Terrance Callan, «The Style of Galatians», Vol. 88 (2007) 496-516
Especially since the publication of H. D. Betz’s commentary in 1979 much attention has been given to rhetorical analysis of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Discussion has focused on the species of Galatians’ rhetoric, i.e., whether it is forensic, deliberative or epideictic; little attention has been given to its style. This paper is an attempt to supply that lack. It begins by describing stylistic ornamentation of Galatians with respect to vocabulary and syntax and proceeds to discuss the presence of plain, middle and grand styles in Galatians. Finally it considers the implications of stylistic analysis for interpretation of Galatians.
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The Style of Galatians
Especially since the publication of H. D. Betzâ€™s commentary in 1979
much attention has been given to rhetorical analysis of Paulâ€™s letter to
the Galatians (1). Discussion has focused on the species of Galatiansâ€™
rhetoric, i.e., whether it is forensic, deliberative or epideictic; little
attention has been given to its style (2). In what follows I will attempt
to supply that lack.
In De Oratore 3.37 Cicero identifies four virtues of style: 1)
correct diction, 2) lucidity, 3) ornament, and 4) appropriateness (3). He
discusses ornament at length in 3.96-208; in the midst of this (in 3.199-
200) he discusses three general styles, namely the full, plain and
middle styles. Cicero organizes ornament into two general categories.
Vocabulary is ornamented by use of 1) rare words 2) new coinages,
and 3) metaphors and other tropes. Syntax is ornamented by 1)
avoidance of harsh clash of consonants and hiatus of vowels, 2)
rhythm, and 3) figures of speech and thought. Elsewhere (e.g., Orator
204) Cicero speaks of periodic style as a means of ornament.
(1) H.D. BETZ, Galatians. A Commentary on Paulâ€™s Letter to the Churches in
Galatia (Hermeneia; Philadelphia 1979). On the history of rhetorical criticism of
Paulâ€™s letters in general and Galatians in particular, see R.A. BRYANT, The Risen
Crucified Christ in Galatians (SBLDS 185; Atlanta 2001) 30-37, 44-52. The
history of recent rhetorical criticism of Galatians is also described in The
Galatians Debate. Contemporary Issues in Rhetorical and Historical
Interpretation (ed. M. NANOS) (Peabody, MA 2002) xv-xxii, 3-113. Rhetorical
analysis of Galatians that is not mentioned in these summaries includes S. TSANG,
From Slaves to Sons. A New Rhetoric Analysis on Paulâ€™s Slave Metaphors in His
Letter to the Galatians (Studies in Biblical Literature 81; New York 2005). P.H.
Kern has questioned the validity of such analysis (see his Rhetoric and Galatians.
Assessing an Approach to Paulâ€™s Epistle [SNTSMS 101; Cambridge 1998]).
(2) BRYANT, Risen Crucified Christ, 128-140, comments on the style of Gal
1,1-10, and elements of the style of Galatians have been discussed by many
authors, some of whom will be noted below. However, no one has tried to
describe the style of Galatians in general.
(3) The discussion of stylistic norms here and elsewhere in this essay is
dependent on the discussion in T. CALLAN, â€œThe Style of the Second Letter of
Peterâ€, Bib 84 (2003) 202-224. For another discussion of style see BRYANT, Risen
Crucified Christ, 91-104.