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Abstract

Interpretations of Paul's letter to the Galatians have tended to focus on its theological content, particularly Paul's attitude toward the Law and Judaism Moreover, the question of how the theological portion of the epistle relates to the paraenetic section (Gal 5:13---6:10) continues to vex interpreters. However, the author notes that the position of Jews and Gentiles within the Christian churches is ultimately a question of identity. Accordingly, the goal of this study is to perform a sociological analysis of Gal 3:19--4:7, drawing upon aspects of social identity theory, in order to analyze Paul's method of constructing community identity in terms of both a symbolic universe and a related ethos. The author argues that Paul presents the Holy Spirit as the sin qua non identity marker of those in Christ, and that the apostle's argumentative purpose in the above passage is to persuade his converts that the symbolic universe which he upholds and its related ethos, as expressed it is in Gal 5:13--6: 10, is the true gospel in contrast to the distorted version represented by his Judaizing opponents. Thus, life in the Spirit patterned after the law of Christ, rather than under the Mosaic Law is central to the ethos of those who belong to Christ. Consequently, rather than being a addendum, or an ad hoc assorhnent of disconnected exhortations, or even a later, non-Pauline interpolation, Gal 5:13---6:10 is a carefully constructed ethos which fUnctions to form and reinforce Christian identity.

DOI

10.7252/Journal.01.2012S.02