SBL San Diego: Law and Love in Galatians

My paper proposal for the Biblical Ethics unit at the Society for Biblical Literature meeting in San Diego in November this year has been accepted. The focus of the seminar this year is on the twin themes of Justice and Mercy and Law and Love. My paper will be on Galatians:

Paul’s Ethics and Paul’s Experience: Law and Love in Galatians

Paul’s assertion in Gal 5.14 that love of neighbour is the fulfilment of the law is rightly explored in relation to his subsequent proposal that mutual bearing of burdens ‘fulfils the law of Christ’ (Gal 6.2). This paper explores the relationship between law and love in Galatians, taking into account statements in Paul’s other letters (Rom 13.8–10; 1 Cor 9.21) as well as Jewish and Greco-Roman evidence for the collocation of the terms. I argue that law, love, and their implied relationship are, for Paul, recast under the pressure of Paul’s christology, but also in the light of Paul’s own experience. Scholarship on Paul’s ethics has not given sufficient attention to the ways in which Paul’s account of his own experience of Christ’s love and his consequent re-negotiation of relationship to law affect his ethical instruction to the Galatians. In particular, I shall propose that Paul’s language in Gal 2.20–21 (‘death to the law’; ‘living by Christ’s faithfulness’; Christ’s self-giving love) provides a strong basis for Paul’s later statements about law and love in the letter and illuminates the possible connotations of the phrase ‘the law of Christ’.