Freedom in Galatians: A socio-historical study of the adoption and slavery imagery
Chang, C. W.
MetadataShow full item record
This study aims to interpret freedom in Galatians by constructing the socio-historical context of slavery and adoption imagery in the first century AD. The central theoretical argument is that a valid understanding of the concept of freedom held by first readers is essential for a valid interpretation of the letter to the Galatians and that taking into account slavery and adoption imagery enables a valid interpretation of the meaning of freedom in the letter. The study applies metaphorical theory as well as philological methodology for the analysis, interpretation, and synthesis of the collected material. Chapter 1 provides the problem statement and an outline of the study. Chapter 2 first defines a study filter to delimit the semantic domain of freedom, slavery, and adoption in Galatians and then describes the relationship between the concept freedom and the imagery of slavery and adoption. The diachronic meaning of slavery and adoption is analysed in subsequent chapters to identify the various backgrounds to Paul’s usage. In chapter 3 the slavery and adoption context is constructed by analysing primary texts from the Old Testament. In chapter 4 the primary texts on slavery in the first-century Jewish cultures are investigated. In chapter 5 the law on slavery and adoption in the first-century Graeco-Roman is analysed and subsequently the contribution of the philosophical writings is investigated. In chapter 6 the results of the analysis of slavery and adoption imagery in the preceding chapters are utilised in the relevant interpreatation of these concepts in Galatians. Chapter 7 summarises the findings and conclusions of the study. This study has concluded that Paul’s Jewish background, including some elements of pre-rabbinical Jewish literature, influenced the letter to the Galatians regarding the relationship between the concept of freedom and the imagery of slavery and adoption (sonship). Since Paul was writing to a gentile audience in order to persuade them to return to the true gospel, metaphors of slavery and adoption, because they are embedded within the Graeco-Roman household, are effective communication bridges to reach his audience. Within this framework, Israel’s God is depicted as a caring father in the household who redeems all human beings from the status of slaves to that of children, with full rights of inheritance. God has achieved this by sending his Son Jesus Christ to restore the relationship between God and humanity, by giving himself up as a ransom for all. In the light of the slavery and adoption imagery used in the letter and through the Lord Jesus Christ, freedom in Galatians is shown to be not a movement from slavery to freedom, but a movement from (negative) slavery to (positive) slavery, resulting in the dual identities of sons of God (vertical) and slaves of Christ to serve the familial members in love (horizontal).
- Theology