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.
GAL 3,28 AND ITS ALLEGED RELATIONSHIP TO RABBINIC WRITINGS
blessings of gratitude found in rabbinic sources 14. In Judaism, the
distinctions between Jew and Gentile, man and woman (not the
least of them that women have low social status compared with
men), and between free Jewish male and slave (the status of
women and slave are the same) are self-evident and have their
social and religious consequences. In the recitation of the three
blessings, the person who recites the blessings admits his social
status with the different religious practices that accompanies it.
The next step after having surveyed the possible origin of the
three blessings of gratitude found in rabbinic writings is to
determine their function and meaning. The three blessings of
gratitude, as we know, are used in the context of Jewish morning
liturgy. They are three brief fixed formulae recited at the beginning
of the daily Jewish morning prayer of blessings. These three
blessings are part of a series of blessings one recites as an
expression of gratitude to God for the ability to wake up in the
morning and be able to go about the daily routines of the
morning 15. Among the different blessings, such as thanking God
for the ability to distinguish between day and night, the ability to
wake up in the morning, and the ability to put on cloth,
L. Hoffman acknowledges that the three blessings wherein a Jew
thanks God for not having been created a Gentile, a woman and a
slave (ignorant person) are somewhat different from the rest of the
As for the purpose and function of the recitation of the three
blessings, a rabbinic explanation is that a Jewish male thanks God
that he is not a gentile because gentiles are excluded from
fulfilling religious duties since â€œthey are as nothing before Himâ€.
He thanks God that he is not a woman because â€œa woman is under
no obligation to keep the commandments. He thanks God that he is
not an uneducated person â€œfor no uneducated person fears sinâ€ 17.
T. ZAHAVY, Studies in Jewish Prayer (Lanham, MD 1990) 25.
L.A. HOFFMAN, â€œBlessings and Study: The Jewish Way to Begin a Dayâ€,
My Peopleâ€™s Prayer Book. (ed. L.A. HOFFMANN) (Woodstock, VT 2001) V ,
HOFFMAN, â€œBlessings and Studyâ€, 7.
A.L. WILLIAMS (trans.), Tractate Berakoth (Benedictions), Mishna and
Tosephta (London 1921) 92-93.