Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The Letter to the Galatians is the first letter where Paul mentions χάρις not only in the opening (Gal 1:3) and closing (Gal 6:18) of the letter but also in the body (Gal 1:6; 2:9; 3:18; 5:4) of the letter. The term χάρις will be defined in this dissertation as a favor or goodwill freely given by a benefactor to a beneficiary. Also, χάρις is whatever a beneficiary does to return favor or thanks to a benefactor. Therefore, on one hand, whatever goodwill a benefactor extends to a beneficiary is generally designated as χάρις. On the other hand, whatever a beneficiary does to acknowledge what has been granted by a benefactor is also χάρις. By examining what Paul is arguing in Galatians, I want to pay particular attention, in this dissertation, to how Paul uses the language of χάρις to advance his argument. I will show how in engaging the teaching of his opponents, Paul appeals to the Greco-Roman benefaction conventions to dissuade the Galatians from accepting circumcision and the observance of the Mosaic Law.
I will argue that the argument of Paul is couched in the web of relationships that undergird the Greco-Roman conventions of benefaction. I will show that by appealing to his own experience (1:15-16), the experience of the Galatian Christians (3:1-5), and the example of Abraham (3:18), Paul tries to persuade the Galatian Christians to accept his understanding of benefaction in both divine-human and human-human relationships. By engaging the Greco-Roman ethos of reciprocity, Paul offers his own view claiming that God’s benefaction is manifested in the self-giving of Christ out of love for humanity (2:20) and God’s benefaction calls believers to return favor by acting out of love for the wellbeing of one another (5:13-14). In the Letter to the Galatians, therefore, Paul expects the Galatian Christians to respond, in some fashion, to their experience of God’s gift of divine favor with gratitude in both divine-human and human-human relationships.
Okorie, Ferdinand, "Benefaction in Galatians: An Analysis of Paul's Language of God's Favor in Its Greco-Roman Context" (2018). Dissertations. 2976.
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