22 Dec 2012 
#18 Probably the best evidence for an earthly & human Jesus

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By examining the whole of Galatians 3:7-4:7, can we figure out what kind of woman Paul was thinking for Gal 4:4?

Paul started by making a claim: "But to Abraham were the promises addressed, and to his seed: he does not say, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed; which is Christ."(3:16 Darby). That seems to refer to Genesis 17-22 but it is never specified here according to Paul's words.

Anyway, the promise is about inheritance (3:18) for all (Gentiles and Jews --3:8, 14, 28-29) but that is put on hold by the Law "until the seed [Christ] came ['erchomai', clear expression of a coming to occur] to whom the promise was made" (3:16, 19). Then everyone would be liberated from the Law by Christ (3:13, 22-25) & his crucifixion (3:13) and "the promise, on the principle of faith of Jesus Christ, should be given to those that believe." (3:22), allowing Paul's Galatians to be God's sons & heirs and (by "adoption"?) seed of Abraham (3:7, 29).

What remains is for the Son/Christ to come as the seed of Abraham, that is as a Jew and earthly human (as other seeds of Abraham, like Paul (Ro 11:1), Jews of Israelite descent (Ro 9:7), other apostles (2 Cor 11:20)), in order to enable the promise. So we have:
Gal 4:4-7 Darby "but when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, come of woman [as an earthly human], come under law [as a Jew would be], that he might redeem those under law, that we might receive sonship. But because you are [Greek present tense] sons ... So you are [present again] no longer bondman, but son ..."

So Paul was thinking about an earthly "flesh & blood" mother! And Christ had already come and gone (1:1)!

1) Paul used the common knowledge Jesus had been an earthly man (from a woman) and a Jew (as descendant of Abraham) in order to clinch a long & complicated argument. If the existence of Jesus on earth was not accepted or even doubted, then the argument would simply not work.

2) Carrier and Doherty think Paul should have named that woman (Mary), if Jesus was born from her, as told in the gospels. But, in that instance, naming her would have been an unnecessary confusing distraction, weakening the point Paul was making.

3) "born of (a) woman" expression is used three times in the OT book of Job (14:1, 15:14 & 25:4) in order to indicate earthly human being.

4) Why would Paul use 'ginomai' (become, be made, come; as also in Ro 1:3) instead of 'gennao' (born)?
Probably to take into account an incarnation from a pre-existent heavenly being: if 'gennao' had been employed by Paul, that would imply Jesus started his life as a baby, rather than as a divine entity a very long time before.
Furthermore, 'ginomai' has been translated as "born" in cases involving human origin, as in:
- Plato's Republic, 8.553 "... When a son born ['genomenos' (root 'ginomai')] to the timocratic man at first emulates his father ..." (Paul Shorey's translation)
- Josephus' Ant., I, XIX, 8 "... and when she [Lea] had born ['genomenou' (root 'ginomai')] a son, and her husband ... reconciled to her, she named her son Reubel ..." (Wm. Whiston's translation)
- Josephus' Ant., VII, VII, 4 "... the child that was born ['genomenw' (root 'ginomai')] to David of the wife of Uriah ..." (Wm. Whiston's translation)
- Pausanias' Description of Greece, 1.5.2 "... Antiochus, one of the children of Heracles born ['genomenos' (root 'ginomai')] to him by Meda daughter of Phylas ..." (W.H.S. Jones & H.A. Ormerod's translation)

5) The Greek word 'ek' (usually translated by "of" in Gal 4:4) means "out of", "from" or "by". And with the mood of 'ginomai' being participle, a more correct translation (albeit not elegant) would be: "being made/coming/becoming from/out of/by a woman, being made/coming/becoming under the Law".

On the same verse, see also post #95.

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {earthly & human Jesus} {Galatians} {Galatians 4:4} {mythicism} {Paul} {woman/women}
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Comment from: gakuseidon

Actually, if I recall correctly from one of his podcasts, Carrier will be arguing that "born of a woman" in Gal 4:4 is allegory, part of Paul's allegory in Gal 4:24. I'll be interested to see how he argues for this, which I assume he will do in his new book.

Previously Doherty argued in "The Jesus Puzzle" that "born of a woman" was consistent with (IIRC) "the language of myth". However, around 2006, Doherty stated that, after reading Ehrman's "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture", he leaned towards it was an interpolation to show that Jesus was a fully human man from a human mother:

>>"Born of woman" would be a natural insertion in Galatians (perhaps around the middle of the century, to counter the claims of docetists like Marcion and others and their appropriation of Paul) in order to make the point that Jesus was in fact a fully human man from a human mother.<<
Comment from: Mike Gantt website

Paul's "born of a woman" was an allusion to the messianic promise of Gen 3:15, echoed and amplified in Isaiah 7:14 and elsewhere.

Messianic prophecies were delivered by the prophets in many varied portions, seemingly contradictory at times (e.g. the messiah would be humiliated, the messiah would be exalted) such that they constituted a complex mystery, assembled into a meaningful mosaic only once Jesus of Nazareth came and lived them out before the eyes of the world.