The Stylistic and Structural Nature of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

Galatians is more ad hoc than many of Paul’s letters, leaving unstated many assumptions shared between Paul and the Galatians. This requires careful work to reconstruct as much as possible of the situation that Galatians address. Relevance theory highlights the importance of unstated, shared assumptions. One cannot, for example, engage sports reports without encountering material where unstated information is simply presupposed as known to the normal readers or viewers.

Most scholars agree that we can learn something about Paul’s challengers in Galatia from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. That we have only one side of the conversation, however, warns us not to think that we know more than we really do.

Ancient writers did not always follow hierarchical outlines. Nevertheless, one may provide a working outline of Galatians, provided that one recognizes that some lines or passages are transitional and hence are readily placed by different interpreters in different sections. For an argument with grammar as choppy as that which Galatians sometimes displays, the larger structure of Paul’s case in the letter remains well organized.

This content is by Craig Keener, but edited and posted by Defenders Media.

For more of an in-depth look into the book of Galatians, read Galatians: A Commentary 2019.

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