Paul’s letter to the Galatians ranks among the earliest writings we have from the movement that became Christianity. It therefore brings into sharp focus key issues of theological debate within the early Jesus movement, including how this community saw themselves.
In this letter, Paul identifies a specific challenge to identity formation in the Messiah that is facing the church in Galatia. The particular question of whether gentile converts needed to be circumcised, which is the direct impetus for Paul’s writing the letter, provides a basis from which Paul can expound a broader vision of membership in the Messiah community. Arguing against factions that would exclude Gentile converts failing to adopt Torah, Paul masterfully explores the logic of a New Age instantiated by Messiah Jesus, the new requirements for family belonging, and the reciprocal faithfulness of Jesus and believers which is the foundation of righteousness.
Across two courses (totaling 37 lectures), Prof. Wright walks students through Paul’s argument step by step, clarifying difficult translational matters, navigating the messy history of soteriology and interpretation since the Reformation, and clears a path back to the original concerns of the time to help us see afresh what Paul saw as the heart of the New Age.
Part Two, Ordering the Messiah Community, explores the implications of what it means that this new community of believers – marked by the reciprocal faith of, with, and in Jesus – is the single family of God promised on the Old Testament. In what ways does the Jesus movement fulfil the expectations and promises of the Old Testament? How are they to think of ethics and the Law if a New Age has indeed been launched? How does the life of the community result from the work of God’s spirit?
Prof. Wright continues his exploration of these questions, hinted at in Part One, to highlight Paul’s ultimate emphasis on the necessary unity of all believers in Messiah Jesus, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
What students will learn in this course:
Discover how Paul fits Jesus into the story Israel told about its coming Messiah.
Define the relationship between Jesus work on the cross, individual ‘belief’, and the activity of God’s spirit.
Explore the role of ethics and Torah in the New Age.
Parse the tight argument Paul uses to develop his robust Christology.
See how Paul marshals multiple rhetorical modes in service of his argument.
Recognize unity as the primary message of Galatians, over-against modern debates of comparative religion or soteriology.
This course is for:
Students of the New Testament and/or early Christian thought.
Believers interested in the community foundations of the Jesus movement.
Pastors preparing sermon series or studies on Galatians.
Teachers hoping to dispel myths and clarify their theology.
Registered 501c3 non-profit organization Courses developed for N.T. Wright Online are made possible by the generous donations of people who support the Wisconsin Center for Christian Studies, Inc., a registered 501c3 non-profit organization. Tuition paid enables us to provide scholarships for those in need and allows us to fund new courses and translations of existing courses, and we are able to offer courses at significant discounts.