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Cutting Too Close for Comfort: Paul's Letter to the Galatians in its Anatolian Cultic Context (The Library of New Testament Studies)

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9780567034359: Cutting Too Close for Comfort: Paul's Letter to the Galatians in its Anatolian Cultic Context (The Library of New Testament Studies)
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In Cutting Too Close for Comfort, Susan Elliot considers Paul's letter to the Galatians in its Anatolian cultic context. What does circumcision have to do with castration? Self-castrated devotees of the Mother of the Gods travelled in the central Anatolian territory where the audience of Paul's letter to the Galatians lived. The goddess was identified with many of the region's mountains. In a goddess-possessed frenzy, these galli castrated themselves and became lifetime cultic representatives as her slaves.
Cutting Too Close For Comfort offers a thick description of this cult and other aspects of the Anatolian cultic context to provide solutions to several persistent puzzles in the letter. Starting with problems in the so-called "Hagar and Sarah" passage (4.21-5.1), Elliot argues that Paul attempts to dissuade his audience from being circumcised by identifying circumcision with the enslaving self-castration of the galli and by portraying the Law as a Mountain Mother. The Anatolian background is also seen in Paul's Flesh-Spirit dichotomy in Gal. 3.1-5 and in the Two Ways form in Galatians 5-6.

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About the Author:

Susan Elliott (The Rev. Susan M. Elliott, M. Div., Ph.D.) earned a Ph.D. in New Testament and Early Christianity in 1997 from Loyola University Chicago. Her research focuses on the social context of early Christianity with an emphasis on family relationships, pagan and Roman Imperial backgrounds, and Greco-Roman mystery cults. Her primary expertise is the cult of Cybele and Anatolian popular religiosity. She has taught courses at Iliff School of Theology and Loyola University Chicago and was a core faculty member of a lay ministry program of the UCC and Disciples in the Rocky Mountain area. She has served churches in Illinois, Colorado, and Minnesota as well as in urban and justice ministries in Chicago and economic development work in rural Mexico.

Review:

'Commendable in its attempt to give proper attention to understanding the audience of a text by using region-specific epigrahical and archeological evidence.' - Philip A Harland, Phoenix, Vol XL No. 1-2 (Philip A Harland)

'When it comes to investigating the Anatolian context of Paul's audience in Galatia, this study is unparalleled. It is an important resource for classicists as well as students of the Bible.'

Mark D. Nanos, Rockhurst University, Author of The Irony of Galatians and editor of The Galatians Debatev (Mark D. Nanos)

'The premise of Elliott's work is so remarkably simple it is a wonder the book was not written long ago: Paul did not address his opponents in Galatia; he addressed the "the churches of Galatia" (1:2). Her study therefore emphasizes the former pagan cultic context of the recipients. While circumcision remains the central issue, Paul's concern over the issue "does not originate from an antipathy towards the Law but from an antipathy toward the cult of the Mother of the Gods and an abhorrence of self castration" (13). This rereading of Galatians produces radical results... Elliott's work is truly monumental. Acknowledging that 'a seminal study' is generally overused in book reviews, it is definitely apropos here.'

Steven A. Hunt, Gordon College, MA, USA



'In this fascinating and timely monograph Susan Elliott seeks to understand Paul's letter to the Galatians, and in particular certain problematic metaphors and issues in the local context of Galatia. The sad fact is that, despite the amount of recent work devoted to this letter of Paul, such considerations of its specifically Gentile context have been lacking. Elliott's monograph should be seen as, one hopes, the first of several works trying to redress this imbalance. Her work is thorough, displaying an in-depth knowledge and familiarity not only with recent Pauline scholarship but also with classical scholarship and solid biblical exegesis of previous generations, spanning back well into the first few centuries after the one in which Paul wrote.'

Review of Biblical Literature

(Review of Biblical Literature)

'Commendable in its attempt to give proper attention to understanding the audience of a text by using region-specific epigrahical and archeological evidence.' - Philip A Harland, Phoenix, Vol XL No. 1-2 (Sanford Lakoff)

'When it comes to investigating the Anatolian context of Paul's audience in Galatia, this study is unparalleled. It is an important resource for classicists as well as students of the Bible.'

Mark D. Nanos, Rockhurst University, Author of The Irony of Galatians and editor of The Galatians Debatev (Sanford Lakoff)

'The premise of Elliott’s work is so remarkably simple it is a wonder the book was not written long ago: Paul did not address his opponents in Galatia; he addressed the “the churches of Galatia” (1:2). Her study therefore emphasizes the former pagan cultic context of the recipients. While circumcision remains the central issue, Paul’s concern over the issue "does not originate from an antipathy towards the Law but from an antipathy toward the cult of the Mother of the Gods and an abhorrence of self castration" (13). This rereading of Galatians produces radical results... Elliott’s work is truly monumental. Acknowledging that 'a seminal study’ is generally overused in book reviews, it is definitely apropos here.'

Steven A. Hunt, Gordon College, MA, USA



'In this fascinating and timely monograph Susan Elliott seeks to understand Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and in particular certain problematic metaphors and issues in the local context of Galatia. The sad fact is that, despite the amount of recent work devoted to this letter of Paul, such considerations of its specifically Gentile context have been lacking. Elliott’s monograph should be seen as, one hopes, the first of several works trying to redress this imbalance. Her work is thorough, displaying an in-depth knowledge and familiarity not only with recent Pauline scholarship but also with classical scholarship and solid biblical exegesis of previous generations, spanning back well into the first few centuries after the one in which Paul wrote.'

Review of Biblical Literature

(Sanford Lakoff Review of Biblical Literature)

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780826466600: Cutting Too Close for Comfort: Paul's Letter to the Galatians in Its Anatolian Cultic Context (Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series #248)

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ISBN 10: 0826466605 ISBN 13: 9780826466600
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