Jun 12, 2009

The Dating of Galatians

One of the debated issues in New Testament studies is the dating of Paul's writing of Galatians.

Traditionally, interpreters have taken what is called the North Galatian theory. That is, Galatians was originally written to churches in the geographical region known as Galatia, in north central Asia Minor. In this view, Paul visited the region during his second missionary journey (cf. Acts 16:6; 18:23) and his visit to Jerusalem is recorded in Galatians 2 and Acts 15. This would mean that Paul likely wrote Galatians in A.D. 55 or 56 during his third missionary journey, probably while he was in Corinth (see Acts 20:3).

However, beginning in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a new view called the South Galatian Theory began to be promoted, most notably by W. M. Ramsey. In this view Galatia is not a geographical designation but a Roman political designation for an area south of geographical Galatia. That is, Paul was referring to the province of Galatia which included cities such as Lystra, Derbe, and Iconium. These cities were visited during Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13:1–14:28). In this view, one is not necessarily committed to identifying Paul’s Jerusalem visit in Galatians 2 with Acts 15. Galatians could then be dated as early as A.D. 47–49, prior to the Jerusalem Council. In this scenario Paul is likely written from Antioch.

Having said all that, Daniel Doleys has posted a helpful list of the proponents for both positions. For what its worth, I hold to the South Galatian view.

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