Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on Paul's Letter to the Galatians
Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on Paul's Letter to the Galatians
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Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on Paul's Letter to the Galatians

in Socio-Rhetorical Commentary

by Ben Witherington III

4.6 Rank Score: 5.52 from 5 reviews, 3 featured collections, and 6 user libraries
Pages 477
Publisher Eerdmans
Published 1/1/1998
ISBN-13 9780802844330

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Phillip J. Long Phillip J. Long June 14, 2012
This commentary is almost worth the price for the introduction alone. (It happens that I agree with much of what he says, so that may color my perceptions just a bit!) I find Witherington’s view of the agitators to be well-written and clear, informed by a dialogue with James Dunn yet not he is not simply parroting “new perspective” ideas. However, the emphasis on Paul’s rhetorical style is less helpful (to me), although it seems as though Witherington makes good use of the Greco-Roman rhetorical styles for interpreting the text. A real highlight in this commentary (and others in the Socio-Rhetorical series) is the section entitled “Bridging the Horizons.” Here Witherington attempts to apply his exegesis of Galatians to contemporary theological issues – how does tihs book really apply to the church today? [Full Review]
Ben Witherington's socio-rhetorical commentary is strong on both Jewish and Greco-Roman background, and he's much better than most commentators at literary matters, but he tends to do a lot with the rhetorical analysis I've criticized above (see Longenecker). I haven't spent a lot of time in this commentary. I don't have a good read on how Witherington handles the New Perspective issues, but I know that he supports South Galatia and an early date for the epistle. If his approach to the historical issues and the difficult questions with how Acts fits with Galatians is anything like his treatment of those issues in his Acts commentary, I would expect it to be superb. Witherington is known for zooming through commentaries quickly, and I think that hurts the quality of his work. A commentary someone has been working on for over a decade is bound to have more long-term thought involved in it than one that takes a couple years. My biggest pet peeve with Witherington is that he's extremely fair to opponents whose assumptions about scripture are far from his own (e.g. theological liberals) but grossly unfair to those who share his high view of scripture but have reach theological conclusions (complementarians and Calvinists especially). [Full Review]
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998. Pp. xvii + 477, Paperback, $37.50, ISBN 0802844332. Jerry Sumney Lexington Theological Seminary Lexington, KY 40508 This is the third commentary by Ben Witherington which employs the "socio-rhetorical" method. The primary thing use of this method seems to entail for this commentary is assigning Galatians to the category of deliberative rhetoric. This understanding of the rhetorical species of Galatians then guides Witherington's understanding of the function of various sections of the letter. As one expects from Witherington, he has read widely and recounts many of the views he has encountered. He is more successful in this volume than in former volumes with integrating the views of other scholars into the arguments for his own positions. This is particularly true in his comments on the text, where he engages a good range of primarily English speaking commentators as he establishes his own positions on the text. The introduction to the commentary is more a recounting of various views of others which are arranged and introduced to lead the reader to Witherington's conclusions. He returns in many of his conclusions on date and destination, as well as in his identification of the Galatians 2 Jerusalem meeting with the Acts 11 (rather than Acts 15) visit, to positions taken in the early decades of this century. His arguments as well as his conclusions in the introduction are often dependent on William Ramsay and J. B. Lightfoot. The argument is also dependent on arguments presented in his commentary on Acts, to which the reader is sent for fuller argumentation on a number of important points. His construction of Pauline chronology relies on Acts to a greater extent than many critical readers will find acceptable. [Full Review]