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P A U L ' S V I E W S O N T H E LAW:


A B O U T O R I G I N (GAL. 1:6-2:21; P H I L . 3:2-11) by FABIAN E. U D O H Notre Dame, IN

1. The Problem T h e historical problem of the origin of Paul's particular views on the Law is that of how to relate them with what he says about himself and his ministry, on the one hand, with what is known about early Christianity and about Second Temple Judaism, on the other hand. 1 T h u s stated, the problem requires some methodological clarification. It needs to be distinguished from two other problems: a) the devel opment of Paul's thought about the Law, b) Paul's conversion and his pre-conversion thought. Not m u c h need be said here about the problem of the development of Paul's thought about the Law, except that, although Paul's position certainly shifted, the problem of the development of his thought must not be confused with the question of its historical origin. By develop ment I m e a n chronological progress: "Paul first thought this and later on he thought that. . . . " For this kind of development to be validly established, we would need first to establish an exact chronology of Paul's letters. T h e latter problem has so far proven to be an uphill t a s k l Moreover, any effort to trace a chronological development of Paul's various views on the Law is rendered futile by the fact that, as we shall see shortly, he holds the different views in the same letter. Let us turn to the question of Paul's conversion and its relationship to his views on the Law. In Galatians 1 Paul declares that he did not receive his Gospel from a h u m a n being, nor was he taught it, but I am grateful to Professors Ed Sanders, Gregory Tatum, Mary Gerhart, Gregory L Sterling, Doctor Rebecca Gray, and Francesca Udoh who read the original draft o this paper I heir comments and suggestions saved me from some of my mistakes and excesses 2 See recently G Tatum, "Putting Galatians in its Place The Sequence of Paul's undisputed Letteis," Duke University P h D Dissertation, 1997

Koninkhjke Brill NV, Leiden, 2000

Novum Testamentum XLII, 3



from "a revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:11-12). H e goes on to prove the point by a narrative of how he spent the years following the "revelation": he "did not confer with flesh and blood," he swears; he went to Jerusalem to visit Peter only after three years, and during the fifteen days spent there he met none of the other apostles except J a m e s , Jesus' brother (Gal. 1:15-24). Further, it would appear from Paul's contrasting the Gospel which he preaches with the "different gospel" preached by his opponents in Galatia (Gal. 1:6-11) that his Gospel has always been identical to what he states in Gal. 2:16. It would follow then that the content of the Gospel he preached, including his views on the Law, Paul either received it at the same time as the revelation of Christ, or he concluded later from reflecting on that event. Many Pauline scholars think that this is the genesis of Paul's particular views on the Law. 5 I pay particular attention to this position here, especially since it has again been p r o p o s e d in T e r e n c e L. Donaldson's recent work on Paul. 4 T h e essential question is: W h a t was the content of the "revelation" that Paul received? T h e fundamental difficulty with the view which answers this question by asserting that Paul was converted from one view about the Law to another is that, in the autobiographical account in Galatians, Paul does not attach any explicit content to the revelation of Christ, except that Paul came to accept Jesus as the Christ whom God had raised from the dead. As Christiaan Beker has rightly noted, Paul otherwise gives us no insight into his conversion experience, except insofar as it founds his call to be the apostle to the Gentiles (Gal. 1:16). Therefore, "Paul's conversion experience is not the entrance to his thought." 1 T h e argument involves a petitio principi: Paul at some later point in his Christian life thought that faith in Christ excluded the observance of the Law; therefore he previously persecuted Christians for believing that faith in Christ excluded the Law. Paul's later thought serves to explain his earlier conduct, whereas it is this past conduct which is supposed to explain

5 See, m particular, S Kim, The Origin of Paul's Gospel (WUNT 2 4, 2nd ed , Tubingen Mohr, 1984), also, among others, J Dupont, "The Conversion of Paul, and its Influence on his Understanding of Salvation by Faith,'1 in W Gasque and R Martin (eds ), Apostolic History and the Compel (Grand Rapids Eerdmans, 1970) 181, 185, 189-90, 193, J G Gager, "Some Notes on Paul's Conversion," NTS 27 (1981) 698-700 x Donaldsem, Paul and the Gentiles Remapping the Apostle's Conmctional World (Minneapolis Fortress, 1997), also his "7ealot and Convert I h e Origin of Paul's Chnst-Torah Antithesis," (BQl 989) G55-82 C Beker, Paul tht ipostle (Philadelphia tortress, 1984) 10, see from 3



his later thought. T h e argument, in other words, merely states that Paul was converted to "Paulinism." () This is where I think the problem lies. If we knew the reason why Paul persecuted Christians we could have answered two important historical questions. First: W h a t in Paul led him to persecute Christians? We have an answer to this question from Paul: His zeal for the Law (Phil. 3:5-6; Gal. 1:13-14). T h e second is: W h a t in early Christianity led to Paul's persecution of Christians? T h e answer is: We do not know. 7 Donaldson's answer to this second question deserves special attention. He argues that Paul persecuted Christians because he perceived "that Christ was being presented as a rival boundary marker for the people of Israel, the community of the righteous who were promised salvation in the fu ture. " a Paul saw in the Christian preaching the ChristT o r a h antithesis, Christ and the T o r a h representing "mutually exclusive ways of marking the boundary of the people of God." 9 By locating the answer in Paul's perception, Donaldson links the two questions: Paul's persecution was a "zealous activity" in defense of the Law whose role, he perceived, the Christians were undermining. T h e crucial point in this link is Donaldson's understanding of "zeal" in first-century Judaism. T h e zealous were distinguished by three characteristics: a) "a willingness to use violence against anyJews, Gentiles, or the wicked in generalwho were contravening, opposing, or subverting the Torah"; b) a willingness "to suffer and die for the sake of the T o r a h , even to die at one's own hand"; c) they acted "to preserve the righteousness of the community, by disciplining the wrongdoer and upholding the Torah, and to restore the righteous status of the community, by atoning for its sins." 10

See M S Enslin, The Ethics of Paul (London Abingdon, 1930) 11-12 It is doubtful that Paul had the power to carry out such acts of persecution as Acts 8 1-3 portrays Paul says he "persecuted the Church of God" (1 Cor 15 9, Gal 1 1 3, Phil 3 6), which might suggest that he did not paitiupate in mob actions against individual Christians l h e extent to which he exposed others to the wide range of oral and physical abuses o which he was himself afterwards a victim (2 Cor 11 23-25, 12 10, 1 Coi 4 12), cannot be specified See - Menoud, "Le sens du verb Gal 1,3,23, Acts 9,21,' in Apophoreta hS Ernst Haenchen, B^NW 30 (1964) 178-86, A Hultgrcn, "Paul's Pre-Christian Persecutions of the Church Their Purpose, Locale, and Nature/' JBL 95 (1976) 107-11, Sandeis, Paul the Law, and the Jeuish People (Minneapolis Poi tress, 1983) 190-92 Paul, 78, see 284-92, "Zealot," 668-80 1 Paul, 288 '" "/calot,' 672-74, Paul, 285-86




What Donaldson concedes should, however, be emphasized here, namely, that "by the first century, zeal was a widely held Jewish ideal with a long and celebrated tradition."
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In spite of Josephus' attempt

to ascribe it to a particular group on whom he wishes to place blame for the war of 66 G E , Josephus' work as a whole shows that "zeal" would denote the attitude of most first-century devout Jews.


self-description as "zealot" does not give us particular insight into his pre-conversion thoughts and activities. More problematic is what Donaldson wants to derive from Paul's zeal: Paul's perception of the Christian movement and its kerygma. If one were to grant that the zealous J e w sought, by violent means, to discipline those who contravened, opposed, or subverted the T o r a h , one must still ask" in what ways? Again here, what Donaldson con cedes 1 1 is in fact capital: the diversityand of social/religious conflicts. 1 ' degrees of t o l e r a n c e within Second Temple Judaism prohibits any fixations about the causes A very relevant example will help to illustrate the complexity of the problem T h e high priest Ananus took advantage of the interreg num between the death of the praefectus, Festus (who, according to Acts 25:1-27:1, sent Paul to Rome), and the arrival of the new praefectus, Albinus, in c. 62 GE to have J a m e s the brother of Jesus condemned by the court and stoned. Josephus says that Ananus accused J a m e s
"Zealot," 672 Paul, 285 Donaldson cites A J 18 16 23-24 (Judas the Galilean and the "Fourth Philosophy"), J 7 8 6-791 320-401 (Llca/ar the Zealot), i J 18 2 4 51 (sic) Donaldson, "Zealot," 673 ns 71, 72, 74, Paul, 286 and ns 49, )2, 55 1 Josephus underline s Jewish willingness to ficht and to die rather than tolerate thieats to the Law and the institutions of Israel " 1 here should be nothing astonish ing in oui facing death on behalf of our laws with a com age which no other nation can equal' ( lp 2 32 234) ' Io defeat in any other fc*rm we patiently submit, but when pressure is put upon us to alter our statutes, then we delibrately fight, even against tremendous odds, and hold out under reverses to the last extiemity" [Ap 2 37 272) I he incidents m ] 1 33 2-4 648-55 {A J 17 6 2-4 149-67), J 2 9 2-3 169-74 {A J 18 3 1 55-59), and A J 18 8 2-3, 9 261-72, 305-9 are instructive Scholarly lit erature on the subject is large See especially, Rajak, Josephus The Historian and His Society (Philadelphia Fortress, 1983) esp pp 65-184 S Cohen, Josephus in Galilee and Rome ''Leiden Brill, 1979) esp pp 151-70, M Smith, "Zealots and Sicarn, their Origins and Relation," HTR 64 (1971) 1-19, L Sanders, Judaism Practice and Belief 63 B(E 66 (E (London SCM, 1992; 35-43, also Donaldson, "Zealot," 673 and 66, Paul, 284 and 47 14 "Zealot," 670, Paul, 287 1 For a plausible, but also speculative, attempt to explain the persecution on socio political grounds see Frcdnksen, "Judaism, the Gncumcision of Gentiles, and Apocalyptic Hope Another Look at Galatians 1 and 2," JTS 42 (1991) 548-58
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(and some others) of having transgressed the Law. Josephus, however, explains Ananus' action by the fact that Ananus was "rash in temper and unusually daring. H e followed the school of the Sadducees, who are indeed more heartless than any of the other Jews . . . when they sit in judgement." T h e execution offended those inhabitants of Jerusalem who "were considered the most fair-minded and who were in strict observance of the law." They sent a delegation to bring charges against Ananus before King Agrippa II, the son of the Agrippa who, according to Acts 12:1-23, had earlier executed J a m e s the brother of J o h n and intended to do the same to Peter. Another delegation went to meet Albinus in Alexandria. T h e praefectus threatened Ananus with vengeance. But Ananus lost his j o b before Albinus arrived: Agrippa II deposed him forthwith. 10 Like Paul, Ananus acted out of his zeal for the Law. His zeal was opposed, however, by those who were at least as zealous as he. Besides, and most important for our point, Ananus' accusation that J a m e s "transgressed the law" offers us no insight into the particular offense, real or perceived, which merited J a m e s the execution. In this case, as in Paul's zeal, "the L a w " is no more than a m e t a p h o r for what Donaldson calls "the symbols and institutions defining Jewish social identity." 1 ' Ananus might very well have been zealous, rash, daring and heartless, but we know nothing about what he perceived in J a m e s . And we know nothing either about what Paul perceived in those he persecuted. Donaldson's thesis that he perceived the Ghrist-Torah antithesis derives exclusively from Paul's Christian statements about the Law. 18 Donaldson's thesis is therefore ineluctably circular. 19

" A J 20 9 1 199-203 1 "Zealot," 670 l!i Donaldson admits as mueh himself "We need to face squarely the fact that we ha\e no direct and independent access to Paul's pre-Damascus opinions and perceptions Indeed, the strongest argument in favor of this understanding of Paul's preChnstian perceptions is that it is congruent with and thus accounts for the shape of his Christian perceptions of Christ and 1 orah" [Paul, 288-89) "In each case (my own included), the reasons proposed for Paul's persecuting activity are grounded in the particular understanding of Paul's Christian convictions rather than any independent information pertaining to the perseeution itself" {Paul, 290) 1 ' Awai e that he is "running the risk of arguing in a circle," Donaldson believes, nonetheless, that the circle is held open by both what he says of Paul's zeal and his eonclusion that Paul's Chnst-Torah antithesis goes back to Paul's conversion experience (Paul, 289) I have said enough abe)ut what e an be learnt from Paul's zeal The \icvv that Paul's particular Christ-1 orah antithesis goes back to his conversion experience is what needs to be proven



We would need, I reiterate, to answer the question about what (some) Christians did and believed in that led to their being persecuted if the problem of Paul's motives is to make any historical sense. As it is, partly because of the fragmentary nature of our extant sources, we cannot answer this question. Paul's pre-conversion thoughts and motivations are, therefore, not available to historical investigation. It follows that we cannot establish what it was that changed when he was converted to the messianic community, except that he came to accept the Christian preaching. Consequently, the problem of the origin of Paul's distinctive views on the Law cannot be identified with the question of "the nature of Paul's conversion." It is not essentially the problem of how in Paul's mind one set of conceptions and questions might have led to other conceptions, answers and further questions. The issue is not primarily that of establishing how he or any other first-century Jewish-Christian could have deduced anything about the Law simply from belief that Jesus is the messiah raised from the dead.20 Let me summarize the reasons why the argument from Paul's preconversion thoughts and motivations should be abandoned: 1) It is far from certain that from the beginning the Christian Paul held the various views about the Law that we find in his (later) writings or that he arrived at them simply by his faith in Jesus.21 2) The negative assessments of the role of the Law do not represent all of Paul's views about the relationship between faith in Jesus and Paul's belonging to the Jewish people. 3) There is no evidence that before the admission of Gentiles into

20 This is Albert Schweitzer s question, sec The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle (New York MacMillan, 1956 [ 19311) 221, C Tuckett, '^Deuteronomy 21,23 and Paul's Conversion," in A Vanhoye (ed), L'Aptre Paul (Leuven Leuven University, 1986) 350 In response scholars often start either from the Chnstological problem said to be raised bv the idea of a Crucified Christ (Gal 3 10-14) or from the sotenological consequences of tht revelation of Jesus as the Messiah, Son of God See, for example, -H Menoud, "Revelation and Tradition The Influence of Paul's Conversion on his Theology,' Int 7 (1953) 131-41 (on the Chnstological side), G Bornkamm, ' T h e Revelation of Christ to Paul on the Damascus Road and Paul's Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation A Study in Galatians 1," in R Banks (ed), Reconciliation and Hope (Grand Rapids Eerdmans, 1974) 90-103 (on the sotenological side), J D G Dunn, " Light to Gentiles The Significance of the Damascus Road Chnstophany for Paul," in L Hurt and Wright ^eds ), The Glory of Christ in the New Testament (Oxford Clarendon, 1987) 251-66 (on the Chnstological side) Donaldson's "synchronic" analy sis (Paul, 170-86j also seeks to answer this question 21 For summaries of other explanations of the origin of Paul's views see Raisanen, Paul and the Lau (Tubingen Mohr, 1983) 229-63, Donaldson, "Zealot," 658-68, Paul, 263-72



the Chnstian movement there was ever a dispute among early Christians about the role of the Law. 4) Paul was not the only J e w who believed that Jesus was the Christ and that salvation was attained for Jews (and for Gentiles) through faith m him. This conviction belongs to the heart of what is known of early Christian kerygma.

T h e view that Jews needed to believe

was reason for the "mission" to Jews (Gal. 2:9). T h e implication is that the separation C h r i s t / T o r a h t h a t is, Jewish covenant-identity as the means for salvation belonged fundamentally to early Christian kerygma. Peter, J a m e s , J o h n , Barnabas, and others who opposed Paul directly must have accepted this. As far as we know, other Christians did not make the same kinds of negative deductions as Paul m a d e about the Law from their belief. Donaldson is correct that the answer to Sanders' question "why did Paul draw conclusions which others in his situation, or in similar situations, did not?" 2 ^ requires a "diachronic component." We need, that is, to identify "the stage in Paul's experi ence" in which to root his particular conclusions. 2 4 T h a t stage cannot be Paul's pre-conversion thought and his conversion experience.

2. Proposal Some general considerations, arising from our second objection above, are in order. T h e absolute, negative role that Paul sometimes assigns to all the Law in the history of salvation does not represent all he has to say on the subject. As it has long been recognized, three conflicting positions '' can be discerned from the extant letters. 1) Paul establishes a radical dichotomy between observance of the Law and faith in Jesus: Gal. 2:16; 3; 4; 5:2-5; R o m . 3:20-4:24; 7; 10:3-4; Phil. 3:4-11. According to these passages those who are under the Law are accursed (Gal. 3:10); the Law was added to the promise made to Abraham "because of transgression" (Gal. 3:19; R o m . 3:20; 4.15; 5:20; 7:5-6); through the Law God shut humanity up and enslaved Sanders notes that "the general conception that one is saved by faith was completely common in early Christianity, and that Paul's original contribution lies in the antithetical formulation by faith and not by works of law " See Paul and Palestinian Judaism (London SCM, 1977) 519, Paul and the Law, 29-30 Sandeis Paul and the lau, 153 In Sanders' view this question "will always remain a question, thtre aie only speculative answers" (153-54) 1 Donaldson, Paul, 169-70 Raisantn, The Torah and Christ (Helsinki Finnish Exegetical Society 45, 1986) 3-24, 55-92, Sandeis Paid and the lau, 65-167




us to "the elemental spirits of the universe"; Gentile Christians who observe the Law are again being enslaved to the same "elemental spir its," the idols, to which they were enslaved before their conversion (Gal. 3:23-4:11); those w h o keep the Law, those of the " p r e s e n t Jerusalem," are the children of Hagar, they are born into slavery (Gal. 4:21-31). If the Galatians received circumcision a n d kept the Law, they would be "severed from Christ," and would "have fallen grace" (Gal. 5:2-4). 2) He treats the Law as a matter of indifference: 6:15; 1 Cor. 7:17-19; 9:19-23; 10:23-11:1; R o m . " F o r in Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail" (Gal. 5:6; 3:28; 14:1-15:6). 3) He insists that his converts lead a life that is "perfect," " p u r e , " "guiltless" and "blameless." This means living according to what the Law requires: No food offered to idols, one may not marry his father's wife, or go to a prostitute, or have homosexual relations, and so forth (1 Cor. 5:1-2; 6:9-11; 7:17-25; 9:9, 2 1 ; 12:2; 1 Thess. 4:3-8; Phil. 1:9-11; 2:14-16). T h e "just requirement of the L a w " (Rom. 8:4) can and must be fulfilled, according to the spirit of Lev. 19:18 (Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14). In theory Gentiles could naturally observe what the Law required (Rom. 2:14-15, 26-27). 2 0 T h e Law is spiritual (Rom. 7:14), good (Rom. 7:16) and holy; what it c o m m a n d s is "holy, and just and good" (Rom. 7:12). 27 Paul does not overthrow the Law, he upholds it (Rom. 3:31). From the point of view of logical sequence, it is easier to see how Paul, in some circumstances, could have radicalized the position that the Law was 2 8 (did not matter), than it is to imagine him softening his m o r e r a d i c a l views. T h e s e q u e n c e is likely to b e : (Righteousness comes through faith in Christ, for Jews and for Gentiles) - In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nqr uncircumcision is of any avail, nor indeed foods, sabbaths, and feasts (Gal. 5:6; 6:15; 1 Cor. 7:17-19; 10:23-11:1; R o m . 14:1-15:6) - Christ is the end of the Law (Rom. 10:3-4) - Faith in Christ excludes observance of the Law (Phil. 3:3-11; Gal. 3:16-29; R o m . 3:20-30) -> Everyone who is circumcised is bound to keep the whole Law, is severed from Christ, has fallen from

Sanders, Paul and the Lau, 123-35 '7 Paul nowhere indicates, apart from his de facto rulings, the basis on which parts

o the Law could be considered abrogated and others still valid See Sanders, Paul and the Lau, 93-1 35, Raisanen, Paul and the Law, 62-127, Toiah, 14-24 M Raisanen Paul and the Lau, 254



away from grace (Gal. 5:3-4), and has abandoned freedom and returned to the slavery of idolatry (Gal. 4:8-11). 29 This sequence enables us to see that Paul's m o r e usual position would be the " m o d e r a t e " view: in Christ observance of certain prescrip tions of the Law (circumcision, food laws, sabbath etc.) is a m a t t e r of indifference. If his original position were that all observance resulted be in the dire consequences that he sometimes portrays, he would

capitulating on the question of principle if he then went on to say that it did not really matter. Let m e repeat that the sequence is otherwise only logical, that is, somewhat illusory since it is not a chronological sequence. In actual fact b o t h views lie side by side in the same letters. It is the negative a n d distinctively Pauline statements about the con nection between the Law, faith in Jesus, flesh, sin, a n d death that need to be accounted for/ 0 These statements are nowhere to be found in those of his letters that are generally recognized to be early, namely, 1 Thessalomans and 1 Corinthians/ 1 T h e y are concentrated in Galatians, in Philippians 3, a n d in R o m a n s . R o m a n s is generally accepted to be

' L Sanders proposes the following sequence "God revealed his son to Paul and called him to be apostle to the Gentiles Christ is not only the Jewish messiah, he is sa\ior and Lord of the universe If salvation is by Christ and is intended for Gentile as well as Jew, it is not by the Jewish law in any case, no matter how well it is dont, and without regard to one's interior attitude Salvation is by faith in Christ, and the law does not rest on faith" (Paul and the Law, 152, author's emphases) I agree with this sequence I note, however, that it only, and rightly, underlines Paul's point of departure as the belief that righteousness comes by faith in Christ, for Jews and for Gentiles, and not by the Law My sequence seeks to account for the way Paul's mod erate views might relate to his radical positions (see also Sanders, Paul and the Law, 149-54) i(1 See Raisanen, Paul and the Law, 229, Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism, 519, Paul and the Lau, 153-54 11 In 1 Corinthians Paul speaks df the "law" () in 9 8-9, 20-21, 14 21, 34, 15 56 Of these passages, 1 Cor 15 56 is of particular interest since it seems to echo Paul's treatment of the Jewish Law in Galatians and Romans "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law " W Hollander and J Holleman have per suasively, in my view, argued that the term "law" in this passage must not be under stood as referring specifically to the Jewish Law, but as a reference to law in general Moreover, "both the connection between death and sin and the connection between sin and law are to be understood against the background of Hellenistic popular phi losophy' (H W Hollander and J Holleman, "The Relationship of Death, Sin, and Law m 1 Cor 15 56," NovT 35 [1993] 270-291, and the literature cited there, see esp 273) Hollander has also argued that in 1 Cor 14 34, 9 8 Paul refers to "law" in general with the Jewish Law in 1 Cor 9 9 as a specific example In 1 Cor 9 20-21 the "law' is Jewish Law, which distinguishes Jews from Gentiles The passages in 1 Cor 9 9, 14 21 show that for Paul the Jewish Scriptures remained "a holy book and a witness to Jesus Christ" (H W Hollander, "The Meaning of the Term "Law" [] m 1 Corinthians," Nov 40 [1998] 117-135)




later than Galatians, and Paul's views there can be shown to be a reworking of what he proposed in Galatians. We need therefore to focus our investigation on what Paul says in Galatians and in Philippians and address historical questions to those parts where he posits the Law and faith in Christ as antithetical.^ A. Phil. 3:2-11: The Antithesis

We would have learnt something about the shifts in Paul's thought if we could date Philippians and determine its relationship to Galatians. The identity of Paul's opponents in Philippians 3 is also disputed.^ His opening warning in Phil. 3:2: "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh ( )," is a clarion call against his enemies, the Jewish Christians in G a l a t i a , whose influence in Philippi he hoped to anticipate. Paul's actual argument proceeds in three stages: a) The bone of contention is circumcision. This is clear because, as Penna observed, the savage p u n "mutilation ()" in v. 2 ridicules "circumcision ()"^ which Paul goes on to appropriate in v. 3, allegorically identifying it with those who worship in spirit (similarly opposed to in Rom. 2:28-29). With this identification Paul sets up an opposition "in the flesh ( )" vs. "in spirit ()." When he, therefore, goes on to repeat three times in Phil. 3:3, 4ab that he did not put his confidence "in the flesh" he means "in circumcision," which tops the list of his (Jewish) prerogatives in v. 5. In Gal. 6:12-13 Paul opposes circumcision ("flesh") to the cross of Christ (in which Paul puts his confidence). This same pattern is reproduced in Phil. 3:3: rather than put his confidence in circumcision ("in the flesh"), Paul "boasts in Christ Jesus." T h e initial opposition in v. *2 ("flesh" vs. "spirit") is reduced in fact to the antithesis "circumcision" vs. "Christ."

See Sanders, Paul and the Law, 151 I agree with latum ("Sequence," 101, 243-47) that Philippians is to be placed soon alter Galatians and that no actual opponents, other than those in Galatia, are in sight m Philippians 3 u Contra R Penna who concludes that Paul's opponents m Philippians 3 are "Chretiens d'origine paenne'1 ("L'volution de l'attitude de Paul envers les Juifs," m A Vanhoye [ed ], L Apotre Paul, 390-421, esp 403) For a different view see, Sanders, "Paul on the Law, His Opponents, and the Jewish People m Philippians 3 and 2 Corinthians 11," m Richaidson and D Granskou (eds ), An ti Judaism in Early Chris tianity (Wateiloo, Ontano Wilfrid Laurier Univeisity, 1986) 1 75-90, esp pp 80-84 5 Penna, "L'attitude," 401





b) But Paul does not limit the debate to this set of oppositions. H e shifts the paradigm to "the Law" vs "faith in Christ" (w. 5, 6, 9). 5-7 c) Finally, he generalizes the object of his rejection: "whatever was gain to m e " (v. 7), "nay all things" (v. 8ab), and the list in w . rejecting his covenant-status as a Jew.^

indicates that Paul is no longer thinking of circumcision but is effectively This status, now considered "rubbish" and "loss," stands in opposition to the "gain" that is "faith in Christ." T h e overall result is a polarized situation with " w e " on the one side and "Jews" on the other, each group possessing its own "right eousness" (esp. w . 7-9). T h e personal nature of Paul's argument in Philippians 3 5 7 accounts for his use of ("my own") in v. 9 in lieu of ("their own") as in R o m . 10:3 where he argues in the third person. T h e conclusion in either case is the same. What Paul is rejecting is "the righteousness connected with God's covenant with Israel" in favor of "the righteousness connected with the Christ event "m Let me sum up. Phil. 3.2-11 contains three sets of antitheses: "cir cumcision" vs. "Christ"; " L a w " vs. "faith in Christ"; "Jewish covenantstatus" vs "faith in Christ." H o w did these (polarized) antitheses arise? Paul the Christian accepted the view that righteousness, which, as Paul argues in R o m . 9:30-10:4, Israel "pursued" was through faith in Jesus made the Christ. This is a fixed point around which all his discus sions revolve. But there is no necessary link between believing that Jesus is the Christ and the loss of Jewish covenant-status. V ) Besides, Paul elsewhere speaks in positive terms of his Jewish heritage, includ ing circumcision (Rom. 3:1-4; 9:4-5; 15:7-13), and concludes in R o m . 11:29 that God's gifts and the call of Israel are irrevocable. If Jews accepted Christ, Paul expected they could be circumcised and live in other ways as Jews (1 Cor. 7:,18, implied in Gal. 2:7-10).

See also F Watson, Paul, Judaism and the Gentiles (SN I SMS 56, Cambridge Cambridge University, 1986) 78 * Paul's argument becomes personal starting from the and m 4 (Raisanen, Torah, 77) s Raisanen, Torah, 71 (author's emphases) u Sanders and Bammel correctly note that Paul nowhere argues that it is the com ing of the Messiah eo ipso which abrogates the Law See Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism, 479-80, Bammel, " ," SE 3 (TU 88, Berlin, 1964) 122, also Fredriksen, "Judaism," 550-51 M Donaldson's view ("/ealot," 663-64, Paul, 270-72) that a "Chnst-plus-Torah" phase is completely absent from Paul's life needs at least to be tempered The fact that Paul expected Jews who accepted Jesus to remain Jews, his sometimes considering obser\ance ol the Law as an adiaphoron (my category 2), and his insistence that his Gentile





I am proposing that the antitheses are to be seen solely as part of Paul's response to two categories of related problems which, in the first decades o Christianity, resulted from the admission of Gentiles into the Christian movement: 1) the necessity of circumcision a n d observance of the T o r a h as a condition for the admission of Gentiles; 2) the subsequent problem of commensality in mixed Jewish/Gentile communities, and the resulting need for Jewish Christians to gentilize. In order to work out the historical context in which these problems arose, we shall need to turn to our second central passage. B. Gal. 1.11-2.21 Jerusalem and Antioch

I am not assuming that Paul's retrospective account in Gal. 1:11-2:21 of his early life as a Christian is a balanced dispassionate appreciation of the issues at stake/ 1 H e uses his autobiography for the sake of the polemic in Galatia. H e charges that his opponents, wishing to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ (6:12-16), preached "another Gospel," different, that is, from "the Gospel of Christ" that he himself had preached, in Galatia (1:6-10; 3:1; 5:7,10). 1. Gal. 1:11-12, 15-17; 2:16: Revelation and Call, Paul's Gospel In spite of Paul's passion and rhetorical skill, it is possible for us to stay focused on what the issue was in Galatia. As in Phil. 3:2-11, what triggered Paul's rage was the d e m a n d that Gentile Christians be circumcised (Gal 2:3; 5*2-6, 11; 6:11-16), and possibly also that they observe the Sabbath and the festivals enjoined by the Law (4:8-11). We cannot tell from 2:11-21 if they also required the observance of food laws In Galatians, as in Philippians, Paul's arguments quickly led him to deny any positive role in the history of salvation first to the Law (2:16-3:5; 3:15-4:7) and then to Israel's Siniatic covenant-status (4:21-5:1). When Paul calls the attention of the Galatians to "his Gospel," the one that came to him through the revelation of Christ (1:11-12, 15-17), he is referring to his formulation in Gal. 2:16: Everyone (that is, Jews as well as Gentiles) is made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ and not by the works of the Law (that is, Jewish covenant-identity). It is this
converts conduct themsehes as the Law requires (my category 3), all mean that Paul did mfact preach a "Christ-plus-1 orah" Gospel 41 t o r scepticism about the historical value of Paul's autobiographical account, see, J Sanders, "Paul's 'Autobiographical' Statements in Gal 1-2," JBL 85 (1966) 33543, Watson, Paul, 30, 54-56, I^rednksen, "Paul and Augustine Conversion Narratives, Orthodox Traditions and the Retrospective Self," JTS 37 (1986) 3-34




"Gospel of Christ" that his rivals seek to pervert (16), it was "the truth ' of this Gospel that Paul defended in Jerusalem (2 5), and it was according to this Gospel that Peter at Antioch failed to walk in upright ness (2 14) In othei instances, Paul usually formulates the Gospel he preached in terms corresponding more closely to those of early Christian preach ing, not in terms of the antithesis "the Law" vs "faith in Christ " This is the case m those letters where the polemics about Gentile entry into the Christian movement is lacking, in 1 Lhessalomans and 1 Corinthians particularly Paul preached that ) God sent his son, n) he was crucified and died for the sins of humanity, in) he was raised from the dead and exalted as Lord in heaven, i\) he will soon return, and at his return the dead a m o n g those who behe\e in him will be raised and those still living will be changed and they will all be with him forever, \) unbelievers will be destroyed in the wrath to come, vi) for this reason Gentiles must a b a n d o n idolatry and all must be of right conduct, keeping their "spirit and soul and body sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess 5 23) 4 T h e vision of the risen Christ established Paul as an authentic apostolic witness to this Gospel, on the same footing as the other recognized witnesses (1 C o r 15 8-9, 1 Cor 9 1-2) It makes no difference, he concludes "Whether then it was I or they [the other apostles], so we proclaimed and so you have come to believe" (1 Cor 15 11) Did Paul change his Gospel along the way? Watson thinks he did At the early stage of his missionary activity, Paul and his companions in Antioch preached only to Jews T h e y turned to the Gentiles because of the failure of the mission to the Jews, and they did not require circumcision, the observance of the Sabbath and of other Jewish feasts H They abandoned the Law in order to facilitate Gentile entry T h e question of whether or not Paul ever tried to convert Jews must remain open T h e only relevance that this question could have

See also 1 Sanders Paul (Past Masters New York Oxford University 1991)22 Paul 23-38 also A \ Se^al Paul the Convert (New Haven/London Yale University 1990) esp pp 8 120 142-43 and earlier \V Schmithals Paul and James (London SC M 196 16 62 1 See Saneleis Paul and the IMU 179-190 Frednksen (Judaism 562-63) rejects Sand( s \ iev\ that Paul carried out no mission amone; Jews



for the present discussion is that it could further support the fact that Paul did not always formulate his Gospel in terms of the antithesis "Law" vs. "faith in Christ." h There is nothing in Paul's letters, however, to suggest that he began his ministry by first attempting to convert Jews. Paul insists that his mission was to the Gentiles. It was in relation to this mission that conflicts arose and he suffered persecution (esp. Gal. 5:11; 6:12; 4:29; and 1 Thess. 2:16). A substantial Gentile mission must have preceded, by some years, the attack on Paul in Galatia. Watson's theory does not allow adequately for the fact that it might have taken some years for the problems that arose from the admission of Gentiles to reach the point where it provoked the response we have in Galatians. The questions, connected with the dating of Galatians, are: how many vears? And why so long? Both of these questions can only receive partial and speculative answers. In any event, if ever Paul changed his Gospel, it is with respect to the problems of the Gentile mission that the reasons for such a change are to be sought. 40 2. Gal. 2:1-10: Gentiles, Circumcision, and the Law There is no difficulty in accepting Paul's sworn statement that after his conversion he went into Arabia and then returned to Damascus, and he did not go to Jerusalem to meet with Peter and J a m e s until after three years. Thereafter he went into the two adjoining regions of Syria and of Gilicia (Gal. 1:17-21). H e does not seem to see the need to explain how he came to be found fourteen (possibly eleven) or more years later in Syrian Antioch together with Barnabas and other Jewish Christians (2:11-13). We may never know exactly when Paul became part of this community, and whether or not he took part in founding it. Fourteen (or eleven) years after his conversion, before the incident involving Peter's visit to Antioch (Gal. 2:11-21), Paul had gone to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus in order to be assured by the "acknowledged leaders" of the Christian movement that his ministry among the Gentiles was not in vain (Gal. 2:1-2). It follows from all this that in the 11 or 14 years between his first and second visits to Jerusalem, Paul had been involved with preaching the Christian faith and founding communities among the Greek speaking inhabitants

1 Accordine; to Schmithals {Paul and James, 28), Paul was punished by Jews (2 Cor 11 24) for uisjinsjjews to abandon the Law Donaldson rejects Watson's thesis piincipally because o "the complete absence o any evidence o a 'Chnst-plus-Torah' phase after Paul's c o m d o n ' ' ("Zealot," 663-54, see Paul, 269-72, and my 40 above) " See Frednksen, "Judaism," 552-55



of Syria, Asia M i n o r (and, probably, Macedonia, and Greece), possi bly using Antioch as his base.

From Gal. 2:1-10 we also learn that in Antioch and generally in their mission, some (Jewish) Christians

including Barnabas and Paul

admitted Gentiles into their messianic movement without the require ment of circumcision and observance of the Law. Since Paul was part of a larger m o \ e m e n t , the problem is not to know how Paul could have arrived at a Gentile (Law-free) mission as Donaldson assumes, 4 9 but rather what led early Christians (most likely before Paul) to under take such a mission. We may never be sure why they did this. T h e r e are several speculative explanations: 1) This move was a matter of practical expediency intended to facilitate Gentile conversion, in view of the disdain with which the practice of circumcision was held in the Greek speaking world and the health risk which adult circumcision involved. ) 0 li) T h e founders of the Antiochene community allegorized them selves out of the actual practice of the Law.' 1 ili) T h e first Gentile Christians were God-fearers from the Synagogue and the Christians did not want to require from them, for participa tion in the Christian rituals, more than what the Synagogue demanded. Entering the Christian community was not yet considered by the mes sianic sect to be outside the objectives of the Synagogue.' 2 IV) Experience, rather than theology or explicit strategy, showed that Gentiles (once admitted) received the Spirit and were equal witnesses to the "powerful works" and ecstatic experiences in the community with their Jewish brethren. v) M a n y Jews expected Gentiles to be brought into the people of God in the eschatological (messianic) time. However, the numerous biblical and post-biblical passages which speak of the inclusion of

Accoidmg to J Murphy-O'Connor ("Paul m Arabia," CBQ 55 [1993] 732-37) Paul tried to make converts in Arabia (Gal 1 17) My suggestion that Paul might have used Antioch as his base is derived from Paul's presence in this community, not from Acts 13 1-14 28 et passim 1 1 The ss 2 15-16 (if Paul's "us" includes the Churches m Judaea, see 14) shows that Chnstians m Judaea weit also involved in the Gentile mission " Paul, 249-60 Watson, Paul, 34-36 1 Raisanui, Paul and the Law, 251-56, "Paul's Conversion and the Development of his View of the Law," NTS 33 (1987) 413-15, Torah, 71-73, 242-306 I have expanded the suggestions made by C Hill, Hellenists and Hebrews (Minneapolis Portress, 1992) 138-42, following J D G Dunn, "The Incident at Antioch (Gal 2 1118),' J<xNT 18 (1983) 3-57




Gentiles in the last days, do not contain halakhah on the requirements for inclusion. T h e texts are poetic and visionary rather than legal. ^ The passages reveal, in any case, that the expectation was for inclu sion of Gentiles, not their conversion to J u d a i s m (with circumcision as a prerequisite).' As far as we know, all Jewish Christians agreed that Gentiles should be brought into their messianic community. Christians, who believed that they were in the messianic end-time, adopted the traditional Jewish eschatological expectation of Gentile inclusion/" They were the first Jewish group to have to sort out the social and theo logical problems (including the need for rules of inclusion) that arose from the traditional Jewish expectation of Gentile inclusion/*' Of these suggestions, the most improbable, in my view, is N o . ii, which is linked to the hypothesis that there existed a separate Hellen istic, Law-liberal, wing in the early C h u r c h . A combination of all the others is possible. T h e last two seem to me to be the most plausible. Paul's eschatological scheme of "to the Jews first and also to the Greeks" (Rom. 1:16; see 2:9, and the discussion in R o m a n s 9-11), and the lan guage which he adopts in R o m . 15:15-16 support N o . v. And N o . iv agrees with the experience which Paul calls on the Galatians to remem ber (Gal. 3:2-5). This is a point to which Paul often returns as being the seal of the authenticity of his apostleship (1 Cor. 2:4-5; 2 Cor. 12:12; R o m . 15:18-19).^ 12:4-13;
u 4

Paul claims that his second visit to Jerusalem was "in response to a revelation." T h e point is that he went there to receive the endorse ment of his apostolic authority and practice from the leaders in Jerusalem
li See Isa 2 2-4 = Mie 4 1-4. Isa 25 6-8, 56 3-7, Zech 8 20-23, Sib 3 616, 715-23, 772-76, Pss Sol 17 31-41, l o b 13 11, 145-7 Sandeis, Paul and the Law, 1819, Frednksen, "Judaism," 544-46 1 Frednksen, "Judaism,1' 546-4-8 n Frednksen, "Judaism," 552-54, 558-59 1( Sanders, Paul and the Law, 19, Frednksen, 'Judaism," 559-64 R Bultmann Tiieolosie des Neuen Testaments (Tubingen Mohr, 5 Auflage 1965) 1 66-186, M Hengel, "Zwischen Jesus und Paulus, 72 (1975) 151-206, "Die Ursprnge der christlichen Mission," NTS 18 (1971/72) 15-38, "Der vorchristliche Paulus," in M Hengel und U Heckel (eds ), Paulus und das antike Judentum (WUNT 58, Tubingen Mohr, 1991) 265-291 Raisanen refuted HengePs arguments and yet postulated a distinct "Hellenistic I neology" which allegorized itself out of observing the Law (Torah, 242-306) I agiee with Hill that "there is nothing in the account o the persecution of Acts 8 1-4 that would cause us to behe\e that the ehurch of Jerusalem was divided into ideological camps coi responding to the labels 'Hellenists' and 'Hebrews'" (Hellenists, 40, see pp 5-101) 5 Acts emphasizes the same point in the account o the conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10 44-48, 11 15-18) and in the debate on Gentile circumcision (Acts 15 7-18) This is eleaily an instance whue Acts conili ms Paul



(Gal. 2:2). In Jerusalem some Christians d e m a n d e d that Titus, who accompanied Paul, be circumcised (Gal. 2:3-4). This is our first evi dence for dissenting voices. T h e y seem to be localized in Jerusalem.'

Paul's terse insistence that he and his follow workers "did not submit to them [these 'false brethren'] even for a m o m e n t " (Gal. 2:5) shows that, however extensive was the rift in the opinion in Jerusalem about the rules of Gentile inclusion, the d e m a n d for the circumcision of Gentile Christians did not prevail. Peter, J a m e s and J o h n supported the position adopted de facto by Paul, Barnabas and the others involved in the Gentile mission (Gal. 2:6-10). This support, crucial for the Christian Gentile mission, has several implications not always recognized by the scholars w ho have discussed the topic of the origin of Paul's particular views on the Law: i) T h e C h u r c h in J u d a e a , at least those w h o m Paul recognized as its leaders, accepted a Torah-free mission to the Gentiles, insofar as Gentile observance was concerned (Gal. 2:6-9). ii) T h e y affirmed the implications of the c o m m o n Christian preach ing: Salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ. Gentiles, therefore, h a d no other entry requirement, definitely not assuming Jewish covenant-iden tity through circumcision. Paul will evoke this c o m m o n ground when he protests in Gal. 2:16 against Peter's conduct: "yet we know that a person is made righteous () not by works of the Law but through faith in Jesus Christ." iii) This support did not, however, silence all dissent. Some within the Christian movement were again to insist that Jewish identity be adopted by Gentile Christians. It was precisely this insistence which provoked Paul's rage in Galatians and in Phil. 3:2-11. T h e formulation of Paul's Gospel in terms of the antitheses "circumcision" vs. "faith in Christ," "the Law" vs. "faith in Christ" is first of all to be explained by Paul's attempt to refute the bases of this insistence; they belong to this historical context. 0 0 T h e decision and support for Gentile inclusion without the require ment of Gentile observance said nothing of the status of the Law for

1 Paul does not complete the sentence in Gal 2 4, and it is not clear if he eneountered the demand for the eireumeision o Gentiles only during his second visit to Jemsalem It is possible that the demand was made elsewhere (in Antioch and in other Pauline communities) Such a possibility would explain, at least m part, Paul's decision to seek the endoisment o his mission horn the "pillais" in Jeiusalem Paul, however, insists that he went to Jeiusalem "in response to a re\elation " I his suggests that, conila Aets 15 1-2, he wants to locate his pioblems with the "false brethren" in Jerusalem '" See also latum, "Seqiunee," 85-88, 150, 2 55-47




Jewish Christians. T h e y were assumed to remain observant. Paul's account of the meeting in Jerusalem makes it look as if the world was divided into two hermetically sealed parts: Peter, J a m e s and J o h n were to go to the Jews while Paul and Barnabas went to the Gentiles (Gal. 2:7-9). The problems that were b o u n d to arise in mixed Jewish/Gentile communities were left unresolved. 3. Gal. 2:11-21: Jews, Faith in Jesus and the Law This brings us to the issues that arose from Peter's visit to Antioch (Gal. 2:11-21). I am assuming that Peter's visit took place after the Jerusalem meeting. Paul charges that Peter first used to eat with the Gentiles. When emissaries arrived from J a m e s , however, he withdrew for fear of "those of the circumcision." T h e other Jewish members of the community, and even Barnabas, separated themselves as well. Paul challenged Peter, accused him of being a hypocrite, that is, of not being straightforward about the truth of the Gospel. It is impossible to reconstruct what exactly J a m e s objected to in Peter's conduct. Were Peter and the other Jews eating G e n t i l e p r o hibitedfood, or was J a m e s merely concerned that Peter was having too much social contact with Gentiles? ( ) l Esler's thesis that in the first century GE Judaism h a d an inherent " b a n " on Jewish-Gentile tablefellowship is ingenious and extreme. b i T h e evidence he cites does not prove what he contends. T h e sources are preoccupied with Jews eat ing Gentile food. () ' T h e two issues must not be confused. Jewish dietary laws neither precluded commensality nor rendered it de facto impossi ble. The sheer volume of contacts between Jews, especially the aris tocracy, and Gentiles in the G r e c o - R o m a n world makes it impossible to maintain that Jews did not eat with Gentiles. 0 4 T h e sources show that every form of subterfuge must have been found to enable Jews to avoid eating foods they considered prohibited. Gentile hosts would

" So Sandeis, "Jewish Association with Gentiles and Galatians 2 11-14," in R Fortna and Gaventa (eds ), The Conversation Continues (Nashville Abingdon, 1990) 185-87 12 1 Esler, Community and Gospel in Luke Acts (SNTSMS 57, Cambridge Cambridge Univeisity, 1987) 71-86, see also Dunn, "Incident," 12 For discussions of Esler's view, see Sandeis, "Jewish Association," 176-80, Hill, Hellenists, 118-22 n See Ut \AUS 152-54, 180-86 et passim, Dan 1 5-16, Jdt 10 5, 12 1-9, 16-20, Josephus, Vita 3 ^M-14 11 tor a discussion o the e\idence espeeially with respect to participation in pagan cults, see Borgen, "'Yes1, 'No', 'How f a r v I he Participation o Jews and Christians in Pagan Cults," in 1 Engberg-Pedeisen (ed), Paul in his Hellenistic Context (Edinburgh Claik, 1994; ^0-59



have made concessions And the less scrupulous a m o n g the Jews prob ably made concessions as well. Especially if food was directly the issue at Antioch, it would m e a n that the Christians there h a d ceased to pay attention to Jewish sus ceptibilities and had removed such barriers as they judged to impede the full acceptance of Gentiles, as Gentiles, into the messianic com munity

Gentile Christian communities in Antioch and


ceased to pay attention to (some) Jewish dietary laws from the time of their foundation. 0 '' This can be inferred from the Corinthians' response to Paul's Gospel, ("all things are lawful"), and from Paul's attempt to establish some standards there with respect to food connected with idol worship (1 Cor. 8-11:1). Whatever the direct issue in Gal. 2:11-21 was, we see here one of the reactions by Jewish Christians as they adjust to what was accepted m principle. If Gentiles did not need to observe the Law, Jewish Christians had to deal with the problem of commensality in situations where Jews and Gentiles ate together. T h e problem is no longer that of the acceptance of Gentiles into the Christian community but that of Jewish observance of dietary laws. 0 7 We learn from Paul's corre spondence that unity and table-fellowship were of primary importance to him (esp. 1 Cor. 11:17-34, and R o m . 14:1-15:13 discussed below). H e suggests to his Corinthian converts that whether they eat or drink they should "give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of G o d " (1 Cor. 10:31-33). This advice is impracticable. Christians could not be both Jews and Gentiles simultaneously. If Jews and Gentiles were to "break b r e a d " together at the Lord's supper, one of the parties

' Sanders observed that "how much was too much would be judged differently b\ diffeient people and groups, and it would also vary with the circumstances" ("Jewish association," 186) I he problem is to know how much was considered by James and the other Jews to be too much Dunn argued that the Christians had abandoned only Phansaic halakhoth on iitual purity and tithing ("Incident," 25-32) He is wrong on both accounts Diaspora Jews gave no tithes and could not have been expected to be pure and neither was expected of Gentiles For discussions of Dunn's theory see J Houlden, A Response to James D G Dunn," JSNT 18 (1983) 58-67, Hill, Hellenists, 133-37, and especially Sanders, Jewish Law from Jesus to the Mishnah (London SCM, 1990) 258-308, "Jewish Association," 170-85 Dunn's later evaluation of the problem is more cautious (Tie Epistle to the Galatians [BNTC, London Black, 1993] 121) Peter and the other Jewish Christians were "not only welcoming Gentiles to their table, but accepting invitations to Gentile tables without asking too many questions (cf 1 Cor 27), though presumably on the assumption that the Gentile believers would have been mindful of the basic food rules " ,( Conti a Hill, Hellenists, 140-41 Set Hill, Hellenists, 121, 126-42



would have needed to give up something. And if the principle that Gentile Christians were not to be observant was to be upheld, then Jewish Christians would have needed to give up their observance at least of some aspects of dietary laws. T h e y would have had in the long run (to use Paul's phrase in Gal. 2:17) to "be found to be sinners." 08 When Peter pulled back from table-fellowship with the Gentiles, he was consistent with one implication of what he endorsed in Jerusalem: Jews should remain observant (Gal. 1:7-9). But Paul's logic in opposing him was also impeccable: Peter's refusal of table-fellowship meant that, inconsistent with the Jerusalem agreement, Gentiles could not in fact be accepted into the messianic community without being required to observe the Law. ,,q Peter was for this reason building up once again the barriers that had been torn down (Gal. 2:18). But Paul's charge that Peter was "compelling the Gentiles to live like J e w s " (Gal. 2:14) is an exaggeration/ 0 which, however, makes an important point: if Jews decided not to live like Gentiles, the impasse to which the question of table-fellowship brought early Christianity could not have been overcome unless Gentiles accommodated a minimum of Jewish dietary laws. In Antioch Paul rejected this accommodation and this rejection points to the fact that, in a mixed community, Paul would expect Jewish Christians not to observe dietary laws. 71 We do not know what the outcome of the confrontation between Peter and Paul was. It is plausible that Peter relented and returned to eating with the Gentiles and that J a m e s saw the complexity of the situation and sent word to Peter asking him to ignore his earlier concerns. Paul later appealed to the meeting in Jerusalem and, most importantly, faithfully continued to collect the money which he himself carried to the Church in Jerusalem, in spite of his misgivings about his visit to the city (Gal. 2:10; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 9:1-15; Rom. 15:25-33). Paul's continued faithfulness to the Church in J u d a e a argues against the view that this incident marked the break between Paul and

Sanders is coneet that Paul's statement in Gal 2 14 that Peter at Antioch was "living like a Gentile" is an exaggeiation ("Jewish Association," 186-87) Paul's rhetorical question in Gal 2 17 anses out of his later experience and the polemic in Galatia (> See also H D Bctz, Galatians (Philadelphia Fortress, 1979) 112 "Ironically, therefore, by attempting to presene the integrity of the Jewish Christians as Jews, Cephas destroys the integrity o the Gentile Christians as believe is in Christ " See Hill, Hellenists, 141-42 70 See also Sanders, "Jewish Association," 187, Paul and the Law, 177, and Raisanen, Paul and the Law, 259, contra Watson, Paul, 54-55 1 See also Sandeis, Paul and the Law, 177, eontra Raisanen (Paul and the IMW, 258-59)




the C h u r c h in J u d a e a (and Antioch), and the origin of his negative views on the Law.^ O n e thing is certain, however: the problem of commensality in a mixed community did not go away. And it is correct to maintain, as Sanders does, that, when Jewish and Greek ethnic particularities came into conflict, Paul expected the Jews to give up those factors which separated them from Greeks, except in matters of, especially ethics ' and, of course, explicit idolatry. Paul came back in R o m 14:1-15:13 to the question of table-fellow


ship. His audience in R o m e is a mixed Jewish/Gentile community where there were conflicts because Jews and Gentiles were judgement


on each other and would not "welcome," that is, share


meals with one other because of Jewish dietary laws.

H e r e Paul is

conciliatory, circumspect and euphemistic. " I know and a m persuaded in the Lord Jesus," he writes, " t h a t nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean" (Rom. 14:14). " S o m e , " he urges, "believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetable. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for G o d has wel comed t h e m " (Rom. 14:3, see w . 3-13). For a m o m e n t it would appear that Paul is leaving it to the conscience of the individual to make the right judgement, to observe or not to observe dietary laws. 7() But he finishes by telling the "strong" (that is, those who would not keep the dietary laws)' "Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats; it is right not to eat meat or drink

See Dunn, "Incident," 36-41, Galatians, 130-50, Watson, Paul, 174-76 In Hill's view the Apostolie Decree of Acts 15 represents the final resolution of the issue (Hellenists, 142) 5 Sandeis, Paul and the Lau, 178 and 30 ' The topic o the composition of the Christian community in Rome has generated considerable debate and literature For represeiitatrve samples of the sides in the debate, see Donfried (ed), Tie Roman Debate (Peabody, Mass Hendrickson, 1991 [1977]) also Donfried and Richardson, (eds ), Judaism and Christianity in First C en tu j) Rome (Giand Rapids Eerdmans, 1998) I am persuaded by the position, argued again by fit/myer, that the community in Rome had both Jews and Gentiles See J A htzmver Romans (AB 33, New York Doubleday 1993) 25-39 and the literature cited there Seholars are divided on whether or not in 14 1-15 13 Paul is addressing a con crete situation o which he was aware Again, the essays in Tie Roman Debate are representative of this divide Pace R J Karris (Roman Debate, 65-84), there is sufficient evidence m Paul's language in Rom 14 1-4, 15 7-13 to show that, although Paul's response is m geneial teims, the problem related to Jewish dietary laws See Titzmyer, Romans, 686-708 1 See, foi example, Karris, in Donfiied (ed), Roman Debate, 83-84



wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble" (Rom. 14:20-21, my emphasis). Put simply, the Gentile Christians, and probably the "strong" Jewish Christians, in R o m e should observe food laws. 77 Contradiction? Correct. But there seems to be a purpose to his madness. The common factor between Paul's reaction at Antioch and his paraenesis in Rom. 14:1-15:13 is the preservation of unity and commensality. What is astonishing is that in Romans Paul is not trying to resolve the conflict, as he did at Antioch and possibly elsewhere, by urging Jews to give up their ethnic particularity. W h a t has changed? The first difference is circumstantial. In Romans Paul is self-consciously writing to a community he did not found (Rom. 15:14-21).7H In Galatians, other Christian preachers had entered what he considered his territory and had insisted against the general consent, especially of the leaders of the Churchthat Paul's work was in vain. T h e second change regards the source of the conflict. T h e rift in Antioch was provoked by the Jewish members of the community. T h e conflict in Rome was caused by the "strong"Gentile (see R o m . 1:13-15) Christians who would not accommodate their "weak"Jewishbrethren. Therefore, whereas in Antioch Paul was trying to bring the Jews back to the table, in R o m e it was the "strong" who needed to give up their claim and accept their brethren. 7<) Thirdly, Paul's perception of the issues has changed radically. In Romans the problem of table-fellowship is clearly in \iew and the Law, that is, the implications of observance for Gentile inclusion, has receded out of sight. Paul is thus able to maintain that observance and non-observance are matters of indifference so long as they are not a stumbling block to others and to the unity of the community. O n the contrary, his exaggerated statement in Gal. 2:14 shows that Paul interprets the Antioch incident in light of the crisis in Galatia." 0 As it appears in Galatians, Paul's objection to Peter's conduct was not only the defense of unity and table-

So alsb, Tatum, "Sequence," 50-57 W Meeks makes the same ohsei\ation It is, however, difficult to see how, in view of Galatians, Paul could have ur^ed the position in Rom 14 20-21 "out of his experience," as Meeks contends ("Judgment o the Brother Romans 14 1-15 13," in G F H a w t h o i n e and O Bet/ [eds ], Tiadition and Interpretation in the New Testament [Grand Rapids/I ubincren Kerdmans/Mohr, 1987] 292) 1 Paul's position heie parallels 1 Coi 8-9, 10 23-1 1 1 See Karris, m Donfried (ed), Roman Debate, 71-77 0 See Bet/ ^Galatians, 1 12) "In effect, Cephas had done the same as the 'false brotheis' at Jerusalem ^2 4-5^ I he term 'compel1 () must be seen m parallelism with 2 3, the demand to arcumcise Titus, and the demand o the piesent agitators m Galatia to ace ept I orah and circumcision (see 6 13)"





fellowship, but, as I have argued, the refusal of the imposition of observance, as a condition for inclusion, on Gentiles This third reason is crucial for understanding the historical context of Paul's particular views on the Law It also brings us back to Galatians Paul was ready to allow and even urge the observance of the Law, including dietary laws, when right behaviour, unity and table-fellowship were in question In so doing, he does not see himself as "compelling Gentiles to live like Jews " This means that it is not true that the Law is antithetically opposed to faith in Christ, and that anyone who observes it has fallen away from grace and is cut off from Christ But Paul was prepared to say this when his rivals proposed that his Gentile converts be circumcised and obey the Law as a condition of their inclusion It is entirely possible that Paul was always ready to respond in these terms whenever and wherever he thought one was compelling Gentile Christians to live like Jews In actual fact we have direct evidence for only one concrete historical situation in which he did so Galatians Apart from the "false brethren" in Jerusalem, over whom Paul and the acknowledged leaders of the Christian movement prevailed, there is no evidence that the demand for Gentile observance was a problem before the Galatian crisis

3 Summar) and Conclusion O n a general level, as Sanders demonstrated, the "source" of Paul's negative views on the Law is the common Christian faith that, for Jews as well as for Gentiles, salvation could be attained only by entry into the messianic movement through faith in Christ Jesus As far as we know, among those who shared this faith, Paul was alone to assign absolute, negative roles to the Law I have argued that the overall historical context for his extreme views was the debate over the rules for the inclusion of Gentiles and, more precisely, the insistence by some that Gentiles accept Jewish covenant-identity There are in the extant sources three historical moments when this debate and subsequent conflicts could have reached a critical point 1) Paul's second visit to Jerusalem, 2) Peter's visit to Antioch, 3) the crisis in Galatia T h e leaders in Jerusalem endorsed the Law-free mission to Gentiles There is no evidence that prior to Paul's second visit to Jerusalem and afterwards, that is, before the crisis in Galatia, the demand for Gentile observance was a continuing problem Paul's confrontation with Peter in Antioch related only indirectly to the question




of Gentile observance

Moreover, the outcome of that incident is un

certain I have suggested that Paul's continued fidelity to the C h u r c h m Judaea points to the conclusion that, whether or not Peter returned to eating with the Gentiles, the disagreement did not mark the turn ing point in Paul's \ lew of the relationship between the Law and faith in Christ I propose, therefore, that the historical origin of Paul's negative views on the Law was the crisis in Galatia T h e antitheses "circumci sion" vs "faith in Christ," "the Law" vs "faith in Christ" and the After the subsequent negative roles which he assigns to the Law in the history of salvation were initially part of his response to this crisis Galatian crisis and the language that he adopted in responding to it, Paul saw the need to account for two problems a) the equality which his faith established between Jews and Gentiles with respect to salva tion, b) Jewish (Christian) transgression Paul, in short, still needed to find a role for God's election and covenant with Israel This question surfaces briefly in Gal 3 19-4 7 Paul wrestled with it in detail in the letter to the R o m a n s

^ s
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