Epistle to the Galatians

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The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, often shortened to Galatians, is the ninth book of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul of Tarsus [1] to a number of Early Christian communities in the Roman province of Galatia in central Anatolia. Paul is principally concerned with the controversy surrounding Gentile Christians and the Mosaic Law within Early Christianity, see also Paul of Tarsus and Judaism.

Contents

Composition

Paul is thought to have composed this letter in grave concern and agitation. It is a rebuke to the Galatians. No original of the letter is known to survive. The earliest reasonably complete version available to scholars today, named P46, dates to approximately the year 200 A.D., approximately 150 years after the original was presumably drafted. This fragmented papyrus, parts of which are missing, almost certainly contains errors introduced in the process of being copied from earlier manuscripts.[2] However, through careful research relating to paper construction, handwriting development, and the established principles of textual criticism, scholars can be rather certain about where these errors and changes appeared and what the original text probably said.[3]

Authenticity

Biblical scholars agree that Galatians is a true example of Paul's writing.

The main arguments in favor of the authenticity of Galatians include its style and themes, which are common to the core letters of the Pauline corpus. Moreover, Paul's description of the Council of Jerusalem (Gal 2:1–10) gives a different point of view from the description in Acts 15:2–29.

The central dispute in the letter concerns the question of how Gentiles could convert to Christianity, which shows that this letter was written at a very early stage in church history, when the vast majority of Christians were Jewish or Jewish proselytes, which historians refer to as the Jewish Christians. Another indicator that the letter is early is that there is no hint in the letter of a developed organization within the Christian community at large. This puts it during the lifetime of Paul himself.

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