Jean-Noël Aletti, «Galates 1–2. Quelle fonction et quelle démonstration?», Vol. 86 (2005) 305-323
This article is an attempt to show the following: (1) Galatians 1,11–2,21 is a
unified argument in which vv. 11-12 constitute the propositio; (2) Gal 2,14b-21
represent a short speech bringing the argument to its climax, and (3) Gal 2,16
takes up the Jerusalem agreement about Paul’s Gospel and not only fulfills a
rhetorical function within the short speech of v. 14b-21 but also provides the
thesis of the argument that unfolds in Galatians 3–4.
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â€œReturningâ€ to the Hospitality of the Lord 391
escorted their guests to their next destination (e.g., Acts 17,14-15; 21,5.16;
Acts Pil. 14.3; 15.4), supplied them with provisions for their journey (e.g.,
Acts 28,10; Gos. Thom. 88; Acts Pil. 14.3), and sent them on in peace (Acts
To sum up, we can see that hospitality was a well known and virtually
universal custom in antiquity (24). Furthermore, we can detect a variety of
recurring elements that are present in the ancient Israelite expression of
hospitality and that are also important for our reading of Ps 23,5-6. These
features include: the host often sees the travelers from a distance and runs out
to offer hospitality to them (25); hospitality appears to be ratified when the
guest is brought into the hostâ€™s dwelling (26); the host always provides food,
which is often more extravagant than originally promised (27), and may
provide lodging (28); the host protects the guests during their stay from abuse
by the hostâ€™s fellow citizens and/or the guestsâ€™ enemies (29); the guest
generally stays for a short period of time (30); and once the relationship is
established, it is assumed that the guest can return at any point in the future
and receive a hospitable reception (31).
3. Hospitality in Ps 23,5-6
In this article, we are contending that the metaphor of God as host in Ps
23,5-6 drew upon the common Israelite custom of hospitality. The metaphor
of God as host would have likely evoked a picture of this custom in the minds
of the hearers that was as vivid as the metaphor of God as shepherd (Ps 23,1-
4). In fact, each line of Ps 23,5-6 correlates with standard Israelite hospitality
and can therefore be understood without first theorizing about an original,
historical or liturgical life setting for the psalm (32).
a) Ps 23,5a â€“ â€œYou prepare a table before me in the presence of my
This phrase alludes to the two most prominent components of hospitality.
As we have seen, hosts were expected to provide food for their guests at their
table, and they were expected to protect their guests from enemies. Regardless
(24) For a more complete definition of hospitality in ancient Israelite, Greco-Roman,
and early Christian contexts see A.E. ARTERBURY, Entertaining Angels. Early Christian
Hospitality in its Mediterranean Setting (Sheffield - forthcoming).
(25) Gen 18,2; 19,1 and 24,29.
(26) Gen 19,3; 24,29; 43,17; Josh 2,1 and Judg 19,21.
(27) Gen 18,5-7; 19,3; 24,33; 43,34; Judg 19,6.21; 1 Sam 9,24; 10,4; 2 Sam 12,4; 1 Kgs
17,13-16; 2 Kgs 4,8. Cf Tob 7,9; Josephus, Ant. 1.252 and Philo, Abr. 108.
(28) Gen 19,2; 24,25; Josh 2,8; Judg 19,4; 19,21; 1 Sam 9,25; 2 Kgs 4,10. Cf Tob 6,11
and Jos. Asen. 21.1.
(29) Gen 19,7-8; Josh 2,4; Judg 9,18 and 19,23. Cf Judg 4,17-22 and Jer 14,8.
(30) Gen 18,1-33 and 1 Sam 9,19.26.
(31) Judg 4,17 and 2 Kgs 4,8-36.
(32) Since ancient hospitality was expressed in dynamic relationships between hosts
and guests we have not applied R. Alterâ€™s notion of â€œliterary type-scenesâ€ to these texts. It
is not surprising to see some variation in the way ancient authors narrated hospitality
encounters. See R. ALTER, The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York 1981) 47-62.