Galatians 1:21-24 : churches of Judea

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rgprice
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Galatians 1:21-24 : churches of Judea

Post by rgprice » Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:23 pm

I've grown increasingly suspicion of this passage.

5 But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; 19 but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother. 20 In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie! 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, 22 and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; 23 they only heard it said, “The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

2:1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain.

I hadn't thought much about this, but the more I read it the more unreasonable it seems. Here are various commentaries: https://biblehub.com/commentaries/galatians/1-22.htm

Firstly we can note that Gal 1:18-24 is unattested in the commentaries on Marcion. So it would seem that these verses weren't in Marcion's Gospel. I find it odd actually that no one commented on them either way, either noting that Jesus had to be of flesh because he had a brother or that Marcion had cut them away. But regardless, we don't get much help from the ancient commentaries.

But to me, v18-24 seems to interrupt Paul's narrative and contradict what he was trying to establish. It seems that he was trying to establish that his Gospel came purely from revelation prior to his meeting with the council in Jerusalem. Interrupting that by saying he met with Peter and James previously seems strange. Then we get to 21-24. What's the purpose of this and what does it mean?

As has been noted here before, versus 18-24 do appear to be attested in Acts. But why would Paul make note that he was unrecognized in Judea? Additionally, why would Paul really have such a reputation that people would be talking about him like this? How would he have known that they heard this being said? Maybe he was exaggerating? It just seems like an odd thing to say and a detour from where he was going. And are we really to believe that there were churches "in Christ", assuming that this means worshiping Jesus the human being, in Judea, who were shocked only that Paul was no longer persecuting them? The statement makes Paul out to be the prime persecutor of the first Christians, who, after Paul's conversion, would seem to have been care free. This hardly seems reasonable.

He starts off establishing the fact that his Gospel had been given to him directly by the Lord. After establishing that, he then goes off on a tangent that undermines his point. In the he seems to affirm that "churches in Christ" were well established in Judea and knew of his persecutions, presumably in Asia Minor, which stood out among what, according to the traditional understanding, would have been a backdrop of widespread persecutions by Jewish authorities.

Am I wrong here, or does the whole of v18-24 not really hold up?

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Jax
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Re: Galatians 1:21-24 : churches of Judea

Post by Jax » Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:40 pm

Well 22-24 could easily go away as far as I'm concerned. Does sound like something that could have been added post Acts. No way to know though.

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Re: Galatians 1:21-24 : churches of Judea

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:44 pm

rgprice wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:23 pm
Am I wrong here, or does the whole of v18-24 not really hold up?
What is your judgment on the state of presumed reader knowledge on the part of the Galatian readership of the epistle? That is, based on the text of Galatians, what do you think the Galatians already knew (or, rather, what do you think Paul is presuming that the Galatians knew) about Paul's dealings with the Jerusalem faction, with Cephas, with James, and with the so called false brethren?

Charles Wilson
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Re: Galatians 1:21-24 : churches of Judea

Post by Charles Wilson » Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:02 pm

rgp --

Forgive the Interruption here but this points back to the feud between Vespasian and Mucianus. Titus is the intermediary between the two and this is "Vision on the Road to Damascus":

Tacitus, Histories, Book 2:

"Vespasian was an energetic soldier; he could march at the head of his army, choose the place for his camp, and bring by night and day his skill, or, if the occasion required, his personal courage to oppose the foe. His food was such as chance offered; his dress and appearance hardly distinguished him from the common soldier; in short, but for his avarice, he was equal to the generals of old. Mucianus, on the contrary, was eminent for his magnificence, for his wealth, and for a greatness that transcended in all respects the condition of a subject; readier of speech than the other, he thoroughly understood the arrangement and direction of civil business. It would have been a rare combination of princely qualities, if, with their respective faults removed, their virtues only could have been united in one man. Mucianus was governor of Syria, Vespasian of Judaea. In the administration of these neighbouring provinces jealousy had produced discord between them, but on Nero's fall they had dropped their animosities and associated their counsels. At first they communicated through friends, till Titus, who was the great bond of union between them, by representing their common interests had terminated their mischievous feud. He was indeed a man formed both by nature and by education to attract even such a character as that of Mucianus..."

This explains the bare statement in Galatians:

"...“The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.”

There is much more in Tacitus to back this statement but it all forms a consistent understanding. Galba is beheaded - His head-bandages (Soudarion, a Latinism) are separate in the Empty Tomb. Otho is routed at the Po River by Roman Troops under the command of Vitellius - Blood and Water come out of the side where "Jesus" was stabbed by Roman soldiers. Otho falls on his dagger.

Vitellius had homosexual relations with Asiaticus, who left Vitellius and was later found selling Posca in a bazaar in Puteoli - which explains the vinegar on the sponge on a hyssop stick.

Mucianus is all over Acts and as he takes Power in Rome he consigns Antonius Primus to the far reaches of the Empire as the snake which bit his hand in Acts is thrown into the fire of the fasces - the Senate, which will respond to Vespasian, the new emperor.

Vespasian marches into Rome and Mucianus gives the Imperial Power to Vespasian.

I agree that there is obfuscation in the Galatian Passages cited. Unpacking the rest takes more insight than I have but the one sentence points to the Roman History of Vespasian ending the Julio-Claudian Line and replacing it with the Flavian Line, with the help of this "Paul" character, who turns out to be a Cipher for Mucianus.

CW

rgprice
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Re: Galatians 1:21-24 : churches of Judea

Post by rgprice » Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:27 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:44 pm
rgprice wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:23 pm
Am I wrong here, or does the whole of v18-24 not really hold up?
What is your judgment on the state of presumed reader knowledge on the part of the Galatian readership of the epistle? That is, based on the text of Galatians, what do you think the Galatians already knew (or, rather, what do you think Paul is presuming that the Galatians knew) about Paul's dealings with the Jerusalem faction, with Cephas, with James, and with the so called false brethren?
That's a good question.

7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

We have the oddity here that we have mixed Peter and Cephas. I'm not sure what the implications of that are. But, v9 seems to imply that they know who Cephas, James and John are.

6 And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

This seems to be saying that "the leaders" are actually different people than "James and Cephas and John". It seems there were leaders, and in addition there were "James and Cephas and John", whom Paul implies spoke up for him and influenced the leaders.

He also seems to be saying this in a way that implies they already know who "James and Cephas and John" are.

What all of that indicates I'm not sure.

rgprice
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Re: Galatians 1:21-24 : churches of Judea

Post by rgprice » Wed Mar 31, 2021 2:17 am

I also want to touch on 1v13:

13 For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.

It seems quite notable here that he says "church of God". He doesn't say that he was persecuting followers of Jesus or whatever. Now, if Paul at this point was a Pharisee and devout Jew, then what would be the basis for persecution of "the church of God"?

Did "the church of God" not practice circumcision? Did "the church of God" worship "the Father" has a separate entity from "the Lord"? Given that what follows is about circumcision, it would seem that the basis for persecution of "the church of God" would have had to do with circumcision.

cora
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Re: Galatians 1:21-24 : churches of Judea

Post by cora » Wed Mar 31, 2021 3:57 pm

Just one remark: why does everybody not stop with this "church". How would anybody there know what a church is???? Paul never said church. Paul wrote "ekklesia", which means a meeting of people, at the most a community. NO BUILDING, NO LEADERS, NO HIERARCHY. The word comes from Athens: the meeting of the people in the time of the democracy. So no there were no churches in Judea, not in Syria, and not in Turkey or Greece. Just communities or meetings.

The church was in Rome. It had a building, and a hierarchical organisation.

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Re: Galatians 1:21-24 : churches of Judea

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Apr 01, 2021 1:29 am

rgprice wrote:
Wed Mar 31, 2021 2:17 am
I also want to touch on 1v13:

13 For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.

It seems quite notable here that he says "church of God". He doesn't say that he was persecuting followers of Jesus or whatever. Now, if Paul at this point was a Pharisee and devout Jew, then what would be the basis for persecution of "the church of God"?
IMHO "the church of God" were people who thought that following Mosaic law was no longer needed or relevant, and that receiving the Spirit of God directly (hence "church of God") was the important thing:

Galatians

3.2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3.3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

4.28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
4.29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

5.18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

5.24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
5.25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

If Paul was preaching the same things as the churches "of God", then it suggests they believed that receiving the Spirit of God directly through faith was more important than following the law. For those who said this meant ignoring circumcision, it led to persecution.
rgprice wrote:
Wed Mar 31, 2021 2:17 am
Did "the church of God" not practice circumcision? Did "the church of God" worship "the Father" has a separate entity from "the Lord"? Given that what follows is about circumcision, it would seem that the basis for persecution of "the church of God" would have had to do with circumcision.
Yes, I think so, too. From Galatians:

5.6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

5.11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

6.12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

6.15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

So when they said that Paul was now saying the same things as them, they meant that Paul was saying that it wasn't circumcision that was needed, but receiving the Spirit of God. But some Christians wanted people to be circumcised so that they wouldn't be persecuted "for the cross of Christ".

That suggests that preaching Christ was crucified itself didn't lead to persecution. It was a stumbling block, but not a capital or corporeal offence. Thus you had Christians like Peter and James who preached a gospel of circumcision living in Jerusalem without apparent problems.

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Re: Galatians 1:21-24 : churches of Judea

Post by rgprice » Thu Apr 01, 2021 3:29 am

cora wrote:
Wed Mar 31, 2021 3:57 pm
Just one remark: why does everybody not stop with this "church". How would anybody there know what a church is???? Paul never said church. Paul wrote "ekklesia", which means a meeting of people, at the most a community. NO BUILDING, NO LEADERS, NO HIERARCHY. The word comes from Athens: the meeting of the people in the time of the democracy. So no there were no churches in Judea, not in Syria, and not in Turkey or Greece. Just communities or meetings.

The church was in Rome. It had a building, and a hierarchical organisation.
That's a reasonable point, but how exactly should the passage be read then?

"how I used to persecute the community of God beyond measure"

I'm not sure that changes things much. How exactly should this sentence be read?

Edit: It would seem "assembly" is more likely the best word.

That gives us:

1:2 "To the assemblies of Galatia:"

1:13 "I used to persecute the assembly of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;"

1:22 "I was still unknown by sight to the assemblies of Judea which are in Christ;"

1:2 seems odd if assembly is not intended to mean a specific type of assembly which would be an assembly that holds certain beliefs. Who were these assemblies? Clearly Paul is writing to God-fearers who are interested in converting to Judaism.

But, 1:22 perhaps sheds some light on the issue. "the assemblies of Judea which are in Christ"

This implies that there are assemblies of Judea that are not in Christ. This would make sense. If by assembly Paul meant essentially congregations of God-fearers, i.e. cults of Theos Hypsistos, then there would have been some cults of Theos Hypsistos that were "in Christ" and some that weren't.

Another question is, was there some other Greek term that was later used for "church"?

Edit: Note this looks interesting, but I'm not paying $35 for it: https://brill.com/view/book/97890043449 ... 90_004.xml

Useful: https://www.westarinstitute.org/wp-cont ... PartII.pdf

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Jax
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Re: Galatians 1:21-24 : churches of Judea

Post by Jax » Thu Apr 01, 2021 6:58 am

rgprice wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 3:29 am
cora wrote:
Wed Mar 31, 2021 3:57 pm
Just one remark: why does everybody not stop with this "church". How would anybody there know what a church is???? Paul never said church. Paul wrote "ekklesia", which means a meeting of people, at the most a community. NO BUILDING, NO LEADERS, NO HIERARCHY. The word comes from Athens: the meeting of the people in the time of the democracy. So no there were no churches in Judea, not in Syria, and not in Turkey or Greece. Just communities or meetings.

The church was in Rome. It had a building, and a hierarchical organisation.
That's a reasonable point, but how exactly should the passage be read then?

"how I used to persecute the community of God beyond measure"

I'm not sure that changes things much. How exactly should this sentence be read?

Edit: It would seem "assembly" is more likely the best word.

That gives us:

1:2 "To the assemblies of Galatia:"

1:13 "I used to persecute the assembly of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;"

1:22 "I was still unknown by sight to the assemblies of Judea which are in Christ;"

1:2 seems odd if assembly is not intended to mean a specific type of assembly which would be an assembly that holds certain beliefs. Who were these assemblies? Clearly Paul is writing to God-fearers who are interested in converting to Judaism.

But, 1:22 perhaps sheds some light on the issue. "the assemblies of Judea which are in Christ"

This implies that there are assemblies of Judea that are not in Christ. This would make sense. If by assembly Paul meant essentially congregations of God-fearers, i.e. cults of Theos Hypsistos, then there would have been some cults of Theos Hypsistos that were "in Christ" and some that weren't.

Another question is, was there some other Greek term that was later used for "church"?

Edit: Note this looks interesting, but I'm not paying $35 for it: https://brill.com/view/book/97890043449 ... 90_004.xml

Useful: https://www.westarinstitute.org/wp-cont ... PartII.pdf
I feel that cora makes a valid point by pointing out that the word Church is a misleading term for ekklesia and that assembly is a better representation of the term. Church implies a place of worship with an edifice and associated paraphernalia while assembling is just people congregating in a gathering. As it was most likely that the early Christians were meeting in private homes etc the translation assembly seems less loaded with modern Christian imagery and gives a more nuanced view of the early Christian cults.

In a similar vein, modern bibles usually have Paul writing brothers and sisters when the Greek has only aldophos.

So I must side with cora in this if we want a more accurate picture of early Christianity. Assemblys of Theos is in my opinion better than Churches of God. And just brothers is more representative than brothers and sisters.

Don't even get me started on kurios = lord. 😃

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