Podcast 1.8: Paul’s response to the Galatians

This second episode on Paul’s letter to the Galatians looks at Paul’s response to the situation involving opponents that were advocating circumcision. I discuss a plausible apocalyptic rationale for Paul’s notion that circumcision was not an entrance requirement for Gentiles to belong to the Jesus groups. In the process, I also begin to deal with Paul’s complicated positions regarding the Torah (the law) and its relation to non-Judeans (approx. 35 minutes). This episode is part of series one (“Paul and his Communities”) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 1.8: Paul’s response to the Galatians (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

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5 thoughts on “Podcast 1.8: Paul’s response to the Galatians

  1. Richard Fellows


    Thanks for this thought provoking lecture. I was particularly interested in your thoughts on Paul’s apocalyptic belief that the gentiles would come to worship God. Some of the Hebrew bible prophecies about this say that the gentiles would come to _Jerusalem_ to worship God. Your podcast got me thinking about Titus, whom Paul brought to _Jerusalem_. Did Paul consider Titus to be a prototype or representative of the flood of gentiles that would come to Jerusalem to honour God? He was the first gentile believer in Jesus to come to Jerusalem as far as we know, and almost certainly the first whom Paul took to Jerusalem. In any case, Paul laid before the pillars his (apocalyptic) message of gentile inclusion and Titus was there as a living example of one who worshiped God and thereby did not need to be circumcised (Gal 2:1-3).

    Now, about half the proselytes to Judaism that we know of in the ancient world were given new names to symbolize their inclusion in the Jewish community (and circumcision was the entry requirement for males, of course). This raises the question of whether Titus was given a new name to show that, though he was not circumcised, he was still included because he represented the gentiles who would come to Jerusalem to worship God. The reason that I bring up this subject is that Udo Borse argued on completely different grounds that Timothy and Titus were one and the same person. “Timothy”, meaning something like “honouring God”, would have been a very apt name for Paul to give to Titus. Note also the Judean tendency to give bi-names that were phonetically similar to the original name. Borse just assumed that “Titus” was Timothy’s nickname, but it seems to me that Titus’s possession of another name can be understood in terms of the Jewish practice of renaming converts, and the choice of name (Timothy) can be understood as representing Titus’s role in Paul’s apocalyptic thought.

    Now, after listening to your lecture I looked at some of the prophecies in the Hebrew bible and noticed that some talk about the gentiles bringing wealth to Jerusalem. Do you think these prophecies motivated Paul to initiate his collections for Jerusalem? If so, would the collections have been highly controversial in (conventional) Jewish eyes? Would they have been controversial enough to explain why a plot was made against Paul when he was about to sail with the collection (Acts 20:3),and Paul protects three of his collection helpers by leaving them anonymous (2 Cor 8:18-22; 12:18) and protects Timothy in the same passages by using his lesser-known name (Titus)?

    In any case, I have argued elsewhere that Paul sent Titus-Timothy from Jerusalem to south Galatia to organize a collection there (see Gal 2:10 and 2 Cor 16:1-3). Was this collection inspired by an apocalyptic view that the gentiles would bring wealth to Jerusalem? By carrying out this mission, was Titus fulfilling the OT prophecies that had given him the name “Timothy”?

    If you are right about Paul’s apocalyptic thought, does this bring the Titus-Timothy hypothesis into sharper focus and strengthen it a little? You have certainly got me thinking.

    Thanks also for your thoughts on typology.

    Richard Fellows

  2. Phil H.

    Hello Richard,

    Thanks for these thoughts. Some are less likely than others, in my view, but I understand where you are coming from with the ideas.

    Phil H.

  3. Hugh

    Podcast 8 (1.8) does not work. Attempted to download from either your site or from iTunes U, both failed repeatedly. Please let me know when this is fixed. Thanks

  4. Phil Harland Post author

    Hello Hugh,

    It seems that archive.org moved some things around. I have added in the new link. Let me know if there are any problems (and thanks for mentioning the problem in the first place).

    Phil H.

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