Gesila Nneka Uzukwu, «Gal 3,28 and its Alleged Relationship to Rabbinic Writings», Vol. 91 (2010) 370-392
Scholars have suggested that Gal 3,28 is comparable to similar sayings found in rabbinic writings, and that the latter can help in interpreting and understanding the meaning and theology of Gal 3,28. In this study we have analysed and compared the alleged similar sayings found in Jewish texts and Gal 3,28 in order to demonstrate that Gal 3,28 is neither literally nor thematically related to the former, and we should not allow the alleged similar sayings found in rabbinic writings to influence our reading of Gal 3,28. Both texts reflect the conceptual uses of pairs of opposites in the Greco-Roman tradition, but at the same time, their subsequent usages or occurrences in Jewish and Christian texts came into being independently from one another.
374 GESILA NNEKA UZUKWU
only when one encounters two distinct writings that are
radically different that one begins to ask questions about the
historical situation behind the texts under study.
What is striking, however, is the significant difference between
the blessing of gratitude found in early rabbinic writings and in the
Genizah fragment. There is a closer parallel between the morning
prayer of blessings found in the Cairo Genizah fragment and
Gal 3,28 than between the blessings found in earlier Jewish
writings and the related text found in the Cairo Genizah fragment.
Thus, the question is whether or not the background of the
blessings found in the Genizah fragments stems from a Christian
usage of similar expressions, because it has closest parallels to the
Pauline passages found in 1 Cor 12,13; Gal 3,28 and Col 3,11. Put
in another way, do the suggestive parallels imply that there was
Christian influence on Judaism in the later period? This discussion
is in need of further research.
b) The three blessings in their socio-historical context
Turning now to the question of the social historical context in
which the three blessings came into being and the social cultural
world they envisage, our attempt to establish the context for
understanding the use and function of the three blessings of
gratitude found in rabbinic texts lies in understanding the history
of Judaism in the rabbinic period 8. The study of rabbinic
Judaism, â€” the social, religious and political structures that
shaped rabbinic texts, rabbinic culture as well as its relationships
and interactions with other surrounding cultures â€” is a difficult
task, as scholars readily acknowledge. And for the very specific
question of the social-cultural world that the three blessings of
R. BIERINGER â€“ F. GARCÃA MARTÃNEZ â€“ D. POLLEFEYT â€“ P.J. TOMSON)
(JSJS 136 ; Leiden 2009) 43-61. See also S. SCHWARTZ, â€œThe Political
Geography of Rabbinic Textsâ€, The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and
Rabbinic Literature (ed. C.E. FONROBERT) (Cambridge, NY 2007) 75-96.
Here we will focus on the three blessings of gratitude as found in the
Tosefta, in the Balylonian and in the Palestinian Talmud because they are the
three texts that are compared with Gal 3,28 in the scholarly discussion of the
text. The blessings of gratitude as found in the Genizah fragment are a later
development, compared to the ancient sources under study.