The North-South Galatia Theory Controversy -- By: Albert Greene, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 092:368 (Oct 1935)
Article: The North-South Galatia Theory Controversy
Author: Albert Greene, Jr.


The North-South Galatia Theory Controversy

Albert Greene, Jr.

Undergraduate Student, Evangelical Theological College

When the Apostle Paul, at some time approximating the middle of the first century of the Christian era, addressed an epistle to the “churches of Galatia,” he could have had no idea of the reams of paper and the gallons of ink, to say nothing of the years of scholarly lives, which would be expended in the vain attempt to determine with certainty the origin and location of those churches. Who were the Galatians to whom Paul wrote? Where were these churches? Were they the churches in Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, and thus included in the Roman province of Galatia, or were they churches in unknown cities to the north, restricted to the geographical area known for over two centuries before the inception of the Roman province as “Galatia”? The answers to such questions were obvious enough to the writer and the readers of the Epistle to the Galatians, but they are far from obvious to scholars today. Therefore many theories have been propounded on the subject, but two of these have outstripped all others until they are the only serious competitors in the field. These are the North Galatian and the South Galatian theories, so named because they advocate, respectively, that the Galatian churches were located in the North and in the South of the Roman province of Galatia. The Northern theory takes the word “Galatia” in its geographical sense as the old territory of the Gauls in north-central Asia Minor and it is not concerned with the political Galatia at all. The Southern theory takes the word in its political connotation, because only thus can it be made to

include the cities which Paul touched on his first missionary journey.

Before proceeding further the explanation should be made that the importance of this controversy is by no means doctrinal. The Pauline authorship of the Epistle is not affected, nor is the doctrinal authority of the work impugned by the problem. The question is purely one of historical interest. The course of history in the apostolic age is involved and our conception of the happenings of those early years is affected by our acceptance of one theory or the other. The matter will be important to one only in so far as the sequence of external events in the early church is important to him.

It is clear at first sight that a paper on this subject by an undergraduate can be nothing but a respectful summary of important arguments on each side, with a statement of the conclusion which limited reading had made to seem the only logical one. Further, a vigilant brevity will be essential in order to keep the paper within the re...

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