Fortress Press

The Irony of Galatians: Paul's Letter in First-Century Context

The Irony of Galatians

Paul's Letter in First-Century Context

Mark D. Nanos (Author)


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Intra-Jewish conflict in Paul's communities

After taking on traditional interpretations of Romans in (The Mystery of Romans, Nanos now turns his attention to the Letter to the Galatians. A Primary voice in reclaiming Paul in his Jewish context. Nanos challenges the previously dominant views of Paul as rejecting his Jewish heritage and the Law. Where Paul's rhetoric has been interpreted to be its most anti-Jewish, Nanos instead demonstrates the implications of an intra-Jewish reading. He explores the issues of purity, insiders/outsiders; the charactor of "the gospel"; the relationship between groups of Christ-followers in Jerusalem, Antioch, and Galatia; and evil-eye accusations.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800632144
  • Dimensions 8 x 12
  • Pages 392
  • Publication Date November 14, 2001


"Thorough and innovative"

"The Irony of Galatians is the most thorough and innovative investigation of this letter since Betz's Hermeneia commentary (1979). It develops a completely new approach to Galatians as a response to local Jewish 'influencers' who sought to bring members of Christian cells into the status of honored proselytes within their synagogues. With his mastery of historical, social, and linguistic details, Mark Nanos challenges centuries of traditional interpretations — including my own. This incisive book is certain to become the storm center of future debate, throwing new light onto the interaction between Jewish and Christian groups in the first century."
— Robert Jewett
Visiting Professor, University of Heidelberg

"Rigorous ... demand[ing] serious attention from other scholars"

"Like a judge hearing a case of domestic conflict and ferreting out the issues, Mark Nanos gives a rigorous, fair-minded assessment of a Jewish context for Galatians and of Paul's engagement as a Jew with both Jews and Gentiles in that context. In the service of his historical construal, he adeptly employs rhetoric, genre criticism, literary theory, the social sciences, philology, and comparative history of religions. The result is a sensitive reading of how Paul, the Galatians, and the influencers variously seek understandings of identity in terms of who is included in the people of God, which is also a question of how marginalized people find a place of belonging in a dominant in-group. Even the most venturesome aspects of his thesis will demand serious attention from other scholars."
— Robert L. Brawley
Albert G. McGaw Professor of New Testament
McCormick Theological Seminary

Table of Contents


  1. Introduction
  2. Galatians in Rehtorical and Historical Perspective
  3. The Character of Galatians
  4. The Structure of Galatians
  5. The Identity of the Addressees
  6. The Requirement
  7. The "Influencers" in Galatia
  8. The Proposed Identification
  9. The Influencers on Jewish Terms
  10. Are the Influencers Christ-Believers?
  11. The Irony of Galatians

    Appendix: Galatians as Rhetoric
    Index of Ancient Sources
    Index of Modern Authors