An Analysis Of Antiochene Exegesis Of Galatians 4:24-26 -- By: Robert J. Kepple

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 39:2 (Spring 1977)
Article: An Analysis Of Antiochene Exegesis Of Galatians 4:24-26
Author: Robert J. Kepple


An Analysis Of Antiochene Exegesis Of Galatians 4:24-26

Robert J. Kepple*

One of the key passages in any examination of the Pauline use of the Old Testament is Galatians 4:21–31. Although Paul frequently quotes and interprets the Old Testament in his epistles, there are relatively few passages where Paul utilizes, or appears to be utilizing, allegorical interpretation.1 Galatians 4:21–31 is one of the most crucial of these passages.

Two recent writers on the Pauline hermeneutic illustrate the pivotal nature of this passage. Both Richard Longenecker and A. T. Hanson write that there are only two passages in which P III could be charged with allegorical interpretation—Galatians 4:21–31 and I Corinthians 9:8–10.2 After examining the passage, however, Longenecker concludes that Galatians 4:21–31 is “a highly allegorical representation of Old Testament history,3 while A. T. Hanson concludes that in Galatians 4:21ff. “Paul was in fact using typology, not allegory.”4

* Mr. Kepple is presently a graduate student in the Division of Librarianship at Emory University. This fall he will be resuming his doctoral studies in New Testament at Baylor University.

This issue—typology or allegory in Galatians 4:21–31—was also argued in the hermeneutical discussions of the early church. In support of their extensive use of allegorical interpretation, the Alexandrians appealed to Paul and particularly to this passage. The Antiochenes, violently opposed to Alexandrian allegory, argued that Galatians 4:21–31 was not allegorical but typological. The Antiochenes were not prepared to argue that Paul’s exegesis was not normative for the church.5 Rather, they attempted to argue that Paul had been misunderstood. An examination of these Antiochene arguments may contribute to our understanding today of Paul’s exegesis in Galatians 4:21–31.

The commentaries on Galatians by three major exegetes of the Antiochene school have survived: those of Theodore of Mopsuestia (c.350–428), Joh...

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