September 22, 2017

Galatians 2 = Acts 15

Galatians 2 absolutely refers to the council of acts 15. One of my professors raised the question on Facebook today, and I found myself typing quickly:

It's been twelve years since I did the research, but I don't recall anyone who argues for this; at least, not anyone who argues particularly well. My own reconstruction comes together by starting with the "men from James".

Assuming the Judaizers in Galatia were almost certainly the same men who caused trouble in Antioch - because when & where else, before the council, could they have heard about churches in Galatia?! - we must reconstruct their itinerary in parallel against Paul's itinerary. So, if these men who prompted the trouble in Antioch which sparked the council in Jerusalem LEFT Antioch and went into Galatia, then it is far more likely that Paul and Barnabas were traveling to and from the council around the same time the Judaizers were traveling to and from Galatia. In that case, Paul & Barnabas visit Jerusalem, do the council, return home, split up, and THEN Paul gets word about Galatia, and then he (alone) writes the letter.

Otherwise, you'd have to suppose several unlikely scenarios, each in turn: Paul (1) waits around in Antioch (WITH Barnabas) ignoring the problem with Jerusalem... ignoring it for at least a year...for so long that the whole Galatians problem has enough time to develop, boil over, and have word get back to Paul; (2) Paul then writes Galatians (WITHOUT Barnabas, who is also there) and Paul sends it to them without being able to follow up soon in person; (3) Paul next travels down to Jerusalem (WITH Barnabas), submitting himself to the people he's just written about so resentfully (as opposed to submitting to them and *then* writing about them resentfully!); (4) Paul finally returns home to Antioch, and incidentally splits up with Barnabas, who didn't want to visit Galatia, even though he should know by now that Galatia needs help recovering from a festering crisis; (5) And only THEN, after all that, Paul finally says, yep, I better go visit these relatively new believers who are desperate for help and have nobody but me to rely on! That's implausible in the extreme.

The traditional argument for the consensus is that Galatians doesn't mention Acts 15 - in particular, Jerusalem's letter - but I like to point out Paul didn't share Jerusalem's letter with Corinth, either. That's why Peter's visit to Corinth raised so many questions about those three rules, which Paul then had to answer in 1Cor. If Paul didn't mention those three rules during 18 months living with the Corinthians, there's no reason to expect he should mention them during a single letter to the Galatians.

Also, there is Titus. (This is less weighty, but it's my favorite part!)

Because Paul assumes the Galatians know who Titus is, it seems obvious that Titus must be the letter carrier. But because it's unlikely Titus would have gone alone, he probably went with a partner. If we suppose that partner was probably Luke, it would explain how and why Paul finds Luke in Troas - the same town Titus seems to frequent in later years, and the only church in Acts whose origin Luke doesn't explain. To me, it looks like Titus and Luke carried the Galatian letter and then proceeded to an agreed upon rendezvous at "Troy" (as the most famous location west of Galatia they could be sure to remember correctly, and ask about, it was a perfect rendezvous point for inexperienced travelers from Antioch). The point, here, is that the explanatory power of all this vanishes completely if Paul sends the Galatian letter with no immediate follow-up plans. This can't happen if Luke & Titus are waiting in Troy indefinitely, because Paul (WITH Barnabas) is waiting on the Jerusalem council. And besides all that... Paul didn't need to write about the council because Titus had been there with Paul. If you want, you can easily suppose Titus carried the letter from Jerusalem along with Paul's letter. It would have been wise to keep that in reserve, and save it after reading Paul's letter, if at all.

On balance, there should be no question that Gal.2 = Acts 15.

Someday in the far future I will hopefully publish on this. In the meantime, dear readers, please share this post far and wide. I'd seriously love to find a co-author to help me develop this argument for publication. 



Charles Savelle said...

The issue is still debated and disputed. I for one would disagree with your conclusion as would Bock, Moo, and others.

Bill Heroman said...

Your loyalty to dogma is duly noted. I respect differences of opinion in historical inquiry, but in this case, their chronological gerrymandering clearly supports institutional bias. You guys twist yourselves into pretzels to salvage the idea that Church councils are effective at quashing dissent. They aren't. They don't.

On this issue, Bock and Moo do violence to the scripture for the sake of their tradition. Historical inquiry is inevitably compromised by a defensive approach.

I actually respect you, Charles. I think you can do much better here.

Unknown said...

A novice agrees with you Bill.

Bill Heroman said...

Thanks, Steve.

Charles Savelle said...

Wow! On what basis have you concluded that I am not being loyal to dogma? I have actually studied the issue quite carefully both at the master's and doctoral level. One can be evangelical and and hold a view like you are espousing. Have you actually read Bock, Moo, and many others? Even those who disagree (e.g., Dunn, Talbert, etc.) are not nearly as dismissive as you are. I am thankful that you respect me but honestly, I have lost respect for you. I would hope you could do better here.

Bill Heroman said...

Those big names you dropped can't possibly disagree with my conclusion because they haven't yet read my argument, which happens to be novel. As far as I can tell, you read nothing more than the title of this post, but your big names assure you - in advance, apparently, that I'm certainly wrong.

Come on, man. Really?!?

Charles Savelle said...

Come on really. People can disagree if one holds that Galatians 2 refers to the same event as Acts 15. You may have original aspects to your argument but the argument is not new. By the way, do you really think I just follow big names? It might surprise you that you are not the only one capable of doing research and critical thinking. I was a bit surprised when you can say that one view of a thorny and much argued issue is absolutely correct. That typically indicates either hubris or ignorance. Note that my original response merely pointed out that it was not as cut-and-dry as your post seemed to suggest and that I disagreed. Could my disagreement not be an informed one or are you the only one capable of that? You can check out my master's thesis where I discuss the issue and it was written before either Bock's Acts commentary or Moo's Galatians commentary came out.

Bill Heroman said...

Charles, if you can name someone else who has argued that the first step towards solving this problem is reconstructing the itinerary of the Judaizers, I'll pay you $100 cash. I really will, because I'm dying to find more people in NT studies whose primary mode is to think historically, rather than critically or apologetically. Your finders fee will be well worth it. Take your time...

Charles Savelle said...

Bill, I am surprised that you would make such an offer since my ability to think and research are clearly suspect in your mind. That being said, if you are correct about your idea’s originality then you may have a dissertation topic in the making should you pursue that. Originality aside, I read enough in your argument to question your conclusion and not enough in it to change mine. But for some reason you seem to feel the need to question my integrity and motivations (and this is not the first time). So I am out and keep your $100.

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