidal violence against the victim. God through the revelation of Christ has not only demythified the victimizer’s story about the victim, but also redeemed the voice and language of the victim, thus reconstructing the shattered voice. 

How does the community of the new creation respond to various manifestations of sacred violence? 1. It lives out its freedom from the system of sacred violence into the new creation through building human lives and serving them. This way of life subverts the oppressive, exploitative, divisive and violent system of sacred violence. 

2. By its very nature and composition as the community of Jesus Christ, the victim of the system of sacred violence, the community of the new creation identifies with fellow victims of the system(s) of sacred violence. It actively opposes all forms of state sponsored violence, and also the victimizer’s story about victims. It not only identifies with fellow victims of various forms of violence, but also listens to and reports their story shared by them. As the poem of Antjie Krog, who reported the painful experiences of victims during the South African Truth Commission, expresses, “Beloved, do not die. Do not dare die! I, the survivor, wrap you in words so that the future inherits you. I snatch you from the death of forgetfulness. I tell your story, complete your ending – you who once whispered beside me in the dark.”[1] 

 

 


[1] Phelps, Shattered Voices, p. 128.

Freedom Through The Death of Jesus Christ In Galatians: A Nonviolence Reading

September 26, 2009

Chapter VII

 Freedom from the System of Sacred Violence into the New Creation

 

A. The Death of Jesus Christ and the New Creation

Paul uses the expression “new creation” on two occasions, both times as a consequence of the death of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 5.17; Gal. 6.15). In II Corinthians the new creation describes a new way of knowing appropriate to the cross of Christ. This new way of knowing is contrasted with knowing kata sarka (II Cor. 5.16). Paul talks about this fundamental contrast in the context of his argument where he contrasts his boasting based on his “weakness” with Jewish boasting kata sarka. He ridicules Jewish boasting kata sarka based on the Jewish credentials: Hebrews, Israelite and descendents of Abraham (II Cor. 11. 16-23). In essence it expresses the Jewish way of life of exclusionism. In II Cor. 5.12 Paul terms Jewish boasting kata sarka as boasting en prosōpō.[1] In contrast, he claims that even though he too could boast on the basis of the Jewish credentials, he rather boasts in his “weakness” (II Cor. 11.30). He, then, enumerates “the things that show my (Paul’s) weakness” (II Cor. 11. 23-30, 12.5, 9-10). Paul terms this as boasting en kardia (II Cor. 5.12). The reason for this boasting is the death of Jesus Christ: “one has died for all; therefore all have died.” (II Cor. 5.14). The consequence of Jesus’ death on the believers is: “And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them” (II Cor. 5.15). Thus, Paul describes the existence of believers in Christ as mimetically participating not only in the death of Jesus Christ, but also in the nonacquisitive desire of Christ, the agape love. Agape love is in essence living for others (II Cor. 5.14-15). Paul makes a similar statement in Gal. 2.19-20 about his conversion: “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but is Christ who lives in me. And the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” The mimetic identification with the crucified Jesus Christ is so strong that Paul could say that Christ lives in me.

In  II Cor. 5.16 Paul points out that  the death of Christ has brought a change in his (and his associates’) perception: “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view, even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.” Some scholars, like Alfred Plummer and Rudolf Bultmann, take kata sarka[2] adjectivally. According to this interpretation, kata sarka modifies Christon and so Paul in II Cor. 5.16 is referring to “fleshly Christ”. On the other hand, scholars such as C.K. Barrett and J. Louis Martyn support adverbial meaning of kata sarka. Furnish points out that “whenever Paul does construe kata sarka with a noun or pronoun (Rom. 1.3; 4.1; 9.3, 5; I Cor. 1.26; 10.18), the phrase follows the noun, whereas here kata sarka precedes the proper noun, Christ.”[3] Moreover, Paul, in II Cor. 2.14-6.10, emphasizes mainly the turn of ages that the death of Christ has brought forth, and the perception associated with the old age and that of the age initiated by the Christ event.[4] Therefore, Paul, in II Cor. 5.16, is not concerned about Christology, but rather about epistemology. He points out to the Corinthians that the death of Christ has brought an epistemological crisis. This is not a private event relating to Paul and his associates, but, as II Cor. 5.16-17 shows, an event of cosmic proportions.[5] Kainē ktisis taken in the context of II Cor. 2.14-6.10 has mainly the eschatological meaning. So “now” in II Cor. 5.16 refers to the “eschatological now”. Paul says that there are two ways of knowing and it is the eschatological event of the cross of Christ that separates these two ways of knowing: one is knowing kata sarka, and the other knowing kata stauron.[6] Knowing kata sarka is associated with the old age and Paul (and the believers in Christ), in the past, knew Christ in that way, that is, judging Christ from the zealotic point of view as the “cursed of the law” (Gal. 3.13). However, for the believers in Christ, who belong to the community of the new creation, knowing is kata stauron.[7] So the perception, value system and conduct kata sarka have no validity in the community of the new creation. The distinctive mark of the new creation is reconciliation between God and human beings, and among human beings (II Cor. 5.18-19). The community of the new creation is an inclusive community. Conversion not only brings a change in a person’s perception of people and reality, but also transfers him or her from the old age of dichotomies into the new creation of inclusion. In other words, faith in the crucified Christ results in transfer from the system of sacred violence into the system of reconciliation, unity and love.

In Galatians the new creation is contrasted with the world (Gal. 6.14-15). The context of the argument in Gal. 6.12-15 and its juxtaposition with the new creation suggest that the world is to be understood as the present evil age (Gal.1.4) where human beings are enslaved to a world of dichotomies. The fundamental opposition between the world and the new creation is expressed by the contrast between the teachers of the “other gospel” and Paul in three basic matters: necessity of circumcision for Gentile believers (Gal. 6.12,15), basis of boasting (Gal. 6.13-14), and the “marks” of Jesus, the victim of sacred violence (Gal. 6.17; cf. 6.12).[8] 

The conclusion of Galatians makes clear how central for Paul’s argument is the cross of Christ as the decisive event in bringing freedom from the world of dichotomies into the new creation. Paul argues that the weakness of the “other gospel” advocated by the teachers is its incompatibility with the cross of Christ. He does this in Gal. 6.14-15 by delineating the relation between the crucifixion of Christ and the new creation. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ has dawned the new creation (Gal. 6.14-15; cf. II Cor. 5.14-17). In Gal. 6.14-15 Paul speaks in eschatological terms of the death of the world. The decisive clue that the language of Gal. 6.14 (“the world has been crucified to me”) is to be taken in eschatological sense is found in Gal. 6.15, where Paul declares that “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything,” because in the ancient Mediterranean world it is understood that the cosmos is structured in “pairs of opposites”.[9] However, Paul is not talking about the destruction of the world of dichotomies by the cross of Jesus Christ, but the crucifixion of believer to the world of antinomies and the world to believer. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ has triggered the crucifixion of believer to the world and the world to believer (Gal. 6.14). Paul’s statements in Gal. 3.28 (“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female”), Gal. 5.6 (“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything”) and Gal. 6.15 (“neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything”) suggest that the world characterized by fundamental structural polarities (Jew/Gentile, slave/free, male/female) is dead to those who are in Christ. Therefore, the social order of exclusionism is invalid in the community of the new creation. The parallel statements in Gal. 3.28, 5.6, 6.15 also indicate that Christ is the embodiment of the community of the new creation. In this context Paul’s assertion that Christ is Abraham’s singular seed, his one and only heir, is critical for his argument on the unified community of the new creation without ethnic, class and gender barriers of separation (Gal. 3.16). The eschatological language of the new creation signifies a new social order where social division between the circumcision and the uncircumcision is abolished, and the Jews and the Gentiles are united. It describes a new pattern of existence created by the Christ event, where the walls of separation have been demolished.[10] The cross of Christ marks to believers in Christ the death of the world characterized by dichotomies (Gal. 2.19-21, 3.1, 10-14). Paul uses the language of death or crucifixion in order to express discontinuity or decisive break between the community of the new creation and the world structured in polarities. Although the community of the new creation comes into being while the old order continues to exist, the former is radically discontinuous from the latter. This community is a nonviolent community in the sense of being inclusive, not having ethnic, class, and gender dichotomies. Only a community based on the system of sacred violence is an exclusionist community, for it defines itself by excluding other peoples through construction of barriers of separation. Inclusion rather than exclusion is the mark of the community of the new creation.

The second contrast between the teachers of the “other gospel” and Paul was basis of boasting (Gal. 6.13-14). The Greek word for “boasting” is kauchaomai, which means “to have confidence in” or “to take pride in”.  Paul says that he “boasts” in the cross of Jesus Christ. His confidence or pride is grounded in the scandalous and provocative cross of Christ, in contrast to that of the teachers of the “other gospel”. The teachers’ confidence or pride is based on the “flesh”. The reason for Paul’s confidence in the cross of Christ is the triple crucifixion: Christ’s, the world’s and Paul’s, where the latter two crucifixions are secondary to and derivative of the former. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ has resulted in the world’s crucifixion to Paul and Paul’s crucifixion to the world. The perfect tense of the verb stauroō indicates that the crucifixions of the world to Paul and Paul to the world, happened at the time of Paul’s conversion and this reality continue even in the present. That is why circumcision or uncircumcision are no longer important or count anything to Paul, because the crucifixion of Jesus Christ has brought Paul’s death to the world of dichotomies and vice-versa. Believers in Christ live to a different pattern of existence, where the pairs of opposites (Gal. 3.28, 5.6, 6.15) lose their significance. That is why Paul says: “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything” (Gal. 5.6, 6.15). Therefore, Paul’s fundamental criticism of the teachers of the “other gospel” is that, by failing to recognize the eschatological significance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, they seek to remain enslaved to the system of sacred violence.

The fundamental opposition between the new creation and the world is further delineated by Paul’s reference to “the marks of Jesus” on his body (Gal. 6.17). This reference to “the marks of Jesus” on his body should be understood in the context of Paul’s argument against the teachers of the “other gospel” who are advocating circumcision, a mark on the “flesh”, to the Gentile believers. Paul accuses them that the reason for their insistence on circumcision is “only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ” (Gal. 6.12). Paul has already indicated the relationship between preaching of circumcision, cross of Christ and persecution (Gal. 5.11). He says that the cross of Christ is a skandalon (Gal. 5.11). The term skandalon refers to an offence, which arouses resentment or resistance (cf. I Mac. 5.4).[11] That means, the cross of Christ has provoked an opposition against and persecution of those who proclaimed it. It is a skandalon to the Jews because it demolishes the walls of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles, thus disturbing the existing social order based on the zealotic interpretation of the Torah. The cross, by demolishing the ritual barriers around the Jewish community and uniting the Jews and the Gentiles, has given zealous Jews motivation to engage in scapegoat mechanism, in order to prevent “bad violence” of social disorder by “good violence” of the curse of the sacred violence. Thus, the cross of Christ opposes the system of sacred violence. This is confirmed by Paul’s remark in Gal. 5.11: “why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision?” It implies that advocating circumcision removes the offence created by the cross of Christ. That is why the teachers of the “other gospel” are advocating circumcision to the Gentile believers in order to remove the offence, and consequently avoid persecution. In contrast, Paul talks about ta stigmata that his body carries (Gal. 6.17). Notice that Paul employs here the Greek word sōma (cf. sarx in Gal. 6.12). Ta stigmata is a reference to the scars of persecution that Paul has received due to his preaching of the cross of Christ (cf. II Cor. 1.8-9, 4.8-12, 6.4-10). These marks on Paul’s body are different from the mark on the “flesh”, because the former are the marks of the victim of the system of sacred violence. So the marks on Paul’s body signify the marks of the victim of the system of sacred violence, whereas the mark on the “flesh” denotes the system of sacred violence.

Thus, the cross of Jesus Christ by inaugurating the new creation has not destroyed the world. But it has deconstructed the system of sacred violence and exposed the latter’s pervasive lie. The new social order of inclusion comes into being, while the social order of exclusion continues to exist. 

B. Faith: An Entrance Requirement to the Community of the New Creation

Faith (pistis) is a fundamental feature of Paul’s message (I Thess. 1.3, 8, 3.2, 5-7, 10, 5.8). In I Thessalonians faith is related to the faith of the Thessalonian believers. In Galatians faith is often used in contrast to the works of the law (Gal. 2.16, 3.2, 5). This repeated antithesis between faith and the works of the law warrants a conclusion that faith is an essential feature of Paul’s message of freedom just as the works of the law are to the teachers of the “other gospel”. Paul’s emphasis on faith is his way of countering the teachers’ emphasis on the works of the law. In this context Paul quotes Gen. 15.6 to expound what he meant by faith. Paul insists that Abraham’s believing provides a pattern for ek pisteōs (Gal. 3.6-7). Paul does this because the teachers of the “other gospel” have used Abrahamic tradition to drive in their point, that is, the importance of the works of the law. They are aware of the Jewish midrash that interprets Abraham’s faith in terms of the zealous act of Phineas that “has been reckoned to him as righteousness”.[12] Thus, Abraham’s faith is interpreted as faithfulness, which is understood in terms of zealous action for God or the law. In this sense Abraham’s faith is linked to the system of sacred violence. Sacred violence is expressed in exclusionism through maintenance of a pattern of life according to the zealotic understanding of law. This pattern of life is expressed by the works of the law or Ioudaizein lifestyle. It is against such a zealotic interpretation of faith of Abraham that Paul uses the term “faith”. He explains his understanding of Abraham’s faith (pistis) by referring to God’s promise: “All the nations shall be blessed in you” (Gen. 12.3; cf. Gen. 18.18). That means, faith of Abraham is the trust in God’s promise or simply trust in God. This kind of faith forms the pattern for all those who believe, in contrast to the way the teachers of the “other gospel” have understood it as faithfulness (in terms of zeal or sacred violence).

The above discussion leads to an issue that has generated much debate in recent years. The question is whether all references to pistis in Galatians point to human believing in response to the gospel. Among the references there are a number of genitive constructions, pisteōs Christou or pisteōs Iēsou Christou (Gal. 2.16, 3.22), and en tē pistei tou huiou tou theou (Gal. 2.20). The phrase pisteōs Christou (or pisteōs Iēsou Christou) is translated by some as “faith of Christ” and others as “faith in Christ”. Those who support the translation “faith of Christ”[13] understand the phrase as referring to Christ’s own faith, that is, faithful obedience displayed in his willing self-sacrifice on the cross. They base their argument on the following: 1. Jesus’ faith or faithfulness was a tradition known in early Christianity (Heb. 2.17; 3.2; 12.2; Rev. 1.5, 3.14, 19.11). Moreover, Christ’s obedience is emphasized in Rom. 5.15-19 and Phil. 2.5-11. 2. In Gal. 3.23-25 Paul says that “faith came” and is “revealed”. If “faith in Christ” is a human response, how can Paul say that it “came” or “revealed”? 3. If Paul were speaking of “faith in Christ”, his failure to make his intension clear by using the preposition is inexplicable, particularly in light of expressions “the faithfulness of God” (Rom. 3.3) and “the faith of our father Abraham” (Rom. 4.12). 4. If pistis Christou means “faith in Christ” in several Pauline texts this phrase is redundant, for these texts also include some other expression designating human faith: “we have come to believe in Christ” (Gal. 2.16), “those who believe” (Gal. 3.22), “all who believe” (Rom. 3.22), “through faith” (Phil. 3.9).     

Those who hold the view that Paul refers to “faith in Christ”[14] base their argument on: 1. At Gal. 2.15 Paul defines pistis with the parallel verbal expression “believe in Christ”; 2. Like “works of the law” “faith in Christ” refers to human element in transaction of justification; 3. Paul uses the verbal form “to believe” frequently with believers as its subject, but never with Christ as subject; 4. The form (pisteōs Christou) in itself is indeterminative of meaning.[15] The meaning is determined by the context in which the phrase is used.

As discussed above, Paul maintains that Abraham’s kind of faith forms the pattern for all those who believe, in contrast to the way the teachers of the “other gospel” have understood it as faithfulness in terms of zeal or sacred violence as expressed by the works of law or Ioudaizein lifestyle. He continues this antithesis between faith and the works of the law by arguing that faith and law (understood in terms of the works of the law) are mutually exclusive and God’s justifying act is ek pisteōs (Gal. 3.11-12, 23-24). In Gal. 3.24 Paul contrasts the enslaving function of the law with God’s justifying act (that is, righting the wrong). He describes the enslaving function of the law by using the imageries of confinement in prison, prison guard, and paidagōgos. Paul is portraying law as an enslaving power of the present evil age. At the heart of the enslavement is division of the world into Jew and Gentile. In contrast, God’s justifying act is a unifying act: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female” (Gal. 3.28). It is possible only ek pisteōs (Gal. 3.23-24, 3.11). In Gal. 3.26 Paul says that this unifying has happened through faith in Jesus Christ. In Gal. 3.27 he delineates the faith in Jesus Christ by the metaphor of “baptism”. This is the same kind of faith that Abraham had, that is, trust in God or God’s promise (Gal. 3.8-9). Here Paul is talking about human faith in God’s eschatological act in Jesus Christ that has demolished the ethnic, class and gender barriers, and established an alternate world of unified people.

Faith is a feature of the eschatological age, which is inaugurated by Christ’s event (Gal. 3.23). This is supported by the use of the term apokalyphthēnai. Paul uses the term apokalypsis and its verbal form apokalyptein primarily to refer to the eschaton and to God’s action in the end time (Gal. 1.12,16, 2.2; I Cor. 1.7, 3.13).[16] In Gal. 1.12 and 1.16 apokalypsis and its verbal form respectively are used for God’s revelation of God’s son, the victim of the curse of the law. God’s revelation of God’s son disclosed that the death of Jesus Christ was the result of the sacred violence. Through this God has revealed not only his rejection of the law (understood in exclusionistic terms) that crucified Christ, but also God’s vindication of the victim of the curse of the law. In this context Paul also refers to Jesus Christ as the content of the gospel. The expression “faith came” is nothing but a new mode of existence that was made possible by God’s eschatological act in Jesus Christ and the dawning of the new creation.[17] With this line of argument, the references of ek pisteōs Iēsou Christou (Gal. 3.22, 2.16) could hardly be anything else than a reference to faith of believers, that is, human trust in God’s eschatological act in Jesus Christ.

Paul explains faith in Christ with being baptized into Christ (Gal. 3.27). Baptism is a metaphor for dying with Christ. Paul speaks about his conversion experience as being crucified with Christ, or dying to the law through the law (Gal. 2.19). The nature of existence of believers in Christ is expressed in mimetic identification with the crucified Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ means mimetically identifying with the crucified Christ. By mimetic identification with the crucified Christ, the victim of sacred violence, believers in Christ break free from the system of sacred violence. What is implied here is an acknowledgement on the part of the believers in Christ of their enslavement to the system of sacred violence and its violence against the innocent victim. God requires an acknowledgement that Jesus Christ is an innocent victim of the system of sacred violence, and wants the “perpetrators” to confess this. The system of sacred violence, by destroying the voice and language of its victim, perpetuates its own story about the victim. So the victim of the system of sacred violence experiences a loss of his story. God through the revelation of Christ has redeemed the voice and language of the victim. The gospel of Jesus Christ is, in a way, not only demythification of the story about the victim perpetuated by the violent sacrificial system, but also “a reconstruction of the shattered voice” of the victim.[18] Believers in Christ are required to actively hear and acknowledge this story of Jesus Christ, the victim of the system of sacred violence, and their enslavement to the violent system.   

Paul describes the severed relationship of believer in Christ with the system of sacred violence metaphorically by crucifixion of believers to the world of dichotomies and the world to believers, because of Christ’s crucifixion (Gal. 6.14-15). He employs the language of death or crucifixion in order to emphasize detachment from the system of sacred violence. By mimetic identification with the crucified Christ, the victim of sacred violence, believers in Christ break free from the social order of sacred violence into the new creation, which is characterized by love and inclusion of all nations. This mimetic identification with the crucified Christ forms the basis of the existence and life of believers in the new creation. Paul says: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2.20). Thus, the death or crucifixion of Jesus Christ for us is of determinative importance to the existence of believers in Christ and the community of the new creation. Martyn explains clearly this existence of believers in Christ. He says that at stake are two worlds: the world of polarities (ethnic, class, and gender) and the new creation. The death of the world of polarities to believers and believers to the world is Paul’s way of describing complete separation of believers in Christ from the world of polarities. In other words, the life of believers in the community of the new creation is completely beyond the system of sacred violence. Paul denies any existence to the antinomies or sacred violence in the new creation. For him, ethnic, class and gender distinctions do not have any validity in the community of the new creation (Gal. 3.28, 5.6, 6.15). These distinctions are no longer cause of hostility or division in the community of the new creation. The social order of the new creation is “faith working through love”. Law is no longer used for exclusion of neighbor, but acceptance and inclusion through love. The community of the new creation is an inclusive community.

Thus, faith in Christ enables believers in Christ to free from the system of sacred violence into the community of the new creation, where people irrespective of their ethnic, class and gender backgrounds are united in Christ as children of God and possess God’s eschatological gift of the Spirit. 

C. Love: A Nonacquisitive Desire

Faith is not only an entrance requirement into the community of the new creation, but also a fundamental determinant of life there. For Paul, it is not a passive human attitude or passive human belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but is active in the sense of expressing itself in life. It is the fundamental determinant of believers’ life in the community of the new creation: “faith working through love” (Gal. 5.6). It is constant “walking in the Spirit” and not gratifying the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5.16).

The history of scholarship has given a wide range of explanations for the relationship of the paraenetic section of Gal. 5-6 with the preceding chapters. Some regard the paraenetic section as an appendix to the letter. They view that the material in this section is unrelated to Paul’s main argument in the previous chapters. Others consider this section to be an integral part of the entire letter.[19]  Some, who belong to the latter group, tried to explain Gal. 5-6 by arguing that Paul was fighting two opponents in Galatians: in chapters 1-4 Judaizers or legalists, and in chapters 5-6 libertines. James Ropes argues that Paul adds the exhortation section to confront libertines.[20] The problem addressed in chapters 5-6 is libertinism, because Paul not only encourages his readers to stand firm in freedom, but also warns them against the misuse of freedom (Gal. 5.1,13). Scholars, who argue that Paul’s opponents in Gal. 5-6 are libertines, also indicate the list of the “works of the flesh” to support their view.  However, Walter Schmithals, among other scholars, questioned the artificiality of this solution. He proposed Jewish-Christian Gnostics as the opponents of Paul in Galatian churches.[21] This proposal has not gained much support.

The above solutions share a common presumption that there is a dissonance between Paul’s moral exhortation in Gal. 5-6 and his argument in chapters 1-4. This is due to the understanding of the works of the law in terms of good deeds, and Paul’s argument to be against legalism or works righteousness. However, as discussed in the previous chapters, the issue that Paul addresses in Galatians is freedom. This freedom is freedom from the world of dichotomies into the new creation. The appearance of this dominant theme in the paraenetic section provides continuity with Paul’s preceding argument (Gal. 5.1,13). Therefore, the paraenetic section in Gal. 5-6 is integral to Paul’s argument in the context of the Galatian crisis and has an important role to play in addressing the issue of freedom.

The significance of Paul’s instructions in Gal. 5-6 to his overall argument on freedom is indicated by the use of indicative-imperative combination. The structure of imperative developing out of indicative appears in Gal. 5.1 (“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery”), 5.13 (“For you were called to freedom, brethren, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love become slaves to one another), and 5.25 (“If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit”). Herman Ridderbos says that the relation of the indicative to the imperative must not be reversed.[22] The imperatives are grounded in the indicatives. In all the above three instances there is an affirmation of freedom in Christ (in Gal. 5.25 freedom is represented by the Spirit) and an appeal to live out that freedom. Paul emphasizes that freedom has come through Christ and Galatians have been set free, and this freedom is meant to be lived out. Commenting on Paul’s use of the indicative-imperative combination Barclay says, “One of the distinctive features of Paul’s use of the indicative-imperative combination is his effort to match the content of the two moods: if the indicative is ‘you have been freed’, the imperative is ‘do not become slaves’ (5.1).”[23] This phenomenon indicates that Paul wants to show the Galatian believers that there is only one pattern of behavior which is consistent with their present state of freedom in Christ and their membership in the community of the new creation.

Paul appeals or encourages for preservation of freedom from the system of sacred violence into the new creation that has been achieved through the death of Jesus Christ.  In Gal. 5.1 the aorist tense of eleutheroō points to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ that has exposed the sacrificial structure of Judaism and thus enabled believers in Christ to withdraw their credibility and allegiance to Judaism and transfer to the community of the new creation. However, since the world of dichotomies is not destroyed but only deconstructed by the death of Jesus Christ, it remains a threat to the community of the new creation. This threat is seen in the teaching of the teachers of the “other gospel”. That is why Paul strongly exhorts the Galatian believers to “stand firm”. Circumcision enslaves them again to the system of sacred violence, from which Christ event has set them free. The consequence of choosing circumcision is that “Christ will be of no benefit to you” (Gal. 5.2). That means, their intended action would negate the significance of the death of Jesus Christ. Because the antinomies, circumcision and uncircumcision, are not valid in the new creation, which is dawned by the Christ event (Gal. 5.6).

Since the system of sacred violence is not destroyed, but only exposed by the Christ event, the lifestyle pertaining to it remains a threat to members of the community of the new creation. Notice the parallelism between Gal. 5.13 and 5.1, except that “freedom” is in emphatic position in the latter whereas “you” (that is, Galatian believers) in the former. Paul’s warning in Gal. 5.13 and 6.7-8 implies that there is a possibility of believers in Christ giving “an opportunity for the flesh” or “sowing to the flesh” (Gal. 5.13, 6.7-8). Flesh here represents a way of life denoted by Ioudaizein (Gal. 2.16, 3.3, 4.23,29, 6.8,12,13), which is nothing but a lifestyle that befits the system of sacred violence. Flesh has its own “desire” (Gal. 5.16) or “passions and desires” (Gal. 5.24). It engages in inevitable conflict with the Spirit (Gal. 5.17). Such mutual opposition implies mutual exclusion.[24] Flesh produces its own “works” (Gal. 5.19-21) that contrast sharply with the “fruit” of the Spirit (Gal. 5.22-23). “Works of the flesh” and “fruit of the Spirit” are commonly referred as catalogues of vices and virtues. Martyn says that this “identification seriously distorts Paul’s understanding,” because Paul is talking about the marks of two communities, one under the influence of the flesh and the other led by the Spirit.[25] Therefore, “works of the flesh” characterizes the world of flesh. It is striking to see prevalence of greed (Gal. 5.16), fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, jealousy, anger, envy, drunkenness and carousing under the works of the flesh (Gal. 5.19-21). These traits are all interrelated aspects of what Girard identifies as acquisitive mimetic desire. Because these are the characteristics of a person who mimes the object of desire of another person and is ambitious to possess what is deemed desirable by the other. This acquisitive mimetic desire produces “works”. The conflictual nature of the “works” of the acquisitive desire is evidenced by enmities, strife, quarrels, dissentions, and factions (Gal. 5.20). Paul also indicates rivalry as the work of the flesh: “biting and devouring one another” and “consuming one another” (Gal. 5.13-15). Thus, acquisitive mimetic desire, which is characteristic of the flesh, leads to rivalry and conflictual violence. This generates scapegoating mechanism and sacred violence of exclusionism, persecution and killing.

However, freedom enabled by the Christ event from the system of sacred violence into the new creation transforms the desire of believers in Christ. Paul says that they have crucified the “flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5.24). Here Paul uses an active verb stauroō to describe that believers in Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (cf. Gal. 2.19, 6.14). To say that believers in Christ have “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” suggests believers’ resolution and conscious effort to renounce the acquisitive mimetic desire that leads to rivalry and conflictual violence, and ultimately generates scapegoating violence. This takes place at the time of conversion, when believers are transferred from the social order of sacred violence into the new creation. This is supported by the use of aorist tense estaurōsan, and close parallel with Gal. 2.19-20 and 6.14-15. Believers not only renounce the acquisitive mimetic desire, but also mimic the nonacquisitive desire of Christ, the agape love (Gal. 2.20). In other words, faith in Christ means mimetically participating not only in the death of Jesus Christ, but also in the nonacquisitive love of Christ. This faith expressed in the nonacquisitive love becomes the distinctive characteristic of the community of the new creation, which Paul terms: “faith working through love” (Gal. 5.6).

Scholars differ on the voice of the participle energoumenē (Gal.5.6). Some interpret it as passive (“faith that is activated by love”) and others prefer middle (“faith that is actively expressing itself through love”).[26] Paul does not regard faith as passive, but as active: “faith working through love” (Gal. 5.6). Barclay calls “faith in Christ” as “the fundamental determinant of all Christian behaviour.”[27] Notice the parallelism between Gal. 5.6 and 6.15. Paul identifies “faith working through love” with the new creation (cf. I Cor. 7.19).[28] The new creation is characterized by “faith working through love”. Faith in Christ is not only the entrance requirement into the community of the new creation, but also manifests itself through love. Sam Williams says, “It erupts into communal life as love.”[29] The model for agape love through which faith makes itself effective is Christ (Gal. 2.20). The mimetic identification of believers with the crucified Christ as model is so strong that Christ is said to be “living in them”. That is why in Gal. 5.14 Paul does not say that believers should obey the law’s command to love the neighbor. They do not love because the law commands them to do it. They love because the faith in Christ makes them mimic the nonacquisitive desire of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the nonacquisitive desire of Christ, expressed in agape love, becomes the pattern of life in the community of the new creation. The communal life marked by the nonacquisitive love is reflected in mutual love and service (Gal.5.13).

Therefore, the mimesis generated by the acquisitive desire, which is underlying the system of sacred violence, has given way to the mimesis generated by the nonacquisitive desire in the new creation. Freedom of believers in Christ is expressed in the nonacquisitive desire of mutual love and service (Gal. 5.13). The nonacquisitive desire of mutual love and service is the essence of the law: ho pas nomos en heni logō peplērōtai en tō Agapēseis ton plēsion sou hōs seauton. The translation of peplērōtai as “is summed up” is not accurate in the context of Paul’s argument in Galatians. Paul employs the noun form of plēroō to refer to the Christ event that has enabled believers in Christ to be freed from the enslavement under the law and so the Ioudaizein lifestyle pertaining to the social order of antinomies, into the new creation where “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 4.4; cf. Gal. 3.28, 5.6, 6.15). This Christ event has done something to the law. As Cousar comments, “The perfect tense and passive voice of the verb (plēroō in 5.14) indicate that something has happened to the law.”[30] By freeing those under the enslavement of the law into the new creation where Jew and Greek are united and thus fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham (Gal. 3.8), the Christ event has restored the law “to its rightful identity.”[31] Martyn supports this interpretation of the verb plēroō in Gal. 5.14. He says:

In Gal. 5.14, that is to say, the guiding imperative of the Law (Lev. 19.18) is not the result of an insightful deed of Paul, his act of reducing the Law to its essence (his achievement of the reduction in unum). On the contrary, that guiding imperative is the result of the powerful deed of Christ…The law taken in hand by Christ (Gal. 6.2) is the Law that Christ has restored to its original identity and power (Gal. 5.14).[32]           

Thus, the Christ event has restored the original meaning of the law. In other words, the original interpretation of the law as loving service to neighbor is restored in the new creation.

Paul delineates further the restoration of the Torah to its original meaning in Gal. 6.2. Here he employs the compound verb anaplēroō. Majority of scholars acknowledge a close link between Gal. 6.2 and 5.13-14: use of words from the root plēroun, and a reference to mutual service. The law here is conjoined with Christ, “the law of Christ” (cf. I Cor. 9.21 ennomos Christou). There are different views about the interpretation of the phrase “the law of Christ”[33]: “the law of the Messiah”[34], “Christian law”[35] and “principle” or “norm” that controls the Christian life[36]. However, these interpretations are unlikely. Paul’s use of the term anaplēroō suggests that the “law of Christ” is related to the eschatological age inaugurated by the Christ event. Bearing of burdens is a slave’s task.[37] Moreover, in I Cor. 9.19-21 being under ennomos Christou is related to being a slave of all. Although it is unclear in Gal. 6.2 what ta barē refers to, it is evident that Paul is instructing the Galatian believers to love one another through mutual service. The following verse confirms this interpretation, where Paul says that this mutual service fulfils the law of Christ (Gal. 6.2). Therefore, to fulfill the law through love means to fulfill the law of Christ. There are instances in Paul’s letters where Paul links “love” and “Christ” through the example of Christ’s death (Gal. 2.20; II Cor. 5.14-15). This suggests that when Paul talks of “fulfilling the law of Christ” he is, in fact, referring to the Torah, but redefined through Christ. Moreover, in II Cor. 5.14-17 this link between love and Christ through the example of the death of Christ is related to the new creation, where reconciliation is realized. Thus, the new creation is characterized by the law redefined through Christ. It is the law interpreted not in terms of sacred violence generated by the acquisitive mimesis, but in terms of love expressed through mutual service that controls life in the community of the new creation. Gal. 5.13-6.10 is a description of social and communal manifestations of “faith working through love”.

The nonacquisitive love that underlies the community of the new creation is expressed in “the fruit of the spirit” (Gal. 5.22). The singular noun “fruit” indicates that the way of life according to the Spirit is cohesive and unified.[38] It builds and supports community. Interestingly love heads the list of “the fruit of the spirit”. Cousar notes, “The remainder of the list gives further substance to the word “love” and depicts the qualities characteristic of the community in which the Spirit is active.”[39] The appeal for living out freedom in the community of the new creation continues with an exhortation to “restore” the one who “is detected in a transgression” (Gal. 6.1). The verb “restore” has a sense of “mending” or “to repair” (Mt. 4.21; Mk. 1.19). There is no retributive action or exclusion of the person from the community of the new creation. The mimetic identification with the crucified Christ is “constitutionally different” from an excluding system of sacred violence.[40] It is a subversive social order to the existing order of sacred violence. That is why Paul reminds the Galatian believers of their possession of the Spirit, the identity of their membership in the community of the new creation. Each member of the community of the new creation is called to self-awareness (Gal. 6.2) and self-evaluation that helps to free the community from scapegoating (Gal. 6.3-5). It is this attitude that helps the members of the community of Christ to “bear one another’s burdens.” The word baros means “anything grievous and hard to be borne”. Most probably, it refers back to “temptation” or “trespass” a believer may be influenced by. That means, the restoration of a transgressed believer is a burden-bearing activity. It is identifying with fellow transgressed member, rather than scapegoating that believer which results in excluding him/her from the community. Paul says that burden-bearing fulfils “the law of Christ” (Gal. 6.2). Thus, the law redefined through Christ is not a weapon of sacred violence, but uniting, identifying and building.

Further, in Gal. 6.9-10 Paul encourages believers to persevere in doing good. Here the term kairos appears twice. NRSV translates it as “harvest time” in Gal. 6.9, and “opportunity” in 6.10. However, in both occasions kairos refers to eschatological time. Furnish comments:

Thus, as we have opportunity does not mean: Whenever, from time to time, it may be possible to do good, we should do it. It means, rather, as long as this present eschatological time continues, it is in fact the time to love, and we should be obedient in love.[41]

Since the time that governs the community of the new creation is the eschatological time, Paul is encouraging believers to work for the common good. In other words, it is the social order of nonacquisitive mimesis that underlies the community of the crucified Christ.

 

 

 


[1] Victor Paul Furnish, II Corinthians: Translated with Introduction, Notes, and Commentary (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1984), p. 308.

[2] Kata sarka occurs nineteen times in the undisputed letters of Paul. Excluding the two occurrences in II Cor. 5.16, of the seventeen, it is used thirteen times adverbially, while four times adjectivally.  

[3] Furnish, II Corinthians, p. 313.

[4] Martyn, Theological Issues in the Letters of Paul (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1997), pp. 92-93.

[5] Martyn, Theological Issues, p. 94.

[6] For the discussion on this read Martyn, Theological Issues.

[7] Martyn, Theological Issues, pp. 107-108.

 

[8] Cousar, Reading Galatians, p. 110.

[9] Martyn, “Apocalyptic Antinomies in Paul’s Letter to Galatians” in NTS 31 (1985), pp. 410-24.

[10] Barclay, Obeying the Truth, p. 102.

[11] Betz, Galatians, p. 269.

[12] Discussed in Chapter IV.

[13] Luke T. Johnson, “Romans 3.21-26 and the Faith of Jesus,” in CBQ 44 (1982); Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ; Morna D. Hooker, “PISTIS CHRISTOU,” in NTS 35 (1989), pp. 321-342;  Longenecker, Galatians, pp. 87-88; Frank J. Matera, Galatians (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1992), pp. 100-101; Sam K. Williams, “Again Pistis Christou,” in CBQ 49 (1987), pp. 431-447.

[14] Betz, Galatians, p. 117; Arland J. Hultgren, “The Pistis Christou Formulation in Paul,” in NovT 22 (1980), pp. 248-263; F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians, p. 139; Dunn, “Once More, PISTIS CHRISTOU,” in Society of Biblical Literature 1991 Papers, ed. By Eugene H. Lovering (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991).

[15] Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1998), p. 380.

[16] Gaventa, From Darkness to Light, p. 23; Cousar, Reading Galatians, pp. 36-37.

[17] Keck, Paul and His Letters, p. 86.

 

[18] Phelps, Shattered Voices, p. 44.

[19] For a survey of views on the paraenetic section of Gal. 5-6 read Barclay, Obeying the Truth, pp. 9- 26.

[20] James H. Ropes, The Singular Problem of the Epistle to the Galatians (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1929).

[21] Walter Schmithals, Paul and the Gnostics, tr. by John E. Steely (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1972), pp. 13-64.

[22] Ridderbos Paul, p. 254.

[23] Barclay, Obeying the Truth, p. 225.

[24] Barclay, Obeying the Truth, p. 112.

[25] Martyn, Galatians, p. 496.

[26] Martyn, Galatians, p. 474.

[27] Barclay, Obeying the Truth, p. 237.

[28] Moises Silva, Interpreting Galatians: Explorations in Exegetical Method (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2001), p. 182.

[29] Williams, Galatians, p. 144.

[30] Cousar, Reading Galatians, p. 99.

[31] Cousar, Reading Galatians, p. 100.

[32] Martyn, Theological Issues, pp. 247-248.

[33] For a detailed discussion on this read Barclay, Obeying the Truth, pp. 127-135.

[34] W.D. Davies, Torah in the Messianic Age and/or the Age to Come (Philadelphia: Society of Biblical Literature, 1952); The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976).

[35] W.D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism, p. 144; Longenecker, Paul: Apostle of Liberty (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1976), pp. 183-190.

[36] Raisanen, Paul and the Law, p. 80; Burton, Galatians, p. 329; Bruce, Galatians, p. 261; Hays, “Christology and Ethics in Galatians: The Law of Christ,” in CBQ 49 (1987), pp. 268-290.

[37] Barclay, Obeying the Truth, p. 131.

[38] Cousar, Reading Galatians, p. 104.

[39] Cousar, Reading Galatians, p. 104.

[40] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 86.

[41] Victor Paul Furnish, The Love Command in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1972), p. 101.

Freedom Through The Death of Jesus Christ In Galatians: A Nonviolence Reading

September 26, 2009

Chapter VI

 The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Law

The traditional understanding of the purpose of the autobiographical narrative in Gal. 1-2 is to prove Paul’s independence of the Jerusalem apostles and their recognition of his apostolic status. Since the time of Baur this theory has been supported by contrasting this autobiographical narrative with Acts 9.1 ff. By pointing to the length of time between Paul’s conversion experience and his first visit to Jerusalem and the infrequency of later visits (only one in fourteen years) in contrast to his frequent visit to Jerusalem recorded in Acts, it is argued that in Galatians Paul seeks to establish his independence from the Jerusalem apostles. As Lightfoot says, “Their (apostles) recognition of his (Paul’s) office is most complete. The language is decisive in two respects: it represents this recognition first as thoroughly mutual, and second as admitting a perfect equality and independent position.”[1] However, this theory is unlikely in view of the context of Galatians. George Howard comments, “Although it is clear that Paul was independent of the Jerusalem apostles, his method of presenting the events of his Christian career creates doubts as to whether his purpose in recording them was actually to prove his independence.”[2] Seen in the context of Galatian crisis where the truth of the gospel of Christ is at stake, it is evident that the purpose of Paul in accounting the autobiographical section is quite different from the traditional view. The accounts of the Jerusalem conference and the Antioch incident highlight the primary issue in Galatians, that is, the threat to the truth of the gospel. Both are illustrative of what the truth of the gospel means.

The incidents at Jerusalem and Antioch are related to Paul’s experience of God’s revelation of God’s son. In these two incidents, where focus is on the Jewish distinctive rituals (circumcision Gal. 2.1-10, and dietary laws Gal. 2.11-14) that have formed as walls of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles, the truth of the gospel, which Paul has received through God’s revelation, is at stake. Paul twice states that his actions both in his Jerusalem visit and in Antioch are motivated by a concern for the truth of the gospel which he has received through God’s revelation of God’s son (Gal. 2.5, 2.14). Paul mentions these incidents in his letter to the Galatian churches because it is the truth of the gospel that is in danger there too. In all these three contexts the gospel of Jesus Christ is threatened due to insistence on observance of the Jewish distinctive rituals. Notice the verb “compel” used in Gal. 2.3, 2.14, and 6.12. Some of the Jewish believers in Christ, who patterned their lives according to the exclusionistic interpretation of the law, are insisting on the observance of the Jewish distinctive rituals. Paul counters them by stressing that the gospel of Christ and the system of sacred violence, expressed in excluding the Gentiles through the practice of the Jewish distinctive rituals such as circumcision and dietary laws, are mutually exclusive.  

A. The Truth of the Gospel at Jerusalem Gal. 2.1-10

Historical questions surround the second visit of Paul to Jerusalem to meet the leaders of the Jerusalem community (Gal. 2.1-10). In Galatians Paul speaks of two visits to Jerusalem after his conversion-call experience: first one three years after this experience (Gal. 1.18-20), and the second one “after fourteen years” (Gal. 2.1-10), whereas Acts records five visits of Paul to Jerusalem (Acts 9.26-30; 11.27-30; 15.1-31; 18.22; 21.15-17). Majority of scholars have no difficulty in identifying the first visit mentioned in Gal. 1.18-20 with that of Acts 9.26-30. However, the contention among scholars is with the second one recorded in Gal. 2.1-10. The two prominent positions are: 1. the visit referred to in Gal. 2.1-10 is the famine relief visit of Acts 11.27-30; 2. the visit mentioned in Gal. 2.1-10 is the same visit recorded by Luke in Acts 15.1-31. Among the proponents of the first view are F.F. Bruce and Richard N. Longenecker.[3] Their arguments are primarily based on Paul’s description of the visit as a “private meeting” (Gal. 2.2) and not a public meeting as recorded in Acts 15.1-31, and the reference to “remembering the poor” in Jerusalem (Gal. 2.10). This view suggests that Paul has written this letter to Galatians before the Jerusalem Council. The Council was called to resolve the issue raised at Antioch (Gal. 2.11-14). Otherwise, the proponents contend, it is difficult to reconcile the Antioch incident in Gal. 2.11-14 if Gal. 2.1-10 were an account of the Jerusalem Council, because in the Council that issue was settled through the Apostolic Decree (Acts 15.19-31). The problem with this view, as Dunn rightly points out, is the issue of circumcision, which was the main concern at Jerusalem Council.[4] Since that issue was already settled between Paul and the leaders of the Jerusalem community, according to Gal.2.1-10, then how did it become a major issue of contention again in Acts 15.1-31? The other problem is that there is no indication given in the Acts 11.27-30 of any discussion between Paul, Barnabas, and the Jerusalem leaders over the issue of circumcision.

The second view is that the account recorded in Gal. 2.1-10 is, in fact, Jerusalem Council (Acts 15.1-31). This is based on the close parallels between the two accounts: same issue of contention (circumcision), same participants (Paul and Barnabas, Jerusalem leaders, and those advocating circumcision), and same principal agreement regarding circumcision. Variant details in the two accounts are due to different perspectives of Paul and Luke.

The other well debated question is the time of Paul’s visit to Jerusalem. Paul says that he visited Jerusalem “after fourteen years” (Gal. 2.1). It is uncertain whether “fourteen years” should be counted from Paul’s experience of God’s revelation of God’s son (Gal. 1.15), or his first visit to Jerusalem (Gal. 1.18), or his visit to Syria and Cilicia. The question is whether the adverb epeita is used to divide the narrative or for historical connection (Gal. 1.18, 21, 2.1).[5] Even if it is employed to connect the historical events, the ambiguity is whether it denotes a specific number of years between two successive events or a number of years from Paul’s experience of God’s revelation of God’s Son, since epeita is used with reference to the adverb eutheōs in Gal. 1.16.[6]

Although the ambiguity on the time of Paul’s visit to Jerusalem recorded in Gal. 2.1-10 persists, the purpose of this visit is made clear in this passage. Paul claims that his second visit to Jerusalem was a “response to a revelation” and to place before the Jerusalem leaders the gospel that he proclaimed among the Gentiles (Gal. 2.2). Scholars differ with regards to Paul’s reference to apokalypsis. Some argue that it suggests to either a specific dream or a vision or a prophecy through which God directed or ordered him to go to Jerusalem.[7] They argue that Paul included it here in order to make it clear that he had gone to Jerusalem “at heaven’s behest, not at Jerusalem’s, nor even Antioch’s.”[8] However, this interpretation is unlikely, because Paul uses the term  apokalypsis and its verbal form apokalyptein primarily to refer to the eschaton and to God’s action in the end time (I Cor. 1.7, 3.13; Gal. 3.23).[9] Howard argues that even in the instances where the term is used for reception of revelations by individuals, “these are not oracular commands for them to go somewhere or to do something, but are revelations pertaining to the interpretation of the gospel…for edification (of the community)” (I Cor. 14.6,26). Apokalypsis in Gal. 2.2 is to be connected with its earlier uses in Gal. 1.11 and 1.16.[10] Paul went to Jerusalem to place before the “pillars” of the Jerusalem church the gospel he preached among the Gentiles (Gal. 2.2). The usage of the phrase to euaggelion…en tois ethnesin in Gal. 2.2 echoes 1.16. It implies that the gospel Paul placed before the Jerusalem leaders is the same gospel that he was commissioned by God to proclaim among the Gentiles. As observed in chapter V, both the content of God’s revelation and the content of the gospel he proclaimed among the Gentiles is same: Jesus Christ, the victim of sacred violence.

Paul’s experience on the Damascus road is concerning God unveiling Judaism as the system of sacred violence and God’s vindication of the victim of sacred violence. This sacred violence is expressed not only in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ but also in persecution of apostates and exclusion of the Gentiles. The revelation of Jesus Christ, the victim of sacred violence, has exposed what has been concealed in Judaism. That is, Judaism is a sacrificial structure of sacred violence. Through this God is revealing not only his rejection of the Jewish zealotic way of life that crucified Christ and excluded the Gentiles, but also God’s vindication of the victim of sacred violence. It is this gospel that God has commissioned Paul to proclaim among the Gentiles.

The gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul has received on the Damascus road was placed before the leaders of the Jerusalem community with the primary purpose of maintaining a unified people, which the gospel of Jesus Christ demanded. This purpose of Paul is reinforced by Gal. 2.10 where he reveals his intention regarding the poor at Jerusalem: “They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.” Paul wanted to maintain the unity between the Jews and the Gentiles that has been achieved by the Christ event. That is why he also brought Titus along with him. This intention of Paul’s visit of Jerusalem leaders is also supported by the Antioch incident where Paul had to confront Peter for failing to live according to the truth of the gospel. His words in Gal. 2.2, “lest I was running or had run in vain,” does not imply that he was presenting the gospel, which he has been proclaiming among the Gentiles, to gain the approval of Jerusalem leaders so that his gospel would not be proved false.[11] By the time he went to Jerusalem on his second visit, Paul had been preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ for about fourteen to seventeen years, depending on how one counts the time based on Gal. 1.18, 21, 2.1. Therefore, it is unlikely that Paul went to Jerusalem “to see whether his apostolic mission was valid.”[12] Cousar says:

Paul harbors no doubts about the truth of the gospel and his role in going to the non-Jewish world (to preach the gospel without circumcision). Such an implication would countermand the whole of Gal. 1 and especially the thesis stated in 1.11-12.[13]

Peter, James, and John have confirmed that the gospel of Jesus Christ, which Paul proclaimed among the Gentiles, was decisive. They demonstrated their agreement through the test case Titus, who accompanied Paul. The description of Titus as a Greek is deliberate (Gal. 2.3). It stands in contrast to “Jew” in categorizing the world from Jewish perspective (cf. Gal. 3.28; I Cor. 1.22, 24, 10.32, 12.13; II Macc. 4.36, 11.2). Titus, not a Jew and so an uncircumcised, stands before the Jerusalem leaders as a test case. Their decision regarding Titus applies to all the uncircumcised. Paul says that “even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised” (Gal. 2.3). Paul has used the same verb anagkazō in Gal. 2.14 in the context of Antioch controversy over the Jewish dietary laws, where Paul charged Peter that the latter was “compelling” the Gentile believers to follow the Jewish way of life. In Gal. 6.12 he has again used the same verb where he accused the teachers of the “other gospel” for “compelling” the Gentile believers to be circumcised. For Paul, the gospel of Jesus Christ and the zealotic Jewish way of life expressed by the distinctive Jewish rituals are mutually exclusive. According to him, the Jerusalem leaders, by not compelling Titus to be circumcised and adding nothing to his gospel (Gal. 2.6), have confirmed the gospel that Paul received in his Damascus road experience, which he has been proclaiming among the Gentiles. In other words, they have accepted that the gospel of Jesus Christ and the zealotic Jewish way of life expressed in the Jewish distinctive rituals are mutually exclusive.

However, the Jerusalem leaders’ acceptance of Paul’s gospel did not silence some dissenting voices in Jerusalem. Some “false brothers” demanded that Titus, who was a Greek, should be circumcised (Gal. 2.3-4). Although the sentences of Gal. 2.2-5 appear to be incomplete and do not follow grammatical convention, the usage of dia with the accusative in 2.4 suggests that the “false brothers” insisted on the circumcision of Titus.[14] These dissenting ones seem to be from Jerusalem. Paul considers that yielding to their demand for Titus’ circumcision is shifting from freedom in Christ to enslavement (Gal. 2.4). Here Paul uses eleutheria for the first time in Galatians. Eleutheria (freedom) appears four times in Galatians (2.4, 5.1, 5.13, 5.13), eleutheros (free) six times (3.28, 4.22, 4.23, 4.26, 4.30, 4.31), and eleutheroō (to set free) once (5.1). Doulos and its cognates (douleia, katadouloō, douloō, douleuō) are used in Gal. 1.10, 2.4, 3.28, 4.1, 4.3, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9, 4.24, 4.25, 5.1, 5.13. The contrast between freedom and enslavement become more prominent in the Sarah-Hagar allegory (Gal. 4.21-4.31).

Gal. 4.21-4.31 is a difficult passage to interpret due to usage of expressions that seem strange (“two covenants”) and connections made that are hard to trace, though it is based on an Old Testament story.[15] Paul declares that the Sarah-Hagar story is “an allegory” (Gal. 4.24). He offers a different interpretation to this story. Most scholars think that Paul has taken this story because it had been used by the teachers of the “other gospel” to reinforce the necessity of being “under the law”, expressed primarily through the Jewish distinctive rituals such as circumcision, in order to be an heir of Abraham like Isaac.[16] Gal. 4.21-4.31 is linked to Paul’s earlier argument in chapters 3-4 by the phrase hupo nomon, and the concepts of enslavement and freedom, though Paul uses exagorazō in chapters 3-4 to express the freedom achieved by the Christ event. Paul’s argument in Gal. 4.21-4.31 serves him two purposes: to reaffirm the freedom in Christ that the Gentile believers are enjoying and to reject the freedom that the teachers of the “other gospel” have preached. As noted above, for the teachers of the “other gospel” freedom and being “under law” are coterminous.

The expression hupo nomon in Gal. 4.21 has the same meaning as in Gal. 3.22, 4.4. In the latter references Paul has used the preposition hupo in the sense of subjection or enslavement, thus characterizing the Torah as an enslaving power. The law as an enslaving power functioned by dividing the world into the circumcision and the uncircumcision (cf. Gal. 3.28; 6.12-15). Paul has argued against the law in its function of restriction and confinement to a particular pattern of life that built a wall of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles. By focusing on this enslaving function of the law, he counters the claims of the teachers of the “other gospel” that freedom and the pattern of life according to the zealotic interpretation of the law are coterminous. Paul is reinforcing the same in the Sarah-Hagar allegory.

The Sarah-Hagar story is drawn primarily from Genesis 16 and 21. The focus is on two sons of Abraham. Although both can claim their lineage to Abraham, Paul emphasizes on their different manners of birth: one belongs to a slave woman and his birth was “according to flesh”, and the other to a free woman and his birth was “through promise” (Gal. 4.22-23). In Gal. 4.29 Paul contrasts the one born “according to the flesh” to the one “according to the spirit”. It implies that the one born according to the promise is the one according to the spirit. In Paul’s argument throughout the letter the terms “flesh”, “promise” and “Spirit” are critical.

The importance of the term sarx in Paul’s argument in Galatians is evident by its frequent occurrence. It is used eighteen times. One of Paul’s usages of the term “flesh” in Galatians has “originated in the polemical situation in Galatia, as a metaphor from circumcision and metonymy of the whole way of life that it signified” (Gal. 3.3, 6.12,13).[17] Paul criticizes those who want Gentiles to be circumcised that it implies boasting in the “flesh” (Gal. 6.13).[18] The traditional Lutheran understanding is that Judaism is a religion of “works righteousness” which led to self-righteousness and boasting before God, which in turn, is a betrayal of creaturely dependence on the Creator. Following this view, Bultmann comments:

It is not merely evil deeds already committed that make a man reprehensible in God’s sight, but man’s intension of becoming righteous by keeping the Law and thereby having his “boast.” Man’s effort to achieve his salvation by keeping the Law only leads him into sin, indeed this effort itself in the end is already sin.[19]

For Bultmann, Judaism functions simply as an example of general human pride. Jewish boasting in law performance is but a manifestation of a “natural tendency of man in general…to have his “boast”.”[20] Kasemann universalizes the pious Jew in a way that he represents the religious man who boasts in his own achievements.[21] However, E.P. Sanders in his landmark study Paul and Palestinian Judaism[22] has refuted the Lutheran understanding of Judaism as a religion of “works righteousness”. Sanders argues that the “pattern of religion” reflected in extant Palestinian literary material is one not of legalism, but of what he termed “covenantal nomism”. In this religious system, the law functions within a covenantal relationship between God and the people of Israel. The people of Israel maintain their covenantal relationship with God by observing the law. According to Sanders, certain laws of the Torah such as circumcision, Sabbath, food laws and the special days “created a social distinction between Jews and other races in the Greco-Roman world.”[23] Sanders’ view that the Jewish rituals such as circumcision and dietary laws have created social distinction with the Gentiles is supported by the incidents in Jerusalem and Antioch (Gal. 2.1-10, 2.11-14). This ethnic exclusionism, symbolized by the zealously guarded Jewish ritual boundary markers, is the cause of Jewish boasting: “we ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners” (Gal. 2.15). The context of Paul’s accusation against those coercing the Gentile believers to undergo circumcision and their boasting in the “flesh”, and its juxtaposition with the “world”, to which Paul has been crucified through the cross of Christ, suggest that the “flesh” and the “world”, where the division between the circumcision and the uncircumcision is important (Gal. 6.12-15), are intrinsically linked. Here “flesh” refers “both to the fact of circumcision and the Jewish way of life.”[24] Paul contends that the Jewish way of life patterned according to the exclusionistic understanding of the law is the cause of “boasting” for the teachers of the “other gospel” (Gal. 6.12-13). Dunn comments that “the boast is not the boast of self-confidence, but of Jewish confidence….”[25] But Paul makes it clear that he (and the believers in Christ) has been crucified to the world and the world to him through the cross of Christ.

Paul’s criticism against confidence based on the “flesh” is categorically expressed in the deliberately modified citation from Ps. 143.2 in Gal. 2.16: hoti ex ergōn nomou ou dikaiōthēsetai pasa sarx. Paul replaces pas zōn in LXX with pasa sarx. Paul deliberately did this in order to counter the Ioudaizein conduct of Peter, Baranabas and the other Jews who withdrew from table fellowship with the Gentiles believers. Here Paul’s criticism is directed against sarx that represents a lifestyle denoted by Ioudaizein (Gal. 2.16, 3.3, 4.23, 29, 6.12, 13; I Cor. 10.18; II Cor. 1.17, 5.16, 10.2,3, 11.18; Phil. 3.3,4), and not against sarx that represents natural human life in this world (Gal. 1.16, 2.20, 4.13,14; I Cor. 1.26,29, 5.5, 6.16; II Cor. 4.11, 7.5, 10.3, 12.7; Phil. 1.22,24).[26] His criticism is directed against the Jewish lifestyle patterned according to the zealotic understanding of the law that separated the Jews from the Gentiles.

Although sarx refers to the zealotic Jewish life, for Bultmann this life is expressed in their conduct of self-achievement or self-fulfillment of the law. However, it is unlikely because Paul uses sarx to refer to Ioudaizein lifestyle. Paul uses “flesh” as a synonym of “works of the law” in Gal. 3.2-3, where Paul chides Galatian believers: “Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?”

In the allegory of Sarah-Hagar in Gal. 4.21-31 the son of Hagar represents life “according to the flesh”, and the son of Sarah life “according to the Spirit”. The point of contact between the Genesis story and Gal. 4.21-31 is explicated in Gal. 4.29: “But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it now also.” That means, the son who is “born according to the Spirit” or “through the promise” is the one in Christ (Gal. 3.27-29, 4.4-7) and the one who is “born according to the flesh” is the one under the law. Paul uses the phrase kata sarka to refer to the Jewish way of life based on the exclusionistic interpretation of the law (Gal. 4.23, 4.29). It implies that those whose life is patterned according to this way of life are in enslavement. The link between enslavement and the law has already been established in Gal. 3.22-24 and 4.1-10.  In the Sarah-Hagar allegory by linking Hagar, Mount Sinai, present Jerusalem, and the children of Hagar “born according to the flesh” to enslavement Paul reinforces what he has already argued. In Gal. 2.4 by linking Jewish distinctive ritual circumcision to enslavement, Paul stresses that the Jewish pattern of life according to the exclusionistic interpretation of the law is slavery. Thus, this Jewish way of life demanded by Judaism is a threat to the freedom achieved by the Christ event.

On the contrary, Paul states that those who are in Christ are in freedom (Gal. 2.4). In the Sarah-Hagar allegory Paul links “free woman”, “the Jerusalem above” and the children of the “free woman” “born through the promise” to freedom. Paul contends that the children of the free woman are those in Christ (“our” in Gal. 4.26 refers to those in Christ) and so they are in freedom. For Paul, those who are born “through the promise” are those who are born “according to the Spirit” (Gal. 4.29). He argues that the Galatian believers have already received the Spirit (Gal. 3.3), which is a sign of sonship (Gal. 4.6). The Spirit is also the content of Abraham’s blessing (Gal. 3.14). Thus, the reception of God’s eschatological gift, the Spirit, by believers in Christ, irrespective of their ethnic, class and gender backgrounds, has fulfilled God’s promise spoken to Abraham, that is, the blessing of all nations in Abraham. Paul also says that God’s promise to bless the nations in Abraham (Gal. 3.8) is fulfilled through the Christ event (Gal. 3.13-14). Thus, the Christ event and the reception of the Spirit have demolished the walls of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles, and made them one in Christ (Gal. 3.26-29). This freedom in Christ is threatened by the efforts of the “false brothers” to enforce the Jewish way of life based on the exclusionistic understanding of the law (Gal. 2.4). Paul links freedom in Christ with “the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2.5).

The expression “the truth of the gospel” appears in Paul’s letters only in Gal. 2.5 and 2.14. This phrase is taken as either possessive (“The truth is the truth contained in and so belonging to the gospel”)[27] or subjective genitive (“the validity of the salvation now already bestowed on the world by God…; it is the eschatological and sovereign power of God, now available in the gospel”)[28] By linking the truth of the gospel and freedom in Christ, Paul states that the gospel of Jesus Christ is freedom from the system of sacred violence. He asserts that the truth of the gospel is God’s eschatological redemption through the Christ event from the system of sacred violence, and believers in Christ are in that state of freedom in Christ. 

B. The Truth of the Gospel at Antioch Gal. 2.11-14

The Antioch incident has happened after Paul’s meeting with Peter, James and John in Jerusalem, where Paul’s gospel was accepted. This incident raises a number of historical and theological questions, including the identity of the group that came “from James”, their relationship to James and their place in the Jerusalem church, the identity of the “circumcision group”, and the nature of food that Peter and others participated at Antioch.[29] Scholars differ widely in their answers to these questions. However, the main focus of the Antioch incident is on Peter’s withdrawal from table fellowship with the Gentile believers. The imperfect tense sunēsthien indicates Peter’s customary behavior of eating with the Gentile believers before the arrival of “certain ones from James”.[30] Peter and the other Jews, by having table fellowship with the Gentile believers, expressed their conviction that because of their common faith in Christ Gentile believers are not to be regarded as “Gentile sinners” (Gal. 2.15) and that they are no longer separated, but rather united in Christ. This questions Dunn’s view that “the Antioch’s incident…shows just how little clarity had been achieved at the Jerusalem consultation.”[31] The reason for Peter’s (change of) conduct was not due to lack of clarity of what was expected by the gospel of Christ. This is evident by the association of Peter, Barnabas and other Jews with the Gentile believers. The reason for Peter’s hypocrisy was fear of a powerful Jewish “circumcision group” (Gal. 2.12).[32] Although it is not explicit about the status of the “circumcision group” in the Jerusalem church, Peter’s change of conduct triggered by their arrival at Antioch shows that this group is a powerful Jewish zealotic group, which insisted on maintenance of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles through observance of the Jewish distinctive rituals such as dietary laws. 

Despite the use of present tense zēs in Gal. 2.14, Paul is, here, referring to Peter’s behavior before his withdrawal. It implicitly points to Peter’s conviction. Ernest Burton argues that the behavior of Peter and the rest of the Jews before the arrival of the group “from James” is due to the decision arrived at Jerusalem Council. He notes:

The brethren at Antioch might naturally seem to themselves to be only following out what was logically involved in the Jerusalem decision, when they found in the recognition of uncircumcised Gentile believers as brethren the warrant for full fellowship with them on equal terms, and, in the virtual declaration of the non-essentiality of circumcision, ground for the inference that the O.T. statutes were no longer binding and ought not to be observed to the detriment of the unity of the Christian community. [33]

Burton contends that the custom of eating food by the Jews and the Gentiles together preceded the arrival of Peter, because it “was clearly an expression of the ‘freedom in Christ Jesus’ which Paul advocated….”[34] On Gal. 2.14 Betz comments:

In the protasis Paul defines Cephus’ present religious status as being a Jew (Ioudaios huparchōn) who has given up his Jewish way of life. He lives like a Gentile ( ethnikōs), that is, no longer in observation of Jewish customs and law (ouchi Ioudaikōs). The present tense of zēs (“you are living”) implies much more than an act of table fellowship with Christian Gentiles. It suggests that the table fellowship was only the external symbol of Cephus’ total emancipation from Judaism.[35]

Peter’s action of withdrawing from having table fellowship with the Gentile believers is considered by Paul as “hypocrisy”. Because it clearly contrasts with Peter’s conviction expressed by his customary conduct of eating with the Gentile believers in Antioch (the imperfect tense sunēsthien).[36] As Betz says, “The apodosis (Gal. 2.14) presupposes Cephus’ recent change of conduct as a self-contradiction: “how can you compel the Galatians to live like Jews?”[37] Paul puts this inconsistent behavior succinctly: “If you, being a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Gal.1.14). The expressions Ioudaikōs zēs and Ioudaizein are found only in Galatians and Paul uses them in the context of the controversy over the dietary laws in Antioch (Gal. 2.14). As observed in Chapter V, the religion represented by the term Ioudaismos is a religion based on the zealotic interpretation of the law. This Jewish religion demanded exclusionistic way of life expressed primarily by the Jewish distinctive rituals such as circumcision, dietary laws, Sabbath, and festivals. Therefore, the expressions Ioudaikōs zēs and Ioudaizein refer to the way of life based on the exclusionistic interpretation of the law that maintained separation between the Jews and the Gentiles.

Peter by eating with the Gentile believers before the arrival of the “circumcision group” followed a pattern of life contrary to the Ioudaizein lifestyle. By withdrawing from his usual practice of associating with the Gentile believers, Peter was, implicitly, “compelling” the Gentile believers to embrace the Jewish way of life. Paul, by using the same verb anagkazō to describe Peter’s action, understands Peter’s withdrawal from table fellowship with the Gentile believers at Antioch same as the action of “false brothers” at Jerusalem (Gal. 2.3-5; the action of the teachers of the “other gospel” in Galatian churches is also same Gal. 6.12). The implicit pressure on the Gentile believers was to accept the Jewish way of life demanded by Judaism, the system of sacred violence. 

Paul, thus, questions Peter’s self-contradiction between his withdrawal and his conviction. For him, Peter’s behavior constitutes not walking straightforwardly according to the truth of the Gospel (notice the present tense orthopodousin). The truth of the Gospel is related to the demolition of walls of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles. Through his act of withdrawal Peter (and those who followed him) was once again building up the walls of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles, which have been torn down (Gal. 2.18), and thus not walking according to the truth of the gospel. Paul has already stressed that the truth of the gospel is freedom in Christ from the system of sacred violence that demanded exclusion of the Gentiles (Gal. 2.4-5). Peter, by withdrawing from table fellowship with the Gentile believers, is again embracing the system of sacred violence from which he was freed by the Christ event. It is this Paul is criticizing Peter when he accused the latter for not walking consistently according to the truth of the gospel. Since God’s eschatological freedom from the system of sacred violence has already taken place through the Christ event and believers in Christ are in the state of that freedom, there is no room for separation between Jew and Gentile in the community of Christ.

C. What is the Truth of the Gospel Gal. 2.15-21?

There are diverse views about the relationship of Gal. 2.15-21 to the Antioch incident in Gal. 2.11-14. Some argue that there is a clear break between the two. They believe that Gal. 2.15-21 is written with Galatian situation in mind.[38] However, others view that Gal. 2.15-21 is a restatement of Paul’s position argued for in Antioch.[39] Nothing in the text signals any break between Gal. 2.14 and 2.15. “We ourselves are Jews by birth” refers to Paul and Peter. Paul sustains the autobiographical note of the preceding account with “I” in Gal. 2.18-21. Paul’s argument in Gal. 2.15-21 was prompted by Peter’s failure to live according to the truth of the gospel, when the latter withdrew from table fellowship with the Gentile believers. This charge required Paul to set out what “the truth of the gospel” was. Hence in Gal. 2.15-21 he explicates the truth of the gospel, beginning with generally accepted position: “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2.15-16). The Jewish separatist vocabulary (“We are Jews”, “Gentile sinners”) translated into action at Antioch by Peter, Barnabas and the other Jews by withdrawing from eating with the Gentile believers provide a context for understanding Paul’s concept of “justification” or “being justified” and “works of the law”.

Paul for the first time uses the phrase “works of the law” in Gal. 2.16. The immediate context of the Antioch incident makes clear that “works of the law” refers to “living like a Jew”. Thus, for Paul, “works of the law” denotes Jewish exclusiveness. The life of “works of the law” is a Jewish way of life demanded by Judaism, the system of sacred violence, which is expressed in exclusion of the Gentiles. In Galatians, Paul has restated this argument because it is relevant to the Galatian crisis. In Galatian Churches also the truth of the gospel is at stake due to insistence on the Jewish boundary marker (circumcision) that separated the Jews from the Gentiles.

1. Justification by Faith in Christ, not by Works of the Law

The term “to justify” and its cognates are predominantly Paul’s words in the New Testament.[40] In Galatians the verb “to justify” is used eight times, of which four occurrences are in Gal. 2.16-17, and the noun “justification” four times (one of them occurs in the Old Testament quotation in Gal. 3.6), of which one appears in Gal. 2.21. The verb and the noun come from the same Greek root dikai-. This linguistic connection is not explicit in the English translation of the verb dikaioō (“to justify” and it can not be translated as “to rightify”), the noun dikaiosunē (“righteousness”, “justice”) and the adjective dikaios (“righteous”, “just”). This has led to an understanding of Paul’s use of these terms either in forensic terms or in moral terms.[41] To put it differently, when Paul speaks of dikaioō and its cognates, does he have in mind a status conferred or a quality of life or ethical life lived? Some scholars support these two views. Bringing these two views together J.A. Ziesler argues that Paul has in mind both forensic and ethical categories, with one always involving the other.[42] However, Paul intends this term to be taken in neither of these linguistic realms.[43]  

In order to understand Paul’s usage of the term “justify”, the incident at Antioch where the Jewish distinctive ritual, the dietary laws, which has served as a wall of separation between Jew and Gentile, is to be taken seriously. The repeated usage of the term “justify” in Gal 2:15-21 reflects on the withdrawal of Peter, Barnabas and the other Jewish believers from table fellowship with the Gentile believers at Antioch. This indicates that “justify” has a corporate dimension. Paul uses this term in the context of the relationship between Jew and Gentile. The separation between the Jews and the Gentiles is expressed by the Jewish separatist vocabulary “we ourselves are Jews by birth” and “Gentile sinners”. Striking here is the Jewish description of Gentiles as “sinners”. In Jewish thought “sinners” are “pre-eminently those whose lawless conduct marked them out as outside the covenant, destined for destruction and so not to be consorted with (eg. Pss. i.1, 5; xxxvii. 34-36; Prov. Xii.12-13; xxiv. 20; Sir. 7.16; ix. 11; xli. 5-11).”[44] Thus, this term is used to characterize the Gentiles (Tob. 13.6; Jub. 23.23-24; Pss. of Sol. 2.1-2). Paul, by using this separatist Jewish language, echoes not only the conduct of the group “from James” but also the behavior of Peter and the other Jews who withdrew from table fellowship with the Gentile believers. It is in this social context Paul uses the term “justify”. Paul’s concern here is not forensic[45] and ethical dimensions, but rather the relation between Jew and Gentile. The traditional understanding revolves around remitting of sins. But the vocabulary of “forgiveness” is missing in Galatians. The term “justify” refers to the relationship between the Jews and the Gentiles, who are separated by the “works of the law” lifestyle.

Commenting on the concept of “justification” Marcus Barth says, “Justification is a social event. It ties human to human together.”[46] Leander Keck has proposed the translation “rectify” for the Greek verb dikaioō.[47] The action involved in the Greek verb dikaioō is the idea of “rectifying” a relationship or righting the wrong. Justify depicts God’s activity of rectifying a relationship or righting the wrong. What has gone wrong in the world is relationship among human beings through construction of walls of separation. In the context of Antioch incident it is the separation of the Jews from the Gentiles through the practice of the Jewish distinctive ritual, dietary laws. This Jewish lifestyle, which excluded the Jews from having fellowship with the Gentiles, prompted the usage of the phrase “works of the law”. “Works of the law” signifies “living like a Jew”,[48] and thus Jewish exclusionism. Paul contrasts “works of the law” with “faith in Jesus”. Paul is  not criticizing “works” as such in an attempt to divorce “believing” from “doing”, but “works of the law”, which is “living like a Jew”.[49] “Works of the law” lifestyle is a way of life demanded by Judaism, the system of sacred violence. This Jewish way of life has crucified Jesus Christ, persecuted apostates and excluded Gentiles from having fellowship with them. Thus, “Works of the law” lifestyle engages in scapegoating victims, who are considered a threat to the social order based on the exclusionistic understanding of the law. In order to maintain social order, those of the “works of law” consent and cooperate mimetically in directing their violence against victims, thus becoming enslaved to the system of sacred violence. Paul reminded Peter and those who followed Peter at Antioch that although they were Jews they believed in Jesus Christ, because they knew that “a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2.16). God justifying a person or making one right is through faith in Jesus Christ.[50] This implies that he/she has died to the law, “a death to its ritually excluding aspects that undergird Jewish separatism.”[51] In other words, the one who believes in Jesus Christ has died to the system of sacred violence.

Peter being convinced that a person is justified by faith in Christ abandoned the “works of the law” lifestyle and had table fellowship with the Gentile believers before the group “from James” arrived at Antioch. By withdrawing from fellowship with the Gentile believers after the arrival of the group and following the abandoned Jewish way of life based on the exclusionistic interpretation of the law, Peter made Jesus “a servant of sin” (Gal. 2.17). Because his faith in Christ has made him to abandon the “works of the law” lifestyle and so, to transgress the law by eating with the Gentile believers. To return to the Jewish way of life was tantamount to making Jesus an agent of sin. By his withdrawal from the table fellowship with the Gentile believers at Antioch, Peter demonstrated that violation of the dietary laws was a sinful action. His withdrawal further displayed that Christ was promoting the sinful action, which, for Paul, was an absurd conclusion. Paul argues that Christ does not promote sin, because to be justified means to be crucified with him (Gal. 2.19) and that means “to die to the law through the law”.

Paul has refused to return to the way of life demanded by Judaism, the system of sacred violence. Because it would amount to again “building the walls of separation” between the Jews and the Gentiles that have been torn down. Paul uses two terms kataluō and parabatēs to express what he intends to say (Gal. 2.18).  Kataluō means dissolve, dismantle, tear down, abolish, bring to an end and destroy.[52] In the light of the issue of table fellowship at Antioch (and circumcision at Jerusalem Gal. 2.1-10) Paul’s metaphors of “tearing down” and “building up” (oikodomeō) refer to the distinctive laws of the Torah that maintained separation between the Jews and the Gentiles. Ta and tauta in the context refer to the distinctive customs of the Jews such as dietary laws (circumcision 2.1-10, 5.2-3 and special days Gal. 4.10).[53] The aorist tense katalusa contains a reference to the time of Paul’s conversion. Paul says that his life in Judaism, as he described in Gal. 1.13-14, has come to an end at the time of his conversion experience. If he observes again the Jewish distinctive rituals that maintained separation from the Gentiles, that would demonstrate him a parabatēs. The adverb palin and the verb oikodomeō point the reader to the hypothetical step of Paul “to live again like a Jew” (cf. Gal. 2.14). By withdrawing from eating with the Gentile believers at Antioch Peter demonstrated himself a parabatēs.

The nouns parabatēs and parabasis are related to the verb parabainō. The verb parabainō means not only “to transgress, to violate”, but also “to deviate, to step by the side of” (LXX Dan. 9.5; Sir. 23.18, 42.10; Acts 1.25). The noun parabatēs is not followed by an objective genitive. The presence of an objective genitive would have indicated what Paul is actually deviating from (Gal. 2.18). Since it is absent, we need to look at the context to discover the implied direct object of “deviation”.  In Gal. 2.14 Paul has accused Peter, Barnabas and the other Jewish believers of deviant behavior when he charged them of not walking straightforwardly according to the truth of the Gospel, when they withdrew from eating with the Gentile believers. Rebuilding the walls of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles by adopting the “works of the law” lifestyle is in a way denial of God’s justifying or unifying act through the Christ event. The truth of the gospel, according to which Jews as well as Gentiles are justified or unified by faith in Christ, establishes a new pattern of life. Paul tries to explain that the life expressed by works of the law and that by faith in Christ are mutually exclusive. Paul expresses his severed relationship with the life patterned according to the exclusionistic understanding of the law through the metaphor of “dying to the law”: “Through the law I died to the law” (Gal. 2.19). Paul died to the law when he participated mimetically in the death of Christ on the cross, when he put faith in Christ, the victim of the curse of the law (Gal. 2.19). The identification of Paul with the crucified Christ has brought an entirely new relationship with Judaism, the system of sacred violence, to which Paul once belonged. The perfect tense of the verb “crucify” denotes both the punctiliar action of dying to the law and the continuing life for God. In other words, Paul says that the system of sacred violence that crucified Jesus Christ is the same system that excluded the Gentiles through the practice of the Jewish ritual boundary markers. The sacred violence that crucified Jesus Christ is the one that scapegoated the Gentiles (Gal. 2.19). It is the violence of the Jewish community by misusing the law as a weapon to crucify Jesus and to exclude the Gentiles.[54] Notice that the system based on the exclusionistic understanding of the law is not destroyed.[55] Rather the death of Jesus Christ has exposed the system of sacred violence, and that the life demanded by this system is not living for God. Paul says that he died to the life patterned according to the works of the law that mandated the separation of the Jews from the Gentiles. Dying to the law is necessary to live to God. Since through the law Paul died to the law and his present life in Christ is a life to God, he deviates from the truth of the gospel if he once again lives according to the law which enforced separation between Jew and Gentile.

Acknowledging the theological integrity presented in Gal. 2.16-21 and Gal. 3.6-4.7, it is evident in the latter passage that the “works of the law” lifestyle separated the Jews and the Gentiles by erecting a dividing wall. The law by introducing the dichotomies, circumcision and uncircumcision, has become an enslaving power. In Gal. 3.19-25 Paul argues that the law is active in its function of imprisoning and guarding its subjects from having any contact with the “outsiders”. It is from this “bondage” or “slavery” that God through his justifying act in Jesus Christ has redeemed humanity. God’s justifying act in Jesus Christ is a unifying act, unifying Jew and Greek, slave and free, and male and female into one single community. This righting of relationships between the Jews and the Gentiles fulfils God’s promise to Abraham: “All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you” (Gal. 3.8). Therefore, for Paul no one is joined to Christ except together with a neighbor and for Jew the primary neighbor is Gentile and vice-versa.[56] The gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed by Paul is the good news that the promise of God to Abraham (that is, the unity of the nations) is fulfilled through the Christ event. The death of Jesus Christ brings in the new creation where people irrespective of their ethnic, class and gender backgrounds are united in Christ as the children of God, and possess God’s eschatological gift of the Spirit.           

 

 


[1] Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 350.

[2] George Howard, Paul: Crisis in Galatia: A Study in Early Christian Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), p. 21.

[3] F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians (Exeter: Paternoster, 1982), pp. 43-56; Longenecker, Galatians, pp. lxxvii-lxxxiii.

[4] Dunn, The Epistle to the Galatians, p. 88.

[5] Betz, Galatians, p. 83.

[6] Martyn, Galatians, pp. 180-182.

[7] Betz, Galatians, p. 85; Longenecker, Galatians, p. 47; Dunn, The Epistle to the Galatians, p. 91; Jeffrey R. Wisdom, Blessing for the Nations and the Curse of the Law: Paul’s Citation of Genesis and Deuteronomy in Gal. 3.8-10 (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001), p. 135.

[8] Dunn, The Epistle to the Galatians, p. 91; Charles Homer Giblin, Hope of God’s Glory: Pauline Theological Perspectives (New York: Herder & Herder, 1970), p. 56; Schmithals, Paul and James, p. 39; John Howard Schutz, Paul and the Anatomy of Apostolic Authority (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), p. 139; Smiles, The Gospel and the Law in Galatia, p. 38.

[9] Gaventa, From Darkness to Light, p. 23; Cousar, Reading Galatians, pp. 36-37.

[10] Cousar, Reading Galatians, p. 37.

[11] T.W. Manson, “St. Paul in Ephesus: The Problem of the Epistle to the Galatians,” in BJRL, 24 (1940), p. 66.

[12] Paul J. Achtemeier, The Quest for Unity in the New Testament Church (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), p. 24.

[13] Cousar, Reading Galatians, p. 37.

[14] Paul E. Koptak, “Rhetorical Identification in Paul’s Autobiographical Narrative: Galatians 1:13-2:14,” in The Galatians Debate: Contemporary Issues in Rhetorical and Historical Interpretation, ed. by Mark D. Nanos (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002), p. 164.

[15] Cousar, Reading Galatians, p. 81.

[16] C.K. Barrett, Essays on Paul (London: SPCK, 1982), pp. 118-131; Longenecker, Galatians, pp. 200-206; Dunn, The Epistle to the Galatians, p. 243. 

[17] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 121; Barclay, Obeying the Truth, p. 208.

[18] Robert Jewett, Paul’s Anthropological Terms: A Study of Their Use in Conflict Settings (Leiden: Brill, 1971), p. 95.

[19] Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, I.267.

[20] Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, I.242.

[21] E. Kasemann, Romans (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1980), p. 102. Bornkamm too follows similar argument in Paul (London: Hodder, 1971).

[22] Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism.

[23] Sanders, Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People, pp. 102, 103.

[24] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 129.

[25] Dunn, The New Perspective on Paul: Collected Essays (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005), p. 196.

[26] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 121.

[27] Ernest De Witt Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1920), p. 86.

[28] Peter Stuhlmacher, Das Paulinische Evangelium (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1968), 1:90.

[29] Read Cousar, Reading Galatians, p. 43.

[30] Betz, Galatians, p. 107.

[31] James D.G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 73.

[32] It is not explicit about the place of this “circumcision party” in the Jerusalem church. However, Peter’s change of conduct triggered by their arrival at Antioch shows that this group is powerful in Jerusalem church.

[33] Burton, Galatians, p. 106.

[34] Burton, Galatians, p. 105.

[35] Betz, Galatians, p. 112.

[36] There is a subtle contrast between the stand of Paul for the truth of the gospel at Jerusalem against the efforts of the “false brothers” and that of Peter at Antioch against those “from James”.

[37] Betz, Galatians, p. 112.

[38] Betz, Galatians, pp. 113-114; Herman N. Ridderbos, The Epistle of Paul to the Church of Galatia, ed. by N.B. Stonehouse (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), p. 98; Schlier, Galater, pp. 87-88; Smiles, The Gospel and the Law in Galatia, p. 103; Bruce, Epistle to the Galatians, p. 141.

[39] Franz Mussner, Der Galaterbrief (Frieburg: Herder, 1977); Dunn, Epistle to the Galatians; G. Ebeling, The Truth of the Gospel: An Exposition of Galatians, ed. by D. Green (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985); Cosgrove, Cross and the Spirit.

[40] Pauline corpus contains 27 of the 35 New Testament occurrences of the verb “justify”.

[41] Martyn, Galatians, pp. 249-250.

[42] J.A. Ziesler, The Meaning of Righteousness in Paul: A Linguistic and Theological Inquiry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972).

[43] Martyn, Galatians, p. 250.

[44] Dunn, Galatians, pp. 132-133.

[45] Bultmann argues that the concept of “justification” is forensic and eschatological. Paul has in view God’s eschatological verdict upon those who believed in Jesus Christ. He says: “The righteousness which God adjudicates to man (the righteousness of faith) is not ‘sinlessness’ in the sense of ethical perfection, but is ‘sinlessness’ in the sense that God does not ‘count’ man’s sin against him (2 Cor 5.19).” Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, I. 274-279.

[46] Markus Barth, “Jews and Gentiles: The Social Character of Justification in Paul,” in JES 5 (1968), p. 241.

[47] Leander E. Keck, Paul and His Letters (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), pp. 111-116.

[48] Barclay, Obeying the Truth, p. 78.

[49] Barclay, Obeying the Truth, p. 82.

[50] The phrase pisteōs Christou or pisteōs Iēsou Christou is discussed in Chapter VII.

[51] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 68.

 

[52] Sam K. Williams, Galatians (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1997), p. 73.

[53] Van Jan Lambrecht, “Paul’s Reasoning in Galatians 2.11-21,” in Paul and the Mosaic Law,  p. 60.

[54] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 10.

[55] Since this system is not destroyed, the persecution of those considered to be “apostates” by the Jews, who belong to this system, has continued (Gal. 4.29, 5.11, 6.12).  

[56] Barth, “Jews and Gentiles,” p. 259.

Freedom Through The Death of Jesus Christ In Galatians: A Nonviolence Reading

September 26, 2009

Chapter V

Paul’s Experience of God’s Revelation of God’s Son, the Victim of the Law

 

Paul’s experience of God’s revelation of God’s son on the road to Damascus is recorded not only in Galatians (Gal. 1.11-17) but also in Acts (9.1-19, 22.4-16, 26.9-19). It is an encounter between the one cursed by the law (Gal. 3.13), but raised by God (Gal. 1.1), and the “persecutor inspired by his zeal for the law”. This encounter of Paul with Jesus Christ brought forth an insight into the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ “as the epiphany of sacred violence.”[1] It exposed to Paul what has been concealed in Judaism, to which he belonged, that Judaism was a sacrificial structure of sacred violence. This revelation made a radical impact on Paul’s life that resulted in change of his worlds.

A. Paul’s Pre-Conversion Zeal

A zealotic religious ideology affirms the salvific power of violence. It denigrates people who do not follow the social order based on its interpretation of the Torah, thus permitting discrimination and violence. Paul associates violence with which he had persecuted the church with “zeal” for the law. He not only was persecuting the community(s) of Jesus Christ, but also wanted to destroy it because of his zeal “for the traditions of my ancestors” (Gal. 1.13-14). For Paul the way of life in Judaism provided a context where the law was used as a means to violence against those considered to be apostates. The law that governed his life, before his experience of God’s revelation of God’s son, was the law interpreted in exclusionistic terms, which enforced a wall of separation between Jew and Gentile. The community(s) of Jesus Christ that he persecuted did not observe the Jewish distinctive rituals that expressed this separation, because the cross has made them no longer significant (Gal. 5.11). It is this situation that has led to zealous Jewish persecution to preserve strict observance of ritual requirement of the law or the social order that promoted exclusionism (Gal. 5.11; 6.12).

1. Zeal

Zeal was an important characteristic of the Second Temple Judaism Period. This is evident in the Maccabean movement. The zealous Jews were vigilant against those who were a threat to the Torah (that is, zealot interpretation of the Torah), the constitution of the Jewish communities. In order to maintain the social order based on the exclusionistic interpretation of the law, they used violence against individuals and communities that threatened the social order of the Jewish communities. During Paul’s “life in Judaism,” he was “extremely zealous for (his) ancestral traditions,” so much so that he “used to persecute the community of Jesus Christ and tried to destroy it” (Gal 1:13-14; Phil 3:6). The precise reasons for Paul’s persecuting activity are unknown, but there can be no doubt that it had to do with his zeal for the law and what he perceived as the threat by Jesus’ communities to the Torah, the constitution of the Jewish communities (Gal 1:13-14; Phil 3:6). Paul characterizes his life in Judaism and his persecuting activity to “destroy” the community of Jesus Christ by zēlōtēs, meaning a “zealot”.[2]

There are three dominant models of the nature of “zealots” in the first century. The first one proposed by Martin Hengel is “zealots” as representing a party, the second by Morton Smith, “zealots” as violent individuals, and the third by Richard Horsley, “zealots” as a kind of bandit movement, emerging during the period of the Jewish war with the Romans (66 – 70 C.E).

a. The Hengel Model: Zealots as a Party[3]

Martin Hengel argues that “Zealots” is a name of the Palestinian freedom movement that originated with Judas the Galilean in 6 C.E. This movement engaged in a continuous struggle against the Romans until the destruction of the temple in 70 C.E. and the fall of Masada in 73/74 C.E. According to Hengel, fourth philosophy, brigands, Sicarri, and Zealots were four different terms used by Josephus for a single group of revolutionaries. Josephus used “Zealots” as a synonym for these revolutionaries. The central model for all these Zealots was the zeal of Phineas (Num 25). Hengel maintains that the realization of such zeal as that of Phineas, that is, elimination of apostates and destruction of the pagans who led Israel astray, “called for an organized group…and could not be accomplished by individual desperados.” Such zeal was not just confined to the zealots, he observes, but also characteristic of the Palestinian Judaism of first century C.E. 

Hengel’s view of the Zealots as designating a Palestinian freedom party has influenced many biblical scholars. At the same time it has also been challenged. Lester Grabbe, though considers the “Zealot” as a proper name referring to a particular group active before and after the Roman seize of Jerusalem and with a longer history, criticizes Hengel for applying it “indiscriminately to refer to any revolutionary group.”[4] He contends:

Josephus clearly uses the term primarily in reference to a particular group who had themselves taken this name. It is, therefore, unhelpful to lump all these various groups together as Zealots (with a capital letter), even if they tended to have certain characteristics in common…(that is,) zeal in devotion to God like that of Phineas (Numbers 25).[5]

b. The Smith Model: Zealots as Individuals

Morton Smith rejected Hegel’s monolithic picture of revolutionaries. Smith argues that from atleast Maccabean times many Jews fostered the ideal of zeal on the model of Phineas and Elijah.[6] Such admiration for zeal and these models of zeal were also influential in shaping resistance against the Roman government. Everyone who claimed to be a zealot should not be considered as a member of a particular revolutionary party.[7] Smith notes that naming of a party as “The Zealots” indicates the popularity of the ideal of zeal. According to him, the Zealots as a party did not come into existence until the winter of 67-68 C.E. Before that time there had been many individual zealots in Jerusalem.[8]

Smith contends that Zealots and Sicarii are different parties. The latter was founded by Judas of Galilee and he did not name his party as “Zealots”. Josephus calls it “the fourth philosophy”. In the mid-fifties it involved in a series of murders of distinguished individuals. Since these murders were carried on with a dagger called sica, it got the name “Sicarii” (Josephus, Ant. 20.186). The members of this group fled to Masada. The Zealot party consisted of “the representatives of Palestinian, principally Judean, peasant piety, hostile alike to the rich of the city, the upper priesthood of the Temple, and…the foreign rulers.”[9]

c. The Horsley Model: Zealots as Peasant Bandits during the Period of 66-70 C.E. Horsley argues that “Zealots” was a coalition group of peasant bandits, who fled to Jerusalem as Romans swept southward from Galilee in 66 C.E. These peasant bandits carried out attacks on the ruling aristocracy.[10] The reasons for the attacks on the ruling class, according to Horsley, were class conflict and conviction that the ruling aristocracy was a group of traitors. The peasant bandits “challenged and rendered ineffective the government of chief priests and leading Pharisees (including Josephus!), who apparently had been attempting to reach an accommodation with the Romans.”[11] Horsley finds the Zealots to be a recognizable party only during the years of 66-70 C.E. Various terms used by Josephus – fourth philosophy, brigands, Sicarii and Zealots – do not refer to a single party of revolutionaries, but are to be read as designations of various groups and coalitions. Josephus uses the term “Zealots” to refer to a party that did not evolve until the middle of the War of 66-70 C.E.

According to Horsley, “Zealots” is not a unified party of Judaism with a distinctive theology and continuous leadership extending from the Maccabean period to the end of the Second Revolt against Rome. He observes that much of the banditry reported by Josephus was due to economic hardship and heavy Roman taxation, rather than the ideology of religious zeal. He maintains that there is very little evidence that “zeal for the Law” was an important factor in the first century Palestine, let alone as a passion for freedom from alien rule. Zeal for the law was not a collective movement, but an individual feeling about the importance of other Jews’ Torah-observance. This zeal was not directed against foreigners or Roman rulers, but against fellow Jews, who transgressed the law.

Horsley’s downplay of the importance of zeal for God or the Torah is unconvincing in the light of several texts testifying to the role of religious zeal. M.R. Fairchild rebuts Horsley’s view by arguing that there was a tradition of zealous religious ideology having its roots in the times of the Maccabean movement. He further makes an important point regarding the scope of influence of this ideology. As Fairchild notes, “This ideology transcended sectarian boundaries to the degree that the evidence indicates that Essenes, Pharisees and the unaffiliated masses were attracted to it.”[12] In other words, “this (zealot) ideology was not privy to any social class or established religious sect.”[13] Those individuals who followed this tradition of zealotry were extraordinarily zealous for the Torah and ready to use violence to maintain Jewish life in conformity with the law. Their zealous violence was directed against individuals and communities that posed a threat to strict observance of the Torah.

2. Paul as a Zealot

In Gal 1.13-14, 23 (and Phil. 3.5; cf. I Cor. 15.9) the extraordinary zealotry of Paul is related to his persecuting activity of the community(s) of Jesus Christ. However, earlier studies on the persecuting activity of Paul did not always pay much attention to the character and role of his zeal.[14] Some scholars have offered psychological reasoning for Paul’s persecuting activity, claiming that it was a result of purely personal aberration. They contend that it was an external attempt to silence his dissatisfaction with his life under the law and to suppress “all humaner tendencies in the interests of his legal absolutism.”[15] However, this view is no longer in currency. Moreover, the zealot Jewish behavior has precedence in Mattathias, the father of Maccabean movement, and his followers on the model of Phineas.

Echoing the Reformation interpretation of Judaism F.C. Baur argues that Paul’s persecution of the community of Christ has to do with its rejection of the Jewish idea that true religion was a matter of “outward ceremonies”.[16] Baur remarks that Paul understood the gospel as a “refusal to regard religion as a thing bound down to special ordinances and localities.”[17] Bultmann reformulated the Reformation view by stating that the concern at the heart of Paul’s persecution was faith versus works. Paul became a persecutor of believers in Christ because he understood the gospel of the Hellenistic Jewish believers as a message of “God’s condemnation of his Jewish striving after righteousness by fulfilling the works of the law.”[18] Bulmann’s approach was followed by Bornkamm and Schmithals.[19] However, E.P. Sanders strongly refutes the Reformation understanding of Judaism as a religion of works-righteousness by saying that it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of it.[20] According to him, the Torah in Judaism functioned as part of a system, not of legalism but of covenantal nomism.

Martin Hengel, P.H. Menoud, Sayoon Kim, Justin Taylor, and Arland J. Hultgren have seen Christology as the cause of Paul’s persecution of the community(s) of Jesus Christ. Hengel supposes that the proclamation of the crucified one as the Messiah, who would lead the Jewish nation to salvation, would have been an intolerable offence to someone like Paul who combined nationalist aspirations with zeal for God and his law.[21] For Menoud the heart of Paul’s persecution was that “the idea of a suffering and dying Messiah was not only a contradiction in terms, totally unanticipated in Jewish eschatological expectation, it was categorically prohibited by Deut. 21.22-23.”[22] According to Sayoon Kim, the scandal of the cross could be the proclamation by the followers that Jesus Christ, the cursed one God, is the Messiah.[23] Justin Taylor remarks, “The idea of a ‘crucified Messiah’ remained…paradoxical and might have been unacceptable to many Jews….”[24] Hultgren notes that even though there were several messianic movements before and during the times of Jesus Christ, followers of these movements were not persecuted. He contends that the messianic movement centered on Jesus, however, is different in several reasons. Two of the reasons are its proclamation of a crucified one as the messiah and the inauguration of the new age in Christ.[25]

Martin Goodman sees politics as the reason for the persecution of the community(s) of Jesus Christ by the diaspora Jews. Goodman argues:

(A)lthough there may well have been all sorts of theological reasons for Jewish hostility to early Christians, theology alone can never explain the risks taken by synagogue authorities in imposing violent discipline on the Christian Jews such as Paul in their midst. In the case of Paul…the political factor which impelled diaspora Jewish leaders to persecute him was the need to live a quiet life untroubled by the hostility of pagan neighbors resentful that a Jew should try to have them away from the ancestral worship on which, in their eyes, their security depended.[26] 

In the above studies Paul’s claim that he was “an extraordinary zealot for my ancestral traditions” (Gal. 1.14; cf. Phil. 3.6) is not taken seriously. However, in his 1975 article on the call of Paul, Klaus Haacker focused on Paul’s zeal as important for understanding his persecuting activity.[27] According to Haacker Paul’s zeal should not be understood as a psychological category, but as a “pure theological category”. For Paul as a Pharisee, the law was his ruling measure and as a persecutor, the zeal his “obligatory norm, which is a decisive governing principle.”[28] Haaker understands the term “zeal” as referring to a violent religious intolerance rooted in the times of the Maccabean movement. This zeal was directed primarily against Jewish apostates, but not foreigners. He contends that the claim of Paul to be a zealot does not indicate that he was a member of a revolutionary Zealot party, since it is doubtful that such a party ever existed. So Paul’s designation as a zealot denotes that he belonged to a radical wing of Pharisees.

Some scholars assume that references to zeal or zealot in the NT such as Simon the zealot, refer to the Zealot Party. Justin Taylor argues that Paul’s claim to being a “Zealot”, before his experience of God’s revelation of God’s son, should be understood as a reference to his membership in a Zealot party. He suggests that the reason for Paul’s persecution of the community of Jesus Christ was due to “the supposed hostility of a Zealot towards a group which stood apart from the national struggle.”[29] According to Taylor, the Zealots were already opposed to Jesus and his teachings because of his “refusal to ally himself with them, and more generally his preaching of non-violence and even of non-resistance to Roman rule.”[30] Therefore, they considered him to be a “no-less-dangerous quietist, hardly better than a collaborator and a traitor.”[31] Paul’s persecutions were of the same kind as the Zealots’ political struggles. As Taylor notes, “He persecuted the followers of Jesus for the same kinds of reasons that Zealots had to be hostile to Jesus himself, namely that not only did they not take part in the national struggle . . . but they were a threat to it.”[32]

However T.L. Donaldson and M.R. Fairchild disagree with Taylor’s view. They contend:

(Considering) diversity of offenses, the cross-section of literature glorifying zeal, and the variety of individuals and groups to which zealous actions were attributed (eg. Paul the Pharisee was a “zealot”) suggest that the term “zealot” was not a sectarian designation but descriptive of a type of piety which was not limited to one group or sect.[33]

Donaldson and Fairchild argue that the evidence from Josephus indicates that the “Zealots” as an identifiable party did not appear until Roman-Judean War during 66-70 C.E.[34]

Donaldson emphasizes that Paul’s claim of being a zealot does not denote that he belonged to a specific revolutionary party. He contends that a zealot is one who was not only passionate towards observance of the Torah, but also willing to use violence against those who were a threat to the Torah. Donaldson notes, “Zeal was more than just a fervent commitment to the Torah; it denotes a willingness to use violence against any – Jews, Gentiles, or wicked in general – who were contravening, opposing or subverting the Torah.”[35] The reason for persecution of the communities of Jesus Christ by the zealots, according to Donaldson, was the conflict between Jewish sequential understanding of the Torah and Messiah, with the Torah defining the community guaranteed salvation when the Messiah arrives, and the “peculiar already/not yet structure of early Christian messianism.”[36] He explains:

In early Christian proclamation the Messiah had appeared in advance of the full eschatological salvation, and participation in that salvation is dependent on acceptance of this Messiah. In consequence of this, Christ becomes, at least implicitly, another-thus rival-way of drawing the boundary in this age of the community guaranteed of salvation in the age to come.[37]

Fairchild also argues that Paul’s claim of being a zealot does not make him a member of the Zealot party, because there had been zealot ideology that was cultivated over decades from the times of the Maccabees. The zealot ideology transcended the boundaries of the Jewish parties and had adherents not only among the various Jewish parties, but also among the unaffiliated Jewish masses. Zealotry expressed itself in violent actions against those perceived to be a threat to the Torah, such as Paul’s persecution of the community(s) of Jesus Christ.

Paul claimed that he was perissoterōs zēlōtēs huparchōn tōn patrikōn mou paradoseōn (Gal. 1.14 cf. Phil. 3.6). This terminology is so close to the words of Mattathias, the father of the Maccabean movement, in Josephus’ Antiquities 12.271: ei tis zēlōtēs estin tōn patriōn ethnōn. LXX records these words in I Maccabees 2.27 differently and uses the verbal form of the word for zealot: pas ho zēlōn tō nomō kai histōn diathēkēn. Josephus changes the participle zēlōn into the noun form. This change is significant in view of Josephus’ consistent concealment of past Zealot history.[38] The pivotal demonstration of zealous piety, which inaugurated the Maccabean movement, may have become a pattern of pious action for the future.[39] This implies that Paul was a follower of zealot tradition. He aligned himself with his predecessors of venerable individual zealots.[40] This does not, however, make him a member of the Zealot party.[41] But Paul, being zealous for the Torah, saw himself as acting out the model of Phineas, even to the extent of using violence against those perceived to be a threat to the Torah. Thus he became a persecutor of the community(s) of Jesus Christ.[42] Paul’s zealotry resembles that of Mattathias. The zealotry of Mattathias was first, zeal for the purity of the ancestral tradition, and second, zeal that drove him to use violence against those considered to be apostates and posed a threat to these traditions.[43] In Gal. 1.13-14 Paul mentions the same concerns: zeal for the ancestral traditions and violent action against those considered to be posing a threat to these traditions. By turning into a threat to the Torah, the constitution of the Jewish communities, the communities of Jesus Christ have become a threat to the Jewish freedom of patterning their lives according to the zealotic interpretation of the Torah, a privilege the Jews were enjoying in the Roman empire.

 

 

3. Paul as a Persecutor

In the NT diōkō is used in the sense of “pursue” (Phil. 3.12,14; Lk. 17.23), “follow” (Rom. 9.30, 31, 12.13), and “persecute” (Mt. 5.10,11,12,44). Therefore, the context becomes important in determining the meaning of diōkō

In Gal. 1.13 Paul testifies about his conduct in Judaism. His use of the term Ioudaismos is very significant. In the NT this term is used only in Gal. 1.13,14. Ioudaismos came into currency with II Maccabees, where it was used to distinguish those who were faithful to the Jewish way of life from those “adopting foreign ways” (II Macc. 2.21, 8.1, 14.38). According to Dunn, Judaism is “a description of the religion of Jews, only emerged in the Maccabean revolt…in reaction to those who attempted to eliminate its distinctiveness (as expressed particularly in its sacrificial system, its feasts, circumcision and food laws – II Macc.vi).”[44] Thus, the religion represented by Ioudaismos is a religion based on the zealotic interpretation of the law. Paul followed the same kind of Jewish religion that demanded exclusionistic way of life expressed primarily by the Jewish distinctive rituals such as circumcision, dietary laws, Sabbath and festivals. This is confirmed not only by the description of Paul’s way of life in Judaism in Gal. 1.13-14 (the clause beginning with o[ti describes his life in Judaism),[45] but also the usage of cognate expressions Ioudaikōs zēs and Ioudaizein in the context of the controversy over the dietary laws in Antioch (Gal. 2.14). These cognate words are found only in Galatians. Raisanen aptly comments that “the word (Ioudaismos) carries connotations which hint at those practices which separated Jew from Gentile.”[46] Moreover, the word anastrophē (“way of life”) occurs only in Galatians among the undisputed letters of Paul. Significantly this term also occurs in II Maccabees 6.23 (and Tobit 4.14) in the context where the Jewish way of life was seriously threatened. 

Paul explains his way of life in Judaism by two interrelated clauses in Gal. 1.13-14. The first one is kath’ huperbolēn ediōkon tēv ekklēsian tou theou kai eporthoun autēn (Gal. 1.13). It is significant that the word diōkō is used in I Maccabees to describe the Maccabees’ pursuit of “the sons of arrogance” and the “lawless” (I Macc. 2.47, 3.5). Paul uses the verb diōkō not only in describing his own persecuting activity (Gal. 1.13-23; cf. I Cor. 15.9; Phil. 3.6), but also the persecution he himself suffered (Gal. 4.29, 5.11, 6.12; cf. I Cor. 4.12; II Cor. 4.9). The persecuting activity of Paul, before his experience of God’s revelation of God’s son, is recorded not only in Paul’s letters but also in Acts (I Cor. 15.9; Gal. 1.13, 23; Phil. 3.6; Acts 8.1-3, 9.1-2, 22.4-5, 26.9-11). The verb diōkō is modified by the adverbial phrase kath’ huperbolēn, which means “beyond measure”, “excessively”, and “intensely” (Gal. 1.13). Hultgren argues that kath’ huperbolēn denotes intensity of Paul’s zeal, rather than intensity of his violence. So he translates Gal. 1.13: “I persecuted the church of God to the utmost.”[47] However, Paul’s usage of portheō together with diōkō in Gal. 1.13, 23 provides an interpretation of the adverbial phrase whether it denotes the intensity of Paul’s zeal or his violence.

Paul also uses the verb portheō to describe his way of life. This term occurs only in Gal. 1.13, 23 (and Acts 9.21) in reference to Paul’s activity towards the community(s) of Jesus Christ. P.H. Menoud argues that because Paul was never accused of murder, portheō here refers to the destruction of faith (Gal. 1.23), rather than physical destruction.[48] Hultgren too contends that the verb portheō does not have violent connotation and so it simply means that Paul tried to put an end to Christian faith, or Christian church.[49] However, the zealot context in which portheō is used implies the meaning of physical violence. Here portheō is used in the sense of “devastate” or “destroy” cities.[50] This verb is directly associated with diōkō both in Gal. 1.13 and 1.23.  It is used in imperfect in Gal. 1.13 and 1.23, whereas diōkō is used in imperfect in the former and in present participle in the latter. It is difficult to decide whether the conjunction kai is used paratactically or explicatively in Gal. 1.13 as both verbs are in imperfect.[51] Seland takes it as explicative and so understands persecutions consisting of portheō,[52] whereas Betz sees the latter as the goal or purpose of the former.[53] What is evident is the intensity of Paul’s violent activity beyond trying to destroy “the faith”. The imperfect verbs ediōkon and eporthoun with their connotation of repeated action highlight this violent persecuting activity. Paul does not need to exaggerate his violent activity, because the communities of Jesus Christ knew about it (Gal. 1.23). Ho diōkon in Gal. 1.23 indicates an established way of referring to Paul among the communities of Jesus Christ.[54] Therefore, the violent zealotic nature of Paul’s persecution of the community(s) of Jesus Christ in the model of Phineas and rooted very much in the Maccabean movement is evident.

The second clause that describes Paul’s way of life in Judaism affirms what the first clause explains: proekopton en tō Ioudaismō huper pollous suvēlikiōtas en tō genei mou, perissoterōs zēlōtēs huarchōn tōn patrikōn mou paradoseōn. Paul’s sense of superiority with regards to his progress in Judaism, based on the exclusionistic understanding of the Torah, is expressed by his usage of the preposition huper. This sense of superiority is based on his “being an extraordinary zealot for my ancestral traditions” (Gal. 1.14). Zealotry for the ancestral traditions, the Torah, and God would not have been perceived differently (cf. Gal. 1.14; Acts 21.20, 22.3; Josephus Ant 12.271). It was this extreme zealotry for the ancestral traditions of the law that had prompted Paul to use violence against those perceived to be a threat to the social order based on the exclusionistic interpretation of the law.

Considering Paul’s activities as a persecutor in the mould of Mattathias and the Maccabees with Phineas as their model, leads to a conclusion that such a behavior stemmed from his zealotic interpretation of the Torah. Such an interpretation of the Torah demanded exclusionism expressed by the Jewish distinctive rituals that formed walls of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles. The Maccabean crisis had promoted a few rituals such as circumcision and dietary laws, as key elements of law observance or boundary markers of God’s covenant community. These rituals remained central even in the time of Paul as the boundary markers between those who belonged to God’s covenant community and those who were outside this community. Any community that tried to remove the walls of separation was considered to be posing a threat to the Torah, the constitution of the Jewish communities. Donaldson comments, “Persecution arises not because a group holds ideas at variance with the norm, but because it does so in ways that threaten social cohesion.”[55] Paul saw the community(s) of Jesus Christ as representing such a threat. This is implied in Gal.5.11-12, where Paul says that the cross of Christ has become a “scandal” to the Jews (cf. Gal. 6.12; I Cor. 1.23). The scandal of the cross for the Jews is that it has annulled the Jewish distinctive rituals in the communities of Jesus Christ, thus removing the walls of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles (Gal. 5.11). This results in upsetting the social order that has been constructed on the exclusionistic interpretation of the Torah. In order to maintain social order based on the exclusionistic understanding of the law, it demands “good violence” against the “bad violence”, which is the cause of social disorder. The cross by demolishing the ritual barriers around the Jewish community and thus bringing together the Jews and the Gentiles, those who were excluded by the exclusionistic interpretation of the law, has given zealous Jews the motivation to engage in scapegoat mechanism, to maintain social order based on the zealotic interpretation of the Torah. Since in a zealot context faith in God is understood in terms of zealous action for God or the law, it is linked to sacred violence. It is a violent action against apostates to maintain conformity to a pattern of life according to the law, and thus preserve unity and order of the community. The unanimity of the members of Judaism in directing their violence against apostates is required to maintain the system of sacred violence. All cooperate mimetically in directing their violence against the victims. Those who withhold consent and cooperation in this conspiracy against victims are a threat to the very foundation of the sacrificial structure of Judaism. When Paul confessed that as a zealot, he was violently persecuting the community(s) of God and was trying to destroy it, he was, in fact, confessing that he used sacred violence against apostates to preserve the pattern of life according to the law, the constitution of the Jewish communities. In other words, by guarding the constitution of the Jewish communities, he was protecting their freedom to live according to the zealotic interpretation of the law.

B. Paul’s Conversion-Call and God’s Revelation of God’s Son

Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus is recorded not only in Galatians (Gal. 1.11-17), but also in Acts (9.1-19, 22.4-16, 26.9-19). There are different views surrounding this experience. Some scholars insist that it is inappropriate to call this experience “conversion”. Krister Stendahl argues that the emphasis in the autobiographical account is on Paul’s call to be an apostle to the Gentiles, rather than on his “conversion”. In his essay “Paul among Jews and Gentiles” Stendahl argues that Paul, by echoing the language of Isaiah and Jeremiah, describes his experience as a call, similar to that of the prophets. The same God whom Paul had been serving since birth has now given him a new task. This task is, through the risen Messiah, God “asks him as a Jew to bring God’s message to the Gentiles.”[56] Though Stendahl does not deny the fact that Paul’s experience on the Damascus road has resulted in a striking shift in his perspective, he rejects the description of this experience as “conversion”, because Paul did not change from one religion to another.[57] However, Stendahl’s “call rather than conversion” formulation is an overstatement, because the term “conversion” properly understood can be appropriately applied to Paul.

There are many scholars who consider Paul’s experience as “conversion”. They have offered several proposals to explain Paul’s conversion. It is interpreted in terms of the psychological struggle with the Torah, and a result of his long struggle with the law in which he was dejected of ever achieving the righteousness it demands.[58] J.S. Stewart describes how “Paul’s growing sense of the failure of Judaism” gave way to the sudden conviction “that he had found the truth for which all men everywhere were seeking.”[59] However, Paul nowhere in his letters gives a hint of going through a period of dissatisfaction or mental turmoil. He rather testifies about his extraordinary zealotry for the Torah. The only thing that can be understood from his testimony is that his conversion was sudden and unexpected, and was a result of his experience of God’s revelation of God’s son. Some other scholars understood Paul’s conversion in terms of his reaction to the scriptural apologetic and steadfastness under persecution of the community(s) of Jesus Christ.[60] Some argue that Paul through his experience of God’s revelation of the risen Christ realized that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. Further he understood that since Messiah had come, the law ceases.[61] E.P. Sanders contends that Paul on the road to Damascus was convinced that God had provided in Christ a universal means of salvation both for the Jews and the Gentiles. Paul’s rejection of the Torah as a means of salvation is a consequence of his new conviction: if the salvation is through Christ, then it is not through the law.[62]  Donaldson sees the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the demonstration of God’s provision of universal salvation in Christ. Therefore, if salvation is through Christ, then it does not come through the Torah.[63] Heikki Raisanen proposed a different view of Paul’s conversion. For him, Paul was converted from a rigid Jewish religion to Hellenistic Jewish Christianity and adopted its less rigid attitude towards the Torah, particularly the ritual and cultic aspects.[64] F.F. Bruce maintains that for Paul who considered the proclamation of a crucified one as the Messiah as blasphemous, the experience of God’s revelation of the risen Christ is a “conversion” experience. He further says that this conversion was both an external and an internal event. It was an objective revelation of the risen Christ as well as an overwhelming inward experience. Bruce takes seriously the change in Paul from persecutor to apostle.

There are also diverse views regarding the connection between Paul’s experience of God’s revelation of God’s son and his gospel. Concerning the essentials of Paul’s gospel, Raisanen proposes developmental hypothesis. Paula Fredriksen argues that the autobiographical conversion report of Paul tells more about his state of mind at the time of reporting than at the time of conversion.[65] However, these views can not be sustained in view of Paul’s polemic against the teachers of the “other gospel” that the essentials of the gospel he preaches remain same from the beginning (cf. Gal. 1.17, 5.11). Otherwise Paul would have faced criticism from his opponents, had he preached a different gospel at the beginning of his ministry. That means, Paul’s view of the Torah and the essential content of his gospel are the result of his experience of God’s revelation of God’s son on the road to Damascus. Bruce rightly sees the connection between Paul’s experience and his theology. He supposes that although Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith was not developed fully at that time, it too was implicit in the conversion.[66] However, the weakness of Bruce’s analysis is that he relies more on the secondary source, the Acts, instead of Paul’s letters. Developing on his mentor’s view Seyoon Kim finds Paul’s conversion as the source of his thought.[67]

It is important to refer to Paul’s account of his experience of God’s revelation of God’s son to see a connection between his conversion and his gospel. Paul claims that his gospel is not “of human origin” but “through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1.11-12). Apocalypsis and its verbal form apokalyptein in Paul’s letters refer most often to the eschaton and linked to God’s action in the end time (I Cor. 1.7, 3.13; Gal. 3.23).[68] Therefore, Paul’s reference to “revelation” in Gal. 1.11-12 and 1.16 underlines the eschatological significance of the experience. This revelation is “of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1.12), which may be taken either as subjective genitive (revelation from Jesus Christ) or objective genitive (revelation about Jesus Christ). In the light of Gal. 1.16 which refers to God’s revelation of God’s son, “revelation of Jesus Christ” should be understood as objective genitive. It implies that the content of the gospel is Jesus Christ, who was revealed. What is striking is that in the following verses (Gal. 1.13-14) Paul, instead of explaining the revelation, first describes his former way of life in Judaism (notice the usage of the temporal particle pote). This implies that the information about his former way of life in Judaism has significance in the context of Paul’s experience of God’s revelation of the risen Christ. After explaining his extraordinary zealotic way of life based on the exclusionistic understanding of the Torah, expressed in the exclusion of the Gentiles, Paul returns to the apokalypsis (Gal. 1.15-16). In order to express the transition due to the impact of his experience of God’s revelation of God’s son in not only putting an end to his former way of life in Judaism, but also starting a new life and vocation, Paul uses the temporal phrase hote de. Through this Paul is indicating a sharp contrast between the two periods of his life.[69]

In Gal. 1.15-16 Paul describes the action of God and the purpose of that action. Paul says that God revealed the son en emoi. En emoi may be translated atleast in three ways: 1. “in me”, referring to internal, subjective experience; 2. “to me”, referring to external, objective experience of the risen Christ; and 3. “through me”, referring to his call to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Paul elsewhere describes his Damascus road experience in terms of “seeing” Christ, or Christ “appearing” to him (I Cor. 9.1, 15.8; cf. II Cor. 4.6). In Gal. 1.16 Paul describes it in terms of God “revealing the son”. The subject here is God. God is disclosing the reality that has been hidden. What has been concealed is the scapegoat mechanism that is generated by the zealotic way of life in Judaism. The power of this mechanism lies in its deception and concealment. On the one hand, it deceives by depicting God as the one who is demanding “sacrificial victims”, and thus, portraying violence against victims as a sacred act. On the other hand, it conceals the plight of innocent “sacrificial victims” and transforms violence against victims as a sacred violence. The content of God’s revelation is God’s son, the victim of the curse of the law (Gal. 3.13). Through this God is revealing not only his rejection of the law (the law on which Paul’s zealotic way of life was based) that crucified Christ, but also God’s vindication of the victim of the curse of the law. Paul says that God has revealed this en emoi. Beverly Gaventa argues for a meaning of “to me” based on parallel usage en tois ethnesin (Gal. 1.16).[70] It is an encounter between the cursed one of the law and the persecutor inspired by his zeal for the law. This encounter of Paul with Jesus the crucified and cursed by the law (Gal. 3.13), but raised by God (Gal. 1.1), brought forth a realization that the one cursed by the law is vindicated by God. By vindicating the cursed one of the law, God has revealed to Paul that the cursed one of the law (that is, the exclusionistic understanding of the law) is not cursed one of God. Paul reiterates this in Gal. 2.19: “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.” That means, the way of life expressed in strict adherence to the Jewish distinctive rituals such as circumcision, dietary laws, Sabbath and special days, and thus excluding the Gentiles, is not equivalent to living for God.

Paul draws on prophetic imagery in Gal. 1.16-17 (cf. Isaiah 49.1; Jeremiah 1.5) to “convey the radical impact of the revelation.”[71] Even though Paul’s language here echoes the call of the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, and implies that he views himself as standing in the prophetic tradition, it does not mean what has happened to Paul may be considered simply as his call. Though Paul’s call and commission are included in this experience, his experience of God’s revelation of God’s son is not limited to these. His experience has called into question his zealotic understanding of the law and the way of life patterned according to such an understanding. When Paul experienced God’s revelation of the risen Christ, the victim of the “curse of the law”, he realized the problem of Judaism to which he belonged. This problem of Judaism is the exclusionism expressed in its distinctive rituals. Paul realized that it is the way of life in Judaism based on exclusionistic understanding of the law that has led to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, whom God has vindicated. In other words, the law that has excluded the Gentiles is the same law that caused the crucifixion of God’s son. And God is rejecting the way of life based on the law. Paul understood how the law was (mis)used in Judaism to serve violence, which was expressed in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, persecution of those considered to be apostates, and exclusion of the Gentiles.[72] Thus, the revelation of Jesus Christ has exposed what has been concealed in Judaism, to which Paul belonged. That is, Judaism is a sacrificial structure of sacred violence.[73] Paul realized the law and the community that patterned its life according to this law as a system of sacred violence. This realization made a radical impact on Paul’s life and disrupted his way of life in Judaism. Paul’s cosmos has been shattered (cf. Gal. 6.14). This has resulted in his transfer from Judaism based on exclusionistic understanding of the law, to the community of the new creation, where circumcision and uncircumcision are no longer significant (Gal. 6.15).[74] The contrast between these two worlds is expressed by the conjugation de (Gal. 1.15). Charles Cousar comments, “God’s revealing of the son to Paul not only involved a radical assault on his previous life, but also that assault was part of God’s world-changing activity, the bringing of new creation.”[75]

God’s revelation of God’s son has a purpose: “that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles” (Gal. 1.16). It implies that the conversion and the call of Paul belong to a single event. Interestingly the content of God’s revelation that disrupted Paul’s way of life in Judaism and the content of the message that Paul was asked to proclaim are same. It is Jesus Christ, the victim of the curse of the law. It is also significant that Paul was commissioned to preach this message to the Gentiles, who are also victims of the Torah (Gal. 1.16; cf. Is. 49.1-6; Jer. 1.5).[76] Paul understands his commissioning from that very moment of his experience of the revelation of the son as having Gentiles in view. This conviction is integral part of his experience on the Damascus road. It did not come to Paul later or grown over a period, as some have argued.[77] Christiaan Beker comments that “Paul’s conversion experience is not the entrance to his thought.”[78] However, Paul claims that he already had a well formed conviction before he first met other apostles (Gal. 1.16-17), and asserts its divine origin (Gal. 1.1, 11-12).

Thus, Paul mentions his conversion-call experience in contrast to his persecuting zeal for the ancestral traditions in the context of Galatian controversy in order to affirm that the way of life patterned according to the law (that is, the exclusionistic understanding of the law) and that according to the gospel of Jesus Christ are mutually exclusive.[79] His experience of God’s revelation of God’s son disclosed that the death of Jesus Christ was the result of sacred violence. Paul realized that it was the same sacred violence expressed in exclusion of the Gentiles. This realization has resulted in his transfer from Judaism, the system of sacred violence, to a community of Jesus Christ, the victim of sacred violence. Paul was commissioned to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, that is, God’s disclosure of Judaism as the system of sacred violence, which is expressed in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and exclusion of the Gentiles, and the vindication of the victim of the sacred violence. The conversion-call experience of Paul has a direct implication on or become a threat to the self-understanding of Jewish Christians (and Jews) as the covenant people of God, and their zealotic way of life in Judaism. It poses a threat to the Jewish social order and freedom to live according to that order. This led Paul, in his former life in Judaism, to persecute the community(s) of Jesus Christ. This has also led the Jewish community, to which Paul once belonged, to persecute Paul and the members of the community(s) of Jesus Christ.

 

 


[1] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 66.

[2] Justin Taylor, “Why Did Paul Persecute the Church?” in Tolerance and Intolerance in Early Judaism and Christianity, ed. by Graham N. Stanton and Guy G. Stroumsa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 105.

[3] Read Hengel, The Zealots; and The Pre-Christian Paul (London: 1991).

[4] Lester L. Grabbe, Judaic Religion in the Second Temple Period: Belief and Practice from the Exile to Yavneh (New York: Routledge, 2000), pp. 287-288.

[5] Grabbe, Judaic Religion in the Second Temple Period, p. 287. Shaye J.D. Cohen too considers that the Zealots are a separate group. Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, pp. 164-166.

[6] Morton Smith, “Zealots and Sicarii: Their Origins and Relation,” in HTR 64/1 (January 1971), p. 18.

[7] Smith, “Zealots and Sicarii,” p. 3.

[8] Smith, “Zealots and Sicarii,” p. 16.

[9] Smith, “Zealots and Sicarii,” p. 19.

[10] Horsley and John S. Hanson, Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs, p. 224.

[11] Horsley and John S. Hanson, Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs, p. 217.

[12] Mark R. Fairchild, “Paul’s Pre-Christian Zealot Associations: A Re-Examination of Gal. 1.14 and Acts 22.3,” in NTS 45 (1999), p. 526.

[13] Fairchild, “Paul’s Pre-Christian Zealot Associations,” p. 524.

[14] Torrey Seland, “Saul of Tarsus and Early Zealotism: Reading Gal. 1.13-14 in Light of Philo’s Writings,” in Biblica 83 (2002), p. 453.

[15] C.H. Dodd, “The Mind of Paul: A Psychological Approach,” in BJRL 17/1 (1933), pp. 12-13; “The Mind of Paul: Change and Development,” in BJRL 18/1 (1934), p. 36.

[16] F.C. Baur, Paul: Apostle of Jesus Christ (London: Williams & Norgate, 1876), I. 57.

[17] F.C. Baur, The Church History of the First Three Centuries (London: Williams & Norgate, 1878), I. 46.

[18] Rudolph Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, I. 187-188.

[19] Gunther Bornkamm, Paul (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1971), pp. 14-15; Walter Schmithals, Paul and James, tr. by D.M. Barton (Naperville, Ill: A.R. Allenson, 1965), pp. 21-28.

[20] Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism; and Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People.

[21] Hengel, Pre- Christian Paul, p. 83; Hengel, The Atonement: The Origins of the Doctrine in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981), p. 40.

[22] P.H. Menoud, “Revelation and Tradition: The Influence of Paul’s Conversion on His Theology,” in Interpretation 7/2 (April 1953), p. 133.

[23] Kim, The Origin of Paul’s Gospel, p. 47.

[24] Taylor, “Why Did Paul Persecute the Church?” p. 112.

[25] Hultgren, “Paul’s Pre-Christian Persecutions of the Church,” p. 110.

[26] Martin Goodman, Judaism in the Roman World: Collected Essays (Leiden: Brill, 2007), p. 152.

[27] K. Haacker, “Die Berufung des Verfolgers und die Rechtfertigung des Gottlosen,” in ThBeit 6 (1975), pp. 1-19.

[28] Haacker, “Die Berufung,” p. 8.

[29] Taylor, “Why Did Paul Persecute the Church?” p. 112.

[30] Taylor, “Why Did Paul Persecute the Church?” p. 108.

[31] Taylor, “Why Did Paul Persecute the Church?” p. 108.

[32] Taylor, “Why Did Paul Persecute the Church?” p. 110.

[33] Rhoads, “Zealots,” VI. 1045.

[34] Rhoads, “Zealots,” VI. 1045.

[35] Terence L. Donaldson, “Zealot and Convert: The Origin of Paul’s Christ-Torah Antithesis,” in CBQ 51/4 (October 1989), p. 673.

[36] Donaldson, “Zealot and Convert” p. 679.

[37] Donaldson, “Zealot and Convert” p. 679.

[38] Hengel, Zealots, p. 155; E.P. Sanders, Practice and Belief 63 BCE – 66 CE (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1992), p. 409.

[39] Fairchild, “Paul’s Pre-Christian Zealot Associations,” p. 522.

[40] Seland, “Saul of Tarsus and Early Zealotism,” p. 466.

[41] Donaldson, “Zealot and Convert,” p. 673.

[42] Hengel, The Pre-Christian Paul, pp. 70-71; J. Dupont, “The Conversion of Paul, and Its Influence on His Understanding of Salvation by Faith,” in Apostolic History and the Gospel, ed. by W.W. Gasque and  Ralph P. Martin (Exeter: 1970), pp. 183-87; N.T. Wright, “Paul, Arabia, and Elijah (Galatians 1:17),” in JBL 115 (1996), p. 686.

[43] Fairchild, “Paul’s Pre-Christian Zealot Associations,” p. 527.

[44] Dunn, The Epistle to the Galatians, p. 56.

[45] Betz, Galatians, p. 67.

[46] Heikki Raisanen, Jesus, Paul and Torah: Collected Essays, tr. by David E. Orton (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992), p. 23.

[47] Hultgren, “Paul’s Pre-Christian Persecutions of the Church,” p. 110.

[48] Philippe H. Menoud, Jesus Christ and the Faith: A Collection of Studies, tr. by Eunice M. Paul (Pittsburg: Pickwick Press, 1978), pp. 47- 60.

[49] Hultgren, “Paul’s Pre-Christian Persecutions of the Church,” p. 110.

[50] Longenecker, Galatians, p. 28.

[51] Seland, “Saul of Tarsus and Early Zealotism,” p. 468.

[52] Seland, “Saul of Tarsus and Early Zealotism,” p. 468.

[53] Betz, Galatians, p. 67.

[54] Dunn, The Epistle to the Galatians, p. 83.

[55] Donaldson, “Zealot and Convert,” p. 671.

[56] Krister Stendahl, Paul among Jews and Gentiles and Other Essays (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976), p. 7.

[57] Stendahl, Paul among Jews and Gentiles, pp. 7-23.

[58] A. Deissmann, St. Paul: A Study in Social and Religious History (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1912), pp. 93-98, 122; C.H. Dodd, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1932), p. 115; J.S. Stewart, A Man in Christ (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1935), pp 83-88; J.C. Beker, Paul the Apostle (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980), pp. 24-243.

[59] Stewart, A Man in Christ, pp. 119, 141.

[60] O. Pfleiderer, Paulinism (London: Williams & Norgate, 1891), I. 3-13; J. Klausner, From Jesus to Paul (New York: Macmillan, 1943), pp. 312-329.

[61] W.D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism (London: SPCK, 1948), pp. 16, 71-73; Schoeps, Paul, pp. 88, 171-73; Albert Schweitzer, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle (New York: Seabury, 1968), pp. 188-93, 198.

[62] Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism; and Paul, the Law and the Jewish People. 

[63] Donaldson, “Zealot and Convert,” p. 680.

[64] Raisanen, Paul and the Law, pp. 231-236.

[65] Paula Fredriksen, “Paul and Augustine: Conversion Narratives, Orthodox Traditions, and the Retrospective Self,” in JTS 37 (1986), pp. 3-34.

[66] F.F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1977), pp. 69-75, 87, 188.

[67] Kim, The Origin of Paul’s Gospel.

[68] Beverly Roberts Gaventa, From Darkness to Light: Aspects of Conversion in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), p. 23.

[69] Martyn, Galatians, p. 163.

[70] Gaventa, From Darkness to Light, p. 28.

[71] Gaventa, From Darkness to Light, p. 28.

[72] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 7.

[73] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 7.

[74] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 7.

[75] Cousar, Reading Galatians, p. 32.

[76] The prophetic call-stories from which the vocabulary here derived, also contain the phrase “to the nations”.

[77] Dupont, “The Conversion of Paul”; J.G. Gager, “Some Notes on Paul’s Conversion,” in NTS 27 (1981).

[78] Beker, Paul the Apostle, p. 10.

[79] Dunn, Jesus, Paul, and the Law, p. 92.

Freedom Through The Death of Jesus Christ In Galatians: A Nonviolence Reading

September 26, 2009

Chapter IV

Freedom, the Death of Jesus Christ and the Law

           

 A. Freedom and the Death of Jesus Christ 

In Galatians Paul links freedom and the death of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1.4, 2.4, 3.13, 4.5, 5.1). He uses three terms, exaireō, eleutheria/eleutheroō and exagorazō, to express the freedom that has been achieved through the Christ event. The importance of freedom through the Christ event, for Paul, is evident by the prescript of this letter. The prescript of Galatians is unique compared to Paul’s other undisputed letters. In the latter it ends with greetings, whereas in Galatians it is extended by an addition of statement on the significance of the death of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1.4-5). In Gal. 1.4a Paul quotes an early Church confession: “(Jesus Christ) gave himself for our sins,” (cf. I Cor 15.3). This is confirmed by the use of plural form of “sin” rather than Paul’s customary usage of singular form. Plural form of sin in Paul’s undisputed letters is found either in the quotation of the early church confession (I Cor. 15.3, Gal. 1.4) or in the wider context of the quotation (I Cor. 15.17). Paul never becomes preoccupied with this or that deed as violation of a commandment. He, rather, focuses on sin as intrusion into God’s world, a ruthless power that exercises dominion over people and enslaves them (Gal. 3.22 cf. Rom 5:20; 6:6, 20; 7:14). For Paul, sin is preeminently a power of the present age.

Most probably Galatian believers are aware of the early church confession and that is why Paul has used it in Galatians 1.4a. However, the purpose clause (hopōs) provides Paul’s interpretation of this confession: “to set us free from the present evil age” (Gal. 1.4b). The root problem lies not in our sins, but in the present evil age. Because the present evil age has strength to enslave all. That is why the salvific verb is not “forgive”[1] but exaireō. The verb exaireō is used only in Galatians. This verb is employed frequently in LXX in the sense of “rescue, deliver from”, particularly as an act of deliverance from enemies and troubles (“rescue from the hand of”). In Galatians it corresponds to another verb exagorazō, which Paul uses at key points to express the significance of Jesus’ death (Gal. 3.13, 4.5). Thus, the death of Jesus Christ is understood to have effected freedom. Note that the salvific verbs are in aorist tense. That means, the freedom effected by the Christ event has already taken place, rather than merely a future one. Paul says that this freedom is from the present evil age.

The usage of the unique eschatological expression “the present evil age” in Galatians gives an eschatological frame of reference. For Paul, the present age is understood as a cosmic realm characterized by enslavement. This is made clear by Paul’s use of the verb exaireō. The reference to the present age reflects his assumption of eschatological dualism. From the writings and traditions of Paul’s time, it is evident that a concept of two ages was prevalent. Though Paul speaks about the present age (I Cor. 1.2, 2.6, 3.18; II Cor. 4.4), he never speaks literally of the age to come. However, in Paul’s letters the opposite of the present age is the new creation (II Cor. 5.17; Gal. 6.15). The distinctive conclusion of the letter to the Galatians makes clear how central for Paul’s argument is the death of Christ as a decisive event in ushering the new creation. For Paul, the turn of ages has been realized in the Christ event. It is no longer solely a future event. Freedom from the present evil age into the new creation has been achieved by the death of Jesus Christ. It is interesting to see that the letter opens with a statement on the significance of the death of Jesus Christ in effecting freedom from the present evil age and closes with a statement on the significance of the death of Jesus Christ in effecting freedom into the new creation. In the main body of the letter Paul argues about the nature and significance of the death of Jesus Christ, the powers of the present evil age, and the nature of the freedom achieved through the Christ event.

B. The Death of Jesus Christ and the Scapegoat

The death of Jesus Christ plays a crucial role in Galatians (Gal. 1.4, 2.20, 21, 3.1, 13, 6.14). Paul deals with the issue of the significance of the death of Jesus Christ not as an issue in and of itself, because it never arose as a contested matter in Pauline communities. For Paul it is an essential part of the gospel of freedom he preached. Thus, the significance of Jesus’ death becomes an important issue in his polemical argument against those who preached a gospel contrary to his.

In Galatians the significance of the death of Jesus appears in two forms. The first is the huper formula (Gal. 1.4, 2.20, 3.13) and the second depicts God “sending” God’s son “in order to redeem those who were under the law” (Gal. 4.5). In Paul’s undisputed letters there are statements of Jesus’ death “for us” (1 Thess 5:10), “for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3), and “for all” (II Cor 5:14). In these the key is the preposition huper. The origin of the huper formula may be traced to the early church confession as I Cor. 15.3 (cf. Gal. 1.4) demonstrates. Yet frequent occurrences of this formula in Paul’s letters show that this has become a part of his proclamation of the gospel of freedom.[2] The preposition huper has generated much debate as to whether it renders “instead of” (implying substitution) or “on behalf of” (or “for the benefit of”). Taking the former meaning huper in connection with the death of Jesus Christ is generally understood in sacrificial terms.[3] However, one should not read Christ hanging on the cross as a Jewish Christian midrash based on the Aqedah Isaac (Gen. 22).[4] Hamerton-Kelly gives reason why Jesus death on the cross should not be based on the Aqedah Isaac. He contends, “Isaac is not said to be “given,” (or “sent”) that he did not die, and that had he died, his death would have been on an altar and not on a cross. Furthermore, his death would not have been “for” anyone.”[5] Whereas Paul emphasizes that Christ’s death is “for me” (Gal. 2.20) or “for us” (Gal. 3.13). Dahl admits that the typology of Gen. 22 equates Jesus and the ram, rather than Jesus and Isaac.[6]  

When huper is used in connection with Jesus’ death, it carries the notion of “on behalf of”. The idea of one party replacing for another is evident in Gal. 2.20 and 3.13.[7] The imagery is not sacrifice but ransom. However, ransom here is not to be understood as explained by the Ransom theory. According to the Ransom theory, the death of Jesus Christ is described as the ransom price paid to Satan in exchange for freeing the sinful humankind from the bondage of Satan. Paul is not using the image of ransom in that sense, but as one purchasing freedom by taking the place of the other in order to transfer the other from one realm to another.[8] He describes the nature of the redemptive purchase in Gal. 3.23-4.7 that prior to the coming of Christ “we were imprisoned and guarded under the law” and “enslaved to the elements of the world”, and “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.” Paul’s use of the verb exagorazō in Gal. 4.5 suggests purchase of freedom by means of a payment.[9] McLean observes, “The unprefixed form agorazein (derived from agora) means literally ‘to buy’ in a commercial sense.”[10] The term exagorazō in Gal. 3.13 and 4.5 refers to purchasing freedom for those who are enslaved by the law. The analogy of redemption of slaves by paying a ransom delineates the redemptive significance of the death of Jesus Christ. In the secular realm redemption of slaves always involved payment of a ransom and as a result of this slaves were transferred from the realm of enslavement to the realm of freedom. Because Paul in Gal. 4.3-4 associated slavery with being under the law and then presented God’s Son as redeeming those under the law, it is certain that exagorazō means more specifically to free a slave through paying a ransom in order to transfer the enslaved person from the realm of enslavement to the realm of freedom (cf. I Cor. 6.19-20). Here the analogy of redemption of slaves should not be pressed too far in the case of the significance of Jesus’ death. Paul is simply using the language of contemporary slave market to emphasize the fact that believers of Jesus Christ are now transferred from the realm of enslavement to the realm of freedom.

The second formula that Paul employs in Gal. 4.4-5 is the “sending formula”. The structure of this formula consists of four parts: 1. God as the subject; 2. son as the direct object; 3. verb in the aorist tense (exapesteilen); 4. the purpose of God’s act as redemptive (hina tous hupo nomon exagorasē).[11] Hultgren notes that the “sending formula” is not only longer and more detailed than the huper formula, but also contains more Pauline content.[12] Moreover, in this formula redemptive significance of the sending is made explicit: God sent God’s son “in order to redeem those who were under the law”.[13] Therefore, the “sending formula” used in Gal. 4.4-5 facilitates the understanding of the nature and significance of the death of Jesus Christ in Paul’s argument in Galatians.

Daniel Schwartz argues that the imagery behind Jesus’ death is the image of a scapegoat. He contends that Gal. 3.13 should be interpreted in terms of Gal. 4.4-5 as there are similarities between these two passages: common verb exagorazō and common structure (a statement of fact followed by two purpose clauses). Schwartz says that the imagery behind Gal. 4.4-5 is the image of a scapegoat.[14] Paul uses exapostellō in Gal. 4.4 for God sending Christ. Gal. 4.5 gives the purpose of God sending God’s Son: hina tous hupo nomon exagorasē. Hatch and Redpath indicate that the verb exapostellō in LXX represents the Hebrew slh (piel).[15] It is noticed that only in Leviticus 14 and 16 slh has the sense of sending forth x in order to redeem y, similar to Gal. 4.4-5. In Lev. 14 a priest, in order to “cleanse” the one who was healed of leprous decease, sends forth a living bird into an open field, after transferring the impurities to it. Lev. 16 talks about the scapegoat ritual on the Day of Atonement. A goat selected by lot for Azazel (originally a desert demon, but later in the mishnaic tractate Yoma identified it as a place) was brought forward. The high priest with both his hands on the head of the goat, signifying transfer of sins of people, confessed the sins of people over it. Then the goat was escorted into the desert (Lev. 16.5, 20-22). Commenting on the essence of the Scapegoat ritual, Philo says that the goat “was sent out into a pathless and inaccessible desolate place carrying on himself the curses of those who had committed offenses” (Philo, Spec Leg, I.188). LXX slightly hightens the sin-bearing function of the goat by adding “on itself”: “It shall bear on itself all their inequities” (LXX Lev. 16.22). Thus, the goat was a cursed one and was driven out into the realm of the desert demon, carrying the sins of the community.[16] The effectiveness of the ritual was the idea that the sins of the community, which poison relations among members of the community, were expelled with the goat from the community. People participating in this ritual did not recognize a phenomenon of “mob” violence against an innocent victim, but they only observed its reconciling results and appreciated them so much that they continued this ritual without feeling guilty of their violence against the scapegoat.

On the basis of the scapegoat ritual Schwartz argues that the usage of exapostellō with exagorazō in Gal. 4.4-5 has the connotation of a scapegoat. One difference between the scapegoat ritual in Leviticus and that in Galatians is that in Leviticus scapegoat is sent out from the sacred precincts, whereas Christ was sent into it (“born under the law” Gal. 4.4).[17] The realm that Christ enters is the realm of the law, or precisely the realm of the law interpreted in terms of the “works of the law” (cf. Gal. 3.10). Christ entered the realm of the law in order to expose the sacred violence that is active in this realm and to effect freedom for “us from the curse of the law” (Gal. 3.13) or for those who are “under the law” (Gal. 4.5). In Gal. 3.13 the redemptive death of Christ is depicted as curse-bearing. Christ as the scapegoat takes on himself “the curse of the law” on behalf of “us” “in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles” (Gal. 3.13-14). T.H. Gaster argues that the action of Jesus Christ is representative, not substitutional as understood by scholars who followed the framework of the atonement theory of Substitution. He notes that the confession over the scapegoat animal is “a collective, blanket confession of sins and then saddling the collective taint upon someone deputed being…. The scapegoat was representative, not substitutional.”[18]

It is also important to note that the “sending formula” makes it clear that the redemptive act is divine initiative and Christ is God’s agent of purchasing freedom on God’s initiative. Nowhere does Paul give a hint that Christ represents humanity over against God, offering a perfect sacrifice on the part of humanity to appease God. Paul argues in Galatians that Christ became a ransom in order to purchase freedom (exagorazō) for both the Gentiles and the Jews from the realm of the curse of the law (Gal. 3.13, 4.5; cf. I Cor. 6.20, 7.23). In other words, Christ’s scapegoat action purchased freedom of those enslaved “under the law”.

 C. Curse of the Law and Sacred Violence

Paul refers to the Abrahamic tradition in his argument to persuade Galatian believers against yielding to the teaching of the teachers of the “other gospel”. The dominance of Abraham tradition in Paul’s argument in Galatians (3.6-18, 3.29, 4.21-31) is because the teachers of the “other gospel” have used it to persuade and compel Galatian believers to follow the life patterned according to the exclusionistic understanding of the law. As John Barclay comments, “The tone of these references to Abraham (i.e. their emphasis), their frequency, their clarity and their unfamiliarity all suggest, as many commentators have observed, that Paul’s opponents in Galatia appealed to Abraham in their ‘persuasion’ of the Galatians….”[19]

The teachers of the “other gospel” have used the Abraham tradition to support their version of the gospel of freedom through midrashic interpretation of Numbers 25.1-13. The Jewish midrashic interpretation of Numbers 25.1-13, in which Abraham and Phineas are linked by means of Psalms 106 and Genesis 15.6, is known to the teachers of the “other gospel” and Paul (cf. I Macc. 2.52; Judith 9.2ff Jubilees 30.5-20 Sirach 45.23-24, 48.2).[20] Many Jews fostered the ideal of “zeal for God” or “zeal for the law” on the model of Phineas. As argued in Chapter III, such admiration for zeal was influential in shaping the Maccabean movement. Paul, before experiencing God’s revelation of God’s son, belonged to the pattern of Jewish life influenced by zeal (Gal. 1.13-14).[21] Violence for the honor of God or to preserve the pattern of life according to the zealotic interpretation of the law is an essential part of zeal.

Phineas, son of Eleazar, is the first example of the Old Testament for zeal to protect the honor of God. When Israel began to worship the Baal of Peor, God’s wrath fell upon Israel and caused a plague to fall upon them (Num. 25.1-18). When Phineas saw Zimri, an Israelite, taking a Midianite woman Cozbi into his tent, he killed both of them.[22] This violent act is reported to have been commended and approved by God as “zeal…on my (God’s) behalf” and resulted in “turning back my (God’s) wrath from the Israelites”. Phineas’ violent act “made atonement for the Israelites” and restored peace in the community (Num. 25.13). Thus, “the sword of those who love God is a redemptive instrument, and its zealous use is capable of turning away the wrath of God from his disobedient people, by making atonement for the sins of the nation.”[23] In other words, the wrath of God that had befallen on the community was diverted onto the apostates by Phineas and the killing of the apostates restored peace and order in the community. As a reward for his zealous act, Phineas was given a promise of eternal priesthood and a covenant of peace (Sirach 45.23-26; cf. 50.24).

The zeal of Phineas had become a prototype for the ideal of “zeal for the law” for the Maccabean movement. Maccabees considered Phineas an ultimate model and called him “our father” (I Macc. 2.54).[24] The zealous act of Phineas is included in ta erga tōn paterōn and thus legitimized violence to enforce conformity to the Torah within the Jewish community. His zealous act “has been reckoned to him as righteousness” (Ps. 106. 31). This echoes Genesis 15.6 where Abraham’s faith in the Lord “was reckoned to him as righteousness”. Abraham’s faith is also mentioned in I Macc. 2.52: “Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness?” Notice that I Macc. 2.52 is a part of Mattathias’ reference to the heroes of zeal (I Macc. 2.51-60). The Jewish midrash interprets Abraham’s faith in terms of the zealous act of Phineas and it “has been reckoned to him as righteousness”. Thus, Abraham’s faith is interpreted as “faithfulness” which is understood in terms of zealous action for God or the law. In this sense Abraham’s faith is linked to the order of sacred violence. Since Abraham’s faith forms a pattern for those of faith, the teachers of the “other gospel” insisted on lifestyle pertaining to the order of sacred violence. This sacred violence is expressed in exclusionism and violent action against apostates in order to maintain conformity to the pattern of life according to the zealotic interpretation of the law and thus to preserve unity and order of the community. That means, violence to preserve the pattern of life according to the zealotic understanding of law is active in the realm of the law. It is in the light of this Paul states that the “curse” as sacred violence is active in the realm of the “works of law”: “All who are of works of law are under a curse” (Gal. 3.10).

D. The Law as an Enslaving Power

Paul uses the Greek preposition hupo thirteen times in Galatians. Whenever he used it for himself or for God hupo is followed by a genitive noun (Gal. 1.11, 3.17, 4.9) and thus it gives a sense of agency. In the remaining instances hupo is followed by an accusative noun (Gal. 3.10, 3.22, 3.23, 3.25, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.21, 5.18) and modifies katara, hamartia, nomos, paidagōgos, epitropos kai oikonomos and ta stoicheia tou kosmou. The phrase “under the law” is prominent in Galatians (Gal. 3.23, 4.4, 4.5, 4.21, 5.18). The importance of this phrase in Galatians must have been prompted by the crisis in Galatian churches. Jews understood the Torah as a protective fence that shuts up the Jewish community from having social relationship with “sinners”. It restrains the Jews from crossing the boundaries. However, Paul uses the preposition hupo in the sense of subjection or enslavement, thus characterizing the Torah as an enslaving power. The enslaving action of the law is described by sugkleiō and phroureō. Paul uses to the law the same verb sugkleiō that he does in Gal. 3.22 to express the enslavement of “all things” (including human beings) under the power of sin. The imagery here is confinement in prison, thus isolating those in prison from any social relationship with the rest of the society. Sin is a divisive power of the present evil age that has intruded into God’s creation. The law has also joined the power of sin in this enslaving activity by dividing the world into the circumcision and the uncircumcision (cf. Gal. 3.28; 6.12-15). Paul calls this function of the law as enslavement. The other power that enslaves is stoicheia tou kosmou (Gal. 4:3). Stoicheia tou kosmou are identified with the figures of administrators and trustees in Paul’s illustration (Gal. 4.1-7). Paul mentions that stoicheia tou kosmou have power to enslave and they exercised that power. The law in its function of enslaving those under it has a relationship with stoicheia tou kosmou. The existential contexts described by the phrases “under the law” and “under the elements of the cosmos” coincide (Gal. 3.21-4.11).[25] In Gal. 4.9-11 doing the law is associated closely with serving the elements of the cosmos. Paul maintains that the Galatians’ previous worship of “beings that by nature are not gods” enslaved them to stoicheia. He goes on to warn them that by becoming proselytes they would again become enslaved to ta asthenē kai ptōcha stoicheia.

Stoicheia tou kosmou is capable of taking a wide range of meanings as it was used in different spheres of ideas.[26] Gerhard Delling gives six ways of its usage outside of the New Testament: 1. degrees on a sundial by which time is calculated; 2. letters, syllables, or words of a sentence, or sounds that they represent; 3. the basic elements of which the cosmos is composed, especially the four elements of earth, water, air and fire; 4. the fundamental principles or rudimentary teachings of such subjects as, for example, music, mathematics, and child care; 5. the stars and other heavenly bodies, presumably because composed of the chief and finest of the elements, fire; 6. the stellar spirits, gods, demons, and angels. In the context of Galatians two suggestions are prominent in the discussion on stoicheia tou kosmou. It is understood as referring to “demonic powers”. But this meaning does not agree with Paul’s characterization of the law in the preceding argument. It is also difficult to establish a link between stoicheia tou kosmou and demonic powers until much later than Paul’s times.[27] If stoicheia tou kosmou means “the basic elements from which everything in the natural world is made and of which it is composed”, then a direct link with the law is possible. When Paul speaks of freedom from stoicheia tou kosmou, he has in mind “not earth, air, fire, and water, but the elemental pairs of opposites listed in 3.28, and emphatically the first pair, Jew and Gentile.”[28] In this sense the law is linked to stoicheia tou kosmou. The law’s enslaving function of building walls of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles is condemned by Paul in Galatians. In this sense the Gentiles who seek to come under the law are linked to their previous life under the elements of the cosmos (Gal. 4.8-9). That means, the cosmic landscape is filled with malignant enslaving powers. In short, the human tragedy is universal enslavement, ubiquitous enslavement to the powers of the present evil age.

Paul reinforces the enslaving function of the law by using another metaphor, a prison guard. He uses phroureō in the sense of a prison guard keeping watch over prison inmates so that they would remain behind bars. Paul links this image of a jailer guarding prisoners with that of paidagōgos. Paidagōgos is usually a domestic slave whose primary role is to protect and guard his charge.[29] Protection and guarding involved imposition of restrictions on and confinement of the child. Linking of the image of a jailer guarding a prisoner with paidagōgos highlights not so much of law’s function of instruction and disciplining, but of restriction and confinement to a particular pattern of life expressed in exclusionism that built a wall of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles.[30] This is what Paul has found to be a negative function of the law. By focusing on the enslaving function of the law, Paul counters the claims of the teachers of the “other gospel” that freedom and the pattern of life according to the exclusionistic interpretation of the law are coterminous.[31]

Paul’s language of law characterized by enslavement strongly suggests that the teachers of the “other gospel” have made a link between freedom and the law. Moreover, Paul calls their message “gospel” (Gal. 1.6). He does that because the teachers have claimed that their “gospel” not only brings Gentile believers out of their ambiguous position in terms of identity, but also provides them with freedom in terms of the privileges granted to the Jews by the Roman empire.[32] However, Paul qualifies their “gospel” with heteron (Gal. 1. 6). He employs the word heteron in the sense of “another of a different kind”. So for Paul the teachers’ message of freedom is a “gospel” of different kind. Because their “gospel” links freedom to a pattern of life based on the exclusionistic interpretation of the law. For Paul, this is a perversion of the gospel of freedom that he preached to the Galatians, and a message of enslavement. 

Paul contrasts the enslaving function of the law with God’s justifying act (that is, righting the wrong) in Jesus Christ (Gal. 3.24). God’s justifying act in Jesus Christ is a unifying act[33]: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female” (Gal. 3.28). Justification is possible only ek pisteōs (Gal. 3.23-24, 3.11). Law can not achieve justification because it is not ek pisteōs (Gal. 3.12). Thus, Paul’s argument in Gal. 3.23-28 is connected to that of Gal. 3.10-13. For Paul, the law, as an enslaving power that has built walls of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles, can not accomplish justification. God’s justifying act is ek pisteōs. In order to substantiate his claim that no one is justified by the law, but by faith, Paul in Gal. 3.11,12 cites Habakkuk 2.4 and Leviticus 18.5. It is important to note the “zealot” context of these citations. As discussed above, for zealous Jews juxtaposition of Hab. 2.4 and Lev. 18.5 would not have posed a contradiction. Because for them faith in God is interpreted in terms of conformity to the pattern of life according to the works of the law (note poiēsai Gal. 3.12). Paul argues against such a view. For him, faith and law (or doing the law) are mutually exclusive (Gal. 3.11-12, 23-24). Because in the realm of the works of the law life is ordered by exclusionistic understanding of the law and this has resulted in division of the world into Jew and Gentile. For Paul, works of the law denotes the Jewish way of life described in Gal. 2.14 by the term Ioudaizein. It denotes exclusion of the Gentiles. Moreover, the power of curse, which falls on those who fail to conform their life according to the works of law, is active in the realm of the works of the law. This means, the social order in the realm of the works of the law is based on the exclusionistic interpretation of the law, and those who cause disorder to the social order come under the curse of the law. In other words, the Jewish way of life represented by the works of the law is characterized by exclusion and violence. For Paul this is an enslaving function of the law. God’s justifying act or unifying act is a reality in the realm which is characterized by faith.

Paul’s association of the law with slavery and slavery with stoicheia tou kosmou make the decision confronting the Galatians as a choice not only between slavery and freedom, but also between the present evil age, to which the enslaving powers belong, and God’s new creation. This becomes absolutely clear in the conclusion of the letter (Gal. 6.11-15), where Paul presents the world and the new creation as two exclusive entities. Paul speaks about this in the context where some are compelling the Gentiles in Galatian churches to be circumcised (Gal. 6.12-13). In Gal. 6.14 Paul mentions three crucifixions: Christ’s, the world’s and Paul’s. The latter two crucifixions are derivative of the former.[34] The death of Jesus Christ has effected the death of the world to Paul and Paul to the world. The perfect tense estaurōtai denotes that the death of the world to him and vice-versa, although occurred in the past, are still a reality in the present. Neither the world nor the self has initiated its crucifixion, but it happened through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (di v  ou Gal. 6.14). Minear comments:

The two parallel clauses suggest that there is a subtle interaction between the two derived crucifixions…We infer that these two events are in some sense simultaneous and interdependent, yet they are not identical. It is the reciprocal relation of the two entities that has been terminated. Neither death can be telescoped into the other, yet neither is fully intelligible alone.[35]

The immediate context of Paul’s argument is decisive in setting the meaning of the world. Gal. 6.15 is both parallel and antithetical to Gal. 6.14. This makes clear that the crucifixion of the world is an event that marks circumcision and uncircumcision no longer important. The context of Paul’s accusation against those coercing the Gentiles to undergo circumcision and its juxtaposition with the new creation suggest that the world that Paul has been crucified to is the world where division between the circumcision and the uncircumcision does matter (Gal. 6.12-15). For Paul, his crucifixion to the world has resulted in his transfer from the world, where the antinomies are important, to the new creation, where the antinomies are not important and the Jews and the Gentiles living together is a reality. Thus, for Paul the world and the new creation are two exclusive entities. In this sense the world and the present evil age are synonymous. That is why Paul is strongly advocating the Galatian believers not to succumb to the teachers’ gospel of freedom.

 

In Gal. 2.19 Paul speaks of his crucifixion in terms of co-crucifixion with Christ: “through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ”. Paul says that it was the law itself that caused his death to the law.[36] What he has realized (through God’s revelation of God’s Son to him) is that his zealous life to protect the pattern of life according to the law is not living a life to God. Paul’s death to the law by his co-crucifixion with Christ, a victim of the “curse of the law”, has paved way to live for God.

The argument in Gal. 2.15-21 is tied to the social event in Antioch (Gal. 2.11-14). The law to which Paul died is the very law that orders the life of the Jews, including their separation from the Gentiles. The law has separated the Jews from the Gentiles by restricting and confining the Jews to a pattern of life according to the works of the law. The works of the law are primarily the boundary markers of the Jewish community. Paul explicitly rejects dietary laws (Gal. 2.11-14), circumcision (Gal. 5.6, 6.12-15), and special days (Gal. 4.9-10), which mark the boundaries of the Jewish community over against the rest of the world. Victor Turner notes, “At their deepest level rituals reveal values which are sociological facts.”[37] The Jewish boundary markers functioned as a wall of separation between the circumcision and the uncircumcision. Thus, the law has established antinomies (cf. Gal. 3.28). It is important to note that the law in its restrictive function works like a double edged sword. By restricting and confining the Jews to a particular pattern of life according to the law interpreted in terms of the works of the law, the law has not only “shut in” the Jews but also “shut out” the Gentiles. By its exclusionism and division it creates between the circumcision and the uncircumcision, the law has affected both the Jews and the Gentiles. Therefore, both the Jews and the Gentiles are “under the curse of the law”. This is what Paul argues in Gal. 3.10-13 and Gal. 3.23-4.5 that both the Jews and the Gentiles are “under the law” or under the enslaving power of the law, and the death of Christ has purchased freedom for them (Gal. 4.5, 3.13).

There are several views about the identity of those “under the curse of the law” or “under the law”. Paul uses personal pronouns “us” and “we” in Gal. 3.13, 3.23-25, and 4.5. There are three dominant interpretations of these pronouns. Betz argues that they refer to the Jewish Christians who were delivered from the “curse of the law”.[38] He contends that the Jews were under the curse of the law because they were under the law, and the Gentile Christians were not under the curse because they were not under the Torah, before they converted to Christianity.[39] Therefore, only Jews were kept imprisoned by the law.[40] However, Gaston argues that the pronoun “us” in 3.13 refers to the Gentiles because “Paul so identified with his readers that the first person plural actually means “we Gentiles”” and that hupo nomon “seems to have been used by Paul to designate the Gentile situation.”[41] The third position is represented by James Dunn. He maintains that in Gal. 3.13 “us” refers to both the Jews and the Gentiles because “the cursed status or condition is that of the covenant-breaker, put out of the covenant people, a status and condition like that of those who are outside the covenant to start with.”[42] Whereas in Gal. 3.23, according to Dunn, “we” refers to the Jews because the function of the law here refers to the positive protective custody of the law.[43]

However, Paul’s argument in both Gal. 3.10-13 and 3.23-4.5 is same. As argued else where, the law in both contexts is an enslaving power. The power of curse is active in the realm of the works of the law to direct life according to the exclusionary understanding of the law. In Gal. 3.23-25 Paul reinforces the enslaving function of the law by using the imageries of confinement in prison, prison guard and paidigōgos. Paul portrays the law as an enslaving power of the present evil age along with sin and the elements of the cosmos. At the heart of the enslavement is division of the world into Jew and Gentile. Thus, the law in its enslaving function formed as a dividing wall between Jew and Gentile. The Gentiles did not escape the curse of the law. As Charles Cousar comments, “They (Gentiles) were not under the law in precisely the same way that Jews were; nevertheless they were “under the curse”…They were excluded, isolated by the wall the law erected and victims of the antinomies it created.”[44] Thus, the law acted like a double edged sword. As a consequence of its enslaving function of dividing the world into the circumcision and the uncircumcision, both the Jews and the Gentiles are under the power of the law. The law, as understood in exclusionistic terms, not only “shut in” the Jews but also “shut out” the Gentiles from having social intercourse between the two communities. Therefore, both the Jews and the Gentiles are under the enslaving power of the law or under the curse of the law.

E. Curse of the Law and the Death of Jesus Christ 

As noted above, there are similarities between Gal. 4.4-5 and Gal. 3.13 with Christ event purchasing freedom for “those under law” (Gal. 4.5) or for “us from the curse of the law” (Gal. 3.13). In Gal. 3.10 Paul understands “curse” as a power (use of hupo) that is active in the realm of the works of the law. Those who are of the realm of the works of the law are under the power of the curse. To substantiate his conclusion Paul quotes Deut. 27.26: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all the things written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3.10). This is to be understood in the light of God’s promise to Abraham: “All the nations shall be blessed in you” (Gal. 3.8).[45] Paul argues how the law (as understood in divisive terms, or law that regulates life in the realm of the works of the law) has thwarted this promise to fulfill. It is important to note that Paul is not against the law per se. Paul interprets the law in terms of love: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5. 14). Therefore, Paul’s negative characterization of the law is not about the law per se, but the law as interpreted by the teachers of the “other gospel” in exclusionistic terms. Therefore, the criticism of Heikki Raisanen that “Paul’s thought on the law is full of … inconsistencies”[46] is inappropriate.

From Gal. 2.16 till 4.21 Paul speaks negatively about the law. In every case he has the Torah in mind. As Graham Stanton insists, “It is not exaggeration to claim that from 2.16 to 4.21a, Paul’s portrait of the law is ‘consistently malignant’.”[47] However, in Gal. 4.21, 5.14 and 6.2 Paul’s tone changes: nomos is used in a positive sense. Paul gives a hint of the positive function of the law in Gal. 3.8, although hē graphē, not ho nomos, is used. Notice in Gal. 3.21-22 Paul while arguing about ho nomos suddenly switches over to the phrase hē graphē as the one that has “imprisoned all things under the power of sin” (Gal. 3.21-22 cf. 4.21, 30). In Gal. 4.21b it is not hē graphē but ho nomos, which bears witness to the gospel of freedom in the allegory of Hagar and Sarah. In Gal. 4.21b Paul could have written hē graphē as ho nomos, as Gal. 4.30 confirms. Thus, Paul argues that “there is a “law” that is to be shunned and there is a “law” that is to be heard and obeyed.”[48] In the light of this understanding, Gal. 5.14, with its reference to fulfilling the law in loving one’s neighbor, is not “the most unexpected development of Paul’s thought in this letter.”[49] The contrast between Gal. 5.3 holon ton nomon poiēsai and Gal. 5.14 ho pas nomos peplērōtai is not a contrast between holos ho nomos and ho pas nomos but the contrast between the verbs poiēsai and plēroō.[50] In Gal. 5.14 plēroun, a verb not used with nomos in the LXX or in Greek Jewish literature, is used.[51] Paul uses the noun form plērōma to describe the eschatological fullness of time when God sent God’s Son to be born “under law” in order to redeem “those under law” (Gal. 4.4-5). In Gal. 5.14 Paul uses the verb plēroun in order to describe the fulfillment of the law in line with the eschatological fullness of time in the coming of Jesus.[52] In Gal. 6.2 Paul uses the compound verb anaplēroun with reference to the law of Christ. With the use of anaplēroun Gal. 6.2 is closely related to Gal. 5.14. Although law and Christ have been put in antithesis in the main argument of Paul, in Gal. 6.2 they are brought together. Since “fulfilling the law” in Gal. 5.14 refers to the Torah, the use of the similar verb in Gal. 6.2 suggests that the law of Christ refers to the Torah as “redefined through Christ”.[53] The positive reference of the law suggests that Paul is not against the law interpreted in terms of agape love or redefined through Christ. However, he is against the law understood in terms of “doing it” or interpreted in exclusionistic terms (poiēsai, Gal. 3.10, 5.3).

Paul uses the word poiēsai with reference to the law in Gal. 3.10, 3.12, 5.3.[54] In Gal. 3.10 Paul argues that the power of curse is active in the realm of the works of the law. In order to substantiate his claim he quotes Deut 27.26: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all the things written in the book of the law tou poiēsai auta.”[55] J.L. Martyn argues that Paul is citing one of the texts of the teachers of the “other gospel”.[56] Deut. 27.26 was used by them to persuade Galatian believers to conform their life to the demands of the law, particularly the boundary markers of the Jewish community. Some scholars have identified the “curse” as a result of breaking the Torah, because transgression of even one commandment would imply apostasy.[57] A related argument is that the intension of Paul here is to show unfulfillability of the law.[58] The reasoning for this conclusion is that the emphasis in the text of Deut. 27.26 is on pasin tois gegrammenois en tō bibliō tou nomou (cf. holon ton nomon, Gal. 5.3), and Paul has presumed that complete observance of the law is impossible. So the logic goes as follows: those who base their life on the law observance are under the curse, because no one can fulfill the entire law and so the law pronounces curse on all. The problem with this view is that nowhere in this context or the entire letter does Paul assume unfulfillability of the law. Paul, rather, encourages his readers to fulfill the law as interpreted in terms of love (Gal. 5.14 ff). Moreover, this is not Paul’s thrust in quoting Deut. 27.26. Schlier argues that Paul’s position here is that those who do the law are under the curse. Therefore, the emphasis is on “doing” instead of on “believing” and so is opposite to the “faith” of Abraham.[59] However, there is no indication in the text or in the letter that obedience to the law incurs curse. Mussner contends that “not the doing is under the curse, but the not doing.”[60] He explains it by combining the arguments of Schoeps and Schlier that the principle of “doing” the Torah is ineffective as far as the salvation is concerned because no one can fulfill it. However, Mussner also misses the mark. As Betz states, “For Paul, salvation in Christ and the fulfilling of the Torah undoubtedly go together (cf. 5.14, 19-23; 6.2). The question is only whether the Jewish concept of “works of the Torah” can lead to the fulfillment of the Torah. This Paul denies.”[61]

For Paul, the curse falls on those who fail to do the law as interpreted in exclusionistic terms (the “works of the law”; the verb poiēsai  is used in Gal. 3.10, 12). The law demanded those of the works of the law conformity to the pattern of life according to the exclusionistic understanding of the law. As Dunn says, ““Works of the law” are not understood, either by his Jewish interlocutors or by Paul himself, as works which earn God’s favour, as merit-amassing observances.”[62] Rather they are perceived as the indicators of the exclusive covenant status of the Jews. The Maccabean crisis had promoted Jewish rituals such as circumcision and dietary laws as key elements of law observance. These rituals remained central even during the time of Paul as the boundary markers of those who belonged to God’s covenant community. Paul uses the connection of the works of the law and the curse to portray law as a negative, threatening power that stands over against God’s promise to Abraham (to bless all nations, or more precisely to unite the circumcision and the uncircumcision, Gal. 3.8 cf. 3.28, 6.14-15). The curse of the law as an enslaving power restricts and confines those of the works of the law to a particular pattern of life that built a wall of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles. This “doing the law” demanded of those who are of the works of the law is that Paul rejects as slavery.[63]

Therefore, in the context of Gal. 3 the power of the curse of the law as sacred violence is active in the realm where the exclusionistic interpretation of the law patterns the life of its members, and falls on those who violate this order of life.[64] For Paul the curse of sacred violence against apostates takes the form of Jewish religious existence.[65] This sacred violence, manifested in the form of exclusion of Gentiles, persecution and extermination, is the driving energy of the Jewish social system. The Jewish social system has provided a context for the law to be used in scapegoating apostates and the Gentiles. Scapegoat victimage is demanded to ensure order and unity of the Jewish community, and is understood as being sanctioned by God’s law. Thus, those of the works of the law are enslaved to a system of sacred violence.  

Paul says that God has sent God’s Son into the very realm where the power of curse as sacred violence is active: “God sent his Son…born under the law” (Gal. 4.4). As discussed above, Christ enters into the “sacred precinct” as a scapegoat and becomes a “victim” of the curse: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”-” (Gal. 3.13). In Palestinian Targum Deut 21.23 and Num. 25.1-5 are linked. A.T. Hanson quotes the text as of the Palestinian Targum as follows:

And the people of the house of Israel joined themselves to Baal Peor, like the nail in the wood, which is not separated but by breaking up the wood. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. And the Lord said to Moshe, “Take all the chiefs of the people, and appoint them for judges, and let them give judgment to put to death the people who have gone astray after Peor, and hang them before the word of the Lord upon the wood over against the morning sun, and at the departure of the sun take them down and bury them, and turn away the strong anger of the Lord against Israel.

Hamerton-Kelly argues, “The mention of the wood on which they are hanged and the command to take them down at sunset links the incident (in Num. 25.1-5) with Deut. 21.23.”[66]

Paul by citing Deut. 21.23 in a “zealot” context where faith in God is interpreted in terms of zealous action for God or the law, thus linking to the system of sacred violence, is connecting the death of Christ to the system of sacred violence.[67] Christ, the one sent by God to fulfill God’s will (Gal. 1.4, 4.4), became a victim of the curse of the law. Bemoaning at the attitude of Galatian believers toward the works of the law, Paul says that the gospel of Christ, which he proclaimed to them, is essentially a description and a public exposure of an act of violence against the crucified Christ (Gal. 3.1). Jesus’ death reveals that the curse of sacred violence is human, not divine, violence.[68] By entering the realm of the curse of sacred violence and suffering the sacred violence as a scapegoat, Christ revealed that the realm of the works of the law in which the curse of the sacred violence is active is founded on scapegoat mechanism. The crucial aspect of scapegoating is the pronouncement of the law that Jesus, who hung on the cross, was accursed. This means, the Jewish community (that is, the Jewish community based on the zealotic interpretation of the Torah) is unquestioningly on the right with regards to Jesus’ crucifixion, because Christ as the scapegoat is condemned by God (since law is the expression of God’s will). However, Paul argues that the one pronounced by the law as accursed of God, is in fact sent by God to fulfill God’s will. Thus, the death of Jesus Christ discloses the hidden truth that the realm of the works of the law is the realm of conspiracy that blames the victim as offender or object of God’s wrath (Gal. 3.12-13). The raising of Jesus Christ by God reveals what was hidden: innocence of Jesus Christ, scapegoating of Christ, and the sacred violence at work in the realm of the works of the law as human, not divine, violence against the victim. The death of Jesus Christ exposes the sacred violence for what it is: a lie perpetuated against victims in the name of God.[69] It reveals the deceit of the double transference, which transforms human violence into “divine” violence, and the violence against the apostates (of the exclusionistic interpretation of the law) as “good violence”. Jesus’ death also discloses that the victim of the curse of the law is wrongly blamed as disturber of the social order legitimized by God. When the “divine” violence in the form of curse fell on the one who was sent to fulfill God’s will (Gal. 1.4), its true nature is inescapably evident. The death of Jesus Christ has exposed the realm of the works of the law and the pattern of life according to the works of the law as diametrically opposed to the will of God. That is why Paul argues that the life according to the law interpreted in exclusionistic terms is not living for God (Gal. 2.19). The death of Christ redefines faith, not in exclusionistic terms and sacred violence, but in terms of trust in God’s promise, that is, blessing of all the nations. This is the faith exemplified by Abraham that was “reckoned to him as righteousness” (Gal. 3.6).

Further, the death of Jesus Christ discloses that the realm of the works of the law, where the curse of sacred violence is active, is founded on scapegoat mechanism. Paul says that the cross of Christ is a scandal to the Jews (Gal. 5.11).  According to Sayoon Kim the scandal of the cross could be that the disciples of Jesus Christ had been preaching the one cursed by God as the Messiah.[70] It is most likely that the conviction that the Torah had cursed the Messiah would have been scandalous to the Jews. However, Paul talks about the scandal of the cross in the context of him being persecuted for not preaching circumcision (Gal. 5.11).[71] In other words, advocating circumcision means robbing the cross of its character as the scandal to the Jews (cf. I Cor. 1.23). Here Paul has in mind the significance of the cross in relation to the ritual of circumcision, which is one of the Jewish boundary markers. The scandal of the cross for the Jews is that it has annulled the Jewish boundary markers, thus removing the wall of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles (Gal. 5.11). Here scandal has a sense of hindrance or obstacle. For the Jews the cross appears as introducing a scandal into history because it brings about the collapse of the wall between the Jews and the Gentiles, thus disturbing the social order. Thus, the cross causes social disorder. To maintain social order based on the exclusionary understanding of the law, it demands “good violence” against “bad violence”, which is the cause of social disorder. In order to prevent social disorder, violence against the victim should be concealed and the victim be projected as offender of God ordained social order. The cross by demolishing the ritual barriers around the Jewish community and uniting the Jews and the Gentiles, has given zealous Jews the motivation to engage in scapegoat mechanism to prevent “bad violence” of social disorder by “good violence” of the curse of sacred violence. In other words, Paul views the curse of sacred violence that has befallen on Jesus Christ as the same curse that is expressed in excluding the Gentiles through the Jewish rituals such as circumcision, dietary laws and the special days.[72] Thus, the death of Jesus Christ unmasks the scapegoat mechanism at work in the realm of the works of the law where the law is distorted to the service of violence. The violence is expressed in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as cursed of the law and the exclusion of the Gentiles as “sinners”. Paul, thus, argues that the death of Christ has exposed the deception of the Jewish social order by becoming a victim of it. Through his death as the cursed one of the law Christ has purchased freedom of both Jew and Gentile in order to transfer them from the realm based on the exclusionistic understanding of the law into the new creation, where the Jews and the Gentiles are united.

Thus, the death of Jesus Christ is not a sacrificial mechanism. It deconstructs, not destroys, the sacrificial structures underlying the present evil order based on dichotomies.[73] The sacrificial structures remain unbroken and continue to unleash violence against innocent victims in order to maintain the existing social order characterized by antinomies. The death of Jesus Christ, the innocent victim, demystifies and demythologizes this sacred social order in which violence is grounded. By exposing the sacrificial structures for what they are in the realm of the works of the law, the death of Jesus Christ facilitates those who are under these structures “to withdraw credibility and allegiance from them.”[74] In other words, by entering the realm of the works of the law and becoming a victim of the sacred violence, Jesus Christ represents human violence to those enslaved to the system of sacred violence. This is what happened to Paul in his experience of God’s revelation of God’s Son. The revelation of God’s Son, the victim of the curse of the law has made Paul to realize that his persecuting activity against the believers in Jesus Christ is due to his way of life patterned according to the zealotic interpretation of the law in his community. This realization and acknowledgement of his enslavement to the system of sacred violence has led Paul to withdraw credibility and allegiance to the social order of the realm of the works of the law founded on the sacrificial mechanism and mimetically identify himself with Christ, the victim of the curse of the law. Paul affirms this by the statement: “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God, who loved and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2.19-20). This is the sense of freedom from the present evil age dominated by the enslaving powers, the law, sin and the elements of the cosmos, that Paul insists to have been realized through the Christ event.

 

 

 

 

 


[1] The noun aphesis is absent from Paul’s letters. The verb aphiēmi meaning “to forgive,” occurs only once, specifically in a quotation of Ps 32:1 (Rom 4:7). Similarly “repentance” is largely foreign to Paul’s theology.

[2] Arland J. Hultgren, Christ and His Benefits: Christology and Redemption in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), p. 49.

[3] Hans Dieter Betz, Galatians: A Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Churches in Galatia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), pp. 41-42; Richard N. Longenecker, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 41: Galatians (Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1990), pp. 121-122; James D.G. Dunn, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (London: A. & C. Black, 1993), pp. 34-35; Vincent M. Smiles, The Gospel and the Law in Galatia: Paul’s Response to Jewish-Christian Separation and the Threat of Galatian Apostasy (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1998), p. 69.

[4] Dahl, “The Atonement – An Adequate Reward for the Akedah? Rom. 8.32”; Vermes, “Redemption and Genesis xxii.18 – The Binding of Isaac and the Sacrifice of Jesus.”

[5] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 78.

[6] Dahl, “The Atonement – An Adequate Reward for the Akedah? Rom. 8.32.”

[7] Charles B. Cousar, Reading Galatians, Philippians, and I Thessalonians: A Literary and Theological Commentary (Maco, Georgia: Smyth and Helwys Publishing, 2001), p. 23.

[8] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 77.

[9] Betz, Galatians, pp. 149-150.

[10] Bradley Hudson McLean, The Cursed Christ: Mediterranean Expulsion Rituals and Pauline Soteriology (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), p. 72.

[11]  Hultgren, Christ and His Benefits, p. 49.

[12] Hultgren, Christ and His Benefits, p. 49.

[13] Hultgren, Christ and His Benefits, p. 50.

[14] Daniel Schwartz, “Two Pauline Allusions to the Redemptive Mechanism of the Crucifixion,” in JBL 102 (1983), pp. 259-268.

[15] K.H. Rengstorf, “apostellō, exapostellō, apostolos…,” in TDNT II, ed. by G. Kittel and G. Friedrich (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1964-), pp. 398-447.

[16] The Mishna tractate Yoma (which is put in final form in 200 C.E) describes how the goat was being tormented by the people as it was led away: “The Babylonians (common people) would pull the hair of the Azazel as it was led away” (m. Yoma 6.4).[16] Mishna further says that ten booths were set up, from which men signaled the passing by of the goat, and the last man of the last booth pushed it over a cliff and signaled back that it had been killed (m. Yoma, 6.4 ff).

[17] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 78.

[18] T.H. Gaster, “Sacrifices and Offerings, OT,” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, ed. by George Arthur Buttrick (New York: Abingdon, 1962), IV. 153.

[19] John M.G. Barclay, Obeying the Truth: Paul’s Ethics in Galatians (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1988), p. 53.

 

[20] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 74.

[21] This is explained in Chapter V.

[22] Vincent Smiles argues that “the purpose of Phinehas’s resort to violence was not so much “to maintain Israel’s distinctiveness as God’s covenant people” as to ensure Israel’s obedience to God’s Law in defense of the covenant. Separatism serves obedience, not vice versa.” But is it possible to separate “obedience to the Torah” and Jewish “separatism” as to say “separatism serves obedience”? Smiles, “The Concept of “Zeal” in the Second-Temple Judaism,” p. 285.

[23] Farmer, Maccabees, Zealots, and Josephus, p. 178.

[24] Klassen, “Jesus and Phineas,” p. 492.

[25] Charles H. Cosgrove, The Cross and the Spirit: A Study in the Argument and Theology of Galatians (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1988), p. 75.

[26] A. J. Bandstra, The Law and the Elements of the World (Kampen: Kok, 1964), p. 46.

[27] Longenecker, Galatians, p. 165; J. Louis Martyn, Galatians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 1997).

[28] Martyn, Galatians, p. 31.

[29] Paidagōgos is also involved in instruction.

[30] Some scholars emphasize the positive function of the paidagōgos. T.D. Gordon, “A Note on Paidagōgos in Galatians 3.24-25,” in NTS 35 (1989), pp. 150-154; Dunn, Galatians, p. 197; J.B. Lightfoot, St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (London: Macmillan and Co., 1880), pp. 148-149.  

[31] This is discussed in Chapter III.

[32] Read the discussion in Chapter III.

[33] This will be elaborated in Chapter VI.

[34] Paul Sevier Minear, “The Crucified World: The Enigma of Galatians 6,14,” in Theologia Crucis-Signum Crucis, Herausgegeben von Carl Andersen and Gunter Klein (Tubingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1979), p. 396.

[35] Minear, “The Crucified World,” p. 396.

[36] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 67.

[37] Victor Turner, The Forest of Symbols (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1967), p. 44.

[38] Betz, Galatians, pp. 148, 208; Longenecker, Galatians, p. 121.

[39] Betz, Galatians, p. 148.

[40] Betz, Galatians, p. 176.

[41] L. Gaston, Paul and the Torah (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1987), p. 62.   

[42] Dunn, Galatians, p. 176.

[43] Dunn, Galatians, pp. 196-198.

[44] Cousar, Reading Galatians, p. 60.

[45] This is a conflation of Genesis 12.3 and 18.18.       

[46] Heikki Raisanen, Paul and the Law (Tubingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1987).

[47] Graham N. Stanton, “The Law of Moses and the Law of Christ – Galatians 3.1-6.2,” in Paul and the Mosaic Law, ed. by James D.G. Dunn (Tubingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1996), pp. 114-115.

[48] Smiles, The Gospel and the Law in Galatia, p. 224.  

[49] Graham Shaw, The Cost of Authority: Manipulation and Freedom in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), p. 50; Barclay, Obeying the Truth, 126.

[50] Stanton, “The Law of Moses and the Law of Christ,” p. 115.

[51] Barclay, Obeying the Truth, p. 138.

[52] Barclay, Obeying the Truth, p. 140.

[53] Barclay, Obeying the Truth, pp. 134, 141.

[54] In Gal. 3.21 zōopoiēsai is used. Note that Paul uses poiein in 2.10, 5.17 and 6.9.

[55] The text does not fully agree with the LXX and MT.

[56] Martyn, Galatians, p. 309.

[57] Martin Noth, The Laws in the Pentateuch and Other Studies, tr. by D.R. Ap-Thomas (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1966).

[58] Hans Joachim Schoeps, Paul: The Theology of the Apostle in the Light of Jewish Religious History, tr. by H. Knight (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961), pp. 175-177; John Buckel, Free to Love: Paul’s Defense of Christian Liberty in Galatians (Louvain: Peeters Press, 1993), pp. 138-139; Longenecker, Galatians, p. 118.  

[59] Heinrich Schlier, Der Brief an die Galater (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962), pp. 132-134.

[60] Franz Mussner, Theologie der Freiheit nach Paulus (Freiburg: Herder, 1976), pp. 224-226.

[61] Betz, Galatians, p. 146.

[62] Dunn, Jesus, Paul, and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990), p. 194.  

[63] Stanton, “The Law of Moses and the Law of Christ,” p. 115.

[64] This is evident in the case of Maccabean movement.

[65] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 76.

[66] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, n. 33, p. 75.

[67] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 75.

[68] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 79.

[69] Ted Peters succinctly puts it: “God does not demand sacrifice. We do. Yet in order to hide our own penchant for blood from ourselves, we attribute it to the divine. We create the illusion of a sacrifice-demanding God.” Ted Peters, “Atonement and the Final Scapegoat,” in PRSt 19 (1992), p. 181.

[70] Seyoon Kim, The Origin of Paul’s Gospel (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1981), p. 47.

[71] There is a debate among scholars on the question of Paul preaching circumcision. However, there is a general agreement that Paul is referring to the claims of the teachers of “the other gospel” about him. Read Dunn, The Epistle to the Galatians, pp. 278-280.

[72] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 72.

[73] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 60.

[74] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 60.

Freedom Through The Death of Jesus Christ In Galatians: A Nonviolence Reading

September 26, 2009

Chapter III

The Maccabean Freedom Movement

 

The major sources, I Maccabees, II Maccabees and Josephus, explain the rise of the Maccabean freedom movement in terms of fight for the “ancestral customs” or “the covenant of the fathers” or “Judaism”, or more precisely, to reestablish Jewish life according to the Torah. Maccabees are sharply distinguished from “renegades” by their way of life according to the laws of the Torah. They are characterized by their zeal for the Torah. I Maccabees portrays zeal for the Torah as the driving force behind the Maccabean movement.[1] This zeal for the Torah was expressed by the Maccabees in using violence mainly against the “renegades”. Because the “renegades”, by making a “covenant with the Gentiles”, abandoned the “holy covenant” and introduced “Gentile customs” into Jerusalem and Judea. So the zealous Maccabees used violence against them in order to restore the “freedom” which would allow the Jews to live according to the Jewish ancestral customs (I Macc. 2.23-28, 44, 48; Josephus, Ant. 12.280-281).

In Antiquities 12.279-284 Josephus records the last words of Mattathias to his sons.  Mattathias encouraged his sons to preserve the customs of their fathers (ethē ta patria), and to recover their “ancient form of government, which is in danger of being overturned.” He encouraged them “to die for your laws” (cf. I Macc. 2.50) and then God “will have a great value for your virtue, and will restore to you again what you have lost, and will return to you that freedom in which you shall live quietly, and enjoy your own customs” (Ant. 12.281). I Maccabees, II Maccabees and Josephus presented Maccabees’ main concern as to restore the “freedom” by recovering the tēn archaian politeian so that the Jews would again live their lives according to their ancestral customs (I Macc. 3.29, 6.59; II Macc. 4.11, 11. 24-25; Josephus Ant. 12. 280-281). Thus, Maccabean struggle highlights that Jewish “freedom” and maintenance of Jewish life according to the Torah are closely connected.

 A. The Decree of Antiochus III and the Juridical Status of the Jews 

Josephus’ Antiquities contains three documents issued by Antiochus III (223-187 BCE) in favor of the Jews. These documents are particularly important to determine the juridical status of the Jews. When Antiochus III defeated Scopas, the general of the Egyptian army, at the turn of the third century BCE, the Jews along with the gerousia went to Antiochus and welcomed him into Jerusalem. They “gave abundance of provisions to…(Antiochus’) soldiers, and to the elephants, and joined with (him)…in ejecting garrison of the Egyptians that were in the citadel (in Jerusalem)” (Josephus Ant. 12.138; cf. 12. 133). As a reward “to the good behavior of the Jews towards him,” Antiochus wrote some of his decisions in his first letter addressed to Ptolemy, who is generally identified as Ptolemy of Thraseas[2]. The king decided to rebuild the city that was destroyed during the war and enable the inhabitants, who had been dispersed, to return to the city. He announced a number of privileges such as provision of animals for the temple sacrifices, wine, oil, frankincense, flour, wheat, salt, importation of wood without tax for the temple repairs, personal tax-exemption to the gerousia, the priests, the scribes of the temple and the sacred singers, exemption of taxes for all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, liberation of slaves and restoration of their property (Josephus Ant 12.139-144).[3] In addition to these, the most important provision was politeuesthōsan…pantes hoi ek tou ethnous kata tous patrious nomous (Josephus Ant. 12.142). 

The content of patrious nomous is the most controversial one among scholars. Victor Tcherikover notes that the privilege of living kata tous patrious nomous is explicitly referred to in two documents of the Hellenistic period (Josephus Ant. 12.142; 12.150). Elias Bickerman did an extensive work on the documents of Antiochus III. For Bickerman, the content of patrious nomous is clear. Commenting on the phrase kata tous patrious nomous, he says:

The provision that the people should live “according to the laws of their fathers”, which we so frequently find in the Hellenistic charters of freedom, had…a particular meaning for Jerusalem. For a Greek city, the clause meant the retention of the democratic constitution, of self-rule. But for the Jews “the laws of the fathers” meant Torah. Only Torah and nothing but Torah.[4]

Tcherikover refutes this limited meaning of “the laws of the fathers”. He argues that the meaning of “the laws of the fathers” is broader than the Torah and it includes “the maintenance of political institutions, the form of the regime, the methods of social organization, and the like.”[5] That means, according to this interpretation, the provision of the right to live according to “the laws of the fathers” would also include confirmation of Jerusalem’s theocracy and of the authority of the high priest.[6] However, there is an ambiguous silence about the high priest in the letter of Antiochus III. In the first part of the letter, it is recorded that the Jews meta tēs gerousias received the king and in the latter part, in the list of the temple officials who received tax-exemption gerousia is included and high priest is excluded (Josephus Ant. 12. 138, 142). For the absence of the high priest, Bickerman claims that before the time of the Maccabees the high priest, usually referred as the chief of the Jews after the restoration of the temple, was never mentioned in the official documents. This absence of the high priest is also evident in the official documents in the II Maccabees (II Macc. 1.1-9; 1.10-2.18; 9.19-27; 11.17-21; 11.22-26; 11.27-33; 11.34-38). On the absence of the high priest in official documents Brutti Comments:

(This indicates) the absolute lack of political authority of the high priest and the fact that the Jewish nation was represented mainly by the gerousia, the council of elders, that later, also under the Maccabees, will continue to be mentioned besides the high priest…These statements are still arguable and widely questioned; a completely satisfying solution concerning both the problem of the authority of the high priest and the presence of the gerousia in this period has not yet been reached.[7]

Bickerman argues that the letter of freedom of Antiochus III “corresponds to the juridical principles of the Greek public law, according to which Antiochus III had to establish the juridical status of the conquered cities.”[8]  As a reward for the help rendered by the Jews of Jerusalem, Antiochus reestablished the city’s juridical status. Thus, the letter of the king states, politeuesthōsan de pantes hoi ek tou ethnous kata tous patrious nomous (Josephus Ant. 12.142). Ethnos does not refer to Jews worldwide, but to the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea. The decree signifies the exclusive rule of the Torah in Jerusalem and Judea, or “the inviolability of the prescriptions of the Torah.”[9] Thus, the most important privilege that is granted by the decree of Antiochus III is the confirmation that the internal ordering of Jewish ethnos in Jerusalem and Judea was grounded solely in the Torah.[10]

The second letter is a decree issued by Antiochus III regarding the temple and Jerusalem (Josephus Ant. 12. 145-146). The decree prohibited foreigners and Jews entering the temple, with the exception of those who kata patrion nomon purified themselves (Josephus Ant. 12.145). The decree also banned bringing the flesh of animals “forbidden for the Jews to eat”, the skin and breeding of such animals in the city. Thus, the king’s decree sanctioned Jewish purity laws.

What is significant in these two letters of Antiochus III is the confirmation of the Mosaic law and the fact that the Torah was, therefore, a royal law in Jerusalem. Just as the Persian king during the time of Ezra did, Antiochus III had made the Torah the constitution of the Jews. As in the time of Ezra violation of the “law of separation” was forbidden by both the royal law as well as the Jewish law, Antiochus III made the Jewish law as the law of the land for the Jews (cf. II Macc. 4.11).[11] The king’s decree, thus, sanctioned Jewish particularism, and so separation from the nations, in Jerusalem and Judea.

B. The Jewish Renegades and the Decree of Antiochus IV Epiphanes

In the period after that of Antiochus III the situation of the Jews seemed to have radically changed. The people who were “the subjects of benefits…turned to be object of violent persecution.”[12] The events leading up to and including the Maccabean revolt have often been portrayed as matters of religious persecution by the hostile Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. It is described that the Seleucid king wanted to bring uniformity in his kingdom, and this resulted in rebellion by certain Jews to regain religious freedom. However, the issue of Antiochus’ persecution of the Jews poses a difficult problem for the historians because of its uniqueness, “for religious persecution is contrary to the ideological, religious, social, and political code of the Hellenistic world.”[13]

The reasons and the motives of the persecution and the character of Antiochus IV Epiphanes have been the objects of scholarly debate and investigation. The question that has been posed is:

What caused the Greek king, a man who had been reared and educated in the atmosphere of religious tolerance so characteristic of Greco-Roman culture, to attack the Mosaic Law by force of arms….and to prohibit circumcision, the observance of the Sabbath and the other Jewish practices?[14]

Tcherikover has studied the depictions of Antiochus IV by the ancient historians such as Polybius, Livy and Diodorus. These ancient historians depicted the king, on the one hand, as a man with “full of contradictions and sudden surprises” and “nervousness, hysteria, (and) degeneracy” and on the other hand, as “a ruler with realistic and logical political aspirations.”[15] However, Tcherikover does not see these qualities as the reasons for the persecution. He also criticizes the nineteenth century view that the motive for the persecution was Antiochus’ “great devotion to the Hellenic spirit and culture.”[16] Emil Schurer agreeing with the judgment of Tacitus about Antiochus IV says, “Tacitus judged him (Antiochus) correctly when he said that Antiochus wished to take from the Jews their superstitions and to teach them Greek customs…He endeavored to promote the splendour of Greek culture everywhere.”[17] But Tcherikover argues that Antiochus “saw Hellenism a political means of strengthening his state; but it never occurred to him to abolish local culture and to substitute for it the Greek.”[18] He also questions the view that the king “sought to introduce the cult of the Olympion Zeus throughout his realm in place of the local cults…to set up a “pagan monotheism”.”[19] He questions this view on the basis that there was no parallel for such an action in the Graeco-Roman world before the third century CE. Even if it were true, he wonders, how this had led Antiochus to persecute the Jews. For Tcherikover, Antiochus’ persecution of the Jews was a consequence of the preceding Jewish rebellion.[20] But his view has not gained much support. 

In view of the limitations of the above theories, and taking into consideration the general tolerant attitude of the Hellenistic kings towards local religions and the educational background of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Horsley reasons, “It will hardly have mattered to Epiphanes, a man who attended the lectures of Epicureans, whether the people of Jerusalem, like those in Hieropolis, abstained from pork, or, following the Greek taste, preferred that particular food.”[21]  In addition to that, as Farmer notes, “the attitude of Hellenistic powers toward the religious customs and beliefs of particular ethnic groups was usually one of tolerance.”[22] There is no indication that Antiochus had any particular interest in the Jews. As Bickerman rightly remarks, “he (Antiochus IV) was no religious zealot. He had no occasion to suppress Judaism for ideological reasons, and Jews outside Palestine itself and even in the capital of Antioch carried on their worship without hindrance.”[23] On the contrary, the king’s first encounter with the Jews came fairly soon after he began his reign, but initiated by the Jewish “renegades”. Shifting the focus from Antiochus IV to the Jewish “renegades” for the cause of the persecution, Bickerman declares, “The religious persecution was neither an accident, nor did it arise out of the spirit of paganism. It originated among the Jews themselves, or, to be most exact, from a party among the Jews who aimed at a reform of the ancestral faith.”[24] The underlying issue of the crisis was how the Jewish community was to relate itself to its neighbors.

1. The Motive(s) of the Jewish Renegades

I Maccabees, the pro-Hasmonean dynasty document, informs that a group of Jews realized that the cause for their polla kaka was their separation from “the nations” (1.11). It is not clear what those polla kaka were. However, II Maccabees and Josephus report the struggle for power among some Jewish families, particularly the Tobiads, the Oniads, the Simonites and the Hasmoneans (Maccabeans), and their alliances with the regional political powers. As John Hayes and Sarah Mandell rightly say, “At stake was not only the leadership and authority over the community but also the power to control the financial and tribute-collecting apparatus with its attendant economic gains and privileges.”[25] The Jewish families “were also divided along political, social, and religious lines.”[26] Their attitude towards the Greek culture was a major factor in their divisions. Jason (ca 175-172 BCE) and Menelaus (172-162 BCE), who bribed Antiochus IV Epiphanes for the office of the high priest, were regarded as the ones who initiated to “let the walls of separation fall.” It suggests that power had definitely played a major role in the “reform” initiatives of both Jason and Menelaus, as did in the Maccabean rhetoric of “zeal for the Law”. However, power in Jerusalem, and implementation of one’s interpretation of the Torah and of the way of life according to that interpretation were closely related.

During the Maccabean period the desire of the Jewish renegades and their followers to “let the walls of separation fall” reflects the relationship between Jews and the nations.  Even though both the Jews and the nations recognized the Jewish belief in monotheism, “for both Jews and Gentiles the boundary line between Judaism and paganism was determined more by Jewish observances….”[27] The Jewish distinctive practices determined the boundaries of Jewish community. These boundaries kept the Jews away from social intercourse with the nations. The separation from the nations was again and again reiterated in the Jewish literature of the Second Temple Judaism period. The book of Jubilees insisted, “Separate yourselves from the nations, and eat not with them…For their works are unclean, and all their ways are a pollution and an abomination and an uncleanness” (22.16). Daniel, Tobith and Judith were held as examples of faithfulness, because they refused to eat the food of the nations, (Dan. 1.8-16; Tob. 1.10-13; Judith 10.5, 12.1-20). To the Jews observance of their particular customs was nothing but faithfulness to the Torah and the covenant that characterized their distinctive identity as the people of God (I Macc. 1.11-15; 1.62-63; cf. IV Macc. 4.26, 5.2-3; II Macc. 3.4; 7.1-2 cf. 7.24). For them their particularism or separation from the nations was natural and necessary to maintain their distinctive identity. So the laws of the Torah were understood, “For this reason, God surrounded us on all sides with purity laws concerning eating, drinking, touching, and seeing” (Ps. Aristeas, 142). Thus, assimilation with foreign cultures was forbidden.

The Greeks, and later the Romans, had great difficulty in understanding the realities of the Jewish way of life with its monotheistic religion (without any image of God), its strict adherence to the laws of the Torah, and its separation from the surrounding nations.[28] For them the behavior of the Jews expressed their hatred of the nations. Bibliotheca Historica of Diodorus, the Sicilian (First century BCE), criticized the Jews for their “hatred of mankind” which is expressed in their laws. One of the laws it mentioned was “not to break bread with any other race” (34-35. 1.2). Hecataeus criticized that the laws of Moses differed from those of the other nations “for as a result of their own expulsion from Egypt he introduced a way of life that was somewhat unsocial and hostile to foreigners” (Diodorus Siculus 40.3.4). Apollonius Molon characterized the Jews as “atheists and misanthropes” (Josephus, Ag. Ap. 2.148). The epithet of misanthropic signified “an absence of humane feelings, and was considered an attribute of barbaric people” (Cicero Tusc. 4.25-27; Pliny, Nat. Hist. 7.80).[29] This misanthropy of the Jews was expressed by their way of life that not only was different from that of the nations, but also demanded separation from the nations. The nations considered that “the Jews and their Torah were deviant in human civilization.”[30] Tacitus derided Jewish hatred for the rest of the world, “they eat separately, they sleep separately” (Histories 5.5). For Strabo the Jewish particularism was an expression of barbarism: “All barbarians have in common the custom of expelling foreigners” (Strabo 802).

Jewish rituals such as circumcision, Sabbath, and dietary laws functioned as identity markers. The nations acknowledged them as important tenets of the Jews (Petronius, died ca. 65 CE, Satyricon, fragment 37). Tacitus referred to circumcision as a Jewish identity marker: “Circumcision was introduced so that by this particularly they can recognize each other” (Histories 5.5). Strabo (ca. 64 BCE-ca. 20 CE) regarded the “abstinence from flesh” as the custom of the Jews “even today”. These Jewish distinctive practices became objects of ridicule. Seneca, the Younger, (ca. 4 BCE- 65 CE) and Plutarch (ca. 46-120 CE) regarded the observance of the Sabbath as a Jewish superstitious practice (On Superstition 3; cf. 8). Seneca directed his criticism against Jewish “irrational” superstitions. He sneered at their observance of the Sabbath as a waste of a seventh of a person’s life. Seneca scorned, “We reject the lighting of the Sabbath lamps, for the gods need no illumination, and the smoke cannot be pleasant even to humans” (Seneca, Ep. Ad Lucill. 95, 47). Tacitus (56-120 CE) in Histories (5.4.3-4) and Agatharchides of Cnidus (2nd BCE; quoted by Josephus, Contra Apionem I.209; cf. Antiquities 9.5-6) sneered at the Jewish practice of the Sabbath (Geography 16.2.37). Plutarch sarcastically spoke of Jewish abstinence of eating pork (Quaestiones Convivales IV, 4.4-6.2). According to Tacitus, “They (the Jews) abstain from pork in memory of the disaster of the leprosy which had once defiled them, a disease to which that animal is subject” (Histories 5.5).

The critical perception of the nations about the Jewish distinctive rituals expresses the fact that the social tension between the Jews and the nations was aggravated by the Jewish “strange way of life”.[31] The distinctive rituals such as Sabbath observance, circumcision, dietary laws and festivals constructed a wall between the Jews and the nations. This appeared to the neighbors that the Jews were “unsocial and hostile” toward others.[32] Thus, the Jewish identity bound up with the distinctive customs created not only obstacles for the Jews to associate with their neighbors but also hostility with the nations.[33] The actions of the Jewish renegades highlight this hostile atmosphere between the Jews and the nations. It is this reality that prompted the Jewish renegades to take necessary steps in order to facilitate social intercourse between the Jews and the nations.

2. The Jewish Renegades

The main sources of the Maccabean movement testify to the fact that the initiative for the introduction of the Greek way of life came from within the Jewish community. The identity of the Jewish initiators is not explicit in I Maccabees, except for characterizing them as huioi paranomoi by virtue of their openness towards the nations, and tines apo tou laou (1.11,13). The author also equates those against the Hasmoneans as those “hated the nation” (I Macc. 11.21) and complained to the king against the activities of Judas, “bring to the king an accusation against the people” (I Macc. 7.6). The opponents of Maccabees were given the epithets “renegades” and “godless”, that is, “the transgressors of the Law” (I Macc. 7.21, 10.61, 11.25; cf. 1.11). They were counted among the “foreigners” and “nations” (I Macc. 2.7, 4.12). They were considered to be responsible for building a gymnasium in Jerusalem (I Macc.1.14).

According to Josephus’ Antiquities, Menelaus and the Tobiads requested the king for implementation of the Greek way of life in Jerusalem (Josephus Ant. 12. 240). This request, according to Josephus, was linked to power struggle between Menelaus and Jason for high priesthood. After the death of Onias, Jason, the brother of Onias, succeeded as the high priest. However, as the king was “angry” with Jason, he appointed Menelaus for the high priesthood. However, according to II Maccabees Manelaus succeeded Jason as the high priest by an offer of an increase in tribute by three hundred talents of silver (II Macc. 4.24). People were divided between Jason and Menelaus, where majority supported the former. Menelaus was supported by Tobiads. The situation seems to have made Menelaus and Tobiads to ask the king permission to leave tous patrious nomous and their paliteia in order to follow the king’s laws and adopt the Greek paliteia (Josephus Ant. 12. 240-241). II Maccabees presented Jason and Menelaus as the two main persons to have initiated the process of Hellenization of Jerusalem. Antiochus IV Epiphanes can hardly be blamed for permitting Jason and Menelaus to introduce Greek customs into Jerusalem at the latter’s own request.

Jesus, who assumed the Greek name Jason, initiated the introduction of the Greek way of life in Jerusalem. He was the brother of Onias III, the high priest. According to Josephus, Jason was given high priesthood by Antiochus IV Epiphanes after the death of Onias III, “About this time, upon the death of Onias the high priest, they gave the high priesthood to Jesus his brother” (Josephus Ant. 12.237). However, II Maccabees relates that Jason bribed the king to usurp the office of high priest by deposing Onias III, “a zealot for the laws,”: “Jason the brother of Onias obtained the high priesthood by corruption, promising the king at an interview three hundred sixty talents of silver, and from another source of revenue eighty talents” (II Macc. 4.7-8). But Jason had more in mind than just the office of the high priest. He wanted to introduce the Greek way of life in Jerusalem. Jason paid an extra amount of one hundred and fifty for the “permission…to establish by his authority a gymnasium and ephēbeion for it, and to enroll the people of Jerusalem as citizens of Antioch” (II Macc. 4.9-10).[34] I Maccabees does not mention the identity, but simply notes that tines apo tou laou sought the king for the authority to “observe ta dikaiōmata tōn ethnōn. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to ta nomima tōn ethnōn” (I Macc. 1.14). Thus, Jason not only secured the high priesthood, but also got permission from the king to introduce Greek way of life in Jerusalem.

The gymnasium formed the symbol and basis for the Greek way of life. I Maccabees blames those who built the gymnasium that they “removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant” (I Macc. 1.15). The establishment of gymnasium, for the author of II Maccabees, meant that “Jason made the Jews conform to the Greek way of life” (II Macc. 4.10; cf. I Macc.1.14). II Maccabees goes on to say that Jason “set aside the existing royal concessions to the Jews, secured through John the father of Eupolemus” (II Macc. 4.11). This refers back to the concessions granted by Antiochus III to the Jews to order their lives according to the laws of the Torah. The sources do not mention any reaction of the people to what Jason did, except that some, including priests, had embraced the “reforms”. Jason was followed by Menelaus as the high priest. According to II Maccabees Menelaus was put to death by Antiochus V Eupator because he was identified by Lysias as “the cause of the trouble” (II Macc. 13.4 cf. Josephus Ant. 12.384). Bickerman cites Daniel 11.30 for further support that it was the Jewish renegades (those who forsook the covenant) who influenced the king to give them permission to introduce the Greek way of life in Jerusalem. Hengel supports Bickerman’s position:

Neither the king nor his ‘friends’, who were certainly very little interested in the Jews, will have conceived such unusual ideas, which presuppose a knowledge of conditions within Judaism. This gives greatest probability to Bickerman’s view that the impulse to the most extreme escalation of events in Judea came from the extreme Hellenists in Jerusalem itself….Thus Menelaus and Tobiads who supported him appear as the authors of the edict of persecution.[35]

It is also fairly clear that both Jason and Menelaus were power-seekers. In order to keep their power, they seemed to have found it imperative to bring a change in the politeia of Jerusalem and Judea. Jason initiated this and Menelaus brought it to a conclusion by influencing Antiochus IV Epiphanes to issue a decree. 

As noted above, “the ‘letter of freedom’ promulgated by Antiochus III…grounded the internal ordering.”[36] It gave legal basis for the politeia in Jerusalem in accordance with “the laws of the fathers” (cf. Josephus Ant. 12.142). To explain this, Goldstein uses the analogy: “In the time of Ezra violation of the law of separation was forbidden by both the royal law as well as the Jewish law. Antiochus III again made the Jewish law as the law of the land for the Jews (Josephus Ant xii 3.3.142; cf. II Macc. 4.11).”[37]  In order to carry out their program Jason and his friends had to take the permission of the king in order to introduce “new customs” such as gymnasium and ephebate, and “to enroll the people of Jerusalem as citizens of Antioch”, within Jerusalem, so that they would not become violators of the existing royal law. The permission of the king alone made it possible to introduce “practices which were against the law” (II Macc. 4.11). The precise implication of the registration of people as citizens of the Greek polis Antioch is not clear, whether “to create an independent Hellenistic polis (city-state) within Jerusalem or, more likely, to turn Jerusalem into Hellenistic polis (II Macc. 4.9).”[38] It is widely perceived that it was to entail the Greek constitution in Jerusalem, with a new list of citizens.[39] It is important to note that there is no mention of any interference with the Jewish religion. However, II Maccabees interprets the action of Jason as tas…nomimous kataluōn politeias parnomous ethismous ekainizen (II Macc. 4.11). The concessions made to Jason by the king meant that the existing royal concessions granted by Antiochus III, which made Torah the royal law in Jerusalem, were being relaxed. This relaxation of the Torah was evidenced in the fact that some of the Jews in order to participate in the gymnasium underwent epispasm so that they would not be conspicuously different from the Greeks (II Macc. 4.12-15; IMacc.1.15). Both the books of Maccabees testify that the reforms of Jason were significant violations of Jewish way of life. I Maccabees claims that some of the Jews “removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant” (1.15). The external identity markers were crucial for the Jews in maintaining their distinctive identity as the covenant people of God and separation from the nations (II Macc. 6.6). II Maccabees criticizes Jason that he set aside the constitution based on the ancestral laws which had been authorized by Antiochus III and “the lawful way was abolished and practices which were against the law were introduced” (4.11). The Book of Daniel labels the renegades as “violators of the covenant” (11.30).

The Jewish renegades wanted to reform Judaism by eliminating the “barbaric” separatism and to establish social intercourse with the nations. In order to implement this agenda without becoming violators of the existing royal law of the land, the Torah, they took permission from the king. This facilitated some of the Jews to give up their distinctive customs that separated them from the nations (I Macc. 10.14, 6.21; Dan. 9.27). For those Jews for whom their identity is bound up with the Jewish distinctive rituals such as circumcision, dietary laws, Sabbath and festivals, the renegades were  the ones “who forsook the holy covenant” (Dan. 11.30) and forgot the law (I Macc. 1.43, 52, 2.16, 23, 6.21). Since they considered observance of these rituals important, the action of the renegades was considered to have broken down “the lawful manners of life”, and introduced “new customs forbidden by the law”.

3. The Decree of Antiochus IV Epiphanes

The decisive moment of abolishing the legal basis of the Torah of the politeia according to the decree of Antiochus III came with the promulgation of the decree of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Among the three main sources I Maccabees explicitly presents the decree of the king. According to it the events that preceded the decree were: Antiochus attacked Egypt (I Macc. 1.16-19; cf. II Macc. 5.1-4; Josephus Ant. 12.242-244); he went against Israel and plundered the temple (I Macc. 1.20-28; cf. II Macc. 5.11-21; Josephus Ant. 12.246-247, 249-250); and two years later he sent a chief tax collector, who destroyed the city, killed “many people of Israel”, “took captive the women and children and seized the livestock”, and built new walls and the Akra (I Macc. 1. 29-40; cf. II Macc.5.24-26; Josephus Ant 12.248, 251-252).[40] The decree sent out by Antiochus IV Epiphanes is described in I Maccabees 1.41-49 (cf. II Macc. 6.1-2; Josephus Ant. 12.253-255):

Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and that all should give up their particular customs. All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the Sabbath. And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane Sabbaths and festivals, to defile the sanctuary and the priests, to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals, and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, so that they would forget the law and change all the ordinances. He added, “And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.”  

The king’s decree was a decisive blow to the Jews, who insisted on the distinctive Jewish identity markers. The king appointed overseers to enforce the decree, and to force the Jews “to depart from their ancestral laws and to cease living by the laws of God” (II Macc. 6.1; cf. 1.49). I Maccabees relates that “many of the people, everyone who forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had” (I Macc. 1.51-53).  The author states that the evil doers “erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah,” destroyed copies of the Torah, condemned to death those who observed the law or possessed the law, and put to death circumcised children and their families (1.54-61). II Maccabees reports offering “abominable” sacrifices, and prohibition of Sabbath, festivals and circumcision (6. 3-6, 10-11). Josephus also mentions some of the details of the decree such as erection of an “idol” altar in the temple and altars in “every city and village”, offering abominable sacrifices, prohibition of circumcision, killing the women and their sons who were circumcised, destroying the Torah and those who possessed it (Josephus Ant. 12.253-256). The royal decree prohibited mainly the Jewish distinctive customs such as celebration of the Jewish festivals, observance of the Sabbath, circumcision and dietary laws. Transgressors of the new decree were liable to capital punishment. II Maccabees considers the prohibition of the distinctive customs as denial for the Jew to “confess himself to be a Jew” (II Macc. 6.6; 15.1-5).

The author of I Maccabees states that the royal decree ordered the establishment of a uniform cult throughout the Seleucid kingdom and endeavored to abolish the particular rites of various nations. This assessment is weak and overtly exaggerated. Because other regions continued to worship their own gods/goddesses. On the basis of the coins minted in various cities in the Seleucid kingdom, Bickerman argues that Antiochus IV Epiphanes by no means followed a policy of establishing a uniform cult throughout his kingdom. He contends:

From 169/8 B.C. on, precisely the time at which the conflict with the Jews began, numerous cities of his realm received permission to mint small coins. In every case, the obverse shows the king’s head in the crown of rays without any inscription. If the king is named at all (as on the reverse of the Phoenician coins), it says: “Of King Antiochus.” This uniformity demonstrates that picture and title were prescribed. This makes it all the more noteworthy that the reverse of these coins, which is reserved for the emblems of the individual cities, does not show any uniformity. Every place, rather, displays the divinity that was especially revered there. At Adna and Nisbis we find Zeus Nikephoros (as on Epiphenes’ own coins); Alexandria- Issos shows a standing Zeus; Laodices on the Sea displays her Baal, as identified with Poseidon; Sidon boasts of her city-goddess; Byblos issues her coins with the old-fashioned image of her divinity with six wings. The Phoenician cities, for the first time since Alexander the Great, adds inscriptions in the local language. What, then, could possibly have motivated Epiphanes to replace on Mt. Zion the god of the fathers by the Olympion Zeus of the Greeks?[41]

There is no indication that Antiochus ever intended religious coercion throughout his empire.[42] There is no evidence that Jews outside Jerusalem and Judea in the Seleucid kingdom were affected by the decree of the king (II Macc. 4.36; Josephus Ant. 12.119; BJ 7.43, 106). The petition of the Samaritans to Antiochus IV Epiphanes that belongs to the period of the persecution (166 BCE), and the subsequent letters of the king to Nicanor, the procurator, and Apollonius, governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, illustrate that the practice of the Sabbath in Samaria was not affected by the decree of the king (Josephus, Ant. 12.257-264). The Samaritans petitioned to the king not to be treated like the Jews, because they were different from the latter in race and their customs.[43] They further declared that their practice of the Sabbath was introduced by their forefathers “upon certain frequent plagues, and as following a certain ancient superstition” (Josephus, Ant. 12. 259). Their request to be freed from the “accusations which belong to the Jews” was granted by the king. From this request it can be understood that the Samaritans continued to live according to the Torah and celebrate the Sabbath. This further illustrates that the king’s decree prohibiting the customs of the Torah was not enforced in Samaria. On the king’s letter exempting the Samaritans from persecution Jonathan Goldstein comments, “Since Josephus likes to contrast the Samaritans with the Jews, one would expect him to mention immediately after AJ xii 264 any royal messages requiring persecution of Jews outside Judaea….”[44]  Furthermore, the letter of Antiochus IV was addressed tē gerousia tōn Ioudaiōn kai tois allois Ioudaiois (II Macc. 11. 27-33).[45] As a result of the diplomatic negotiations carried out by Menelaus on behalf of the people, the king granted amnesty to the Judeans who would return to their homes before the 30th of Xanthicus, and revoked his earlier policy of persecution and restored “full permission for the Jews to enjoy their own food and laws, just as formerly” (II Macc. 11.30-31). This expresses the cessation of the suppression of the practices in Jerusalem and Judea that were considered characteristically Jewish. Therefore, the decree of Antiochus IV was limited to the Jews in “Jerusalem and the cities of Judaea” (I Macc. 1.44, 51, 3.35, 2.6; cf. Josephus JW 1.34-36; II Macc. 6-7).[46] Commenting on I Maccabees Bickerman notes,

The error of the Jewish historian can be explained, however, if we assume that the persecution at Jerusalem was defended as aiming to abolish particularism. This, then, would have been the goal of the people who instigated the measures of the king.[47]

The legal binding of the Torah in Jerusalem guaranteed by Antiochus III’s charter of freedom enforced particularism of Jews at Jerusalem. This could not be changed by anyone except the king. This was what Antiochus IV Epiphanes did. He revoked the existing freedom charter of the previous king and introduced a new one. When this new charter came into force, it was no longer assimilation that was considered transgression, but particularism.[48] According to the decree of Antiochus III, it was forbidden to offer on Zion any sacrifices which the Torah prohibited (Josephus, Ant. 12.145). In contrast, according to the decree of Antiochus IV pork should be used for sacrifices, and the Jewish particular customs such as circumcision, Sabbath, dietary laws and festivals were prohibited. Bickerman explains the situation with a historical analogy:

Just as Ezra had introduced the law by the authority conferred upon him by Artaxerxes, so now the abolition of the law was proclaimed by the decree of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Just as the edict of Artaxerxes declared non-compliance with the Jewish law (which was identified with the royal law) to be a capital crime, (so also did the decree of Antiochus).[49] 

Jews, who insisted on the distinctive Jewish rituals and based Jewish life on their exclusionistic interpretation of the Torah, resented at the new charter of freedom. They considered the charter as prohibition to confess as Jews (since their identity is bound up with their distinctive rituals) and of their freedom to live according to the laws of the Torah.

C. The Revolt of the Maccabees

The decree of Antiochus IV Epiphanes had deprived the Jews to order their lives according to the exlusionistic interpretation of the Torah. As Peter Schafer rightly comments, “The measures carried out by the king against the Torah and the Jewish cult had – consciously or unconsciously – struck Judaism’s vital nerve.”[50] In reaction to the king’s decree, the Maccabean movement arose. The concern of Mattathias and his sons was restoration of “freedom”, that is (re)establishment of social order in accordance with the laws of the Torah. Maccabean movement is characterized by “zeal for the law”. Zeal for God and the Torah compelled those involved in the movement to resist the king’s decree.

 1. The Origin of the Maccabees

I Maccabees and II Maccabees begin their narrative about Maccabees and their revolt differently. I Maccabees starts with Mattathias, the patriarch of the Hasmonean family, whereas II Maccabees has nothing to say about him. The former attributes to Mattathias the honor of being the initiator of the revolt, whereas the latter focuses on Judas and makes no reference to the Maccabean revolt having its inception in Mattathias’ action in Modein, a town about seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem. According to II Maccabees Judas, Mattathias’ son, played the most prominent role in the Maccabean movement from the beginning (5.27). However, Bar-Kochva argues:

The closeness of the verse to the description of the devastation carried out in Jerusalem by Apollonius, commander of the Mysian troops (5.24-6), gives the impression that Judas Maccabaeus fled from Jerusalem to the desert before the promulgation of the anti-Jewish decrees, and there began to organize and shape a core of rebels.[51]

But this does not fit with the account of I Maccabees where the rebellion initiated by Mattathias was in reaction to the decree of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (2.15ff). Some scholars prefer the “realistic” tone of II Maccabees to the “artistic-legendary” story of I Maccabees on Mattathias’ charismatic action.[52] Josephus in both his books Jewish Wars (1.36) and Jewish Antiquities (12.268-271) agrees with the depiction of I Maccabees. On II Maccabees 5.27 Bar-Kochva comments:

Far-reaching conclusions should not…be drawn from that verse. Judas Maccabaeus’ sudden appearance without any introduction or prior information, the reference to the men who accompanied him to the desert, and the many principal forms…all show that the verse is an abridgement (or summary) of a detailed story in Jason’s original book, which contained information on additional people in the leadership of the Revolt at its inception. This story may well have begun with the Modein episode, and it is not impossible that among the ten people were Judas Maccabaeus’ brothers and Mattathias who fled from Modein (cf. I Macc. 2.17, 20, 28).[53]

Referring to the encamping of Lysias and his army at Modein (II Macc. 13.14-15), Bar-Kochva argues that the reference to Modein was unrelated to the geographical background and Jason of Cyrene, who was ignorant of the exact place where the Seleucid army encamped and being familiar with the tradition on Modein, “inserted the name of Modein which was famous from the onset of the Revolt in order to whet the reader’s interest.”[54]  

Mattathias was a historical person, for he is mentioned in an official document as Simon’s father (I Macc. 14.29). We know little of the antecedents of Mattathias except for his father John and grandfather Simeon (I Macc. 2.1; Josephus, Ant. 12.265). He was a priest, and had five sons: John, Simon, Judas, Eleazar and Jonathan. This family belonged to the priestly clan of Joiarib (I Macc. 2.1; 14.29). Joiarib is absent in the priests’ lists of Ezra (2.36-39)[55] and Nehemiah (7.39-42), but is found among the priests living in Jerusalem in Nehemiah 11.10, and among the priests who went up to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel in Nehemiah 12.6. Joiarib takes the second place in the list of priests in I Chronicles 9.10-13 and first place in the list of I Chronicles 24, which is viewed by some scholars as the result of the pro-Hasmonean redaction of the material.[56] In spite of the contrary view that Mattathias was a native priest of Modein, the ancient sources overwhelmingly affirm that the Hasmonean family was from Jerusalem (I Macc. 2.1; II Macc. 5.25-27; Josephus, Ant. 12.265).[57] Some scholars suppose that the family owned an estate in Modein.[58] On the basis of this, John Hays and Sarah Mandell argue that the family had power base in that town “or even in the portions of Judah that were not as urbanized as Jerusalem, rather than in Jerusalem proper.”[59] Even though both I Maccabees and Josephus acknowledge that Mattathias and his family had a good standing in Modein, there is no strong evidence for Mattathias owning an estate in Modein (I Macc. 2.17-18; Josephus, Ant. 12.268-269).  

2. The Motive of the Maccabean Movement

Discussing on the motive of the Maccabean movement, Brent Nongbri argues that the “main concern at all periods was their own advancement.”[60] Samuel Eddy says that the starting point to look for the motive of Maccabean movement should not be Mattathias as he is not a prominent figure in the narratives of I Maccabees and Josephus. As he reasons,

Mattathias died as soon as the resistance began…his death made no difference at all to the course of events…Hence the problem of finding out what motivated Mattathias is not really as important as finding out what intentions the Hasmonean family had and what their contemporaries thought of them…they wanted very badly to improve their position in respect to the other priestly families of Judah, or, in other words, to become high priests. This is actually what happened, and there is no reason for thinking that it was not a motive from the beginning. Their piety was tempered with ambition.[61]

Eddy adds that the campaigns of the Maccabees did not cease with the restoration of what was changed with the decree of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but continued with territorial expansion and acquiring power in Jerusalem with the help of regional political powers. Commenting on Judas, Seth Schwartz says that he “behaved more like an ambitious courtier than a zealous freedom fighter. So he was probably not seeking to overthrow the existing system but to advance within it.”[62] Although the actions of the Hasmonean family may be interpreted like the above scholars did, it is uncertain whether self-advancement by acquiring power in Jerusalem was the main motive of the Maccabean revolt from the beginning. When one considers what prompted the revolt and the goal of the movement as reported by the ancient sources, they lead to a different conclusion. Also acquiring power in Jerusalem with the help of the regional political powers was not just for its selfish ambition for power. It reveals the very goal at the heart of Maccabean agenda from the beginning. That means, restoration of the freedom and maintenance of it in Jerusalem and Judea. The territorial expansion of the Hasmonean rule also expresses their religious zealotry as evidenced by their forceful circumcision of the conquered.  

The ancient sources testify that the goal of the Maccabean movement was to (re)establish freedom in Jerusalem and Judea. However, they define the freedom in different terms. I Maccabees records that the concern of Mattathias and his sons was the Torah and the covenant. So Mattathias gave a call, “Let everyone who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me” (I Macc. 2.27). He saw “the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem” and the holy city “no longer free, she has become a slave” (I Macc. 2.11). Mattathias and his followers “exposed themselves to the danger and resisted the enemies of their nation, in order that their sanctuary and the law might be preserved and they brought great glory to their nation” (I Macc. 14. 29). By restoring the temple and the Torah, Mattathias and his sons established the freedom in Jerusalem and Judea (I Macc. 14.26),

II Maccabees depicts the Maccabean revolt as a freedom movement. That is, to secure the freedom to live according to the Torah.[63] The book describes the purpose of the Maccabean revolt as to seize “the whole land”, pursue “the barbarian hordes”, regain “possession of the temple famous throughout the world”, liberate “the city”, and reestablish “the laws that were about to be abolished” (II Macc. 2. 21-22). It further states that the intended goal of the Maccabean revolt was mainly the restoration of the temple cult and tōn patriōn nomōn and tois tou theou nomois mē politeuesthai. Because these were affected by the decree of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (II Macc. 6.1). That was why Antiochus V Eupator in his letter to Lysias conveyed his decision to restore the temple and politeuesthai kata ta epi tōn progonōn autōn ethē (II Macc. 11.25).[64] Judas, before attacking Nicanor, exhorted his army to keep before “their eyes the lawless outrage that the ethnōn had committed against the holy place, and the torture of the derided city, and besides, tēn tēs progonikēs politeias katalusin” (II Macc. 8.17; cf. II Macc. 13.14). Therefore, II Maccabees understands the freedom in terms of restoration of temple cult and tōn patriōn nomōn and tois tou theou nomois mē politeuesthai.

Josephus also describes the Maccabean movement as a freedom movement (Ant.12.281, 302; 12.433-434). Freedom is understood in terms of restoration of tēn archaian politeian so that the Jews might live according to the customs of their country. There is an emphasis that the Maccabean movement was aimed primarily toward the restoration of the “laws of the fathers” (Ant. 12.285; cf. I Macc. 2.69-70). According to Josephus, Mattathias in his farewell speech exhorted his sons,

To preserve the customs of your country, and to recover tēn archaian politeian, which is in danger of being overturned…if God sees that you are so disposed he will not overlook you, but will have a great value for your virtue, and will restore to you again what you have lost, and will return to you that freedom in which you shall live quietly, and enjoy your own customs (Josephus Ant. 12.280-281).

Recovering freedom was the goal of the Maccabean movement can also be seen in Judas’ address to his army at Emmaus. He exhorted his army, “For if you now fight manfully, you may recover your liberty, which, as it is a thing of itself agreeable to all men, so it proves to be to us much more desirable, by its affording us the liberty of worshipping God” (Joesphus Ant. 12. 302-303). For Josephus, Judas’ victory at Emmaus “contributed to the recovery of their liberty” (Josephus Ant. 12.312). When Judas died, Josephus eulogizes him as “a man of valor and a great warrior, and mindful of all the commands of their father Mattathias; and had undergone all difficulties, both in doing and in suffering, for the liberty of his countrymen” (Josephus Ant. 12.433). For Josephus eleutheria is “life in accordance with the laws and customs of the fathers.”[65]

Thus, the three main sources declare that the main purpose of the Maccabean revolt was to restore the freedom, the freedom to live according to the laws of the Torah. In other words, Maccabees wanted to reestablish the politeia based on the laws of the Torah.

 3. Politeia/Politeuesthai

Modern scholarship is divided with regards to usage of politeia in the Jewish-Hellenistic literature. Scholars like Tcherikover argue that the politeia “is often linked to the integration and assimilation of Judaism into Greek civic life.”[66] On the other hand, scholars like Aryeh Kasher argue that it denotes an independent political entity, separate inside a polis

Josephus understood the term politeia to mean “regime”, ‘constitution”, “government”, “civic status”, “citizenship”, and “civic body”.[67] However, he used politeia more frequently in the sense of “constitution”.[68] Kasher notes:

It is most instructive that in the vast majority of the latter (that is, with the meaning of “constitution”), the “constitution” referred to was the laws of the Torah, and indeed that was the common usage in Hellenistic Jewish literature too (Josephus Ant. 3.84, 213, 322; 4.45, 184, 191, 193-196, 198, 230, 302, 310, 312; 5.98, 132, 179, 186; 6.35; 10.275; 11.140; 12.240, 280; 13.2, 245; 15.281; II Macc. 4.11; 8.17; 13.14).[69]

It is, therefore, not surprising that the verb politeuein was used to mean the establishment of community life according to the laws of the Torah (Josephus Ant. 12.38, 142; 14.260; 11.112, 279; II Macc. 6.1; 11.25). The struggle of the Jews resulted from their eagerness to survive as Jews with their distinctive identity, and their desire to protect their rights to an independent organization. II Maccabees shows that politeuein became the slogan of the Maccabean movement. This is evident in the letter of Antiochus Eupator. In his letter to Lysias, king Eupator acknowledged the resentment of the Jews against his father’s plan of “converting them to Hellenic customs” and their preference for “their own way of life.” The king informed his decision to the Jews to return the temple and politeuesthai “according to the customs of their ancestors” (II Macc. 11.25). The loss of politeia by the Jews also echoed in Judas’ exhortation to his army. Before confronting Nicanor and his army, Judas encouraged his army by exhorting them about the misery done to the sacred place and to Jerusalem, and the overthrow of the politeia (II Macc. 8.17; cf. 13.14). According to II Maccabees, the process of the annulment of the Jewish right of politeia began with Jason. Jason’s act of getting permission from the king “to set up a gymnasium and ephebeum and to register the Jerusalemites as Antiocheans” is interpreted as “(setting) aside the established royal laws…(and breaking down) lawful politeias, and (introducing) new customs forbidden by the law” (II Macc. 4.10). Finally, Antiochus IV Epiphanes by issuing the decree annulled the Jewish right of politeia. In order to implement this, the king sent “an old Antiochean” “to compel the Jews to depart from the laws of their fathers, and mē politeuesthai the laws of their fathers” (II Macc. 6.1).

Josephus reiterates that the goal of the Maccabean movement was to restore the Jewish politeia . Mattathias in his farewell speech to his sons exhorted them “to save our country’s customs and to restore tēn archaian politeian” (Josephus Ant. 12.280). Josephus also concurs with II Maccabees that Antiochus IV Epiphanes deprived the Jews of their right to politeia. Josephus, writing about the visions of Daniel and their fulfillment in the history of Jews, mentions that what Daniel saw about “a certain king who would make war on the Jewish nation and their laws, deprive them of the politeia based on these laws” fulfilled under  Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Josephus, Ant. 10. 275). Unlike the account of II Maccabees, for Josephus the process of annulment of the Jewish right of politeia started with Menelaus and the Tobiads. They went to the king and told him that “they wished to abandon tous patrious nomous and tēn kat’ autous politeian and to follow the king’s laws and adopt tēn Ellēnikēn politeian” (Josephus Ant. 12. 240).

Although the term politeia (or  politeuesthai) is absent in I Maccabees, it emphasizes that the goal of the Maccabean movement was restoration of community life according to the laws of the Torah. It describes the Maccabean movement as a revolt against the decree of the king Antiochus IV Epiphanes that prohibited the particular customs of the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea and its goal as the restoration of the temple and the Torah (I Macc. 1. 41ff; 14.29). The movement is characterized by the zeal for the Torah and the covenant (I Macc. 2. 27). When king’s officer asked Mattathias to be the first in obeying the king’s order, the latter answered:

Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to obey his commandments, everyone of them abandoning the religion of their ancestors, I and my sons and my brothers will continue to live by the covenant of our ancestors. Far be it from us to desert the law and the ordinances. We will not obey the king’s words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left (I Macc. 2.15-22).

The words of Lysias makes it even more clear that the Maccabean movement was a result of the abolishment of Jewish way of life according to their laws: “Let us agree to let them (Jews) live by their laws as they did before; for it was on account of their laws that we abolished that they became angry and did all these things” (I Macc. 6.59).

 Politeia is “a kind of honour that the kings or the Caesars gave in tribute to the Jews in exchange for their expertise and loyalty; these honours were expressed in concrete fashion…in the authorization ‘to use the ancestral laws’.”[70] Josephus mentions that Selucus I Nicator granted the Jews of Antioch a politeia and “declared them to have equal privileges (isotimous) with the Macedonians and Greeks” (Josephus Ant. 12.119-124). The honor equal to those of Macedonians and Greeks that the Jews received was politeia. It was their politeia that placed them at an equal rank with the Macedonians and the Greeks. Strabo also employed politeia to the Jewish community of Alexandria (Josephus Ant. 14.117). Here politeia is refers to an independent political body based on the laws of the Torah. Because of this concession of politeia the Jews in Antioch were “named Antiochians” (Josephus, Ag. Ap.2.39). According to Josephus, “the concession of politeia on the part of the authorities, the kings or the Caesars and their representatives, to the Jews of the Ephesus, Antioch, Alexandria, or Cyrene, equates them to citizens” (cf. Josephus Ag.Ap. 2.39).[71] The right of politeia could not be abolished by anyone except the one who bestowed it. That was why the Greeks of Alexandria and Antioch requested Vespasian and Titus to abolish this right of Jewish politeia. One thing that is obvious is that the right of politeia was bestowed by an emperor or a king and not by local authorities of polis (cf. Josephus Ant. 16.31-40). The abolition of the Jewish politeia meant that the Jewish community would be deprived of the right to order its life according to the ancestral laws.[72] Josephus, however, records that Vespasian and Titus did not concede the request of the Greeks of Alexandria and Antioch, but allowed the Jews to enjoy their right of politeia. Similar incident happened in Ionia. Josephus records that the Greeks of Ionia petitioned Agrippa that “they alone might enjoy the politeia which Antiochus, the grandson of Seleucus, called Theos by the Greeks, had given them, and claimed that if the Jews were to be their kinsfolk, they should worship their gods” (Josephus Ant 12.125-126). The Greeks’ claim that “they alone might enjoy the politeia” indicates that not only the Greeks but also the Jews residing in Ionia were bestowed with the right of politeia. What the Greeks wanted was cancellation of that right of the Jews and establishment of one politeia based on sunggeneia. This kinship was based on religious criterion: “If the Jews were to be their (the Greeks) kinsfolk, they should worship their gods.” But, Josephus notes that when “the matter was brought to trial, the Jews won the right to use their own customs” (Josephus Ant. 12.126). Here Josephus is not talking about the “citizenship” of the polis but the “right to use their (Jews) own customs.” This suggests that abolition of Jewish politeia meant that the Jews would no longer be allowed to order their lives according to their ancestral customs. This is made even clearer in Antiquities 16.27ff:

(The Jews living in Ionia complained to Agrippa about) the mistreatment which they had suffered in not being allowed to observe their own laws and in being forced to appear in court on their holy days because of the inconsiderateness of the examining judges. And they told how they had been deprived of the monies sent as offerings to Jerusalem and of being forced to participate in military service and civic duties and to spend their sacred monies for these things, although they had been exempted from these duties because the Romans had always permitted them to live in accordance with their own laws (Josephus Ant. 16. 27-28).

The laws regarding the politeia are the laws of the Torah. Josephus notes that the Jews living in Ionia were equals to the Greeks living there in the sense of having the right of politeia (Josephus Ant. 16.32-33). In other words, Jewish politeia is an autonomously organized and a separate political body in a polis. The one thing that had caused resentment among the Greeks towards the Jews was “the right to preserve our (Jews) ancestral religion” (Josephus Ant. 16. 41). Kasher rightly comments:

 The separate independent existence of Jewish communities within their boundaries was a thorn in the flesh of the Ionian cities. The Jews’ right to maintain a parallel organization to the polis, send money to Jerusalem, be exempt from the liturgia and enjoy full consideration of their laws, all highlighted the poleis’ own limited sovereignty and total dependence on Rome. It is no wonder that those cities missed no opportunity to seek a change in the situation. One method undoubtedly consisted of accusing the Jews of “impiety”, which if confirmed would lead to the abolition of the Jewish politeia. That would leave just one politeia, the Greek one, based on a single syngeneia of a clearly religious nature.[73]

4. “Zeal” of the Maccabees

Maria Brutti rightly observes that the association of the verb zēloō and the noun nomos  in I Maccabees and II Maccabees (I Macc. 2.24, 26; II Macc. 4.2)[74] “highlights a widespread issue in the Jewish world of the Hellenistic age: the zeal for the law.”[75] Many Jews fostered the ideal of “zeal for God” or “zeal for the law” on the model of Phineas and Elijah. Such admiration for zeal was also influential in shaping the Maccabean movement. Analyzing the issue of “zeal for the law”, Hengel finds that it had a particular relevance during the crisis of the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes,[76] for the underlying cause of the crisis in Jerusalem and Judea was the Torah. In I Maccabees Mattathias, the patriarch of the movement, was characterized by the “zeal for the law” (2.24, 26). Thus, Mattathias was placed in line with Phineas and Elijah (I Macc. 2.54,58). In Josephus, Mattathias’ zeal is found only once: “If anyone is zealous for the ancient customs and the veneration of God, let him follow me” (Ant. 12.271). According to him, Mattathias’ call was to restore the Jewish politeia based on the Torah. Commenting on the lack of the concept of zēlos in Josephus, Hengel says, “Josephus consciously suppressed any elements that may possibly have established close link between early Jewish history and the principles and aims of Jewish movement of revolt against Rome.”[77]

Unlike II Maccabees, the author of the I Maccabees characterizes the Maccabean movement as “zeal for the law” (I Macc. 2. 26, 27). II Maccabees, for its particular reasons, neither mentions Mattathias as the initiator of the movement nor characterizes the movement by “zeal for the law”. The absence of reference to Mattathias and zeal in II Maccabees, and for having close parallels and overt reference to Phineas in I Maccabees, the material about Mattathias is considered “suspect” by some scholars.[78] They contend that the portrayal of Mattathias in line with Phineas was intended to justify the high priesthood of the Hasmonean family. Tcherikover, though admits Mattathias as a historical person “for he is mentioned in an official document as Simon’s father (I Macc. 14.29),” is more blunt in his rejection of the story of Mattathias. He thinks, “The attractive figure in I Maccabees belongs rather to the world of fiction than to historical reality, and it should be remarked that II Maccabees does not refer to him at all.”[79] Lester Grabbe comments that “the story as it stands has elements suggestive of romantic coloration (eg., the Phineas-like act of Mattathias)”.[80] However, Peter Schafer argues that even though the account in I Maccabees 2.1-26 is “tendentious but still essentially historical.”[81] Goldstein too considers the story of Mattathias historical. He reasons, “The author of I Maccabees, writing in the time of Mattathias’ great-grandson, may well preserve Mattathias’ own ideology.”[82] According to I Maccabees, the decisive impetus for zeal for the law came when Antiochus IV Epiphanes issued a decree prohibiting Jewish life according to the Torah (1.41-50). It presents Mattathias as viewing the crisis similar to that faced by zealous Phineas.[83]

The characteristic of “zeal” was influential during the Maccabean period (cf. Judith 9.2ff Jubilees 30.5-20 Sirach 45.23-24, 48.2). Farmer comments that “the term zēloō indicates that the one who is zealous for God is one active, in a particular way, for God.”[84] What is evident is that violence was an essential part of the zeal. Violence was directed against those Jews who failed to maintain their distinctive identity by separating themselves from the nations. Phineas, son of Eleazar, is the first example of the Old Testament for the zeal for the honor of God. When Israel began to worship the Baal of Peor, God’s wrath fell upon Israel and caused a plague to fall upon it (Num. 25.1-18). Phineas saw Zimri, an Israelite, taking Cozbi, a Midianite woman, into his tent, and he killed both of them.[85] This act of Phineas was reported to have been commended and approved by God as “zeal…on my (God’s) behalf” and resulted in “turning back my (God’s) wrath from the Israelites”. In other words, Phineas’ zealous act “made atonement for the Israelites” and restored peace in the community (Num. 25.13). Thus, “the sword of those who love God is a redemptive instrument, and its zealous use is capable of turning away the wrath of God from his disobedient people, by making atonement for the sins of the nation.”[86] As a reward for his act, Phineas was given a promise of eternal priesthood and a covenant of peace.

What is significant of “zeal” after the model of Phineas is: 1. Zeal for God (or the law) was primarily directed against the apostates of Israel, who failed to maintain their distinctive identity by separating themselves from the nations and endorsed the use of violence against them; 2. The linking of Phineas’ atoning act and priesthood (because Phineas offered the sacrifices in the form of Zimri and Cozbi that turned away God’s wrath from the entire community, and thus restored peace and order) with a covenant of peace. Farmer comments, “Within certain circles of post-exilic Judaism Phineas was regarded as one of the great patriarchs.”[87] For Sirach, Phineas ranks third after Moses and Aaron in his zeal for God and “standing firm, when the people turned away” (Sirach 45.23; cf. 25.10-13). The author speaks that the act of Phineas had “made atonement for Israel” and was rewarded with “the dignity of priesthood forever” (Sir. 45.23-26; cf. 50.24). While the Greek text qualifies the zeal of Phineas as “in the fear of the Lord”, the Hebrew text characterizes him as “standing in the breach”[88].

The tradition of Phineas was active during the time of Maccabees. Horsley notes, “The tradition of the zeal of Phineas was given an importance that was much greater than it ever had in the past during the period of religious distress experienced under Antiochus Epiphanes.”[89] The zeal of Phineas had become the prototype for the ideal of “zeal for the law” for the Maccabean movement. I Maccabees considers Phineas as the ultimate model and thus called him “our father” (I Macc. 2.54).[90] The concern of Mattathias was zeal for the law and the covenant.[91] This is evident in his call to people: “Let every one who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me” (I Macc. 2.27), and to his sons: “Now, my children, show zeal for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of our ancestors” (I Macc. 2.50). It is important to note how closely linked are the law interpreted in exclusionistic sense and the covenant, or more precisely, obedience to the law and keeping the covenant. Significantly, Mattathias’ exhortation to his sons to “show zeal for the law” is exemplified by ta erga tōn paterōn (I Macc. 2.50-60). The zealous acts of Phineas and Elijah are included in ta erga tōn paterōn. The similarity between the context of Phineas and that of the Maccabees was apostate Jews and God’s wrath upon the Jews.[92] The position of the statement in I Macc. 1.64 (“Very great wrath came upon Israel”) is significant. The preceding verses describe the decree of the king against Jewish particular customs, the apostasy of many Jews (I Macc. 1.52), the desecration of the temple (I Macc. 1. 45f., 54, 59; 2.8f; cf. II Mac. 6.4; Dan. 9.26f.; 11.31), the destruction of the law (I Macc. 1.49f., 56f.; cf. II Macc. 6.1ff.), the death of many “faithful” Jews (I Macc. 1.57, 63; 2.29-38; II Macc. 6.9ff), and the following verses are about Mattathias and his sons and their zealous acts for the law. Phineas was referred as a model for Mattathias’ act of killing a Jew, who was trying to offer a sacrifice to an idol, and the Seleucid officer, who was overseeing the implementation of the king’s decree in Modein (I Macc.2.26). Waldemar Janzen contends that “the exemplary dimension of his (Phinehas) act was not its violence…but Phinehas’s zeal for the Lord and his atoning for the people. These were hallmarks of true priesthood.”[93] Mattathias (and his sons), however, was in no doubt as to what “the exemplary dimension” of the act required.[94] Like zealous Phinehas, Mattathias, being zealous for the law, killed an apostate Jew, who failed to maintain his distinctive identity. Zeal for the law (or for God), thus, would legitimize violence to enforce conformity to the Torah within the Jewish community.[95]

The zealous “works” of the Maccabees continued with killing Jewish renegades and forceful circumcision of “all the uncircumcised boys that they found within the borders of Israel” (I Macc. 2.42-48). Josephus commends the act of Phineas and those that modeled his act. He says that Phineas resolved to punish Zimri “before his unworthy behavior should grow stronger by impunity, and in order to prevent this transgression from proceeding further” (Josephus Ant. 4. 152). He asserts, “All those young men that had a regard to virtue, and aimed to do a glorious action, imitated Phineas’s boldness, and slew those that were found to be guilty of the same crime with Zimri” (Josephus Ant. 4. 154). Even though the concept of expiation is not mentioned explicitly, the zealous “works” of the Maccabees, standing in the tradition of their patriarch Phineas, were considered an “atonement” to turn the wrath of God away from the Jewish community. It is stated in the hymn of Judas, “He went through the cities of Judah, he destroyed the ungodly out of the land; thus he turned away wrath from Israel” (I Macc. 3.8; cf. II Macc. 8.5).[96] Although the characterization of Mattathias and his sons in the tradition of Phineas was to justify the Hasmonean priesthood, it was aimed at legitimizing their violence against their fellow Jews, who were perceived to be violators of the law. Their violence was described as atonement for the Jews that turned away the wrath of God and restored peace in the community. The peace is the reestablishment of Jewish life according to the Torah. The general pattern seen with those characterized as zealous for the law (or God) is: those with zeal for the law (or God), as the “priests”, “offered” the violators of the Torah as “sacrifice of atonement” to turn away the wrathful visitation of God and restore (or protect) Jewish life according to the exclusionistic interpretation of the Torah. A zealotic religious ideology affirms the salvific power of violence. It denigrates people who do not follow the social order based on their interpretation of the Torah. It, thus, permits discrimination, and ultimately violence.

Thus, the Maccabean freedom movement was aimed at restoring the freedom of the Jews to live according to the exclusionistic interpretation of the Torah. For the zealots of the Torah, living according to the law was essentially maintaining Jewish distinctive identity by practicing the distinctive rituals such as circumcision, dietary laws, Sabbath and festivals. The zealous Jews even used violence to protect their freedom based on the exclusionistic understanding of the Torah.

 


[1] David Rhoads, “Zealots,” in ABD, ed. by David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), VI. 1044.

[2] Maria Brutti, The Development of the High Priesthood during the Pre-Hasmonean Period: History, Ideology, Theology (Leiden: Brill, 2006), p. 169.

[3] II Maccabees suggests that such behavior was standard policy among the Seleucids, “even to the extent that King Seleucus of Asia defrayed from his own revenues all the expenses connected with the services of the sacrifices” (3:2-3). Such descriptions are consistent with Seleucid behavior as known from other sources. Thus, for example, a clay cylinder from the time of Antiochus I found in the Ezida temple complex at Borsippa presents the king as a patron of the Babylonian cult, the “caretaker of Esagila and Ezida,” who undertook to rebuild these important sanctuaries. Amelie Kuhrt and Susan Sherwin-White, “Aspects of Seleucid Royal Ideology: The Cylinder of Antiochus I from Borsippa,” in JHS 111 (1991), pp. 71-86.

[4] Elias Bickerman, The God of the Maccabees: Studies on the Meaning and Origin of the Maccabean Revolt, tr. by Horst R. Moehring (Leiden: Brill, 1979), p. 34.

[5] Victor Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, tr. by S. Applebaum (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1959), p. 83.

[6] Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, pp. 83-84.

[7] Brutti, The Development of the High Priesthood, pp. 91-92.

[8] Elias Bickerman, “La Charte Seleucide de Jerusalem,” in REJ 100 (1935), pp. 67-68, cited by Brutti, The Development of the High Priesthood, p. 171.

[9] Brutti, The Development of the High Priesthood, p. 172.

[10] Martin Hengel, Judaism and Hellenism: Studies in their Encounter in Palestine during the Early Hellenistic Period (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974), I. 278.

[11] Jonathan A. Goldstein, I Maccabees: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1976), p. 200.

[12] Brutti, The Development of the High Priesthood, p. 176.

[13] Uriel Rappaport, “Maccabean Revolt,” in ABD, IV. 437.

[14] Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, p. 175.

[15] Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, pp. 176-177.

[16] Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, pp. 178-180.

[17] Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (175 B.C.-A.D. 135), revised and edited by Geza Vermes and Fergus Millar (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1973), I. 147-148.

[18] Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, p. 180.

[19] Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, pp. 181-182.

[20] Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, pp. 186,191.

[21] Richard A. Horsley and John S. Hanson, Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs: Popular Movements in the Time of Jesus (Minneapolis, MN: Winston Press, 1985), p. 89.

[22] William Reuben Farmer, Maccabees, Zealots, and Josephus: An Inquiry into Jewish Nationalism in the Greco-Roman Period (New York: Columbia University Press, 1956), p. 51.

[23] Lester L. Grabbe, Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian: Volume One: The Persian and Greek Periods (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1992), p. 284.

[24] Bickerman, The God of the Maccabees, p. 1.

[25] John H. Hayes and Sarah R. Mandell, The Jewish People in Classical Antiquity: From Alexander to Bar Kochba (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998), pp. 47-48.

[26] Rappaport, “Maccabean Revolt,” p. 438.

[27] Shaye J.D. Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1987), p. 61.

 

[28] Otto Morkholm, “Antiochus IV,” in The Cambridge History of Judaism, ed. by W.D. Davies and Louis Finkelstein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 284.

[29] Aryeh Kasher, The Jews in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt: The Struggle for Equal Rights (Tubingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1985), p. 330.

[30] Kasher, The Jews in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, p. 331.

[31] John J. Collins, Between Athens and Jerusalem: Jewish Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2000), p. 12.

[32] Collins, Between Athens and Jerusalem, p. 13.

[33] Collins, Between Athens and Jerusalem, p. 13.

[34] Italics mine.

[35] Hengel, Judaism and Hellenism, I. 287-289.

[36] Hengel, Judaism and Hellenism, I. 278.

[37] Goldstein, I Maccabees, p. 200.

[38] Hayes and Sarah R. Mandell, The Jewish People in Classical Antiquity, p. 52.

[39] Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, p. 161; Hengel, Judaism and Hellenism, I. 277-278.

[40] The connection between the sequence of events preceding the issue of the decree prohibiting the practice of Jewish religion and the promulgation of decree by Antiochus IV Epiphanes is unclear.

[41] Bickerman, The God of the Maccabees, pp. 30-31.

[42] John R. Bartlett, I Maccabees (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), p. 62.

[43] Hengel gives reason that it was “because of the often obscure border line between the Samaritan and the Jewish population and the Samaritans’ almost identical religious customs, especially as Judea and Samaria were presumably an administrative unit under a meridiarch with his seat in Samaria. At the beginning of 167 BC a royal commissar, Andronicus, was appointed for both Jerusalem and for the Samaritans (II Macc. 5.23).” Hengel, Judaism and Hellenism, I. 293-294.

[44] Goldstein, I Maccabees, p. 203.

[45] Goldstein considers that this letter was written by Antiochus V.  Jonathan A. Goldstein, “The Hasmonean Revolt and the Hasmonean Dynasty,” in The Cambridge History of Judaism: Hellenistic Age, II. 301.

[46] Otto Morkholm thinks that “the religious persecution was not restricted to Judea.” Otto Morkholm, “Antiochus IV,” pp. 286-287.

[47] Bickerman, The God of the Maccabees, p. 84.

[48] What is puzzling is that historically religious intolerance has been the practice of monotheistic religions.

[49] Bickerman, The God of the Maccabees, pp. 90-91.

[50] Peter Schafer, “The Hellenistic and Maccabean Periods,” in Israelite and Judaean History, ed. by John H. Hays and J. Maxwell Miller (London: SCM Press, 1977), p. 585.

[51] Bezalel Bar-Kochva, Judas Maccabaeus: The Jewish Struggle against the Seleucids (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 196.

[52] Bar-Kochva, Judas Maccabaeus, pp. 196-197.

[53] Bar-Kochva, Judas Maccabaeus, p. 197.

[54] Bar-Kochva, Judas Maccabaeus, pp. 197-198.

[55] The name Joiarib is mentioned in Ezra 8.16. He is a “wise” man. It is unclear whether this Joiarib is Joiarib, the priest mentioned elsewhere.  

[56] Hayes and Sarah R. Mandell, The Jewish People in Classical Antiquity, p. 62; Goldstein, “The Hasmonean Revolt,” p. 295.

[57] Doron Mendels, The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism (New York: Doubleday, 1992), p. 126.

[58] Hayes and Sarah R. Mandell, The Jewish People in Classical Antiquity, p. 62; Samuel Eddy, The King is Dead: Studies in the Near Eastern Resistance to Hellenism 334-31 B.C. (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1961), p.215.

[59] Hayes and Sarah R. Mandell, The Jewish People in Classical Antiquity, p. 62.

[60] Brent Nongbri, “The Motivations of the Maccabees and Judean Rhetoric of Ancestral Traditions,” in Ancient Judaism in Its Hellenistic Context, ed. by Carol Bakhos (Leiden: Brill, 2005), pp. 102-105.

[61] Eddy, The King is Dead, p. 215.

[62] Seth Schwartz, “A Note on the Social Type and Political Ideology of the Hasmonean Family,” in JBL 112 (1993), p. 309.

[63] Hayes and Sarah R. Mandell, The Jewish People in Classical Antiquity, p. 61.

[64] See Grabbe, Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian, pp. 259-263, for matters relating to authenticity and dates of the letters.

[65] Louis H. Feldman, “Josephus’ Portrayal of the Hasmoneans Compared with I Maccabees,” in Josephus and the History of the Greco-Roman Period: Essays in Memory of Morton Smith, ed. by Fausto Parente and Joseph Sievers (Leiden: Brill, 1994), p. 46.

[66] Lucio Troiani, “The POLITEIA of Israel in the Graeco-Roman Age,” in Josephus and the History of the Greco-Roman Period: Essays in Memory of Morton Smith, ed. by Fausto Parente and Joseph Sievers (Leiden: Brill, 1994), p. 11.

[67] Kasher, The Jews in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, p. 279.

[68] Kasher, The Jews in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, p. 279.

[69] Kasher, The Jews in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, p. 279.

[70] Troiani, “The POLITEIA of Israel in the Graeco-Roman Age,” p. 12.

[71] Troiani, “The POLITEIA of Israel in the Graeco-Roman Age,” pp. 12-13.

[72] Kasher, The Jews in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, p. 244.

[73] Kasher, The Jews in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, pp. 340-341.

[74] In I Maccabees nomos is used in singular, whereas in II Maccabees plural.

[75] Brutti, The Development of the High Priesthood, p. 288.

[76] Martin Hengel, The Zealots: Investigations into the Jewish Freedom Movement in the Period from Herod until 70 AD (Edinburgh: 1989), pp. 149-155.

[77] Hengel, The Zealots, p. 155.

[78] Nongbri, “The Motivations of the Maccabees,” p. 101.

[79] Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, p. 205.

[80] Grabbe, Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian, p. 285.

[81] Peter Schafer, “The Hellenistic and Maccabean Periods,” p. 585.

[82] Goldstein, “The Hasmonean Revolt,” p. 295.

[83] Goldstein, “The Hasmonean Revolt,” p. 295.

[84] Farmer, Maccabees, Zealots, and Josephus, p. 178.

[85] Vincent Smiles argues that “the purpose of Phinehas’s resort to violence was not so much “to maintain Israel’s distinctiveness as God’s covenant people” as to ensure Israel’s obedience to God’s Law in defense of the covenant. Separatism serves obedience, not vice versa.” But is it possible to separate “obedience to the Torah” and Jewish “separatism” as to say “separatism serves obedience”? Vincent M. Smiles, “The Concept of “Zeal” in the Second-Temple Judaism and Paul’s Critique of It in Romans 10:2,” in CBQ 64/2 (April 2002), p. 285.

[86] Farmer, Maccabees, Zealots, and Josephus, p. 178.

[87] William Reuben Farmer, “The Patriarch Phineas,” in AThR 34 (1952), p. 27.

[88] Notice the position of the introduction of Mattathias and his sons in I Maccabees (2.1ff).

[89] Richard A. Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish Resistance in Roman Palestine (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1993), p. 121.

[90] William Klassen, “Jesus and Phineas: A Rejected Role Model,” in Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers Series, ed. by Kent Harold Richards (Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1986), p. 492.

[91] Hengel comments that the “zeal for God and his law” dominated the early part of the Maccabean movement and later as “the aim of the war changed…’zeal for the law’ receded more and more into the background….” Hengel, The Zealots, p. 152. He notes that the term zhloj/zhloun and nomoj rarely appear after the first four chapters of I Maccabees.

[92] John Kampen, The Hasideans and the Origin of Pharisaism: A Study in 1 and 2 Maccabees (Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1988), p. 74.

 

[93] Waldemar Janzen, Old Testament Ethics: A Paradigmatic Approach (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1994), p. 108.

[94] John J. Collins, “The Zeal of Phinehas: The Bible and the Legitimation of Violence,” in JBL 122/1 (Spring 2003).

[95] Collins, “The Zeal of Phinehas.”

[96] “The meaning of this text is quite unambiguous and completely in accordance with the Old Testament tradition, namely that, by removing the offence in Israel that was scandalizing God, God’s anger would be turned away from his people” (Num. 25; Josh 7; I Sam. 7.3ff; 14.37ff.). Hengel, The Zealots, p. 153.

Freedom Through The Death of Jesus Christ In Galatians: A Nonviolence Reading

September 26, 2009

Chapter II

The Roman Province of Galatia

 

A. Formation of the Roman Province of Galatia

Galatia emerged as a Roman province during the reign of Augustus. Prior to this, client kings ruled this territory under the authority of Rome. The land was divided into three districts corresponding geographically to each of the three Galatian tribes, Tolistobogii (around Pessinus), Tectosages (around Ancyra), and Trocmi (around Tavium). Deiotarus, the tetrarch of Tolistobogii, who was later granted by Rome the title ‘king’, extended his control over the land of Trocmi. Though he was deprived of his rule over the land of Trocmi for a short while by Julius Caesar, he was again made ruler over this land by Antony after the death of Caesar. After treacherously murdering the tetrarch of Tectosages, Deiotarus became king of the entire Galatia (Strabo, 12.5.1). After his death and a brief rule by his son, Amyntas was appointed as a new king by Antony in 36 BCE. Amyntas extended the frontiers of Galatia. As a result, Galatia now consisted of the three lands of the three Galatian tribes, much of Lycaonia and part of Pamphylia (Strabo, 12.5.1; Dio, 49.32.3, 53.26.3; Plutarch, Ant 61.2). Amyntas shifted his loyalty from Antony to Octavian in the war at Actium (Plutarch, Ant 63.3). Because of his loyalty in the war, Octavian confirmed Amyntas as king and extended his rule over much of Pisidia, Isauria in the south, and western part of Cilicia called Cilicia Tracheia (Strabo, 14.6.1). Octavian’s victory over Antony at Actium in 31 BCE brought to an end the turbulent period in Galatia due to both domestic unrest and complex maneuverings with the Roman rulers during the civil wars. However, Amyntas had faced resistance from Homanadenses, a southern region tribe, to his efforts of pacification through subjugation. While engaged in a war in 25 BCE to subjugate Homanadenses, he was killed (Dio, 53.26.3). Amyntas, thus, failed in his attempt to bring peace (that is, pacification) in the land, which was important to Rome to promote its self-interests.

 Soon after the death of Amyntas, Octavian (Augustus) annexed Galatia to bring internal peace and order. He made the entire area ruled by Amyntas an imperial province in 25 BCE (Dio, 53.26.3; Strabo, 12.5.1). Dio notes:

On the death of Amyntas he (Augustus) did not entrust his kingdom to his sons but made it part of the subject territory. Thus Galatia together with Lycoania obtained a Roman governor, and the portions of Pamphylia formerly assigned to Amyntas were restored to their own districts (Dio, History 53. 26. 3).

Galatian province included the land of the three Galatian tribes, Pisidia, Isauria, Lycaonia and part of Pamphylia. Later Paphlagonia (in 6/5 BCE) and Pontus Galaticus (in 3/2 BCE) were added. For Rome, internal peace and order in Galatia was important, because Asia Minor was like a bridge between the west and the east. So Rome wanted this region to be firmly under its control.

 1. Colonies

Rome, as a deliberate imperial policy, created colonies. The death of Amyntas in 25 BCE while attempting to subjugate the resisting tribe of Homanadenses, was a clear evidence of unstable conditions in the southern part of the Galatian province. Isaurians, who lived in the mountain ranges north-east of Pisidia, revolted against the Roman control in 6 CE. Therefore, there was local resistance to the Roman rule and its client kings. As a strong measure to bring peace by military force through subjugation of the resisting groups, Augustus founded colonies of legionary veterans as soon as Galatia was made a province such as Pisidian Antioch, Cremna, Lystra, Olbasa, Parlais and Comama.[1] The land required for a colony was usually confiscated. Roman settlers formed the citizens’ body, and natives could become either a separate community or subjects of the colony.[2] The constitution of the colony was organized on a Roman pattern.

 2. Roads

Rome had developed a road-system in the Galatian province in order to maintain Roman peace in the subject territory. The roads were primarily for military and administrative purposes. This objective was characteristic of Roman imperialism, that is, control and exploitation of resources in subject territories by military and administrative means.[3] 

In Galatia the road, Via Sebaste, was laid in 6 BCE with Pisidian Antioch as the pivot, from there to the south-central Anatolian port of Perga, and on the east to the colonies of Iconium and Lystra. In the same year Roman army used this road to wage war against the resisting Homanadenses. Military activity and construction of roads in subject territories offer a pattern of Roman methods to maintain Roman peace and freedom by subduing the resisting local groups. Thus, Roman roads in Galatia “implicitly symbolized but explicitly articulated Rome’s and specially the emperor’s domination.”[4] They were a visible symbol of the Roman political control of Galatia.[5] As the text on a milestone in Galatia read, “Imperator Caesar Son of God Pontifex Maximus” (CIL 3.6974). The primary function of milestone was to publicize the dominion of the Roman emperor.[6]

3. Cities

Urbanization was a Roman imperial policy to further its dominion over subject. Soon after annexation of Galatia in 25 BCE, Augustus created three new cities in the north, Pessinus, Tavium, and Ancyra, and one in the south, Pisidian Antioch. The name Sebaste was given to Pessinus, Tavium, and Ancyra indicating that the province represented by these cities began a new era under Augustus. This new era inaugurated under Augustus’ rule was characterized by freedom, peace and security. As a reward for allegiance to the emperor, subject society was guaranteed freedom, peace and security from external and internal threats. Pisidian Antioch was renamed as Colonia Caesarea. However, the old name prevailed. But the principal square of Pisidian Antioch was named Augustea Platea.[7] Renaming the cities by adding emperor’s name was an indicator of the Roman domination and control. Renaming served two purposes: one was that it ensured that the person and authority of the emperor was before the populace, and the other was that it became a symbol of loyalty of the populace.

However, for Galatians autonomy and freedom from external control were the hallmark of Greek polis and basic to its political organization. This Greek understanding of a city was reflected by Pausanias’ comment, “Panopeus, for all its miserable appearance, was yet free because it still sent its own delegate to the Phocian assembly.”[8] This freedom and autonomy of city had diminished with the arrival of the Roman rule. The political ideals of autonomy and independence that defined Greek polis were replaced in the Roman civitas by “two aims that were both functional and ideological.”[9] Dominic Crossan and Jonathan Reed explain the two aims as,

One was to use cities as administrative centers for supervising the production and distribution of local and regional resources. That also…meant taxation flowing back to Rome. The other one was to build communities by creating for the empire’s urban populations a common form of civic life (and) a common set of civic buildings…That…meant loyalty flowing back to Rome.[10]

A public document of 88 BCE of a city in Asia clearly mentions the freedom under Roman imperialism. It read, “Without the rule of the Romans we do not choose even to live.”[11] The index of city status was no longer political autonomy but other criteria such as public buildings. This shift would indicate the intention of Rome.

B. Jewish Privileges

During the Hellenistic and Roman periods Asia Minor had a substantial Jewish population. By the time of Claudius Antioch of Pisidia and Iconium had an influential Jewish community, which was engaged in trade (Acts 13.14ff; Acts 14.1). Philo wrote, though an exaggeration, that the Jews resided in every city of Asia (Philo, Legatio ad Gaium 245). Both Philo and Josephus testified to good relations between the diaspora Jews and Roman authorities.

Josephus cites a number of documents that deal with Jewish privileges in Asia Minor. However, these documents “present numerous technical problems relating to the state of the texts, their dating and the puzzling order in which they are arranged.”[12] Though Moehring has questioned their authenticity, “his case against their authenticity rests on minor aberrations in the text which can be satisfactorily explained by the history of transmission of the documents.”[13] Basing on formal features of documents Tessa Rajak argues for their authenticity.  He notes, “The formal features of the documents are correct for genre and period to a degree which makes it very difficult to conceive of them as forgeries.”[14]

The documents cited by Josephus show that in a number of occasions the Roman government intervened on behalf of the Jews in Asia Minor in the face of local opposition to the Jewish privileges granted by the empire.[15] These Jewish privileges included the right to organize as a community, to administer their own finances, and to order their life according to their ancestral laws.[16] One of the reasons for granting and protecting the privileged status of the Jews by Rome could be due to “the gratitude of the Jews to the Roman people” expressed by the crucial role played by Antipater and Hyrcanus, the high priest, in the war between Rome and Egypt (Josephus, Ant. 14.8). This was reiterated by Augustus in his decree to the cities in Asia (Josephus, Ant. 16.6.2).

In 2/3 CE Augustus issued an important edict to the provincial assembly of Galatia concerning the Jews. This decree was mentioned by Josephus in Antiquities 16. 162-165. It read:

Caesar Augustus, Pontifex Maximus with tribunitian power, decrees as follows. Since the Jewish nation has been found well disposed to the Roman people not only at the present time but also in time past, and especially in the time of my father the emperor Caesar, as has their high priest Hyrcanus, it has been decided by me and my council under oath, with the consent of the Roman people, that the Jews may follow their own customs in accordance with the law of their fathers, just as they followed them in the time of Hyrcanus, high priest of the Most High God, and that their sacred monies shall be inviolable and may be sent up to Jerusalem and delivered to the treasurers of Jerusalem, and that they need not give bond or appear in court on the Sabbath or on the day of preparation for it after the ninth hour. And if anyone is caught stealing their sacred books or their sacred monies from a synagogue or an ark of the Law, he shall be regarded as sacrilegious, and his property shall be confiscated to the public treasury of the Romans. As for the resolution which was offered by them in my honour concerning the piety which I show to all men, and on behalf of C. Marcius Censorinus, I order that it and the present edict be set up in the most conspicuous part of the temple assigned to me by the federation of Asia in Ancyra. If anyone transgresses any of the above ordinances, he shall suffer severe punishment. This was inscribed on a pillar in the temple of Caesar (Josephus, Ant. 16. 162-165).

 Philip Esler comments that this decree is evidence to the presence of a Jewish community(s) in Galatia. He presumes that these Jews were the ones who were moved by Antiochus III from Mesopotamia to places of Phrygia and Lydia to help suppress revolts in those regions (Josephus, Ant. 12.147-153). Esler argues:

Although they were settled outside Galatia, they were obviously in a position to move into Galatia when times were ripe. That they had done so early in the Roman period is shown by the fact that Augustus ordered a decree protecting the rights of the Ioudaioi in Asia to be erected in his temple in Ancyra, in the centre of Galatia.[17]

The decree mentioned by Josephus in Antiquities 16.162-165 gives an impression that in spite of the Roman support, Jewish community(s) met with local opposition to their privileges in Asia Minor. In such situations the Jews appealed to Roman authorities, who always ruled in their favor. Rome refused to alter the status quo of Jews. Whenever the Jews faced local opposition, Roman authorities through edicts confirmed their privileges. The Jewish privileges were intended to enable the Jews to live in accordance with their own ancestral laws and traditions. A number of documents preserved by Josephus relate to the Sabbath (Parium or Paros- Josephus Ant. 14.213-216, 46 BCE; Ephesus- Ant. 14.225-227, 43 BCE; Ant. 14.262-264; Ant. 16.167-168, 23-21 or 16-13 BCE; Laodicia- Ant. 14.241-243; Miletus- Ant. 14.244-246, 46-44 BCE; Halicarnassus- Ant. 14.256-258, 48-44 BCE; Sardis- 14.259-261; General decree to the Jews in Asia- Ant. 16.162-165, 12 BCE). These documents are evidence to the support of the Roman government in protecting the freedom of the Jews in Asia Minor to live according to their laws. Josephus mentioned how Roman authorities protected the Sabbath observance of the Jews in the face of opposition in Greek cities (Josephus, Ant. 14.227). When local authorities in the city of Ephesus declared the Sabbath observance punishable by a fine, Rome forced the local authorities to revoke this measure (Josephus, Ant. 14.225-227). Augustus issued a general decree confirming the Jewish privileges (Josephus. Ant. 16.6.2). Among these privileges was the privilege not to appear in court on the Sabbath or on the preceding day after the ninth hour (Josephus Ant. 16.6.2 cf. 16.6.4).[18] Even in free cities Rome intervened on behalf of the Jews for the Sabbath observance. This was a grave violation of the autonomous status of free cities, which were free to regulate the civic life, including religious life, of their inhabitants. At times Jews were exempted from military service because of their Sabbath observance. Dolabella exempted the Jews from military service because Roman army could not provide them with ration according to their dietary laws and the Sabbath law did not permit Jews to carry weapons and travel on the day of Sabbath (Josephus Ant. 14.10.12). This edict of 43 BCE to Ephesus notes that the earlier prefects granted a similar exemption to the Jews. At times if the food served was forbidden by the Jewish dietary laws, the Roman army would pay the Jews the value of their ration.[19] Rome also allowed Jews to go for pilgrimage to the temple at Jerusalem and to collect temple tax (i[era crhmata) for maintenance of the temple. Caius Norbanus Flaccus, proconsul, in his letter mentioned the details of the letter of Augustus written to him and to the governors of Ephesia, regarding Jews. It read:

Caesar has written word to me, that the Jews, wherever they are, are accustomed to assemble together, in compliance with a peculiar ancient custom of their nation, to contribute money which they send to Jerusalem; and he does not choose that they should have any hindrance offered to them, to prevent them from doing this; therefore I have written to you, that you may know that I command that they shall be allowed to do these things (Philo, On the Embassy to Gaius: The First Part of the Treatise on VirtuesI, 315).

There was an exemption for Jews from partaking in the imperial cult.[20] However, Jews offered prayer and sacrifices to God for the life and welfare of the Roman emperor. Jews enjoyed direct access to the emperor. Whenever they faced local opposition in cities with regards to exercising their privileges granted by Rome, they sent delegations to the emperor for his intervention on their behalf (Josephus, Ant 16.6.1). Philo’s comment on Augustus’ “benefaction” towards Jews in Rome sums up the privileges enjoyed by the diaspora Jews:

Augustus knew that the large district of Rome beyond the Tiber was owned and inhabited by Jews. The majority of them were Roman freedmen. They had been brought to Italy as prisoners of war and manumitted by their owners, and had not been made to alter any of their national customs. Augustus therefore knew that they had synagogues and met in them, especially on the Sabbath, when they received public instruction in their national philosophy. He also knew that they had collected sacred money from their ‘first fruits’ and sent it up to Jerusalem by the hand of envoys who would offer the sacrifices. But despite this he did not expel them from Rome or deprive them of their Roman citizenship because they remembered their Jewish nationality also. He introduced no changes into their synagogues, he did not prevent them from meeting for the exposition of the law, and he raised no objection to their offering of the ‘first fruits’. On the contrary, he showed such reverence for our traditions that he and almost all his family enriched our temple with expensive dedications. He gave orders for regular sacrifices of holocausts to be made daily in perpetuity at his own expense, as an offering to the Most High God. These sacrifices continue to this day, and will continue always, as a proof of his truly imperial character. Moreover, at the monthly distributions in Rome, when all the people in turn receive money or food, he never deprived Jews of this bounty, but if the distribution happened to be made on the Sabbath, when it is forbidden to receive or give anything or to do any of the ordinary things of life in general, especially commercial life, he instructed the distributors to reserve the Jews’ share of the universal largesse until the next day (Philo, On the Embassy to Gaius, 155-8).

The protection of the Roman empire to the Jews to live according to their laws continued under Claudius. When there was crisis between Greeks and Jews in cities like Alexandria, Claudius in 41/42 CE made a general policy giving freedom to Jews to observe their customs. It read, “It is right therefore that Jews throughout the whole world under our sway should also observe the customs of their fathers without let or hindrance” (Josephus Ant. 19.290).

Thus the documents of Josephus highlight the concern of Jews for freedom granted by the Roman empire. This freedom was to live according to the laws of the Torah. Whenever the Jews faced local opposition to exercise their freedom, Roman authorities intervened on behalf Jews and facilitated for Jews to live according to Jewish laws. This privilege of living according to the laws of the Torah, understood as freedom, had a direct implication on the conduct of the zealous Jews as demonstrated by the Maccabean movement.

 

 


[1] Robert K. Sherk, “Roman Galatia: The Governors from 25 B.C. to A.D. 114,” in ANRW II.7.2, ed. by Herausgeben von Hildegard Temporini (New York: Walter De Gruyter, 1980), p. 963.

[2] A.H.M. Jones, Augustus (New York: Norton, 1971), p. 98.

[3] D.H. French, “The Roman Road-System of Asia Minor,” in ANRW II.7.2, pp. 698-729.

[4] John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed, In Search of Paul: How Jesus’ Apostle Opposed Rome’s Empire with God’s Kingdom: A New Vision of Paul’s Words & World (New York: Harper Collins, 2004), p. 201.

[5] Stephen Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men, and Gods in Asia Minor: The Celts in Anatolia and the Impact of Roman Rule, Vol. I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), p. 63.

[6] G.H.R. Horsley, “Two New Milestones from Pisidia,” in Anatolian Studies, Vol. XXXIX, (1989), pp. 79-84.

[7]David Magie, Roman Rule in Asia Minor: To the End of the Third Century after Christ, Vol. I: Text (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1950), p. 460.

[8] Mitchell, Anatolia, p. 81.

[9] Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed, In Search of Paul, p. 185.

[10] Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed, In Search of Paul, p. 185.

[11] J. Reynolds, Aphrodisias and Rome, 1982, 12 doc. 2.

[12] Paul R. Trebilco, Jewish Communities in Asia Minor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), p. 7.

[13] Trebilco, Jewish Communities, p. 7.

[14] Tessa Rajak, “Was There a Roman Charter for the Jews?” in JRS 74 (1984), p. 109.

[15] Michael Grant, The Jews in the Roman World (London: 1973), pp. 33, 60, 76.

[16] Trebilco, Jewish Communities, p. 8.

[17] Philip F. Esler, Galatians (New York: Routledge, 1998), p. 30.

[18] Philo mentions the decree of Augustus about the monthly ration to be set aside for the Jews to collect it the next day if the day of distribution falls on the Sabbath day (Philo, On the Embassy to Gaius: The First Part of the Treatise on Virtues, in The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, tr. by C.D. Yonge (USA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002): 23 (158).

[19] Alfredo Mordechai Rabello, “The Legal Condition of the Jews in the Roman Empire,” in ANRW II. 13, p. 706.

[20] Rabello, “The Legal Condition of the Jews in the Roman Empire,” p. 703.

Freedom Through The Death of Jesus Christ In Galatians: A Nonviolence Reading

September 26, 2009

Chapter I

 

Theories of Atonement and the Theory of Mimetic Violence and Scapegoating 

Violence, both coercive and systemic, reigns in the world. This is institutionalized in modern social structures. The myth of redemptive violence undergirds popular culture, civil religion, nationalism and foreign policy. It lies at the root of the system of domination that has characterized human existence.[1] Religious traditions promise to heal the wounds of human existence by uniting human beings to ultimate reality and to one another. Through centuries church has claimed the atoning significance of the crucifixion of Christ. Theories of atonement have interpreted Jesus’ death in order to argue for its universal significance in reconciling human beings to God and to one another. However, a theology that affirms the salvific power of violence results in denigration of people, who are not part of the “saved community”, permitting discrimination and violence. This reality is reflected in the violent history of the institutional church marked by Inquisition, Crusades, Slave Trade[2], Segregation[3] and collaboration with Colonialism, to name a few. Collaboration of the church and imperial power in violence against native peoples around the world is vividly illustrated by David Stannard:

At the dawn of the fifteenth century, Spanish conquistadors and priests presented the Indians they encountered with a choice: either give up your religion and culture and land and independence, swearing allegiance ‘as vassals’ to the Catholic Church and the Spanish Crown, or suffer ‘all the mischief and damage’ that the European invaders choose to inflict upon you.[4]

The collaboration with imperial power in violence undermines the claims of the church about the significance of the Christ event in relation to all forms of violence and itself as an alternate nonviolent community. The history of religions is also steeped in blood, sacrifice and scapegoating. The brutal facts of the history of religions pose stark questions about the intertwining of religion and violence.

Due to violence embedded in general understanding of the significance of Jesus’ death and the violence-seeped history of the institutional church, dominant theories of atonement have come under intense scrutiny. The impetus for this inquiry has come particularly in the late twentieth century from the perspectives of victims of violence, the marginalized. The Theory of Mimetic Violence and Scapegoating, as it relates particularly with the question of sacrifice, proves illuminating with regards to the general understanding of the significance of the death of Jesus Christ.

The Theory of Mimetic Violence and Scapegoating provides an important analysis of the function of violence in human society. This theory is concerned about the role of religion and violence in the formation of human culture. Rene Girard views violence as the foundation of religion and social system. It is the violence that generates a mechanism, which he calls “scapegoat mechanism”. This mechanism is generated to protect social order in a community. Girard believes that in the mechanism linking violence and religion lies the origins of culture. It is the death of Jesus Christ, the victim of the scapegoat mechanism that exposes the sacrificial structures of society. Girard develops his theory in his books: Deceit, Desire and the Novel, Violence and the Sacred, Things Hidden from the Foundation of the World, The Scapegoat, and Job, the Victim of His People.

A. Theories of Atonement

Twentieth century experienced sharp debates, sparked primarily by contextual theologians such as black, womanist and feminist about the traditional understanding of the death of Jesus Christ. These contextual theologians have criticized the atonement theology that delineates the meaning and significance of the death of Jesus Christ, because it starts with divinely sanctioned violence, namely killing of an innocent person Jesus Christ. The atonement theology assumes that the killing of Jesus has resulted in something good, that is, the salvation of sinful humankind. Thus, the traditional understanding of the significance of the death of Jesus Christ has glorified divinely sanctioned violence against the weak, poor, women and marginalized.

Three major theories of atonement are prominent in the church to interpret the death of Jesus Christ. 

 1. Theory of Christus Victor

Power and military imagery dominates the articulation of the theory of Christus Victor. This theory stresses on the theme of victory. It uses the image of cosmic battle between forces of God and forces of Satan. Gustav Aulen discusses how influential this view of atonement was in patristic thought.[5]

According to the theory of Christus Victor the fundamental human predicament is that human beings are enslaved to the powers of sin, death and Satan. The classic Christus Victor, which is identified with Irenaeus and other early church fathers, and several versions of it emphasize on the cosmic battle between forces of God and forces of evil. They see in the death of Jesus Christ victory over cosmic powers such as sin, death and demonic powers that held human beings in bondage. The emphasis on Christ as victor makes Jesus’ death a turning point in the battle against evil powers that enslaved human beings. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead assures final victory. Thus, the struggle is cosmic and the victory of Christ is cosmic. The overriding emphasis of the theory is that God alone, through Christ, accomplishes victory. Therefore, the redemption of human beings from the enslaving cosmic powers is to be understood as a gift bestowed by grace alone.

 There are variations of the theory of Christus Victor. One variation is God defeating Satan through deception. Failing to perceive the divine nature hidden behind the human nature of Jesus Christ, Satan swallows the human nature of Christ and is caught by the deity hidden under it. As Douglas John Hall summarizes:

Christ, the Victor, cloaking for the time being his divine omnipotence beneath the apparent weakness of the flesh, deceives and finally destroys the forces of evil that are responsible for human misery, and delivers the human victims from the bonds of sin, death, and the demonic.[6]

Another variation of the theory of Christus Victor is the Ransom Theory. According to this theory, the death of Jesus Christ is described as a ransom price paid to Satan in exchange for freeing the sinful humankind from the bondage of Satan. With the resurrection, Jesus Christ escaped the clutches of Satan and at the same time freed sinners from the bondage of Satan. Thus, Jesus constituted the payment God owed to Satan in exchange for the release of human beings under the captivity of Satan. In this image, God sanctioned Satan’s violence against Jesus as a price for freeing human beings from the clutches of Satan.  

The basic weakness of the theory of Christus Victor is that it locates the cause of evil in “an objectifiable, transhistorical demonic power, separable from human community.”[7] The cosmic powers become the cause of Jesus’ death. As a result, the theory ignores the violence of the “lynching mob”- religious and political authorities, and populace. By sanctioning Satan’s violence against Jesus, the Ransom Theory intrinsically contains divinely authorized violence. Joanne Carlson Brown and Rebecca Parker rightly criticize the Christus Victor theory for the divinely sanctioned violence and abuse. Because God delivers the son for Satan to kill in exchange for freeing the humankind in Satan’s bondage. Brown and Parker further say that “suffering is a prelude to triumph and is in itself an illusion,” because Jesus’ suffering and death are understood as mere “divine trickery” in a plot to “deceive the deceiver”.[8] This “divine trickery” expresses the essence of mimetic theory, where God mimes the original action of Satan (that is, deception), and thus, becomes mimetic double.[9]

 Further, Brown and Parker contend that a divine model of submission to victimization can have dangerous consequences for those who live in abusive and oppressive situations. They declare:

Victimization never leads to triumph…(rather) it can lead to destruction of the human spirit through the death of a person’s sense of power, worth, dignity, or creativity….By denying the reality of suffering and death, the Christus Victor theory of atonement defames all those who suffer and trivializes tragedy.[10]

 2. Theory of Satisfaction

A great change took place in understanding the death of Jesus Christ with Anselm’s book Cur Deus Homo? Anselm rejected specifically the ransom version of Christus Victor theory. He removed Satan from the atonement equation and made human beings responsible to God. Anselm’s theory of Satisfaction maintains that the basic problem in the world is disorder. This disorder is introduced by human sin into the cosmic order governed by divine justice. Human sin did dishonor to God. Now God’s honor is to be satisfied in order for the universe to remain just. According to the theory of Satisfaction, the death of Jesus Christ has satisfied the honor of God, and thus enabled salvation to humankind. As Williston Walker summarizes:

 Man, by sin, has done dishonor to God. His debt is to God alone. God’s nature demands “satisfaction.” Man, who owes obedience at all times, has nothing wherewith to make good past disobedience. Yet, if satisfaction is to be made at all, it can be rendered only by one who shares human nature, who is himself man, and yet as God has something of infinite value to offer. Such a being is the God-man. Not only is his sacrifice a satisfaction, it deserves reward. That reward is the eternal blessedness of his brethren.[11] 

A post-Reformation variation of the Satisfaction theory is the Penal Substitution theory. According to this theory, Jesus’ death is understood as substitution for sinful humankind in bearing the penalty of the divine law incurred by them. In the Penal Substitution theory God’s law, not God’s honor, becomes the object of the death of Jesus Christ.

The theory of Satisfaction assumes that God’s retributive justice demands compensatory punishment for human sin. The premise is that justice is accomplished by inflicting punishment. The theory assumes that “doing justice consists of administering quid pro quo violence.”[12] By bearing the punishment on behalf of the sinful humankind, Jesus paved way for human salvation. Thus, the theory of Satisfaction links atonement with the system of retributive justice or violence of God. In other words, this theory models the assumption that doing justice or making right depends on compensatory punishment or sanctioned violence.[13] The implication of this is that the “lynching mob” in the killing of Jesus Christ – religious and political authorities, and people- is, in fact, aiding God in providing satisfaction for the divine justice or honor. Therefore, the Satisfaction theory promotes divine sanctioned violence.

Further, the human condition described in terms of human sin against God’ justice or honor naturally conceives the death of Jesus Christ as a sacrifice, which enables the sins of the humankind to be forgiven. In other words, Jesus’ death is understood as a penal substitution for human sin and to satisfy the violence (or vengeance) of God. If the violence of God is not satisfied, God’s absolute revenge or wrath takes place. If the wrath of God is not appeased, it would overflow into the world. In this harsh reality the need for a scapegoat would be pressing and permanent.[14]

However, the argument of satisfying an angry and vengeful God overlooks the evidence in the New Testament that God is not the object of Jesus’ death, but rather sin. Peter Abelard criticized the theory of substitution for imagining a vindictive God. He deplored, “How cruel and wicked it seems that anyone should demand the blood of an innocent person as the price for anything…still less that God should consider the death of his Son so agreeable that by it he should be reconciled to the whole world.”[15] Contextual theologians have also challenged the theory of Satisfaction as not only offensive, since it portrays God as violent and vengeful, but also a potential source of oppression. Black, feminist and other liberation theologians have shown how certain interpretations of the cross can promote a cult of suffering. As a result, oppressed groups passively identify with Jesus’ death as though suffering itself were part of God’s redemptive plan, rather than seeking to overcome injustice. James Cone criticizes the theory of Satisfaction that it is an abstract theory, which lacks ethical dimensions in historical arena. He comments, “A neat rational theory but useless as a leverage against political oppression. It dehistoricizes the work of Christ, separating it from God’s liberating act in history.”[16] Cone argues that the abstract legal formula enabled “white” Christians to claim salvation through the death of Jesus Christ, while actively accommodating chattel slavery and racism.[17] Womanist and feminist theologians also criticize the theory of Satisfaction as divine child abuse or divine surrogacy. Brown and Parker write:

Christianity is an abusive theology that glorifies suffering. Is it any wonder that there is so much abuse in the modern society when the predominant image of the culture is of “divine child abuse”- God the Father demanding and carrying out the suffering death of his own son? If Christianity is to be liberating for the oppressed, it must itself be liberated from this theology. We must do away with the atonement, this idea of a blood sin upon the whole human race which can be washed away only by the blood of the lamb.[18]    

Brown and Parker point out that Anselm’s view of justice is “not that wrong should be righted but that wrongs should be punished…God’s demand that sin be punished is fulfilled by the suffering of the innocent Jesus, whose holiness is crowned by his willingness to be perfectly obedient to his Father’s will.”[19] The theory that glorifies suffering of the innocent for the liberation of others can be dangerous in an abusive society. This conditions the abused to accept their situation. As Brown and Parker notes, “This glorification of suffering as salvific, held before us daily in the image of Jesus hanging from the cross, encourages women who are being abused to be more concerned about their victimizer than about themselves.”[20]

Thus, the abstract legal formula of the theory of Satisfaction not only accommodates violence of the sword and various forms of systemic violence, but also perpetuates suffering, oppression and marginalization of the poor and marginal communities by appealing to the suffering of Jesus or submission of Jesus to suffering required by a divine mandate. As a result, this theory condones the plight and suffering of the poor and the marginalized.

 3. Theory of Moral Influence

Abelard rejected the Satisfaction theory of Anselm and its variation, Ransom Theory. He proposed Moral Influence theory. The Moral Influence theory assumes that human beings are to be enabled to engage in agape love. Abelard in his book Know Thyself argues that human beings are capable of deciding what is good through the use of natural reason. Therefore, what they need are knowledge of what is good and strength of resolve to do it. This is what human beings get from the death of Jesus Christ. Christ’s death provides a compelling and inspiring example to follow. Jesus, in persevering through humiliation and cross, embodies God’s agape love. God gave him over to die in order to display God’s agape love for sinful human beings. Thus, the Moral Influence theory features the death of Jesus Christ as a loving act of God for sinful human beings. When sinful human beings perceive this love of God in Jesus’ death, it inspires human heart so that they are empowered to follow the same example of agape love. This, in turn, results in reconciliation with God and with one another. It is the psychological or subjective influence worked on the mind of sinner through demonstration of God’s love in the death of Jesus Christ that reconciles sinner to God and to one another.[21] 

However, Moral Influence theory also promotes divinely sanctioned violence. The display of God’s agape love is in the form of God giving up God’s son to die. This interpretation of the death of Jesus Christ ignores its cause, the violence of the “lynching mob” – religious and political authorities, and people. It makes God the cause of Jesus’ death with the purpose of showing God’s agape love to sinful human beings. This demonstrates the intrinsic divine sanctioned violence in the theory. Like the Christus Victor theory and the Satisfaction theory, the Moral Influence theory implies that the “lynching mob” is aiding God’s will to fulfill.

Brown and Parker rightly observe that the Moral Influence theory is another image of divinely sanctioned abuse. By suggesting that the cross represents the highest form of love, the theory leads to further victimization of oppressed people. As Brown and Parker note, on the basis of the image of the cross as representing the highest form of love “races, classes, and women have been victimized…(and) their victimization has been heralded as a persuasive reason for inherently sinful men to become more righteous.” Victims become means “for someone else’s edification”.[22] 

Thus, the dominant atonement theories contain elements of divinely sanctioned violence. They are intrinsically violent, in that they make God the ultimate source of violence, and portray the “lynching mob” as aiding God’s will to fulfill. The traditional interpretations of the death of Jesus Christ use transactional analogies such as satisfaction, substitution and ransom, where death of an innocent person is required either by a just God or a divine law or Satan in order to save the sinful humankind. Such interpretations of the death of Christ trade in the language of sacrifice.[23] If Jesus’ death is regarded not as a revelation but as only a violent event brought about by God in order to either satisfy a just God or a divine law or Satan or to inspire human heart, it is misunderstood and turned into an idol. Not only does this not make sense, but it is scandalous in a variety of ways. Mark Heim says that this kind of understanding of God and the death of Jesus Christ leads “to a fatally skewed faith, revolving around a central narrative based on sacred violence and the glorification of innocent suffering.”[24]

Therefore, a nonviolent perspective that exposes and rejects violence in Jesus’ death is required. This perspective provides a basis to subvert the dominant theories of atonement, which formed a framework for the interpretation of Jesus’ death in Paul’s letters. Nonviolent perspective also offers a new interpretation of Christ’s event. This perspective is shaped by the Theory of Mimetic Violence and Scapegoating. According to this interpretation, violence that fulfils God’s agenda is not a factor in the death of Jesus Christ. Rather Jesus’ death reveals victimage and thus, exposes the violence of scapegoating. The revelatory aspect of Jesus’ death posits violence and its correlates (substitution, satisfaction, ransom) as an anthropological datum, not a divine one.[25] It exposes the lie about the divinely sanctioned violence. The death of Jesus Christ, in one sense, is like all other events of victimization “since the foundation of the world.” But it is different in that it reveals the meaning of these events going back to the beginnings of humanity: victimization occurs because of mimetic violence, victim is innocent, and God stands with the victim and vindicates him or her. In other words, the violent death of Jesus Christ reveals that it was mimetic violence that is the generative power behind the sacrificial structures, which are responsible for Jesus’ death or any victimization, which Girard calls “scapegoat mechanism”.[26]

B. Theory of Mimetic Violence and Scapegoating 

For the theory of Mimetic Violence and Scapegoating mimesis is the starting point. According to Girard, human culture has been founded on two principles, which he calls “mimetic rivalry” and “scapegoat mechanism”. The anthropological characteristic that Girard sees as most fundamental to human behavior is mimesis. Without mimesis, there is no human culture. From his study of mimetic desire in the modern novels written by novelists such as Cervantes, Stendhal, Dostoevsky and Proust, Girard conjectures that human desire is mimetic. He delineates, “Mimesis is the basic human drive to copy what the other person finds valuable; it is the ambition to acquire as one’s own what is deemed desirable by the other.”[27] Girard argues that no object has any value in and of itself, rather objects derive value “insofar as they are charged with desirability on the basis of another’s attachments to the same.”  In other words, “the value of the article consumed is based solely on how it is regarded by the Other. Only Another’s desire can produce desire.”[28] That means, desire is always mediated by the other’s (whom Girard calls “mediator”) desire.

Since the origins and mechanisms of desire are controlled by the other, the subject of desire is no longer in control of his/her own destiny, but becomes a slave of the other’s desires and preferences. As Mark Wallace explains,

Because the self formed by the other’s desires can neither understand nor control the direction of its own appetites and infatuations, the mediated self is fated to an existence within a nightmare-world of culturally constructed needs and desires that it cannot comprehend. Everything that generates the culture of a particular social group – from tastes in food and fashion to codes of behavior and division of labor – operates within the same gravitational space of mimetic desire. Generally, however, this gravitational activity exists just beneath the threshold of conscious choices and activities. Thus, mediated desire is the source of all acquisitive and addictive cravings, the foundation upon which the hierarchy of cultural values is established, and the criterion by which most interpersonal decisions are made in social groups.[29]

In imitating the other (model), the subject may come to approach the power and threaten the position of the model. Thus, mimesis leads to competition at the most intimate level of existence. The model tells the subject not to imitate him/her, and becomes an obstacle and rival to the subject in acquiring the object of desire. Mimesis, thus, inexorably leads to rivalry and rivalry sooner or later to violence. Violence (called mimetic violence) that results from mimesis  poses a fundamental threat to the community. Escalating violence renders humans more and more like each other, leveling distinctions and sweeping people up into ever greater paroxysms of violence. Since human societies maintain their order through a system of differences, erosion of differences threaten the order and peace in society.[30] Mimetic rivalry and violence threaten to overflow into society. This results in “mimetic crisis”.

Thus, the configuration of desire is triangular. Subject’s desire of an object is mediated by the model (or mediator) of the object of desire. When the angle between the plane of the subject and that of the model is large, the distance between two planes will be proportionately large and the relationship between the subject and the model is a good imitation without rivalry. However, when the angle between the two planes is small, the distance between them will be proportionately small. As the distance between the two planes becomes smaller, mimetic rivalry begins to grow proportionately. When the planes of the subject and the model draw very closer, model becomes an obstacle, in the sense of a rival, to the fulfillment of the object of desire. At this point desire shifts its aim from the object to the model-turned-obstacle and acquisitive desire becomes mimetic rivalry, which contests for recognition and status, rather than possession of the object of desire.  It renders the subject to be more like the model. This, in turn, begins to erode the differences between the subject and the model-turned-obstacle and they eventually become the doubles. This stage is called the “mimetic crisis”. At this stage violence erupts, where they want to destroy each other.

Mimetic crisis threatens the social structure, that is, society’s order of differences and values. In this mimetic crisis society’s order is normalized by diverting the violence of the community onto an “unprotected other” (a scapegoat) accusing it as the cause of the violence and social disorder. According to Girard, each society is engaged in some form of sacrifice to control this violence and to establish a social order. Through a controlled act of violence, that is, killing of a scapegoat, flood of overwhelming violence and its effects are controlled. As Girard notes, “If left unappeased, violence will accumulate until it overflows its confines and floods the surrounding area. The role of sacrifice is to stem this rising tide of indiscriminate substitutions and redirect violence into proper channels.”[31] Thus, the purpose of sacrifice is to restore communal harmony and to reinforce social fabric. 

During the course of evolution, Girard believes, repeated primal murders taught early humans that the death of one or more members of the group would bring a mysterious peace and discharge of communal violence. Societies had learned to contain mimetic violence from overflowing into society by channeling the tensions of mimetic rivalry and violence onto a scapegoat. That means, the opposition of “everyone against everyone else” was replaced by the opposition of “all against one”. Scapegoating channels and expels violence so that communal life and existing social order may continue. This pattern is the foundation of “scapegoat mechanism”. Since human socialization itself originates from scapegoat mechanism, it can be said that “human culture (is) an effacement of bloody tracks, and an expulsion of the expulsion itself.”[32] It becomes evident, then, that scapegoating is the basis of society, and mimesis leading to violence is central energy of the social system.

Fearful that unrestrained violence would return, early humans sought ritual ways to re-enact and resolve mimetic crisis in order to channel and contain violence. “Good violence” was invoked to drive out “bad violence.” That is why rituals from around the world call for sacrifice of humans and animals. At a later stage of social development, animal sacrifice is instituted. In principle there is no difference between human and animal sacrifice. The important thing is that the sacrificial victim should resemble members of the community, but not be identical. Girard says that the crucial element is choosing a sacrificial victim. Distinguishing between suitable and unsuitable sacrificial victims is essential for an effective sacrifice. As Girard notes, “Between these (suitable) victims and the community a crucial social link is missing, so that they can be exposed to violence without fear of reprisal. Their death does not automatically entail an act of vengeance.”[33] Usually people, who belong to minority communities or have different marks such as color, disease, religious affiliation and class status, become potential sacrificial victims. Domestic animals that have close association with the community such as cattle and goats are sacrificed.

Therefore, mimetic crisis generates scapegoating mechanism, where it rediscovers an object, not to possess but to destroy. The rivals get united in attributing the cause of the social disorder to a victim. Thus, they transfer their violence on to the victim. Thus, violence and lie become twins in scapegoating mechanism. Killing of the scapegoat victim restores communal unity and social order. In that process not only the guilt of “mob” as the cause of social disorder, but also its violence against the innocent victim is obscured. In other words, the lynching of victim must not be seen for what it is. The violent basis of transformation of social disorder into social order, however, is concealed from those involved. Both the cause of social disorder and the restoration of social order are attributed to the scapegoat, who is seen as having power not only to cause social disorder but also to restore social order. This makes the scapegoat victim “the supremely active and all powerful victim”, because of its power to cause and to cure violence.[34] The victim is apotheosized as a god.[35] Hamerton-Kelly says that “god is the transformed victim…(and) the mob makes the victim a god…the mob’s stupefaction turns to awe.”[36] Thus, scapegoating is the foundation of religion. Girard says that at the origin of any religious society stands the murder of a person selected as a scapegoat. For him, the “Sacred” first appears as violence directed at a sacrificial victim, a scapegoat.[37] As Girard writes, “Now the victim/god is the processor of bad violence into good violence, the violence of disorder into the violence of order. Thus the victim/god is the personification and reification of the mob’s violence through the victim.”[38] In a mimetic crisis, the distinction between the Sacred and violence is lost. The victim is transformed into the Sacred, the mighty one who can cause disorder and bring order in the society. Thus, “the double transference” transforms the victim into the Sacred with its powers of threat and promise, corresponding to mimetic rivalry and surrogate victimage respectively. Both threat and promise represent two forms of violence: bad violence disrupts social order and good violence restores order. Thus, “Violence is the heart and secret soul of the Sacred”.[39]

 

The conception of the Sacred is based on violence turned on scapegoat, then attributed to God. This is sacred violence. The system of sacred violence is based on self-deception that the energy of the system is not our violence but the violence of God. It pretends that God demands victims in order to maintain communal peace and unity. Thus, the order of existing culture is an order of sacred violence centered on the place of sacrifice and sustained by threat (prohibition), promise (ritual) and lie (myth).[40]

In Girard’s view, myths from around the world recount the primordial crisis and its resolution in ways that systematically disguise violent origins of culture. Girard attempts to explain the origin of myth in terms of a historical event in which each community commits a mob murder of a scapegoat in order to establish social order. According to him, mythical language presumes that human violence “is always interpreted as an act of divine vengeance, as God’s punitive intervention.”[41] Human beings get so caught up in these stories that they lose sight of the basic truth that scapegoats are innocent. Even though societies no longer practice sacrifice directly, they still continue to target certain individuals or groups as scapegoats. These societies blame them for all problems, resulting in marginalization and even extermination of these individuals or groups, so that violence will not overflow into and threaten the society. Thus, the lynching mob is at the foundation of social order. According to Girard, every culture arises from the incessantly repeated patterns of mimetic violence and scapegoating.

Religion conceals the violent origins of society. In order to stop violence in community it has to conceal violence against victims. That means, it has to conceal the truth of innocent victimage. Charles Mabee says, “Thus, truth becomes second victim, after the innocent victim.”[42] This victimage of truth is perpetuated by myths and rituals. As Girard argues, “This concealing aspect of religion and the culture that it generates results in its idolatrous nature, that is, its propensity for creating fake gods out of society’s victims.”[43]

However, unlike myths of every other culture, God’s revelation of Jesus Christ, the victim of sacred violence, unmasks the mechanism of sacrificial violence found in myths, cultural systems, social practices, political ideologies and interpersonal relationships. Jesus’ death is not a sacrifice. Viewing Jesus’ death in terms of sacrifice, as presented by the dominant atonement theories, to effect human salvation reflects mythification.[44] Such a view of the death of Jesus Christ reinforces divine sanctioned violence. Wink comments:

The nonviolent God of Jesus comes to be depicted as a God of unequaled violence, since God not only allegedly demands the blood of the victim who is closest and most precious to him, but also holds the whole of humanity accountable for a death that God both anticipated and required.[45]

Thus, viewing Jesus’ death as a sacrifice posits violence as divine sanctioned one, whereas it is human violence that is projected as God’s violence. God’s revelation of Jesus Christ, the victim of sacred violence, reveals the falsehood of sacred violence and God’s rejection of it. It makes clear that sacred violence is not from God, but from human beings. Jesus’ death is not God’s act of scapegoat violence; it is human violence. Jesus was swept up into a process of sacred violence whereby the existing social order could be maintained. Thus, the death of Jesus Christ reveals the sacred violence that humans use to maintain social order.

 

Therefore, Jesus’ death is “significant more for its historical content than as a basis for an ideology of sacrifice.”[46] The cross of Jesus Christ points to the shameful death of an innocent person through an act of human violence. Jesus’ death does not destroy the sacrificial structures, but it discloses and demythifies “the victimage process, which is detrimental to the liberation of victims and the human community intended by God of love and justice.”[47]

Therefore, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the opposite of myth, because it tells the truth about scapegoating mechanism. It offers the new creation/kingdom of God as an alternative.[48] Girard says:

Once the basic mechanism is revealed, the scapegoat mechanism, that expulsion of violence by violence, is rendered useless by the revelation. . . The good news is that scapegoats can no longer save men, the persecutors’ accounts of their persecutions are no longer valid, and truth shines into dark places. God is not violent, the truth of God has nothing to do with violence, and he speaks to us not through distant intermediaries but directly. The Son he sends us is one with him. The Kingdom of God is at hand.[49]

However, the gospel affects but not changes the structures of sacred violence in this world. The structures of the Sacred and the customs of scapegoating will continue. But through the disclosure of sacrificial structures by the gospel of Jesus Christ, God establishes a nonviolent society. The cross of Jesus Christ is salvific because it discloses sacred violence, not because it displays God’s love as regarded by the theory of Moral Influence. The cross saves when human beings recognize scapegoat mechanism operating in the death of Jesus Christ and become aware of the violent legacy of the mimetic process.[50] The members of the nonviolent society of the new creation relate to the system of sacred violence differently. Faith in Christ leads believers away from the system of sacred violence into a community of the new creation characterized by agape love.

B. History of Interpretation of the Death of Jesus Christ in Galatians

In Gal. 3.13 Paul affirms the significance of the death of Jesus Christ in human redemption from the curse of the law. However, he does not describe the specifics of the connection between Christ’s death and human redemption. Therefore, Christian theologians have used one or the other theories of atonement to explain Paul’s words. The church fathers, who employed the Christus Victor theory of atonement, understood Paul’s words in terms of Christ’s victory over the powers, including the law with its curse that kept human beings under bondage. Jesus, by undergoing law’s curse on the cross and raising from the grave, liberated humankind from the curse of the law.[51] The proponents of the theory of Penal Substitution or Satisfaction have interpreted the death of Jesus Christ as Jesus taking upon himself the curse of the law that was threatening all sinful humanity and thus redeeming human beings from the curse. Jesus, through his death, satisfied the righteous judgment of God that was looming on the entire human race.[52] Martin Luther’s comment on Gal. 3.13 in his commentary on Galatians gives an indication of the influence of both the Penal Substitution theory and the Christus Victor theory. He wrote that Christ became a curse for us by taking upon himself all our sins.[53] Otherwise the law had no right over Christ, for the law condemns only sinners and holds them under the curse. For Luther, the curse of the law is the wrath or punishment of God. When Jesus Christ became a curse for us, he came under the wrath of God as sinner on our behalf. Luther comments, “He (Jesus) thus bearing the sin of the whole world in our person, was taken, suffered, was crucified and put to death, and became a curse for us.”[54] He further says, “But because He was a person divine and everlasting, it was impossible that death should hold Him.”[55] Thus, Luther sees in the death of Jesus Christ victory over the powers of sin, death and the curse.

Those who have opposed the Satisfaction or Penal Substitution framework have used the Moral Influence theory to understand Gal. 3.13. Mostly it was the liberal theologians of the nineteenth and early twentieth century who followed this framework. According to these theologians, Jesus’ death redeemed human beings from the curse of the law by providing them with an example of obedience and agape love. This example has inspired human beings to follow an alternate way of life where they are no more under the curse.[56]  

The biblical scholars have also used one or the other theories of atonement as a framework to interpret the death of Jesus Christ in Paul’s letters. Some have found support for the satisfaction or penal substitution mainly in Paul’s contemporary Jewish literature. On the basis of the support in Jewish literature, scholars have argued that Paul got the idea of vicarious satisfaction or penal substitution from Jewish sacrificial practice, ‘cultic juristic’ thinking, or martyr-theology.[57] Rudolf Bultmann understands the death of Jesus Christ in terms of cultic-juridical terms. Jesus’ death is not only a sacrifice that takes away the guilt of sin, but also becomes a means by which one is liberated from the powers of this age, the law, sin and death.[58] That is why Bultmann translates huper hēmōn as “in our stead”.[59] He supposes that Paul was influenced by Hellenistic mystery religions (in which the initiated also participated in the death and resurrection of the deity) and the Gnostic myth. According to the Gnostic myth, there existed a cosmic unity between the redeemer and the believers redeemed by him, a soma, so that what happened to the redeemer also happened to those who belonged to his soma. By using this, Bultmann contends that Paul characterized the redemptive significance of Christ’s death and resurrection not only as a sacrifice offered once and for all on our behalf or as a punishment suffered in our place, but also as a redemptive event that could be interpreted as an event that indeed happened to human beings.[60] 

Lenski understands the imagery in Gal. 3.13 as a substitution of blood sacrifice.[61] He also renders huper hēmōn “in our stead”, which represents substitution. Lenski argues that Jesus Christ assumed our curse. So he explains:

Christ bought us ‘out from under’ the curse of the law by becoming a curse ‘over’ us…In a word, we were under the curse; Christ took the curse upon himself and thus over us (between the suspended curse and us), and thus rescued us out from under the curse.[62]

The curse of human beings, which Jesus took over him, “crushed Christ in death” and thus “his death satisfied the law and…ended the curse.”[63] For Lenski, this curse is the curse of God. N.A. Dahl and G. Vermes believe that the substitution theme of Gal. 3.13 relates to Gen. 22, that is, the binding of Isaac.[64] However, they are relatively tentative. No one argues explicitly that Gal. 3.13 reflects a vicarious, sacrificial death of Isaac. Dahl admits that this typology equates Jesus and the ram, rather than Jesus and Isaac.  

 Herman Ridderbos contends that the basic thought behind Paul’s understanding of Jesus’ death is found in the cultic-juridical aspect. Jesus’ death should be understood in sacrificial terms.[65] It is an atoning sacrifice. In Gal. 3.13 and 4.5 Paul speaks of Jesus’ death as ransom. It is a costly price paid for those under the curse. As Ridderbos notes, “As the one sent of God, he takes the curse upon himself and he dies, burdened with it, in place of men on the cross.”[66] Christ “becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3.13) expresses the thought of substitutionary (atoning) sacrifice.[67] The thought of substitution “constitutes the fixed content of the ransom concept. For this reason the expression “became a curse for us” not only means “in our behalf” but “in our place” as well.”[68] In Paul’s letters, Ridderbos argues, the idea of atoning sacrifice is closely related to a concept of forensic justification, where God as a righteous judge condemns sin in Christ’s death and justifies those who have faith in Christ. Although Paul does not say that Christ has redeemed his own from God, yet God is the one whose holy curse was executed on Christ in their place. Thus justice is satisfied. Even though the substitutionary satisfaction terminology is absent, “the idea of substitutionary satisfaction is materially present here.”[69] Thus, “substitution and justification are closely related so that it can be said that Christ has delivered us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse (i.e. one cursed by God) for us (Gal. 3.13).”[70] Ridderbos further maintains that “no matter how much people have been responsible for Christ’s death” it was God who delivered Jesus Christ to death. It was our sins, he says, that moved God to hand over Jesus in order to make atonement for human sins. Thus, Christ substituted himself for humankind in order to atone for their sins.[71]

James Dunn also supports the understanding of Jesus’ death in terms of cultic sacrifice.[72] However, he confesses that there is no clear rationale in Judaism concerning sacrifice. M. Barth admits, “It seems necessary to admit that we do not know or understand what the Old Testament and ‘Judaism’ really believed and taught about the mystery of expiating sacrifice.”[73] However, Dunn supposes that Paul had an understanding of sacrifice, in terms of which he understood Jesus’ death. He argues that Jesus’ death is both sacrificial and representative in the sense that it is a “sin offering in someway representing the sinner in his sin.”[74] According to Dunn’s understanding of redemption through the death of Jesus Christ, Christ redeemed human beings by uniting his divinity with the fallen humanity and destroying the power of sin and death in that “sinful flesh”. He bases his proposal on a particular understanding of Jewish sacrifice and argues that for Paul the “malignant, poisonous organism of sin” was destroyed in our fallen flesh when Jesus died and rose. He explains, “Jesus’ death was the death of the old humanity, in order that his resurrection might be the beginning of a new humanity, no longer contaminated by sin and no longer subject to death.”[75] Jesus died as a representative of fallen human beings and “to say that Jesus died as sacrifice for the sins of men is for Paul to say the same thing.”[76]

However, Ernst Kasemann contends that Paul’s letters give no support to the idea of substitution with regards to the death of Jesus Christ. He criticizes that the idea of the sacrificial death has often been unduly emphasized. Kasemann says that even though Paul was aware of the concept of substitution, he did not understand Jesus’ death in the sense that Christ offered sacrifice in our stead or carried the punishment for our sin. Kasemann contends, “Paul never definitely called Jesus’ death a sacrifice, particularly since it was in general accounted as God’s action and God can not very well sacrifice to himself.”[77] He downplayed the idea of sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. He says, “The idea of the sacrificial death is, if anything, pushed into the background….”[78] Rather, he argued, Paul’s thought was determined by the effect of Jesus’ death on human beings.

J.C. Beker has used the Christus Victor theory to interpret the significance of Jesus’ death in Gal. 3.13. He claims that Paul, basing on the Jewish apocalyptic idea, understood that Christ has inaugurated a new age by submitting to the curse of the law and then raising. Christ died “to break the power of the law itself, because the law had cursed him, whom God had vindicated.” This resulted in “the end of the dominion of the law and our transfer to a new lordship that saves us from the law’s condemnation and grants us new life in Christ.”[79] Beker says that Paul rarely blames Jesus’ death on human authorities or rulers, because, for the apostle, spiritual powers of evil operate behind them (I Cor. 2.8).[80]

David Seeley uses the theory of Moral Influence as a framework to understand Gal. 3.13. For him, Gal. 3.13 expresses Jesus’ innocence and his obedience. Jesus fully participated in the human condition, but lived obediently. The curse was attributed to Christ because he hung upon a tree, not because he broke the law. The emphasis is on Jesus’ obedience as the most important aspect of his death, and “it is the obedience which enables Jesus’ death to become salvific.”[81]  Seeley argues that Jesus’ death is vicarious in the sense that by imitating his example of obedience unto death, believers in Christ are redeemed from sin and the curse of the law.[82]

The above brief survey demonstrates the influence of the dominant theories of atonement on the interpretation of the meaning and significance of the death of Jesus Christ. However, Ernest Burton brings a fresh understanding of the meaning and significance of the death of Jesus Christ as he interprets it as a revelatory event. Commenting on Gal. 3.13 Burton argues that the curse Paul spoke of is not the curse of God, but the curse of the law. The curse of the law, according to Burton, expresses the verdict of legalism, which falls on those who fail in their legalistic obedience to the statutes of the law.[83] The verdict of legalism reflects not “God’s attitude now or at any time or under any circumstances,” but that “which the legalist must, to his own undoing, recognize as (that) of the law interpreted as he interprets it, and which on the basis of his legalism he must impute to God.”[84] Therefore, curse is not an expression of God’s attitude towards people, but a false human conception of God’s attitude that God deals with human beings on a legalistic basis. Those who are of “works of the law” are under the curse of the law, which falls on all who do not fully satisfy its requirements.[85] Legalism understands Jesus’ death as accursed. Deliverance from the system of legalism through the death of Jesus Christ is not “a judicial act in the sense of release from penalty, but a release from a false conception of God’s attitude, viz., from the belief that God actually deals with men on a legalistic basis.” The death of Christ is “a demonstration of the divine character and attitude toward men.”[86] Burton insists that the deliverance from the system of legalism through the death of Jesus Christ is an epochal event. God through this epochal event “announced the end of that system of legalism which in the time of Moses came in to achieve a temporary purpose,…(and) revealed his own attitude toward men, and so gave evidence that legalism never was the basis of his judgment of men.”[87] Thus, the death of Jesus Christ reveals not only the falsity of the system of legalism, but also the divine character and attitude towards human beings. It reveals that the system that perpetuated a misconstrued perception of God as a God of violence is based on a lie.

The significance of Jesus’ death for human beings is also understood in terms of “participation” and “representation”. Christ’s death is significant for the human beings in the sense that they “participate” in it. As Karl Barth notes, “For then and there, in the person of Christ taking our place, we were present, being crucified and dying with him.”[88] Christ died as our representative. Many scholars have emphasized “participation in Christ” as a key theme in Paul’s soteriology. However, there is diversity of views about the nature of “participation”. Bultmann claims that Paul took the idea of participation from mystery religions and is partly behind Galatians 3.13. He describes, “Participation in the fate of the mystery-divinity through baptism and sacramental communion grants the mystes (initiate) participation in both the dying and the reviving of the divinity; such participation, that is, by leading the mystes into death delivers him from death.” Thus, Christ’s death provides believers with “the means of release from the powers of this age: Law, Sin, and Death” because they are granted “a share in Christ’s death.”[89]  E.P. Sanders remarks that for Paul the notion of participation in Christ or in his death is “the heart of his soteriology and Christology.”[90] For Sanders, “participation” in Christ’s event is a reality for members of the community of Christ. However, he confesses his inability to delineate the nature of this “participation”. Sanders admits:

It seems to me best to understand Paul as saying what he meant and meaning what he said: Christians really are one body and Spirit with Christ…. But what does this mean? How are we to understand it? We seem to lack a category of “reality” – real participation in Christ, real possession of the Spirit – which lies between naïve cosmological speculation and belief in magical transference on the one hand and a revised self-understanding on the other.[91]

 Richard Hays, T.L. Donaldson and N.T. Wright have tried to explain the death of Jesus Christ in Galatians with the imagery of representation. Hays emphasizes that in Gal. 3.13 Paul understood Christ as a representative figure. Jesus, by taking the curse upon himself and then being vindicated by God at the resurrection, has at the same time redeemed from the curse all those who participated “in his same story or identify with it.”[92] Donaldson argues that “Christ himself makes the passage from ‘this age’ to the ‘age to come’” functioning “not as an individual but as a representative figure.” Those who participate with Christ in death and resurrection are delivered from the curse and receive the blessing of justification and the life of the age to come.[93] Building on these ideas, Wright interprets Galatians 3.13 on the basis of “Paul’s corporate Christology”. He delineates:

Because the Messiah represents Israel, he is able to take on himself Israel’s curse and exhaust it…The Messiah has come where Israel is, under the Torah’s curse (see 4.4), in order to be not only Israel’s representative but Israel’s redeeming representative. That which, in the scheme of Deuteronomy, Israel needed if she incurred the curse of the law, is provided in Christ: the pattern of exile and restoration is acted out in his death and resurrection. He is Israel, going down to death under the curse of the law, and going through that curse to the new covenant life beyond.[94]

Wright understands Jesus’ death in terms of not only participation, but also the Penal Substitution theory: Jesus took the curse of Israel. According to him, Jesus took the curse of Israel as her representative and exhausted it. Both Wright and Dunn argue for some type of “Adam-theology” in Jewish tradition that led Paul to interpret the death of Christ in representative or participatory terms. John Ziesler criticizes the idea of “corporate personality” in Jewish tradition:

While the Old Testament and later Judaism easily conceived of representative figures, it is not clear that they ever envisaged corporate figures, whether kings, patriarchs, Adam, or anyone else. It is now very doubtful whether there ever was a Hebrew idea of corporate personality which could explain Paul’s language.[95]

 J.C. Beker tried to explain the significance of the death of Jesus Christ by “transfer” imagery. Beker supposes that the preposition huper denotes the image of “transfer”. By becoming a “curse for us”, Jesus Christ broke the power of the law. Thus, Christ put an end to the dominion of the law, and enabled “our transfer to a new lordship that saves us from the law’s condemnation and grants us new life in Christ.”[96] Beker is influenced by the Christus Victor theory in his explanation of transfer of believer from one lordship to another and thus, of discontinuity between the old age and the new. The influence of the Penal Substitution theory may also be seen in his delineation of Christ’s death “for us” in terms of Jesus “(taking) upon himself the curse of the law and (expiating) its punishment because of our transgression.” For Beker, “this expiation is primarily a sacrificial expiation.”[97] He further says that Christ’s death eradicated not only the curse of the law but also the law itself. However, this does not find support in Galatians, where Paul talks about fulfilling the law or the law of Christ. E.P. Sanders uses the term “transfer” to denote believer’s shift from one community to another. In the case of Paul, according to Sanders, this “transfer” from his Jewish community to the community of Christ was due to his basic conviction, which Sanders summarizes as follows:

God revealed his son to Paul and called him to be apostle to the Gentiles. Christ is not only the Jewish Messiah, he is savior and Lord of the universe. If salvation is by Christ and is intended for Gentile as well as Jew, it is not by the Jewish law.[98]

That means, Paul’s critique of the law religion is Christological and soteriological. It is derivative of his fundamental conviction. According to Sanders, Paul does not see any “problem” with Judaism, except that it is not “Christianity”.[99] However, the problem with this conclusion is that it does not take into consideration the fact that Paul’s way of life in Judaism perceived the message of Christ scandalous in some significant way, which resulted in his active persecution of believers in Christ and his determination to destroy “the church of God”. And also his experience of God’s revelation of God’s son resulted in a striking transformation of his convictions about Jesus Christ and his way of life in Judaism. Since Paul’s persecution of those who proclaimed the message of Jesus Christ, the “cursed of the law”, and his determination to destroy the “church of God” was linked to his zeal for the law, his “transfer” from the Jewish community to the community of Christ would not have occurred without his rejection of Judaism, or the way of life in Judaism represented by “works of law”.

Using the Theory of Mimetic Violence and Scapegoating, it can be shown that Paul’s experience of God’s revelation of God’s son exposed that Judaism was a sacrificial structure of sacred violence, which was expressed in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, persecution of those considered to be apostates, and exclusion of Gentiles. It also revealed that Paul’s way of life in Judaism was not a life for God, as was evident in God raising Jesus Christ, the victim of the “curse of the law”. This conviction effected his “transfer” from Judaism to the community of Christ, the victim of the sacred violence. As Hamerton-Kelly describes, “The transfer from one community to another signals a change in the function of desire, because those who have entered the realm of Christ have “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5.24).”[100] The transfer of a believer in Christ from the system of sacred violence to the community of Jesus Christ, the victim of the sacred violence, means “to refuse the unanimity of conflictual mimesis”[101] and participation in the nonacquisitive and nonconflictual desire of Christ, that is, the agape love. Thus, believer in Jesus Christ breaks free from the system of sacred violence, and becomes a member of the community of the new creation, which is governed by the nonacquisitive and nonconflictual agape love. Thus, the Theory of Mimetic Violence and Scapegoating explains believer’s participation in Christ event better than Bultmann’s “mysticism” or Wright’s “corporate personality”, and believer’s transfer from one social order to another better than that of Beker and Sanders.        

 

 

 

 


[1] Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1992), p. 13.

[2] For eg. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts was involved in the slave trade. Rev. Simon Bessant of Blackburn, UK, described the Church’s involvement in slave trade by saying, “We were at the heart of it.” According to him, the organization owned the Codrington Plantation in Barbados, where slaves had the word “Society” branded on their backs with a red-hot iron.

[3] Segregation of communities based on caste and color is still a reality in the Church. It is said: “Racial prejudice is still a major concern for Christianity, because the Sunday morning worship service is the most segregated hour of the week.” McWilliams, Free in Christ, p. 99. 

[4] David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 257-258.

 

[5] Gustav Aulen, Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of Atonement (New York: Macmillan, 1969).

[6] Douglas John Hall, God & Human Suffering: An Exercise in the Theology of the Cross (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1986), p. 99.

[7] Hall, God & Human Suffering, p. 100.

[8] Joanne Carlson Brown and Rebecca Parker, “For God So Loved the World?” in Christianity, Patriarchy, and Abuse: A Feminist Critique, ed. by Joanne Carlson Brown and Carole R. Bohn (New York: Pilgrim, 1989), pp. 5-6.

[9] Mimetic theory is explained below.

[10] Brown and Rebecca Parker, “For God So Loved the World?” p. 7.

[11] Williston Walker, A History of the Christian Church, revised by C. Richardson, W. Pauck, and R. Handy (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), pp. 239-240.

[12] J. Denny Weaver, The Nonviolent Atonement (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2001), p. 2. 

[13] Weaver, The Nonviolent Atonement, p. 10.

[14] Anthony W. Bartlett, Cross Purposes: The Violent Grammar of Christian Atonement (Harrisburg, PN: Trinity Press International, 2001), p. 85.

[15] Peter Abailard,  “Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans (Excerpt from the Second Book),” tr. by Gerald E. Moffatt, in A Scholastic Miscellany: Anselm to Ockham, ed. and tr. by Eugene R. Fairweather (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1956), p. 283.

[16] James H. Cone, God of the Oppressed, Revised Edition (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1997), p. 212.

[17] Cone, God of the Oppressed, p. 212.

[18] Brown and Rebecca Parker, “For God So Loved the World?” p. 26.

[19] Brown and Rebecca Parker, “For God So Loved the World?” pp. 7-8.

[20] Brown and Rebecca Parker, “For God So Loved the World?” p. 8.

[21] Weaver, The Nonviolent Atonement, p. 18.

[22] Brown and Rebecca Parker, “For God So Loved the World?” p. 12.

[23] S. Mark Heim, Saved from Sacrifice: A Theology of the Cross (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2006), p. 23.

[24] Heim, Saved from Sacrifice, p. 27.

[25] Michael Hardin, “Out of the Fog: New Horizons for Atonement Theory,” in Stricken by God? Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ, ed. by Brad Jersak and Michael Hardin (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2007), p. 61.

[26] Rene Girard, The Scapegoat (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1986).

[27] Rene Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel: Self and Other in Literary Structure, tr. by Yvonne Freccero (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1965), p. 223.

[28] Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, p. 223.

[29] Mark I. Wallace, Fragments of the Spirit: Nature, Violence, and the Renewal of Creation (New York: Continuum, 1996), p. 97.

 

[30] James G. Williams, “”Steadfast Love and Not Sacrifice”: A Nonsacrificial Reading of the Hebrew Scriptures,” in Curing Violence, ed. by Mark I Wallace and Theophus H. Smith (Sonoma, CA: Polebridge Press, 1994), p. 73.

[31] Rene Girard, Violence and the Sacred, tr. by Patrick Gregory (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1972), p. 10.

[32] Rene Girard, Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (London: Athlone, 1987), p. 50.

[33] Girard, Violence and the Sacred, p. 20.

[34] Girard, Things Hidden, pp. 52,136.

[35] James G. Williams, “The Innocent Victim: Rene Girard on Violence, Sacrifice, and the Sacred,” in RStR 14/4 (October 1988), p. 321.

[36] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, pp. 16-17, 26.

[37] Robert G. Hamerton-Kelly, “Sacred Violence and Sinful Desire: Paul’s Interpretation of Adam’s Sin,” in The Conversation Continues: Studies in Paul and John in Honor of J. Louis Martyn, ed. by Robert T. Fontana and Beverly R. Gaventa (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1990), p. 38.

[38] Girard, Violence and the Sacred, p. 31.

[39] Girard, Violence and the Sacred, p. 31.

[40] Hamerton-Kelly, The Gospel and the Sacred: Poetics of Violence in Mark (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994), p. 8.

 

[41] Rene Girard, Job, the Victim of His People (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1987), p. 17.

[42] Charles Mabee, “Un/rivaling the Old Testament: Before the Law,” in Curing Violence, ed. by Mark I. Wallace and Theophus H. Smith (Sonoma, CA: Polebridge Press, 1994), p. 102.

[43] Girard, To Double Business Bound: Essays on Literature, Mimesis, and Anthropology (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1978), p. 219.

[44] Ted Grimstrud, “Scapegoating No More: Christian Pacifism,” in Violence Renounced: Rene Girard, Biblical Studies, and Peacemaking, ed. by Willard M. Swartley (Telford, PN: Pandora Press, 2000), p. 51.

[45] Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1992), p. 149.

[46] Grimstrud, “Scapegoating No More,” p. 52.

[47] Williams, “”Steadfast Love and Not Sacrifice,”” p. 72.

[48] Hamerton-Kelly, The Gospel and the Sacred, p. 13.

[49] Rene Girard, The Scapegoat (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1986), p.189.

[50] Hans Boersma, Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross: Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2004), p. 142.

[51] Aulen, Christus Victor, pp. 67-71.

[52] John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, tr. by Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1964), 2.16.2,6.

[53] Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, ed. by John Prince Fallowes (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1979), p. 171.

[54] Luther, Commentary on Galatians, p. 171.

[55] Luther, Commentary on Galatians, p. 171.

[56] Horace Bushnell, The Vicarious Sacrifice, Grounded in Principles of Universal Obligation (New York: Charles Scribner, 1866).

[57] David Brondos, “The Cross and the Curse: Galatians 3.13 and Paul’s Doctrine of Redemption,” in JSNT 81 (2001), p. 5.

[58] Rudolph Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, tr. by Kendrick Grobel (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951), I. 292.

[59] Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, I.46-47, 85-86, 295-297.

[60] Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, I.295.

[61] R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1962), p. 150.

[62] Lenski, The Interpretation of St Paul’s Epistles, pp. 151-152.

[63] Lenski, The Interpretation of St Paul’s Epistles, p. 152.

[64] N.A. Dahl, “The Atonement – An Adequate Reward for the Akedah? Rom. 8.32,” in Neotestamentica et Semitica, ed. by E.E. Ellis and M. Wilcox (Edinburgh: T&T Clrak, 1969); G. Vermes, “Redemption and Genesis xxii.18 – The Binding of Isaac and the Sacrifice of Jesus,” in Scripture and Tradition in Judaism (Leiden: Brill, 1973).

[65] Joachim Jeremias, The Central Message of the New Testament (1965), pp. 31-51.

[66] Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, tr. by John Richard De Witt (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1975), p. 196.

[67] Ridderbos, Paul, p.190.

[68] Ridderbos, Paul, p. 196.

[69] Ridderbos, Paul, p. 196.

[70] Hermon Ridderbos, “The Earliest Confession of the Atonement in Paul,” in Reconciliation and Hope: New Testament Essays on Atonement and Eschatology, ed. by Robert Banks (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Eerdmans, 1974), p. 80.

[71] Ridderbos, “The Earliest Confession of the Atonement in Paul,” p. 78.

[72] James D.G. Dunn, “Paul’s Understanding of the Death of Jesus,” in Reconciliation and Hope, p. 131.

[73] M. Barth, Was Christ’s Death a Sacrifice? (Edinburgh: 1961), p. 13.

[74] Dunn, “Paul’s Understanding of the Death of Jesus,” p. 137.

[75] James D.G. Dunn, “Paul’s Understanding of the Death of Jesus,” in Sacrifice and Redemption: Durham Essays in Theology, ed. by S.W. Sykes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 35-56.

[76] Dunn, “Paul’s Understanding of the Death of Jesus,” p. 137.

[77] Ernst Kasemann, Perspectives on Paul (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), p. 43.

[78] Kasemann, Perspectives on Paul, pp. 42-45.

[79] Johan Christiaan Beker, Paul the Apostle (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980), pp. 184-186, 260.

[80] Beker, Paul the Apostle, p. 262.

[81] David Seeley, The Noble Death: Graeco-Roman Martyrology and Paul’s Concept of Salvation (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1990), p. 107.

[82] Seeley, The Noble Death, pp. 104-105, 143-148.

[83] Ernest De Witt Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1920), pp. 165-171.

[84] Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 165.

[85] Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 168.

[86] Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 168.

[87] Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 171.

[88] Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1945-1958), IV.1, p. 295.

[89] Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, I. 297-298.

[90] E.P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977), p. 453.  

[91] Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism, p. 523.

[92] Richard B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ: An Investigation of the Narrative Substructure of Galatians 3.1-4.11 (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983), pp. 208-209, 252-260.

[93] Torrance L. Donaldson, “The “Curse of the Law” and the Inclusion of the Gentiles: Galatians 3.13-14,” in NTS 32 (1986), pp. 94-112.

[94] N.T. Wright, The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1991), pp. 151-152.

[95] John Ziesler, Pauline Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 62-63.

[96] Beker, Paul the Apostle, pp. 257-261.

[97] Beker, Paul the Apostle, p. 257.

[98] E.P. Sanders, Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), p. 152.

[99] Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism, p. 552.

[100] Robert G. Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence: Paul’s Hermeneutic of the Cross (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1992), p. 69.

[101] Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence, p. 69.

Freedom Through The Death of Jesus Christ in Galatians: A Nonviolence Reading

September 26, 2009

Introduction

A. “Freedom” in Galatians 

Paul’s letter to the Galatians is called the “gospel of freedom.”[1] This is supported by Paul’s frequent use of eleutheros and its verbal form (eleven times Gal. 2.4, 3.28, 4.22, 4.23, 4.26, 4.30, 4.31, 5.1, 5.1, 5.13, 5.13), exaireō (Gal. 1.4) and exagorazō (Gal. 3.13, 4.5) to express freedom achieved through the death of Jesus Christ. He also employs doulos and its verbal form (twelve times Gal. 1.10, 2.4, 3.28, 4.1, 4.3, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9, 4.24, 4.25, 5.1, 5.13), sugkleiō (Gal. 3.22, 23) and paidiskēs (Gal. 4.22, 23, 30, 31) to denote the contrasting state, slavery. Freedom is fundamental to the Greeks. As Rengstorf notes, “Greek finds his personal dignity in the fact that he is free.”[2] Freedom is defined in antithesis to slavery. One is free and not a slave. This does not mean that there is no place to service in the Greek society. Slavery refers to service after the manner of a slave, “who not only has no possibility of evading the tasks laid upon him but who also has no right of personal choice, who must rather do what another will have done and refrain from doing what another will not have done.”[3] It is this relation to and in contrast with slavery that defines freedom in the Greek society.

The importance of freedom through the Christ event, for Paul, is evident by the prescript of Galatians. The prescript is unique in the sense that it does not conclude with the liturgical formula of apostolic benediction. In Gal. 1.4 a statement is appended explaining how freedom from the present evil age has been achieved through Jesus’ death. The importance of freedom through the Christ event is obvious not only by the opening of the letter but also by the conclusion of Galatians. The distinctive ending of this letter makes clear that the death of Christ has achieved freedom from the world or the present evil age into the new creation (Gal. 6.14-15). Thus, Galatians opens with a statement on the significance of the death of Jesus Christ in effecting freedom from the present evil age and concludes with a statement on the significance of the death of Jesus Christ in effecting freedom into the new creation. In the main body of the letter Paul delineates the significance of the death of Jesus Christ in enabling freedom for the believers.

The premise of this study is that the reason for Paul’s emphasis on freedom achieved by the Christ event is that the teachers of the “other gospel” instructed Gentile believers in Galatian churches to become full Jews in order to enjoy freedom. Gentile believers were told to become full Jews through circumcision as it was not only correct theologically, but also beneficial politically because they could experience freedom (freedom given by the Roman empire), which Jews enjoyed in the Roman empire. The freedom granted to Jews by the Roman empire was the freedom to live according to the laws of the Torah. The Roman empire protected the freedom of Jews in the face of local opposition. This Jewish freedom instructed by the teachers of the “other gospel” has stirred Paul to deal with the issue of freedom. That is why freedom is the central issue of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Otherwise, why would Paul associate the law with slavery and bondage? Given that the issue of freedom is central in Galatians, the question then arises as to how or in what way Paul claims that freedom has been achieved by the death of Jesus Christ, and thus counters the message of freedom instructed by the teachers of the “other gospel”? Or what is the nature of the freedom achieved by the Christ event? In what way Paul insists that being “under the law” is enslavement and related to the “present evil age”?

As noted above, freedom enjoyed by Jews in the Roman empire was the freedom to live according to the laws of the Torah. This is explicated by the Maccabean movement and a number of documents preserved by Josephus. The documents of Josephus reveal that the Roman government intervened on behalf of Jews in Asia Minor whenever there was local opposition to the Jewish privileges granted by the Roman empire. These Jewish privileges included the right to organize as a community, to administer their own finances, and to order their life according to their ancestral laws. This had a direct implication on the conduct of the zealous Jews. The zealous Jews understood the Torah in the exclusionistic sense, which resulted in building a wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles, by insisting on Jewish particular customs such as circumcision, dietary laws, Sabbath and festivals. This was evident in the Maccabean movement. The exclusionistic interpretation of the Torah prompted the Maccabees to use violence against those regarded as a threat to the freedom of Jews and the existing social order. Thus, living according to the laws of the Torah provided a context to zealous Jews to distort the Torah and use it as a means of violence. This violence was expressed in the exclusion of Gentiles, and persecution and even extermination of those perceived to be violators of the Torah. In other words, the zealotic interpretation of the Torah provided a context to misuse the Torah for violence against those considered to be a threat to Jewish freedom, and to protect the existing social order.

I contend that the freedom, which the teachers of the “other gospel” instructed Gentile believers in Galatian churches, is the same freedom as understood by the Maccabees. This freedom was living according to the social order founded on the zealotic interpretation of the Torah. Paul, before his experience of God’s revelation of God’s son, belonged to this form of Judaism. Its adherents boasted of their exclusionism: “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners” (Gal. 2.15). They belonged to God’s covenant community. They zealously guarded its ritual boundaries, represented by the Jewish distinctive practices such as circumcision, dietary laws, festivals, and Sabbath. This zeal led to violence against those perceived to be a threat to their freedom and social order. The violence against “the lawless” or “sinners” was shown by exclusion, persecution and extermination. Here Jews were using the Torah to provide “both a reading of social relationships and, by virtue of that, their legitimation.”[4] So for them the social order of the Jewish community based on the exclusionistic understanding of the Torah was legitimized by God. As Francois Houtart says, “Any naturalization of unequal social relationships is a source of violence.”[5] Violence is the enslavement of a pervasive lie. It imposes upon people a falsified vision not only of God, but also of everything else.[6] I argue that the death of Jesus Christ has exposed this pervasive lie.

I maintain that the law was used as a means of violence and this violence was expressed in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, exclusion of the Gentiles and persecution of violators of the existing social order. By exposing the social order founded on zealotic interpretation of the law, the Christ event has enabled believers in Christ to withdraw credibility and allegiance to this social order, and transfer to the community of the new creation based on agape love. This is the sense of Paul’s freedom that has been achieved through the death of Jesus Christ.

B. Freedom and Human Condition

Promotion of freedom and democracy is a leading theme of dominant powers in the present day world. The rhetoric of freedom and democracy is used to perpetuate and protect a particular system of freedom and democracy fostered by these powers. Promotion and protection of the system of freedom and democracy are used to justify wars on other sovereign countries and to perpetuate social segregation. For all the propaganda surrounding the promise of freedom and democracy by dominant powers, the fact remains that individuals, communities and nations continue to experience nonfreedom to a greater or lesser extent. “Freedom” and “democracy” have become mere buzzwords as evident in phrases like “free speech”, “free market” and “free world”, which have little to do with freedom. Thus, freedom and democracy have become empty words that dominant powers use to serve their interests. This system of freedom and democracy is jealously guarded and zealously defended by these powers both locally and globally, in order to continue the status quo of powerlessness and subservience of other communities and nations. Dominant powers depend on the continuation of this system on centralized power, and silenced, apathetic and poverty-stricken masses who pose no danger to the status quo.

Commenting on the emergence of the modern world system, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed says that the modern world system has emerged “through a process of systematic genocidal violence conducted across disparate continents, killing in total thousands of millions of indigenous peoples in Africa, Asia and America.”[7] He further notes that the modern world system “systematically generates genocidal violence against hundreds of millions of people…and systematically finds ways to legitimize this violence as normal, functional, necessary…for us to live, breathe and prosper.”[8] In other words, the dominant culture “mystifies and obscures the systematization and globalization of genocidal violence in the emergence, expansion and consolidation of the modern world system — not only since 1492, but even continuing past 1945 until now.”[9]

However, there is also continuous opposition against the dominant world system and striving for freedom from it. Individuals, communities and nations have undertaken the struggle for freedom from the dominant, exploitative and oppressive system promoted by the dominant powers, be they state powers or religious powers. Some have chosen a way of living that challenged social and political situations of oppression and exploitation. Mahatma Gandhi called on people to take a stance with him of nonviolent active resistance against the oppressive, exploitative and violent domination of the British empire. Martin Luther King Jr. confronted the oppressive and exploitive social order of exclusionism fostered by the dominant system. King demanded freedom for African Americans from the shackles of the evil system. In all these cases freedom has been sought against the prevailing structures or social order that have kept certain nations or groups of people enslaved to dominant powers.

How do dominant powers maintain a social order that is oppressive and exploitative of other communities and nations? To maintain the dominant social order, dominant powers know that people and nations have to be muzzled and rendered powerless. No legal issue arises when dominant powers respond to a challenge to their power, position and prestige, and to their efforts to promote and protect their form of freedom and democracy around the world. Thus, these powers create a culture of fear in the world, and silence any opposition to imposition of their will, authority and system of freedom and democracy. The intellectual rationalization for promotion of this system of freedom and democracy is provided by political pundits and state-controlled media. Propaganda, biased and filtered news, and violent punishment of disobedient individuals or groups or nations are the tools for maintaining the dominant system.

Dominant powers, both locally and globally, not only keep general populace in ignorance of reality with their propaganda and biased information through state-controlled media, but also create a culture of fear through violent punishment of the disobedient. Opponents of the dominant system are portrayed as enemies of freedom and democracy and cause of disorder. Thus, dominant powers not only portray victims as the cause of violence, but also justify their violence against victims. Carina Perelli comments that the culture of fear is “conducive to an extreme individualization and privatization of human beings.”[10] Perelli adds that people try “to isolate themselves from their social environment and emotional attachments in order to attain that state of detachment necessary to ignore the shouts for help and the cries of despair of their neighbors….”[11] Thus, the culture of fear results in the silence of victims, making any opposition powerless and voiceless. The powerlessness and voicelessness of victims of dominant powers may be noticed under the apartheid regime of South Africa. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Report of South Africa, “much of the country’s populace was silent through fear, apathy, (and) indifference….”[12]

The silence of victims of the dominant system is conducive for the narrative of dominant oppressive powers. Teresa Godwin Phelps says, “In that silence, a new…narrative is created by the oppressors. The oppressors symbolically “have the microphone” and construct the dominant story, the master narrative” about the society or nation and its citizens.[13] The narrative of the oppressive powers arises out of the silence of the oppressed. The apartheid regime in South Africa constructed a narrative about the necessity of separation of people based on race, with Europeans as ruling class and the native people as inferior class. Thus, the native people were driven to the margins of society.

Augusto Pinochet, dictator of Chile, constructed a narrative of a critical fight against the forces of communism that threatened to take over the country. He portrayed himself a savior of the western civilization, and so freedom and democracy in Chile. Fight against communism, according to the dictator’s narrative, required draconian measures to ensure safety and security, and freedom and democracy in the nation. Thus, Pinochet justified his dictatorship and cruelty towards opponents of his rule, by depicting the latter as the cause of social disorder, and a threat to freedom and democracy.

Thus, the language of the oppressive dominant power(s) constructs a myth about itself, the victim, and its violence against the victim. This myth “constructs social categories, it gives orders, it persuades us, it justifies, explains, gives reasons, (and) excuses….”[14] The persuasive power of the myth constructed by the oppressive and exploitative powers is expressed by the myth of Jules Harmand, a French advocate of colonialism:

It is necessary, then, to accept as a principle and point of departure the fact that there is a hierarchy of races and civilizations, and that we belong to the superior race and civilization, still recognizing that, while superiority confers rights, it imposes strict obligations in return. The basic legitimation of conquest over native peoples is the conviction of our superiority, not merely our mechanical, economic, and military superiority, but our moral superiority. Our dignity rests on that quality, and it underlies our right to direct the rest of humanity. Material power is nothing but a means to that end.[15]

Therefore, what is at stake is the very meaning of freedom and democracy in the rhetoric of dominant powers. These terms are in crisis. Every kind of violence is being committed in the name of freedom and democracy. They have become hollow words, “a pretty shell, emptied of all content or meaning.”[16] Thus, these terms have become euphemism of dominant powers. Because what has been regarded as freedom by dominant powers is certainly experienced as nonfreedom by other communities, and nations and their citizens.

What is that needed is that the voices of victims–individuals, families, communities and nations–must be heard and acknowledged. These victims must be given space in which they may speak for themselves. The story of victims told by victims must be heard. The poem of Antjie Krog, who reported the painful experiences of victims during the South African Truth Commission, expresses the need to declare the story of victims. Krog writes, “Beloved, do not die. Do not dare die! I, the survivor, wrap you in words so that the future inherits you. I snatch you from the death of forgetfulness. I tell your story, complete your ending – you who once whispered beside me in the dark.”[17]  

C. Goal of the Book

The study, through application of the Theory of Mimetic Violence and Scapegoating, will demonstrate that in Galatians Paul’s message of freedom through the death of Jesus Christ is radically different from the concept of freedom espoused by the teachers of the “other gospel”. It will be argued that the freedom taught by the teachers is nothing but maintaining a social order based on the zealotic interpretation of the Torah, which resulted in the exclusion of Gentiles, and persecution, even extermination, of those perceived to be a threat to their freedom. In other words, the social order based on the zealotic interpretation of the Torah has provided a context to use the law as a means of violence, which was expressed in exclusion, persecution and elimination of those perceived to be a threat to the freedom and social order.

In Galatians, Paul argues that rejection of all forms of violence such as exclusion, persecution and extermination, is intrinsic to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the same violence that maintained a social order of exclusionism that crucified Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus was a victim of the “curse of the law.” God’s revelation of Christ, the victim of the “curse of the law”, vindicated the victim. This revelation also disclosed God’s rejection of victimage in any form. It exposed that living according to the social order that promoted exclusionism is not living for God. Thus, rejection of violence that is intrinsic to the gospel of Jesus Christ is a criterion that exposed the intrinsic violence of Judaism. Reception of the gospel of Jesus Christ has enabled believers in Christ to withdraw credibility and allegiance to the social order based on the exclusionistic interpretation of the Torah, and transfer to the community of the new creation. This is the sense of Paul’s freedom that has been achieved through the death of Jesus Christ. It becomes evident, then, that Paul’s gospel of freedom in Christ is a subversive message.

 

 


[1] Warren McWilliams, Free in Christ: The New Testament Understanding of Freedom (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1984), p. 89.

[2] K.H. Rengstorf, “doulos, sundoulos, doulē, douleuō, douleia, douloō, katadouloō, doulagōgeō, ophthalmodoulia,” in TDNT, ed. by G. Kittel and G. Friedrich (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1964-), II. 261.

[3] Rengstorf, “doulos,” II. 261.

 

[4] Francois Houtart, “The Cult of Violence in the Name of Religion: A Panorama,” in Religion as a Source of Violence, ed. by Wim Beuken and Karl-Josef Kuschel (Maryknoll: SCM Press, 1997), p. 4.

[5] Houtart, “The Cult of Violence in the Name of Religion,” p. 4.

[6] Andrew Marr, “Violence and the Kingdom of God: Introducing the Anthropology of Rene Girard,” in AThR 80/4 (Fall 1998), p. 596.

[7] Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, “The Hidden Holocaust: Our Civilizational Crisis, Part 2: Exporting Democracy,” in www.dissidentvoice.org, (December 10, 2007), p. 1.

[8] Ahmed, “The Hidden Holocaust,” p. 10.

[9] Ahmed, “The Hidden Holocaust,” p. 4.

[10] Carina Perelli, “Memoria de Sangre: Fear, Hope and Disenchantment in Argentina,” in Remapping Memory: The Politics of Timespace, ed. by Jonathan Boyarin (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), pp. 43-44.

 

[11] Perelli, “Memoria de Sangre,” p. 44.

[12] Truth and Reconciliation Report of South Africa (1998), Extract 4, Section 138, quoted by Teresa Godwin Phelps, Shattered Voices: Language, Violence, and the Work of Truth Commissions (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006), p. 50.

[13] Phelps, Shattered Voices, p. 49.

[14] Truth and Reconciliation Report of South Africa (1998), Extract 4, Paragraph 124, quoted by Phelps, Shattered Voices, p. 49.

[15] Quoted by Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage Books, 1993), p. 17.

[16] Arundhati Roy, “Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy: Buy One, Get One Free,” www.countercurrents.org (May18, 2003).

[17] Phelps, Shattered Voices, p. 128.