Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Masters of Art

School

Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, MA

First Advisor

P. Richard Choi

Second Advisor

Cedric Vine

Abstract

Problem

Paul explicitly addresses the issue of circumcision for the first time in the epistle of Galatians in chapter 5:2–6. The precise meaning of circumcision, however, both historically and exegetically, has been much debated in Pauline scholarship.

Method

This thesis will first provide an overview of how circumcision has been interpreted in the context of different approaches to Pauline theology. Then, the historical background of the significance of circumcision around the first century AD will be analyzed, both in the Jewish and the Greco-Roman context. Finally, an exegetical study of Galatians 5:2–6 will focus on how Paul addresses the topic of circumcision in his theological discussion.

Results

When it comes to circumcision and the argument of Galatians, there is more involved than what has typically been emphasized by Pauline scholars. Historically, circumcision was also connected to the subjection of thoughts and passions to the will of God, as well as ideals of perfection and holiness. Exegetically, Paul opposes circumcision in Galatians 5:2–6 because it would jeopardize the maintenance of the believers’ ongoing experience of faith, i.e., sanctification.

Conclusion

Paul responds to the concern of maintaining one’s experience in Christ by writing that the Christian should be known by his or her total surrender to God by faith, a surrender to the sanctifying work of the Spirit that bears fruit in the life of the believer.

Subject Area

Circumcision|xReligious aspects; Bible. Galatians 5:2-6--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Christian life--Biblical teaching

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