The Galatians didn’t speak Greek.  Maybe a few egg-heads did, if they had those.  But by and large they spoke their own language, called the Galatian language.  Imagine that! People speaking a language named after their country?  That never happens.  People in England don’t speak English. People in Spain don’t speak Spanish! … Oh wait, actually they do.

From the wikipedia article, among several similar facts:

In the 4th century St. Jerome (Hieronymus) wrote in a comment to Paul the Apostle’s Epistle to the Galatians that the Galatians spoke the same language as the Treveri (whose capital was Trier, where Jerome had settled briefly after studying in Rome).

My what time knowing this earlier would have saved me in my railing against Paul.  Why is Galatians so messed up?   It is because Paul is a heretic?  Is it because Paul can’t write worth a flip?  Or is it because what we think of as “the original language” is itself a translation?  Bingo.

And the thing is, ancient translations weren’t typically like the KJV, or ASV.  They were more typically like the NIV, or worse, like the NLT, or worse, like Eugene Peterson’s The Message.   They were paraprases, in other words.  Translators didn’t think anything was wrong with inserting their own think-so’s into the text.

That will easily explain what’s going on in, say, Galatians 3:19-27 (quotation below is from the ASV):

19 What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise hath been made; and it was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator.

20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one.

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could make alive, verily righteousness would have been of the law.

22 But the scriptures shut up all things under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

23 But before faith came, we were kept in ward under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

24 So that the law is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

25 But now faith that is come, we are no longer under a tutor.

26 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus.

27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

That’s a long chunk of text, and its rather confused and confusing.

Verse 20’s “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one” doesn’t seem to belong and has always puzzled commentators.  What could the point possibly be?  Some supposed that this was added to the text by Catholics to fight Marcionism’s claim that there are two gods. Others claimed that this phrase is perfectly natural in this context. Others supposed Paul meant that there was no mediator present when God made the promise to Abraham [but the text doesn’t say that]…

The idea in verse 19 that the Law was given through the mediation of angels (or rather written by angels and given by them though Moses) has also been quite a puzzle, since its seems to fit so perfectly with Gnostic thought, but not at all with the text of the Old Testament, nor with other passages in the Pauline Corpus that clearly treat the Law as coming from God, not angels.

Verse 22 as translated in all the major translations is contrary to verse 23-24, since verses 23-24 are saying the Law protected the Jews from sin, and verse 22 (as they translate it) that the Law locked us all under sin’s control. (This, however, can be fixed very simply by acknowledging that the untranslated definite article ought to be translated in this case, and by the addition of an implied “which were” like so: “But the scriptures shut up all the things [which were] under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Thus it shows that the idea is to protect the Jews from sinful things, but to lock anybody under the control of sin.)

The constant mention of a coming of “faith” as if “faith” is a magic word is odd, to say the least.

I can imagine the text in the Galatian language having been simply:

19 What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise hath been made.

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid.

22 But the scriptures locked out all sinful things, that the promise to send the Messiah could be kept.

23 But before he came, we were kept guarded by the law.

24 So that the law is become our guardian to bring the Messiah unto us that the promise might be fulfilled.

25 But now that he is come, we are no longer under a guardian.

26 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus.

27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

That is, the Law was given to guard the Jewish nation, prevent them from going all sex-crazy and demolishing the line of Abraham by promiscuous adultery with pagans, and thus obliterating the promise. The Law was there to ensure God would be able to keep his promise to Abraham to send the Messiah through his seed.

This is clearly the meaning, yet you get so bogged down with the constant occurrence of the word “faith” in our present text of Galatians, that it would be very rare for anyone to interpret it that way.

[Now, can I prove that Galatians is a translation into Greek from the Galatian language?  Well, no.  So therefore I also can’t prove all the mentions of faith faith faith are paraphastic expansions in such a translation.  But that’s not really the point. The point is to use the brain God gave us a little bit.  Its obvious something weird is going on in this text…who will dare deny that???????]

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