Paul's quotations (use of "baptism into Moses" in NT)

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Sun Mar 4 18:16:06 EST 2001


Dear John,

I have appreciated your posts in the past, and I enjoy this one on Gal
3:16, so I hate to speak against a part of your dissertation work. But I
must say with all respect that I would have to see much more before I would
accept what seems a convoluted handling of the verse. You cite Earl Elllis:

>For starters, why do you call this midrash?  Sipre
>Deuteronomy 8 says "to their seed" means "to their sons."
>To quote Earl Ellis, “If this is Paul’s argument, then it
>must be confessed that its baseless caprice out-rabbis the
>rabbis; only Akiba could applaud it and even he would
>substitute something more intricate."

This critique of the normal interpretation of Gal 3:16 might be just if
Paul were asserting a strict interpretation of Scripture, but most
interpreters only see Paul making a word play in order to advance his
argument. It can be a literary devise.

>4. who is Christ.
>[the “you” in “your seed” (lit. “seed of you”) is Christ.
>The antecedant of the relative pronoun is not “seed” but
>“you.”
>
>i.e. the seed of you, which is Christ
>
>Paul views Abraham as a figurehead for Christ, as the snake
>in Genesis 3 is a figurehead for Satan.  Abraham, the “new
>Adam,” received the promises on behalf of Christ.  Note also
>Isa 53:10 which Paul would no doubt see as speaking of the
>Church as Christ's seed]

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that Christ is Abraham, so to
speak. If so, then I find this interpretation to be strangely obscure. I
would need much more data before shifting from what seems the natural and
acceptable sense, pace Earle Ellis.

>More idiomatically,
>The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.  It
>does not say “and to your seeds,” in the plural, but in the
>singular, “and to your seed,” that is, to Christ’s seed.

I'd rather stick with the idea that Paul telescopes time by making Christ
Abraham's seed. Christ is so important to the fulfillment of the Abrahamic
promise that it is right to regard the promise as made to Him, along with
Abraham.

				Yours,
				Harold Holmyard





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