Monday, June 6, 2016

Galatians 2:11-21

This passage occurs as the RCL New Testament lesson during year C, most recently June 2016.  It sometimes appears as Galatians 2:15-21.

Summary:  I feel like Paul's point is easier than to sing than to preach:  We are saved by grace; we still sin; Christ dwells in us.  The solution to sin is not a better you or me, but Christ dwelling in me and you.

Last lectionary cycle (2013) I played with the phrase "orthopedics" and walking with the Gospel.  I wore two shoes.  The first shoe was for the the law.  In fact, I wore no show on one foot.  I could only see my bear, stinky, calloused and splotchy haired feet:  A reminder I am a mortal sinner who is not God.  The other shoe was a work boot for the mission trip.  Christ forgives us but also makes a home in us, so that, just like him, we might live for God, which of course, means a life of praise and service toward the neighbor.

Key words and concepts:
κατεγνωμενος ("condemned," καταγινωσκω, 2:11)  Some translations stick in a "self-condemned" here because the verb is in the passive.  (It literally reads "He was condemned".)  Not sure if it is fair to read this as self-condemned or not.  What I do know is that the NIV's "he was in the wrong" is about a sugar coated as a summer fair cotton candy stick...

αφοριζω ("set aside," 2:12)  Being set aside is not always a bad thing. Paul says he is "set aside" to be an apostle (Rom 1:1) and Paul even addresses this fact in Gal 1:15!!  For what are we as baptized Christians set-aside?

ορθοποδεω ("walk consistent with", 2:14). (Loan word in English: orthopedics!) Paul here talks about walking correctly toward/with the truth of the gospel! Great image. This is perhaps our goal as pastors, to give people the right shoe!  Somehow walking with Christ includes being crucified with him and living to God (2:20).

Side note:  This word is a only used once in the New Testament.  Sometimes people use the frequency of infrequent words to justify Pauline authorship.  Unfortunately, there are just as many single use words (technically:  hapax legomenon) in Galatians as in Ephesians, a letter whose authorship is often debated; for a nice article on the difficulties of using hapax legomenon as evidence of authorship, see a good wikipedia article.

πιστεως χριστου ("faith of Christ", 2:16):  This is a little phrase in a big theological debate:  How to translate:  Faith of Jesus Christ?  There are two clear options:
A) Objective genitive: The genitive is the object; faith's object is Jesus Christ.  Faith in Jesus Christ.
B) Subjective genitive: The genitive is the subject; Jesus Christ is the subject who has the faith.  Jesus Christ's faith

If you push toward objective translation, you are basically saying we are justified by Christ's faith in God, which may mean our own faith is not necessary for salvation.  I am comfortable leaving this translation ambiguity, because Galatians 2:19-20 argues that our and Christ's hearts became one in faith anyway!

For those curious, though, the NET Bible summarizes the challenge: A decision is difficult here. Though traditionally translated "faith in Jesus Christ," an increasing number of NT scholars are arguing that πιστεως χριστου and similar phrases in Paul (Rom 3:22, 26; Gal 2:16, 20; 3:22; Eph 3:12; Phil 3:9) involve a subjective genitive and mean "Christ's faith" or "Christ's faithfulness" (cf., e.g., G. Howard, "The 'Faith of Christ'," ExpTim 85 [1974]: 212-15; R. B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ [SBLDS]; Morna D. Hooker, "πιστις χριστου," NTS 35 [1989]: 321-42). Noteworthy among the arguments for the subjective genitive view is that when πιστεως takes a personal genitive it is almost never an objective genitive (cf. Matt 9:2, 22, 29; Mark 2:5; 5:34; 10:52; Luke 5:20; 7:50; 8:25, 48; 17:19; 18:42; 22:32; Rom 1:8; 12; 3:3; 4:5, 12, 16; 1 Cor 2:5; 15:14, 17; 2 Cor 10:15; Phil 2:17; Col 1:4; 2:5; 1 Thess 1:8; 3:2, 5, 10; 2 Thess 1:3; Titus 1:1; Phlm 6; 1 Pet 1:9, 21; 2 Pet 1:5). On the other hand, the objective genitive view has its adherents: A. Hultgren, "The Pistis Christou Formulations in Paul," NovT 22 (1980): 248-63; J. D. G. Dunn, "Once More, PISTIS CRISTOU," SBL Seminar Papers, 1991, 730-44. Most commentaries on Romans and Galatians usually side with the objective view.

Some grammar odds and ends:
2:12 Lesson on infinitive phrases: The phrase "Before they came..." is in "articular infinitive with preposition" construct. Which basically means it reads like this: "Before the coming them" and should be translated, "Before they came." First translation help: The subject of any infinitive phrase in Greek is in the accusative. Second translation help. The verb here is in the aorist. Which suggests not as much past time but "point" or "event" time. Before the event of their coming...or even "Before their arrival." 

2:14 Lesson on the subjunctive: Paul uses an "ei" clause; because the verb of the clause is in the indicative and not the subjunctive, you can (and should) translate the "ei" as "since" and not "if."

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