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The Irony of Galatians: Paul's Letter in First-Century Context [Paperback]

By Mark D. Nanos (Author)
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Item description for The Irony of Galatians: Paul's Letter in First-Century Context by Mark D. Nanos...

Employing both traditional historical-critical methods and social-scientific criticism, Nanos explores the issues of purity; insiders/outsiders; the character of "the gospel"; the relationship between groups of Christ-followers in Jerusalem, Antioch, and Galatia; and evil-eye accusations.

Publishers Description
Intra-Jewish conflict in Paul's communities

After taking on traditional interpretations of Romans in The Mystery of Romans, Nanos now turns his attention to the Letter to the Galatians. A primary voice in reclaiming Paul in his Jewish context, Nanos challenges the previously dominant views of Paul as rejecting his Jewish heritage and the Law. Where Paul's rhetoric has been interpreted to be its most anti-Jewish, Nanos instead demonstrates the implications of an intra-Jewish reading. He explores the issues of purity; insiders/outsiders; the character of "the gospel"; the relationship between groups of Christ-followers in Jerusalem, Antioch, and Galatia; and evil-eye accusations.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Fortress Press
Pages   376
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.08" Width: 6" Height: 0.98"
Weight:   1.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 5, 2002
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Edition  New  
ISBN  0800632141  
ISBN13  9780800632144  

Availability  145 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 25, 2016 11:52.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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More About Mark D. Nanos

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Mark D. Nanos (PhD, University of St. Andrews) is the author of "The Mystery of Romans: The Jewish Context of Paul's Letter," which won the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish-Christian Relations. He also wrote "The Irony of Galatians: Paul's Letter in First-Century Context" and has contributed essays to various collected works.

Mark D. Nanos was born in 1954.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > New Testament
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > Commentaries
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament > Study
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > General Studies > Biblical History & Culture

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Irony of Galatians: Paul's Letter in First-Century Context?

Fantastic Book  Mar 7, 2008
Having had the privilege of studying under Mark Nanos, perhaps my view of actual book is biased (it's not though!). However, you won't find the points raised about Paul and his writings anywhere else--and it makes so much sense. The Irony of Galatians is a FANTASTIC read for anyone interested in Paul studies, Judaism, and/or the early Christ-movement.

It is a dense read at times--but as commented on by early reviewers, must of what he writes is directly against the status quo. I had class with him, and still, the repetitive nature of the writing was needed so I did not fall back into my own based beliefs. Overall, an incredible book--recommend his website: [...] where he has a collection of fascinating papers free for download.
Even more interesting than Mystery of Romans  Feb 5, 2004
Nanos takes his research and perfects his approach in looking at Paul's Jewishness and his desire for an understanding between Christians and Jews at his time.

Mark Nanos attempts to have us understand that Paul uses Irony to get to the heart of those Christians who were the intended audience for his letter.

"Oh thou foolish Galatians," an appeal in Irony to get the attention of those Galatians who were stepping away from the faith delivered earlier by Paul.

Nanos reviews, circumcision, works, the law and the meaning for the early church.

A little less difficult to read that Mystery of Romans, yet scholarly for those more educated in Theological studies.

Again, it is a must for any serious student of the scriptures.

Challenging the Status Quo  May 11, 2002
Mark Nanos continues to challenge the conventional interpretations of the New Testament. After what I thought was a homerun in The Mystery of Romans, Nanos came slightly back down to earth with this text. By all means however, this is definitely an interesting perspective and logically sound and contextually accurate so far as I could tell. With a little imagination, one can certainly place themselves in the timeframe of early Church and see these events unfolding before your eyes giving rise to at least the possibility of this alternative reading being correct. What I hold most dear is the ability of the author to reconcile the differences between early Christianity and Judaism in a way that shows that the two sects are not at different and at odds with one another as we make it to believe in today's society. I'll be looking forward to the more critical reviews that come out of the "scholarly" community. This book at least deserves a consideration but I believe its going against the flow of mainstream interpretations will likely get this book ignored for no other reason than pride. Grass roots students will surely appreciate this book.
Ironically, it could have been half as long.  Apr 1, 2002
I really do enjoy reading Mark Nanos insightful studies of NT books. I wish he could somehow cut his sentence length by 1/2 to 2/3's. This would make for easier reading & less difficulty connecting the multiple ideas, contrasts, & comparisons often found within a single sentence--there a joke in there somewhere. Perhaps suffice to say you won't get through a sentence of this book in a "Nanos' second"--it takes much longer. I found his conclusions both plausible & well supported, but not as thought provoking as his Romans work was (for me anyway). Maybe it's just because I anticipated what I could expect from him after reading his Romans book. Overall, an informative book that Reader's Digest ought to consider for it's Condensed Version Library.
The most disciplined study of the rhetoric in Galatians  Dec 5, 2001
Mark Nanos argues that Galatians must be understood primarily as a letter of "ironic rebuke", Paul's knee-jerk reaction to the news that his Gentile converts have begun to accept circumcision, and thus the "whole Torah", as a complement to their faith in Christ. Furious and exasperated ("like a parent scolding children being influenced by their peers"), he wrote this letter with smoldering sarcasm and vilifying rhetoric -- neither of which portray his converts or those advocating their circumcision (or Paul himself!) very accurately. Nanos calls this "ironic rebuke", which served the purpose of redirecting the Galatians to his circumcision-free gospel by means of humiliation and shame.

Nanos strikes quite a blow in redressing the identity of the circumcision advocates, and he dispenses with some misleading labels: (1) "Judaizers" is a misnomer, since the verb "to Judaize" is intransitive and would thus refer not to Jews who impose the law on Gentiles, but to Gentiles who choose to adopt the Jewish law. (2) "Opponents" is misleading, for it implies that these advocates explicitly opposed Paul's gospel with their "circumcision gospel", rather than seeking perhaps to complement the former with the latter; it implies that Paul wrote to defend himself, his gospel, and his apostolic authority. But far from defending himself, Paul was making an offensive and preemptive strike, well anticipating that these advocates would (indeed) become his opponents after the letter arrived. (3) "Agitators" or "troublemakers" have no place in an historical discussion, since they are simply drawn from the surface of Paul's rhetoric; he thought they were troublemakers, but they themselves obviously didn't, and many of his converts apparently didn't think so either. (4) "Teachers" has been the fairest label to date, but no evidence suggests this specific vocation. For all these reasons, Nanos cautiously speaks of "influencers" -- local Galatian Jews in charge of administering proselyte conversion (circumcision rites) to Gentiles. These influencers represented minority (Jewish) groups in terms of the larger pagan communities of Galatia, but they represented the majority in terms of Jewish interaction with the Christian coalitions.

This naturally denies the traditional view that the influencers themselves were Christian. With powerful and robust exegesis, Nanos shows that Gal. 1:6-7 and 6:12 actually point to non-Christians -- who, furthermore, had no ties to distant Jerusalem. They are made parallel to (but not identical with) the "pseudo brethren" who had invaded the private Christian meeting in Jerusalem (Gal. 2:4), and to the "circumcision faction" who afterwards appeared at Antioch (Gal. 2:12). Just like Peter who capitulated to outsider influence, so now the Galatians were succumbing to social pressure from wider Judaism.

So Paul's converts didn't really want to become Jews per se, anymore than they desired returning to pagan practices. These were attractive options (Gal. 5:2-3, 4:8-10) only in so far as they allowed the Galatian Gentiles to "fit in" and escape marginalization from the wider Jewish community (and the much wider pagan community) of which they were a part. Paul cannot stomach these options in any case, for they would undermine precisely what Christ's death on the cross had accomplished for the Gentile race (Gal. 2:21; 3:1; 3:13-14). When he vilifies everyone -- cursing the influencers (Gal. 1:8-9, 3:10) and wishing castration on them (Gal. 5:12), deriding his own converts as "bewitched fools" (Gal. 3:1) -- we learn more about his offensive and exasperated state of mind than the actual character of the parties involved. If Paul could have foreseen the consequences of his rhetoric in the centuries to come, he might have decided to "change his tone" (Gal. 4:20) after all.

Mark Nanos is one of those rare biblical scholars capable of being innovative while maintaining a focused respect for every chapter and verse of the text. One reviewer has already called this book "the most thorough and innovative investigation of Galatians since Betz's commentary in '79", and I heartily concur. In fact, on many points, Nanos has superseded Philip Esler, whose own compelling work on Galatians presents a sharply sectarian and less "Jewish-friendly" Paul. Both represent the best that scholarship currently has to offer.


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