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Galatians

Course Level: Advanced

Course Summary

This course is an in-depth study of Paul's letter to the Galatians. In this course students will learn about the location and ethnic makeup of the Galatian community, and they will learn about key Pauline terms such as "works of the law,"¯ "justification,"¯ and "faith in / of Christ,"¯ which will assist students as they interpret other Pauline letters. Galatians will also introduce students to one of the earliest conflicts in Christianity--the place of non-Jews or Gentiles in the Christian community. Moreover, this letter will inform students about the opponents of Paul, commonly called Judaizers, and the differences between the theology of the Jerusalem church and Paul himself. Study of this letter will help students understand many of today's theological differences between Protestants and Catholics that go back to the time of the Reformation, and study of this letter will help students better understand the conflicts between the Church and the Synagogue that started as early as the late first-century CE. Finally, this course will give students a glimpse of early Christian ethics and what it meant to live a virtuous life in the early Christian communities.

Successful completion of this course earns 2.5 CEU's. Click here for more information about CEU's.

General Course Objectives

  • Learn some of the major issues in Pauline theology from the Reformation to the present
  • Become familiar with the different scholarly perspectives on Paul through the ages, Catholic and Protestant.
  • Be able to articulate the differences between “faith in Christ” versus “faith of Christ”
  • Learn some of the major theories regarding Paul and the Jewish Law
  • Become familiar with modern scholarly theories about Paul and Judaism
  • Learn how to use a single-volume commentary on one major book of the Bible

Course Materials

  • Required Book: Frank Matera Galatians (Sacra Pagina) Michael Glazier Press, 2007 ISBN: 0814659721; ISBN-13: 978-0814659724
  • Optional Book: Harold W. Attridge, ed. The HarperCollins Study Bible HarperOne and the Society of Biblical Literature, 2006 ISBN: 006078685X; ISBN-13: 978-0060786854
  • Course Materials available at the VLCFF Amazon Store.

Course Structure and Highlights

  • Week 1: Introduction and Galatians 1
    • Learn the significance of Paul’s call
    • Learn about Gentile believers in Jesus versus Jewish believers in Jesus
    • Learn about Paul’s understanding of the gospel
    • Discover the significance of circumcision in the early church
    • Discover how to use a biblical commentary
  • Week 2: Galatians 2
    • Learn about “faith in” versus “faith of Christ”
    • Learn about what the Dead Sea Scrolls have taught us about the technical term “Works of the Law”
    • Learn about the Pauline term “in Christ”
    • Discover how “justification” language should be understood
    • Discover differences between Protestant and Catholic interpretations of Paul on the question of salvation (soteriology)
  • Week 3: Galatians 3
    • Learn about the purpose of the Jewish Law and its place in Christianity
    • Learn about the equality produced by the act of baptism
    • Learn about the foundation of early Christian ethics
    • Discover how Paul may have been “misunderstood” by some of his critics and followers
    • Discover some important differences between Galatians and Romans
  • Week 4: Galatians 4
    • Learn about the elemental spirits
    • Learn more about Paul’s attitude toward the Jewish Law
    • Learn about the ancient technique of allegory
    • Discover how Paul rereads the Hagar - Sarah story
    • Discover why some scholars detect a hint of anti-Judaism in Paul
  • Week 5: Galatians 5-6
    • Learn about virtue and vice lists
    • Learn more about Paul and circumcision
    • Learn about the concept of Freedom as becoming a servant
    • Discover what it means to live by the Spirit
    • Discover the works of the Flesh