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The Meaning of the Phrase τα στοιχεια του κοσμου in Galatians


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).

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Short Main Paper read at the SNTS General Meeting, Aberdeen, 25–29 July 2006.
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New Testament Studies
  • ISSN: 0028-6885
  • EISSN: 1469-8145
  • URL: /core/journals/new-testament-studies
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