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Paul's Allegory of the Two Covenants (Gal 4.21-31) in Light of First-Century Hellenistic Rhetoric and Jewish Hermeneutics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 December 2005

Section des Sciences religieuses, École Pratique des Hautes Études, 45-47 rue des Écoles, 75005 Paris, France


Galatians 4.21-31 opens with a brief allusion to events recounted in Genesis 16-17, to which Paul aptly appends the following comment: ατινα εστιν αλληγορουμενα (4.24). Through a re-evaluation of the meaning of the verb αλληγορεω in the context of Hellenistic rhetoric and by setting Paul's own hermeneutic in the context of Jewish hermeneutical norms of the first century, this paper argues that Paul's allegory of the two covenants is more reflective of Jewish reading practices which sought to eschatologize the Torah, such as Paul's reading of Gen 16.1 through its haftarah, Isa 54.1, rather than Christian typology.

Research Article
© 2006 Cambridge University Press

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