Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-fv566 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-17T16:56:49.922Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The Meaning of the Phrase τα στοιχεια του κοσμου in Galatians

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 April 2007

Faculteit der Godgeleerdheid, De Boelelaan 1105, Vrije Universiteit, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands


This article seeks a fresh answer to the difficult question of the meaning of the phrase τα στοιχεια του κοσμου in Gal 4.3. The answer is sought by paying close attention to (1) the argumentative context of Paul's use of the phrase in the letter (he posits some sort of equivalence between the veneration of τα στοιχεια του κοσμου and the observance of the Law; he does so for contextually relevant theological and rhetorical reasons), and (2) the cultural-historical context of the addressees, the Gentile believers in Galatia (τα στοιχεια are ‘the gods’ they once venerated; this veneration involved calendrical observances).

Research Article
2007 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Short Main Paper read at the SNTS General Meeting, Aberdeen, 25–29 July 2006.