That is to say, it can be seen as a case of ritual failure due to the cancelling out of one ritual by another. Viewing Gal. The result in this instance is that Paul, unlike in Phil. As in Phil. This may have been all the more necessary, because Gal. One gains the impression that Paul, having once preached circumcision and is now regarded by some as continuing to do so a possible implication of Gal. He is therefore forced to substantiate further his new point of view. Apparently, he had not done so, or at least not fully, while in Galatia. When confronted with people propagating and practising male circumcision for Gentile converts and not just for Jewish adherents , Paul frames it as a rather unsalutary practice with dire consequences for the community members engaging in it.
Paul provides this interpretation in Gal. It may well have been new to the Galatians, or at least new in this form, and delivered with such vehemence. When contextualizing all of this historically, and taking into account various contemporaneous views regarding the salvation of Gentiles and their adoption or non-adoption of Jewish ethnicity a prominent sign of which would be physical circumcision as part of this process, 34 Paul does make a rather striking move in Gal.
Instead of opting for the relatively conventional model of salvation for the Gentiles that does not involve circumcision — because, for Gentiles , inclusion into the Jewish ethnos was not a requirement for salvation — he goes substantially further:. On the basis of the expectations concerning gentile eschatological salvation, we might expect Paul to say to gentiles: do not circumcise, because you are gentiles, not Jews. In effect what Paul says is, do not circumcise, because circumcision is meaningless.
His position thus appears to turn into something of a critique on circumcision as such. Since circumcision no longer distinguishes those who belong to God from those who do not, the corollary seems to be that it no longer has value or meaning Neutel : He moves from a position in which circumcision was essential for all men desiring a proper covenantal relationship with YHWH his Pharisaic past , to thinking that it was still a good thing possibly also for Gentile converts , a position held after his calling and during his initial years as a missionary assuming that Gal.
In Philippians, the issue of circumcision is at stake most emphatically in ch. In his subsequent autobiographical statement, his emphatic reference to the same three topics underlines the close relationship between his group and his own identity and their shared opposition to those mentioned in v.
In Phil. It is regarded as so central to the compared and contrasted identities that both can be described primarily with reference to this ritual i. Clearly, something is thought to be wrong with some performances of this ritual but not with others. Paul can be seen to engage with the evaluation of two different performances of a ritual which, as such, stand for a whole way of life and, accordingly, he engages — both positively and negatively — with different group identities.
She Must And Shall Go Free: Paul's Isaianic Gospel In Galatians
One effect of the language used by Paul in these verses is that it characterizes those who advocate adherence to more of the ritual precepts of the Torah than Paul as being outside the covenant. In all likelihood, Paul suggests in v. The reason for its ineffectuality is, as Paul indicates, the misunderstanding about the correct interpretation and performance of circumcision, that is, the belief that it leads to righteousness. This ritual leads to righteousness through faith in Christ. However, because Paul has revised how righteousness can be acquired — that is, through faith in Christ rather than through the law — the meaning of the ritual practice of circumcision and its concrete ritual shape need to be reconsidered.
In the light of this renegotiation, other forms of circumcision appear inappropriate and ineffective. This, once again, relates to its non-performance as far as its former shape is concerned, but to new content with regard to its function as the identity marker of the new group.
In other words, the ritual practice remains, but in a heavily revised form, and this is prompted by a change in the overall interpretation and evaluation of the ritual performance of the law in its entirety. He was even a Pharisee in terms of his adherence to the law, and, as to righteousness, he was blameless. His zeal for the law was also evidenced by his persecution of the church.
Continued ritual praxis of circumcision and adherence to the law among the early Christian communities brought about a renewed understanding of both rituals. Different from his argument in Galatians, Paul overtly reclaims circumcision for his own purposes in Philippians, and he will continue to do so in Romans.
Romans 2. In this particular context, the focus is upon the ritual of circumcision as an identity marker and on the correct interpretation and performance of what can be termed real circumcision.
First, in v. That is to say: when conceptualizing the transgression of the law as the performance of a ritual — which is certainly possible given that adherence to the law can be viewed as a ritual practice expressing identity — not keeping the law defeats the ritual of circumcision.
Paul points out in v.
In Search of Real Circumcision: Ritual Failure and Circumcision in Paul
In doing so, Paul, as it were, replaces one ritual with another; in line with other Jewish traditions, 67 circumcision of the male foreskin is replaced with that of the heart. He denies that a certain kind of behaviour — not circumcising — would qualify as ritual failure. Paul also argues in Romans against real or imaginary competitors. This dynamic has already been discussed in detail with reference to Philippians and Galatians; however, since its structure remains the same in Romans, it only needs to be mentioned here in passing. A major concern for Paul in Romans is that Israel consists of both Jews and Gentiles, which is played out through the reinterpretation and renegotiation of a ritual see above, a.
What is clear in Rom. Paul has come to a new understanding of the role of the law as a result of the Christ event. He also re-evaluates and renegotiates the meaning of circumcision; physical circumcision is, as a result, replaced with a circumcision of the heart. This, to be sure, is the major difference between his own position and that of those whom he addresses in Rom. Paul and his interlocutors would agree on the principle that circumcision is required, just as it is necessary to keep the law in an appropriate way.
This is a very valid question, but the answer must be a negative one. However, the language of ritual continues to be used, at least in Phil. Secondly, rather than engaging in the project of abolishing circumcision, Paul is occupied with its reinterpretation, and for this he draws as much on his interpretation of the Christ event as he does on resources — prior to that event — from Judaism. Philippians 3.
She Must and Shall Go Free
What Paul has in view are competing ritual practices, not ritual and non-ritual ways of expressing identity. Paul replaces it with another kind of circumcision notably, not with baptism as a way of expressing and performing membership of the people of God. Paul has a very clear view of the ritual practice of his competitors insofar as it concerns physical circumcision: at best it is ineffective, at worst it is demeaning and contrary to the gospel. His leadership, or apostleship to be precise, is also validated. This dynamic is particularly apparent in Philippians and Galatians, but it can also be found in Romans, where Paul is busy establishing his own credentials and leadership.
Finally, ritual failure, ritual negotiation and innovation play a role of considerable importance in the texts in question. In fact, a process of multiple stages of ritual failure, ritual negotiation and innovation can be discerned, or at least hypothesized, with regard to Paul and circumcision. However, this expression of identity became subordinate to the performance of identity in Christ in the same way as circumcision could be subordinated to many other elements in Jewish tradition. This seems unlikely, even if early Christian communities are conceptualized as being male dominated.
The reason for this is that, in general, it is not circumcision as such which is at stake, but, as de Boer has argued for Gal. See further de Boer : On what the adoption of circumcision and the implied observance of the Torah would have meant with regard to both women and men, see, e. For a more detailed consideration of women and circumcision, see Lieu : See, e.
On the limited value of circumcision for eschatological salvation, see also Thorsteinsson : With Kahl : 79 , one must underline the frequently overlooked importance of the body and of the inscription of identity in the body even if it does not necessarily follow, as Kahl seems to argue [ 81], that a theologically focused reading of a text like Galatians is a misreading of it. As rightly emphasized by Elliott : , circumcision is the real issue in Galatians, in her case. I have other book ideas that I occasionally make notes on but typically am not working on.
We look forward to seeing your monograph in print. But what has not been fully appreciated is the key role that Isaiah plays in shaping what Paul says and how he says it, even though he cites Isaiah explicitly only once Isaiah in Galatians Using an intertextual approach to trace more subtle appropriations of Scripture i. Each example of Isaianic influence is situated within its original context as well as its new context in Galatians.
Attention is also paid to how those same Isaianic texts were interpreted in Second Temple Judaism, providing the larger interpretive context within which Paul read Scripture. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Skip to content 4 Aug Nijay Gupta. Share this: Twitter Facebook. Like this: Like Loading Next post Interview with M.
Very informative. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:. Email required Address never made public. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum theologicarum Lovaniensium , Leuven : University Press, Krister Stendahl , The School of St.
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