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Shadows of Divine Things

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This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Wright on Justification in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Part 1)

In chapter 7 of What Saint Paul Really Said Wright is brief in discussing Paul’s epistle to Galatia. However, he is succinct in delineating what he thinks Paul is communicating in this letter. Wright makes several strong points in relation to the context of this particular letter which he believes centers on the idea of how you define the people of God (p.120). These points are:

  • Paul is not addressing the issue of how someone becomes a Christian or attains to a relationship with God. This is due to the fact that contextually this is not even implied; his readers are already Christian (mostly ex-pagans).
  • Paul is addressing, however, the problem or question: should his ex-pagan converts be circumcised or not? A mere prima facie reading of the text in any language demonstrates this fact. Also, does circumcision determine whether someone is a part of the people of God?
  • Wright declares that the content of Galatians is most certainly covenantal. The third chapter of Galatians demonstrates this idea in that the whole chapter is devoted to a lengthy exposition of the family of Abraham (which Wright declares is focused initially on the covenant chapter, Genesis 15 and moving through other covenantal passages including Deuteronomy 7). This could certainly not be construed as how individuals, first Abraham (since that is Paul’s reference point) and the church in Galatia (since that is Paul’s audience), and us today (albeit Paul would not even have us in mind) come to “faith.” The more likely context and subject matter is how one can know they belong to the family of Abraham (the people of God).
  • Based on Paul’s context, he is certainly addressing both Jews and Greeks. Therefore, the issue of religion and race play a factor in the content. Paul’s focus on the Jewish Law (works of the Law) as it relates to circumcision (which is a part of the Jewish Law) and whether Gentiles should practice such is the focus of this letter. Furthermore, this subject relates directly to the gospel which Paul was preaching, and which he argues for in the text, also demonstrating through the other Apostles that what he preached (i.e. his gospel) was approved.

These four points are the essential focus of Wright’s interpretation of Galatians. While I have simplified them a bit for the purpose of this post, Wright will give details as to how each of these play a crucial role in understanding this particular letter from Paul. Moreover, Wright will discuss whether these things relate or have anything to do with a notion of “one coming to a saving knowledge or relationship with God” in this letter. This then will be the focus of my next post.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Steven Harris said...

Thanks for doing this series, I'm looking forward to more posts on the subject.

6:28 AM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Steven,
Your welcome. I do have a few more articles to post so please be patient . . . this has been a seven year sruggle and research process for me (which I intend to post about in my last entry titled "after thoughts" dealing with my struggles in this issue) and I do appreciate the feedback of others, so feel free to comment anytime in the upcoming posts.

10:43 AM, February 27, 2006  

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