Studies in Galatians Episode I: N.T. Wright on Messiahship

galatians and christian theologyIn the summer of 2012, an assorted group of Pauline specialists and other scholars, including people like John Barclay, Richard Hays, and Beverly Roberts Gaventa, gathered at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland for a conference on Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Out of this gathering came Galatians and Christian Theology, an edited volume of the papers given at the meeting.

These essays are divided into three broad categories: Justification, Gospel, and Ethics (pp.x-xi). Over the next few months, we will be periodically exploring a few of the more interesting essays from each of these sections, even as we continue to dive into other books. For now, let’s turn to our first essay, N.T. Wright’s “Messiahship in Galatians?”

It may strike some as odd, but the importance of Jesus’ messiahship in Galatians has long been minimized by certain parts of Pauline studies. These scholars assume that when Paul uses the word Christos in regards to Jesus, it functions basically as a proper name, emptied of most, if not all, messianic content (p.3). Wright rhetorically takes the view of these writers and asks, “Why… would this letter, warning Paul’s gentile converts against the attractions of Judaism, make use of such an obviously Jewish notion as messiahship?” (p.3). As one might expect, Wright intends to show that Jesus’ messiahship actually occupies a central place in Galatians. Continue reading