in Anchor Yale Bible

by J. Louis Martyn

4.49 Rank Score: 5.99 from 11 reviews, 6 featured collections, and 6 user libraries
Pages 638
Publisher Yale University Press
Published 1/1/1997
ISBN-13 9780300139853
As the early church took shape in the mid-first century a.d., a theological struggle of great consequence was joined between the apostle Paul and certain theologians who had intruded into the churches founded by the apostle in Galatia. Writing his letter to the Galatians in the midst of that struggle, Paul was concerned to find a way by which he could assert the radical newness of God’s act in Christ while still affirming the positive relation of that act to the solemn promise God had made centuries earlier to Abraham.

With the skill of a seasoned scholar and teacher, J. Louis Martyn enables us to take imaginary seats in the Galatian churches so that we may hear Paul’s words with the ears of the early Christians themselves. Listening in this manner, we begin to sense the dramatic intensity of the theological struggle, thus coming to understand the crucial distinctions between the theology of Paul and that of his opponents. We can therefore see why Galatians proved to be a momentous turning point in early Christianity: In this letter Paul preached the decisive and liberating newness of Christ while avoiding both the distortions of anti-Judaism and his opponents’ reduction of Christ to a mere episode in the epic of Israel’s history. Like the Galatians of Paul’s day, we can begin to hear what the apostle himself called “the truth of the gospel.”

As its predecessors in the Anchor Bible series have done Galatians successfully makes available all the significant historical and linguistic knowledge which bears on the interpretation of this important New Testament book. A personal letter written by Paul in the mid-first century to friends in the churches emerging in the region of Galatia, where it was circulated, Galatians is down to earth and pragmatic. This biblical book requires the modern reader to take a seat in one of the Galatian congregations, to listen to Paul's letter with Galatian ears, and discern the contours of Paul's theology. That is exactly what Dr. Martyn makes possible in his marvelous commentary, with its careful translation and creative interpretation of Galatians. Though relatively brief, Paul's letter is filled with complex theological and historical issues that demand a thorough treatment. Readers will not be disappointed in Dr. Martyn's sensitive handling of difficult passages, and all will be delighted to have a fresh translation that makes sense to our modern ears. All in all, this volume will stand out as a shining example of top notch scholarship written for the general reader.


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Nijay K. Gupta Nijay K. Gupta July 26, 2019
Lou Martyn is a legend in New Testament studies, especially known for promoting an “apocalyptic Paul” reading of Galatians. This large commentary is provocative, sometimes quirky and idiosyncratic, but also astonishing and refreshing. He famously defends the “faithfulness of Jesus Christ” reading of pistis christou. [Full Review]
Robert M. Bowman Jr. Robert M. Bowman Jr. December 11, 2016
Standard mainline Protestant commentary, generally reflecting the New Perspective on Paul. [Full Review]
Phil Nellis Phil Nellis July 16, 2013
I found this volume extremely helpful in preaching through Galatians.
chappy chappy June 19, 2013
Every verse he comments on has to be taken seriously, he has not left too many stones unturned. The most engaged commentary out there on Galatians.
Marcus Maher Marcus Maher January 20, 2013
J. Louis Martyn has written by far the most thorough commentary on Galatians at over 600 pages. But it rarely felt long, as Martyn's exegesis was fascinating even though it was not always convincing. Martyn utilizes the comment section in a unique way in what really are excurses (there are 52 total!). From an organizational standpoint this is great because the main comments in the commentary are no longer than Dunn, enabling you to get through the main point relatively quickly and giving you the option to read the sometimes very lengthy excurses or not (they're mostly worth reading). Martyn's commentary is written from a thoroughgoing apocalyptic perspective. At times this helps at times it's a hindrance. Martyn also does more mirror reading than any other commentary on the market coming up with an elaborate reconstruction of the background of Galatians. On chapters 1 and 2 I found it to be brilliant. I think he's less successful after that. Still, though, Martyn has written a great commentary that is the strongest on the market on the first two chapters. Hays has incorporated the best of his insights [Full Review]
J.L. Martyn's AB is too academically-important to ignore if you're doing academic work. I looked at it enough to gain a respect for his command of the letter and the literature on it. His approach is a bit idiosyncratic, but he's not as lone ranger. He's managed to influence Galatians scholarship significantly with this work. This commentary is incredibly detailed, even for an Anchor Yale Bible volume, and will be of a lot less use to someone just preaching or leading a Bible study on Galatians. He tends to side more with the New Perspective than with the traditional Protestant approach (but I believe he is Catholic himself), and he favors the later date and North Galatian location that are usually seen to conflict with Acts (and thus tends to dismiss the historicity of Luke's account in Acts). Carson says he's weak on salvation-historical elements and thinks he hasn't "got to the bottom of Paul's understanding of the relationships between law and grace". His approach emphasizes the corporate, even cosmic, aspects of the gospel so much that there's not much attention given to how the gospel affects individuals. He doesn't have much time for legal/forensic elements to the gospel. [Full Review]
Scot McKnight Scot McKnight May 28, 2009
Brian Brown Brian Brown September 13, 2008
Excellent look at Galatians as from a clearly apocalyptic stand-point. While he may push the theme too far, forcing it in places, it is wonderfully illuminating in other places (particularly in chapter 1 & 2).