Galatians and the Imperial Cult: A Critical Analysis of the First-century Social Context of Paul's Letter

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Isd, 2008 - Religion - 190 pages
Justin K. Hardin assesses the imperial cult as the background for understanding the social setting of Paul's letter to the Galatians. After providing a new reading of certain sections of the letter, he offers a fresh hypothesis for the situation of the Galatian churches. Thus, he contributes to the ongoing debate on the importance of the imperial cult for the social and religious setting of the New Testament era.
The argument is advanced in two parts. In Part One, 'The Imperial Cult and Ideology in the Roman World and in Galatia', the author undertakes a thematic sketch and assessment of emperor worship and imperial ideology during the Julio-Claudian period, including a detailed study on the province of Galatia.
In Part Two, 'The Imperial Cult in the Galatian Letter', he then turns to Paul's letter in order to evaluate the imperial cult as a backdrop from which to understand the crisis in Galatia. First is a discussion of Paul's claim in Gal 6:12-13 that the 'agitators' were compelling the Galatians to be circumcised only that they (the agitators) might avoid persecution for the cross of Christ. Hardin evaluates whether the Jesus-believers were being persecuted by the civic authorities in Galatia for not observing the imperial cult. The initial point of reference in the subsequent chapter is the statement in Gal 4:10 that the Galatian Jesus-believers were observing 'days, months, seasons, and years'. Here, Hardin evaluates the recent suggestion that Gal 4:10 refers to the imperial cultic calendar. After a careful exegesis and a fresh reading of the broader passage (4:1-11) is undertaken, the author provides a new understanding of the situation in the Galatian churches at the time of Paul's letter.

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User Review  - Frans_J_Vermeiren - LibraryThing

This book, based on a Ph.D. thesis, is divided into two main parts. The first part on the imperial cult in the Roman empire and in the new Roman province of Galatia is highly informative. The great ... Read full review

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Very good analysis overall.
The ideas put forth by some that Paul was somehow abandoning the law is utter nonsense in light of Paul's clear statements about the law as being good and just as in
Romans 7 and 8 and in addition to other writings in his other epistles.
It is very clear according to scripture the placement of circumcision and the sacrificial system.
But Paul's main focus was to dispel the notion that we could be justified to God by anything but the blood of Christ -- the message to both gentile and Jewish Christians.
But justification does not do away with God's law.
In fact faith establishes the law as Jesus Christ lives in us and His laws are written in our hearts -- Heb 8:7-13
Thank you.
W Gosse

About the author (2008)

Justin K. Hardin, Born 1976; 2006 PhD at the University of Cambridge; 2004-05 he taught New Testament Greek at Cambridge; since fall 2005 R. Strickland Assistant Professor of Religion at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU), USA.

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