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Comparison of Paul and Others (Sygkrisis) 2:1121

This comparative section of the encomium has two parts: a comparison of Paul and Cephas at Antioch (2:1114) and a comparison of Paul and Judean Jesus-group leaders (2:1521). Part 1: Comparison of Paul and Cephas at Antioch 2:1114 Textual Notes: Gal 2:1114 Aer the exposition of the accomplishments of a person, the encomia indicate that it is appropriate to include a sygkrisis or comparison. We might examine Gal 2:1114 in this light. Hermogenes oers us a succinct denition of a comparison: Now sometimes we draw out comparisons by equality, showing the things which we compare as equal either in all respects or in several; sometimes we put the one ahead, praising also the other to which we prefer it; sometimes we blame the one u#erly and praise the other, as in a comparison of justice and wealth (Malina and Neyrey 1996:48, citing Baldwin 1928). The comparison, then, may elevate the status of a less honorable person to the level of a recognized and honorable person. Or it may praise the one and blame the other.

This fourth-century bas relief portrays the apostles Peter and Paul face to face. See Notes to Gal 2:11. In this regard, we might reconsider the meeting of Paul with those of repute in 2:110. On the one hand, he earlier maintained that he did not confer (about his gospel) with esh and blood (1:16) but now he does so: I laid the gospel before them (2:2). The two events may be compared in that the second one is directed by God (I went up by a revelation, 2:2a), whereas previously Paul was under no such constraint. The la#er, then, is not an indication of inconsistency and instability. Once more Paul indicates superior and praiseworthy behavior, since it was at Gods direction that he behaved as he did. At that meeting, moreover, Paul met privately with the elite of the Jerusalem group, those of repute (2:3, 6) and those reputed to be pillars (2:9). On that occasion, the higher-ranking persons, James, Cephas, and John, agreed not to hassle Paul because of behaviors that followed from his gospel of God. And in their own way they judged that Paul was equal to Peter in that, just as Peter was entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised, so too they acknowledged that Paul was comparably entrusted with the gospel to the Foreskins (2:67). Whether such outreach to Israelites in non-Israelite locations was of any merit is not discussed. Pauls mention of the meeting, however, served the rhetorical function of comparing Paul with Peter and pu#ing him on a parallel track with the person commonly acknowledged to have the top management role. The world was ethnocentrically divided into two equal parts (Israelites in Judea and Israelites among non-Israelites), and Paul was credited as being in charge of Israelites living in the nonIsraelite world. His honor claim is not simply acknowledged; he is also elevated in status

Malina, B. J., & Pilch, J. J. (2006). Social-science commentary on the Le!ers of Paul. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.
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acknowledged; he is also elevated in status through this comparison of being ranked on par with Peter. The comparison seems most evident, however, in the narration of the encounter at Antioch in 2:1114. 2:11: The expression to oppose someone to their face is a biblical one used to describe when people resist a determined military assault, usually without success. It means to stand up to an opponent in conict even though one loses. Accordingly, Paul intimates that Cephas made a frontal a!ack, in other words, that the hostilities previously se!led in Jerusalem had now been resumed, and that he had resisted (Esler 1998:135). The idiom intimates that he was ultimately unsuccessful against Cephas. The controversy is about living styles in a context that presumes there is a Judean way of living and a non-Judean one. Paul previously was told that the non-Judean lifestyle of his Jesus-group Israelites living among non-Israelites is quite acceptable to the Jerusalem management group. Even Cephas dines in non-Judean style with his fellow Jesus-group Israelites in Antioch. Yet when called down by those Jesus-group members espousing the Judean lifestyle as the only one allowable for Jesus-group members, Cephas backs down, Paul calls this hypocrisy, that is, playacting. Consider now what rhetorical comparison underscores about the character of Paul. Here it will be helpful to cite the rules of Theon on comparison: A comparison is a speech which shows what is be!er or what is worse. There are comparisons of characters and subjects: of characters: for example, Ajax, Odysseus; of subjects: for example, wisdom and courage. But since we prefer one of the characters over another in view of their actions, as well as whatever else about them is

good, there can be one method for both. First, let it be established that comparisons are made not with matters that dier greatly from one another but with ma!ers that are similar and concerning which we disagree about which of the two we must prefer because we see no superiority of one over the other. So then, when we compare characters, we will rst set side by side their noble birth, their education, their children, their public oces, their reputation, their bodily health. Aer these items, we will compare their actions by choosing those which are more noble and the reasons for the numerous and greater blessings, those actions that are more reliable, those that are more enduring, those that were done at the proper time, those from which great harm resulted when they have not been done, those that were done with a motive rather than those done because of compulsion or chance, those which few have done rather than those that many have done (for the common and hackneyed are not at all praiseworthy), those we have done with eort rather than easily, and those we have performed that were beyond our age and ability, rather than those which we performed when it was possible. (10.126, in Malina and Neyrey 1996:49, citing Bu!s 1986) The context of comparison, Theon says, is praise and blame: what is be!er and what is worse. Two similar characters are compared: two warriors or two proclaimed of the gospel. Then their actions are compared, whether reliable and enduring, benecial or harmful, free or under compulsion, requiring courage or not, or rare or commonplace.

Malina, B. J., & Pilch, J. J. (2006). Social-science commentary on the Le!ers of Paul. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.
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ing courage or not, or rare or commonplace. This more extended view of comparison greatly aids our reading of 2:1114. At the very least we can say that in 2:1114 one person is blamed and another praised, just as Hermogenes and Theon indicate should be the case. Paul blames Peter: I opposed him to his face. He stood condemned (2:11). If Peter is blamed, then Paul is to be praised. Second, Peter is blamed for inconsistency and unreliability, hence insincerity, which infected others in the group (synypekrithsan, 2:13a; hypokrisei, 2:13b). In contrast, when Paul claims that Peter and others were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel (2:14), he positions himself as one who is sincere and who acts straightforwardly. Peter, moreover, acted out of fear of the circumcision party (2:12). Fear is one of the cardinal vices, a term sure to draw blame upon Peter. In contrast, Paul demonstrated courage by boldly challenging Peter in public and by steadfastly defending the truth. In this Paul can be seen to engage in comparison in which he rst puts him on par with Peter (2:110) and then exalts himself over Peter (2:1114). His gospel and his manner of living are straightforward, approved by the church, and consistent. If Peter might be charged with pleasing men by returning to his kosher obligations and once more not eating with non-Judean Jesus-group members, Paul can claim consistency in his approach and boast that he was not pleasing men. Otherwise, he would never have publicly challenged Peter. Meals. From the foregoing considerations, it seems that the encomium looms large as the model according to which Paul cast his remarks about himself in this passage from Galatians. Most of the prescribed elements of an encomium are present: (a) birth and a!endant divine ascription of honor (1:1516); (b) manner of life as an advanced and obser-

vant Pharisee (1:1314); (c) education not by mortals but taught by God (1:1619); (d) accomplishments and deeds: deeds of the soul, for example, righteousness demonstrated by piety and faithfulness (1:2124; 2:110) and courage (2:1114), and deeds of fortune, for example, friends, fame, fortune, and honor; and (e) comparison between Pauls consistency and correctness and Peters inconsistency (2:1114). Further, the function of 1:132:14 is fully in accord with the aims of an encomium, to praise and to blame. Praise is analogous to apology or defense, just as blame corresponds to polemic. These observations on the encomiastic shape of Galatians 12 are not at all in conict with other arguments about the larger rhetorical shape of the le!er. But it is essential to note the presence and function of encomium features in this part of Pauls argument.

Malina, B. J., & Pilch, J. J. (2006). Social-science commentary on the Le!ers of Paul. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.
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