Persecution and Cosmic Conflict in Galatians
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This dissertation argues that persecution in Galatians manifests the cosmic conflict between God and the present evil age. Chapter 1 introduces the reader to the topic of persecution in Galatians and the history of research. Chapter 2 demonstrates that Paul uses the theme of cosmic conflict to place the crisis in Galatia within a broader context of a conflict between God who has inaugurated the new creation within the present time and this present evil age. Chapters 3–4 examine Paul’s theological context. Chapter 3 investigates a theme of cosmic conflict in Genesis, Psalms, Isaiah, and Habakkuk. Chapter 4 examines the theme in other early Jewish texts (Daniel; 1 Enoch; 4 Ezra; 2 Baruch; Jubilees; 1 Maccabees; 2 Maccabees; 4 Maccabees; 1QS; CD; 1QM). This survey reveals that Paul’s iteration of the theme possesses continuity and discontinuity with other authors. Chapter 5 offers a historical reconstruction of the instances of persecution mentioned in Galatians. Four instances of persecution in Galatians are examined: (1) Paul the Persecutor (1:13, 23). (2) Paul the Persecuted (3:1; 4:13, 19; 5:11; 6:17) (3) The Opponents as Potential Targets (6:12) (4) The Persecution of the Galatians (3:4; 4:17–18, 29). Paul uses the theme of persecution to reshape the perception of the Galatian believers and to reveal the danger of the false gospel preached by his opponents. Chapter 6 identifies persecution as a specific manifestation of the cosmic conflict between God and this present evil age. Galatians 4:29 directly connects the phenomenon of persecution with the broader cosmic conflict. Paul does so by identifying typology in Genesis 21:9. In light of this understanding of Paul’s use of Genesis, other significant passages on persecution in Galatians are reexamined to see how they fit within a cosmic conflict reading: 1:13, 23; 3:4; 5:11; 6:12, 17. In conclusion, chapter 7 offers three possible results of Paul’s understanding of persecution as cosmic conflict. It then examines the significance of the thesis for global Christianity today.