Rereading Galatians from the Perspective of Paul’s Gospel: A Literary and Theological Commentary

Yung Suk undertakes an in-depth study of the gospel in the New Testament. Embarking on a literary analysis of reading Galatians, this ambitious project aims to illuminate the various aspects of Paul’s view of “the internal logic of the theme of the gospel (2).” Y. argues that Paul writes Galatians to explicitly make his gospel that all can become children of God through faith. Y’s analysis of Paul’s gospel aptly demonstrates three different aspects: God’s gospel, Christ’s gospel, and the Christian gospel (8).

In sections 1 to 7, Y. offers a careful exegetical study and quenches the reader’s questions about Paul’s letter. Unlike the traditional interpretation, Y. compares the biblical text between the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and the Common English Bible (CEB) and provides a detailed explanation of pistis christou in Gal 2:16 and 3:22 of how it should be rightfully translated as “through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ” using a subjective genitive (7). Y. having wrestled with the traditional opinions that read Galatians as advocating the doctrine of “justification of faith” from a forensic salvation perspective, urges the need for an alternative reading of Galatians that focuses on the faithfulness of Jesus, which goes back to God’s faithfulness (7). Particularly in sections 4 and 5, Y.’s demonstration of the chiastic structure in Gal 3:1-29 and Gal 4:1-31 is helpful to understand the gospel.

Y.’s writes in a readable manner having Greek transliteration embedded in the text. The intended audience of this commentary is for preachers or those interested in reading the Bible with a literary and theological lens. It is a useful resource for Bible study groups because Y. delineates the various terminologies or topics that Paul brings up throughout Galatians. Each section contains a box with the information that Y. wishes to educate his readers. Moreover, some boxes contain discussion questions that are accessible for leaders to pull out the questions with the group members to converse on the issues that arise. Not only does Y. provide a thorough analysis of the biblical text, but he also takes up a contemporary understanding of the text so that it is more relatable with contemporary readers.

However, those who want to learn more about the historical background or curious about the rhetorical interpretation of Galatians may have to consult other commentaries. Moreover, the Greek text is missing in the commentary, so those who want to read the textual variants may need to have the Greek Bible at hand. Nevertheless, anyone who is tired of reading the traditional commentaries and is looking for an alternative reading of Galatians with literary and theological comments that focuses on the faithfulness of Jesus would want to read this book. Y.’s serious willingness to grapple with “the gospel of Christ” (26) is reason enough to recommend this book.

 

Grace Eunhye So

PhD Candidate, Graduate Theological Union

 



Categories: (B) Book Review

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