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Galatians (New Testament Readings) [Paperback]

Philip F. Esler
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 25, 1998 0415110378 978-0415110372
Paul's letter to the Galatians, sometimes known as the Magna Carta of Christian liberty, is central to the understanding of the relation of Paul and the Law and is packed with crucial historical, social and theological material.
Philip F. Esler provides a detailed and accessible interpretation of the text, which draws on contemporary and modern literary models. He outlines the problems often associated with reading Galatians, the context of the text, the rhetoric of the text and the intercultural and social implications of Galatians. Galatians includes comprehensive indices of ancient sources and modern sources, detailed references and an appendix discussing Paul's attitude to the Law in Romans 5.20-21.
Galatians presents a succinct and emminently readable analysis of a dense and important New Testament text.

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Editorial Reviews


'Esler's book ... is an extraordinary rich reading of Galatians, and shows the fruitfulness of reading a text from a clear methodological standpoint.' - Halvor Moxnes, Biblical Interpretation

About the Author

Philip F. Esler is Dean of Divinity and Professor of Biblical Criticism at the University of St. Andrews. He is the author of Modelling Early Christianity (1995) and The First Christians in Their Social Worlds (1994), both published by Routledge.

Product Details

  • Series: New Testament Readings
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (July 25, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415110378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415110372
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,775,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Professor Philip Esler is Principal, and Professor of Biblical Interpretation, at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, London, which will soon become the first Catholic university in the UK since the Reformation. He was raised in Sydney, Australia, and worked there as a solicitor and barrister for eleven years (with three years out from 1981-84 doing a New Testament doctorate in Oxford). In 1992 he moved to the University of St Andrews to take up a career as a biblical critic. He served as Chief Executive of the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council from 2005-09. He is well known for his social-scientific interpretation of biblical texts and is one of the founding members of the Context Group, which specialises in such an approach. He has also published in the areas of New Testament theology and the Bible and the visual arts. During the course of his career he has authored six books, co-authored two and edited four, while publishing some 20 journal articles and 40 essays. He has a Doctor of Divinity degree from Oxford University and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He is married with three adult children.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most important exegetical work on Galatians October 4, 2000
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Philip Esler presents a sharply sectarian Paul who was offensive not only to mainstream Judaism but his own colleagues as well. He maintains, moreover, that Christianity was sectarian from the get-go, even before Paul's conversion. The fact that Paul had zealously persecuted the church in its earliest years (Gal. 1:13-14; Philip. 3:6) and had "preached circumcision" during this period (Gal. 5:11) indicates that the movement had already included Gentiles who were involved in a blasphemous practice for which the remedy was circumcision. That practice, according to Esler, was eucharist table-fellowship (I Cor. 10:16-17, 11:23-26), whereby Jews and uncircumcised Gentiles shared bread and wine from the same vessels, risking serious pollution and idolatry.

This issue lay at the heart of Paul's conflict with the Jerusalem apostles (Gal. 2:1-10), the following incident at Antioch (Gal. 2:11-14), and the subsequent controversy in Galatia (Gal. 3:1-5, 5:2-6). Paul, like many of the Christians he once persecuted, believed that Gentiles did not need to submit to proselyte conversion in order to engage with Jews in indiscriminate (eucharist) table-fellowship. James, Peter, and John initially agreed to this (Gal. 2:7-9), despite conservative hard-liners in the Christian movement (Gal. 2:4) who fought such blasphemy tooth and nail. Paul's victory over these hard-liners left them steaming with the desire for revenge, and as soon as he and Peter left for Antioch, they put pressure on James to revoke the decision. Esler thinks they were successful, since Peter stopped eating with Gentiles as soon as "the circumcision faction" (Gal. 2:12) arrived at Antioch to break the sore news.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An easily accessible book January 12, 1999
By A Customer
Esler has produced here for us what promises to be an exciting read. It is a detailed review of what is arguably one of the most important texts of the New Testament, in which new light is shed on how to read Galatians. Rejecting the theological mish mash of biblical scholarship, Esler attempts to introduce the world of sociology to the reader. Seemingly a rather simple move, it is not entirely welcomed in the scholarly world. Or so Esler thinks. If you can get past Esler's stubborn stance where he seems to sleight many other scholars including Ed Sanders with some severity, then this is an interesting read. Esler attempts to bring interculturalism to the reader and show how Paul is in the oxymoronical state of being both a "stranger to our culture, and yet as the bearer of a message which makes insistent claims upon us." So too, will the reader be able to dabble in the Hellenistic world reaping understanding to our contemporary society. Read it and decide for yourself whether Esler, and also Paul, has something to say for us today.
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