Paul and Cultural Anthropology
JEROME H. NEYREY, S.J.
BECAUSE OF PREVIOUS WORK ON ACCUSATIONS of
demon possession in Matthew,  Luke,  and 2 Corinthians,  I came to pay increasing attention to Paul's
question in Gal 3:1: "Who has bewitched you?" Although it could
be used to characterize negatively one's opponents and their sophistries,  baskanein, which is found only here
in the NT, is a common term for the evil eye in the LXX  and Greek literature.  It is my hypothesis that Paul is using
it in its formal sense as an accusation that someone has bewitched the Galatians.
 This means that Paul is arguing that the false
teachers spreading "another gospel" in
1. Jesus accuses others of demon possession(a) Judas (John 6:70)(b) Peter (Mark 8:33)(c) others (John 8:44; Matt 12:43-44// Luke 11 :24-26; Matt 13:38-39)2. Others accuse Jesus of demon possession(Mark 3:23-30; John 7:20; 8:48,52; 10:20)3. Paul accuses others of demon possession(a) superapostles (2 Cor 11:3,13-15)(b) Elymas the Magician (Acts 13:8-11)4. John the Baptizer is accused of demon possession(Matt 11:18//Luke 7:33)
In the social sciences, accusations of demon possession are discussed under the technical label of "witchcraft accusations," a term which allows them to be examined and interpreted in a critical way according to accepted social science methods, which will be the formal perspective of this study.
Modern Westerners find it difficult to take seriously not only belief in demon possession but also in witches who work evil,  an indication that we perceive our world quite differently from Jesus, Paul, the four evangelists, and other NT writers. Yet if we are to see the world through Paul's eyes and appreciate the full force of "bewitch" in Gal 3:1, we must turn to the social sciences to find appropriate categories to examine Paul's world and adequate models to appreciate the typical function that "witchcraft accusations" played in the Mediterranean world,  even in the NT. All of the linguistic parallels we find still need some heuristic model to allow us to see them in their proper cultural perspective.
I propose to examine Gal 3: 1, in fact the whole document, in the
light of the discussion of witchcraft current among cultural anthropologists.
The works of Mary T. Douglas are particularly useful in this endeavor for
several reasons. First, in addition to her own field work on witchcraft accusations,
she undertook to synthesize much of the work done by her colleagues, a task
which makes available to us as much of a consensus on the topic as is likely
to be found. Second, inasmuch as witchcraft accusations appear only in a certain
type of social system and only under certain conditions, Douglas has attempted
to describe both the symbolic cosmos of those who employ witchcraft accusations
and the social function they play in that culture. Historians of ancient Mediterranean
cultures are increasingly employing
It is my hypothesis that
Gal 3:1 is no different from 2 Cor 11:3, 13-15, where Paul accuses his rivals,
the "superapostles" at Corinth, of being Satan disguised as an angel
of light. This charge of demon possession is a formal "witchcraft accusation,"
a technical term for the accusation that Paul's rivals are either the devil
himself or persons controlled by him. The proper evaluation of 3:1 as a formal
accusation of sorcery will entail the use of two models from
I. The Basic Model: Pauline Viewpoint in Galatians
As we attempt to examine
the specific meaning and function of 3:1 and 1:8, we must first sketch the
cosmological viewpoint of Paul in Galatians; for the accusation of "bewitchment"
can only be properly understood in light of his perceptions of a deceived
and hostile world. In this regard, Mary Douglas offers us a succinct model
quite suited for this task. In this initial section, we will examine Galatians
in terms of the basic categories which typically interest anthropologists,
although they may seem foreign to NT exegetes (i.e., purity, ritual, identity,
body, sin, cosmology, suffering/misfortune). These categories, moreover, must
be situated in terms of
Douglas herself has been
strongly concerned with the structure or systematization of cultures. People
tend to organize their worlds, locating and classifying persons, places, times,
and things. This impulse toward systematization we call group, an impulse
which may be strong or weak. Even in the face of strong systematization, it
is not certain whether members of the social group accept the worldview and
the practical structures symbolizing this viewpoint. If there is agreement
with society's system, a match between professed goals and personal experience,
then this agreement, which is called grid, is high; but if individuals
do not experience the world according to its stated ideas or do not agree with the systematic structures
which flow from that view, then grid is low.
Four ideal types of worldviews emerge: (a) strong group
/ high grid, (b) strong group / low grid, (c) weak
group / high grid, and (d) weak group / low grid.
It is the opinion of those who have used
Even strong group / low grid viewpoints admit of some variation, allowing for some groups or persons, like Mark or Luke, to challenge the old system less and for other groups or persons, like Paul in Galatians, to make strong claims about the way the reformed life of a true Israelite is to be lived. Douglas suggests that when "witchcraft accusations" are found, they are to be located in strong group, but medium or rising grid,  for serious claims are implicit in the accusations that only certain ways of viewing and structuring the world are valid (hence, rising or medium grid).
Turning to the worldview of Galatians, which by hypothesis we identify as strong group / rising grid, we will examine how Paul perceives the world in terms of seven typical anthropological categories: purity (or system), ritual, personal identity, body, sin, cosmology, and suffering/ misfortune. The particular, but typical meaning of these categories in strong group / low grid has been worked out both by Douglas and her interpreters; it is schematized as follows:
Purity: strong concern for purity, but the inside of the social and physical body is under attack; pollution present, but purification rites are ineffective.
Rite: a society of fixed rites; rite is focused upon group boundaries, with great concern to expel pollutants from the social body; fluid sacred space.
Personal Identity: located in group membership, not in the internalization of roles, which are confused; distinction between appearance and internal states; dyadic personality.
Body: social and physical bodies are tightly controlled but under attack; invaders break through bodily boundaries.
Sin: a matter of pollution; evil is lodged within the individual and society; sin is much like a disease deriving from social structure.
Cosmology: anthropomorphic; dualistic; warring forces of good and evil; the universe is not just and may be whimsical; personal causality.
Suffering/ Misfortune: unjust; not automatic punishment; attributed to malevolent forces; may be alleviated but not eliminated. 
This term is almost synonymous with what
It [dirt] implies two conditions: a set of ordered relations and a contravention of that order. Dirt, then, is never a unique isolated event. Where there is dirt there is a system. Dirt is the by-product of a systematic ordering and classification of matter, insofar as ordering involves rejecting inappropriate elements. 
It is generally conceded that temple- and even synagogue-Judaism were strongly organized, a cultural impulse which is found also in the ex-Pharisee, Paul.  Paul claims that, prior to his faith in Jesus, he had been a Pharisee's Pharisee (Gal 1:14; Phil 3:4-6); as such, this same Paul perceived the "purity" of Judaism polluted by Jesus and his followers,  for which reason he persecuted them (Gall: 13; 1 Cor 15:9). Even in Galatians, Paul continued to be acutely sensitive to "dirt" which threatened his pure world,  i.e., to "another gospel" which had been preached. To appreciate the sense of "purity" and "dirt" which is reflected in Paul's worldview, let us sketch the orderly patterns of his perception of the cosmos in Galatians, with special attention to how Judaizers and "another gospel" are pollutions of the world he has established.
With his Pharisee's eye for clarity and precision, Paul describes in Galatians 3-4 the history of God's actions, indicating how God has successively related to the world in two systematic but different ways, which we conveniently call the covenant with Abraham (3:6-9; 4:24) and the covenant with Moses (3: 10-12).  Each covenant systematically expresses God's will for humanity and indicates a clear way to salvation, either through belief in God's promises or by the doing of God's halakic will.  Apropos of the covenant of Law, Paul draws clear time-lines around it, indicating when it was "added" to the original covenant (3: 17,19) and when it was "ended" (3:13,23).  "Covenant," then, symbolizes system.
God's orderings of the world, moreover, are contained in the Scriptures. Not only are the general sketches of God's covenants found there, but particular details of the Scriptures are used by Paul to affirm aspects of the covenant system which Paul sees as currently valid in Christ, such as the importance of the singular ""offspring" of Abraham (3:16-17), which narrows the correct line of descent or Abraham's justifying "faith" (3:6). Certain details for these Scriptures are important in Paul's argument for the preference of the covenant of Abraham over that of Moses. For example, the earlier character of God's dealing with Abraham (3:17) signals its priority in time and importance; the Hagar-Sarah story offers a host of details whereby the covenant with Abraham may be seen to come through Sarah and her free son, Isaac.
Yet the world of Paul the Pharisee is structured by his faith in Jesus who died on the cross. Jesus himself exemplifies the structure of the covenant of Abraham, viz., “faith in God.”  His death, moreover, marks the exact boundary line between the former covenant of Law and the new covenant of faith and grace (3:13-14). Furthermore, Jesus sums up in himself the precise pattern of the covenant of faith, what it means and how it works. For example, Jesus is the unique "son" promised Abraham (3:16), the model of our "sonship" with God (4:5-7), a definition of our status. Just as Jesus prayed to God, so his followers are filled with Spirit and pray "Abba! Father!" (4:6). The precision about one's relationship to God that was formerly given Paul the Pharisee by torah now comes from Jesus. Paul's world, therefore, is strongly structured in terms of traditional belief in God and the Scriptures, at least as these are understood and configured in a certain way, i.e., in Christ as the fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham, which ends the former covenant with Moses.
This basic pattern of ordering, moreover, attests to what Paul perceives as "holy" or "pure," a point which is clearly of considerable importance to him.  The unquestionable aim of all religious behavior is "righteousness,"  the issue being how one arrives at that holy state. In characteristic dualistic fashion, Paul argues that "holiness," which he typically calls "righteousness," does not come from the Law (2:16; 3:11). Rather, as God's Scriptures teach, holiness/righteousness come only with faith: Abraham believed God, and "it was credited to him as righteousness" (3:6; cf. Gen 15:6); and those who are "righteous by faith" shall live (3:11; Hab 2:4). The holy state of those who are righteous by faith is further expressed by the possession of the "holy" Spirit, which the holy God pours into human hearts, confirming and empowering them as "holy" (3:2,5; 4:6).
Rites. Examining the structures
Galatians exhibits several
kinds of rituals, those which create boundaries and those which would repel
the invading pollutant that has crossed them. In understanding "boundaries,"
we need only look at Paul's enunciation of redundant dualistic patterns in
Galatians. By the way he speaks of the two covenants, Paul clearly indicates
where the primary boundary line lies between the two covenants, between synagogue-Jews
and Christians. First, he describes his own status, how he was originally
an outsider to God's plan. Extremely zealous for the traditions of his fathers,
Paul persecuted the
The Galatians, too, crossed a significant boundary when God freely gave them the Spirit through faith (3:1-5), thus changing their status from Gentile outsiders to covenant insiders.  Formerly outsiders who did not know God, they were shown grace and favor by God (4:9), proof of which is the gratuitous reception of Spirit by hearing with faith (3:2-5).
Paul draws the main boundary lines most sharply in chaps. 3 and 4, where he contrasts the covenant with Abraham, characterized by promise and faith, with the covenant with Moses, known by its emphasis on Law and doing.  Following the former, one finds blessing (3:8-9), but only curse in the latter (3:10, 13). Paul insists that the covenant with Moses is ended, Christ being the official boundary line, viz., the end of the Law, by being born under the Law, and becoming a curse, and thus terminating the Law. Leaving aside for the moment the intricacies of Paul's argument, we are aware how this functions as boundary language, firmly establishing where one thing ends and another begins. All of his arguments to buttress the validity of the covenant with Abraham only draw the boundary line that much clearer and distinguish insiders from outsiders that much more sharply. The allegory of Hagar and Sarah in 4:21-31 reinforces the basic boundary,  contrasting free with slave, heaven with earth, and spirit with flesh, thus indicating the cosmic dimensions of the boundary drawn in Christ.
This boundary, which is theoretically expressed in terms of historical covenants and traditional personages, becomes immediate in the way Paul affirms the effect and importance of Jesus' death in 2:15-21. The correct side of the boundary line is constituted by being "in Christ," i.e., by having the faith of Jesus; here is found justification, which is "purity" in God's sight. The wrong side is that characterized by "the Law" and works of the Law, where Paul implies sin is found (2:16-17; 6:13). In criticizing the wrong side, Paul describes himself as "tearing something down," emphasizing that Christ died for a purpose, to end the period of sin and curse. Of the tight side, Paul claims that it is "the grace of God," which should not be nullified (2:21).
The basic boundary, then, is expressed in terms of covenants, personages, and theoretical means of justification (grace, works). It is finally expressed in terms of spirit and flesh and the activity appropriate to each. Spirit and flesh are terms introduced in the Sarah-Hagar allegory, linking Isaac with birth through the Spirit (4:29) and Ishmael with birth according to the flesh (4:23). The terms are appropriate to Paul's argument, in that birth through spirit (4:6) and gift of spirit (3:2-5) characterize the correct side of the boundary, the covenant in Christ. Opposed to "spirit" is "flesh," not simply bodily descent through Ishmael, but works of the flesh, in particular fleshly circumcision, which is the chief symbol of the Judaizers and the major ritual of the alternative covenant system.
Paul focuses on the boundary line which circumcision symbolizes. Those who cut in their flesh the mark of the Jewish synagogue system (of the Law of Moses, works) are themselves cut off: "You are severed (cut off) from Christ, you who would be justified by the Law" (5:4). For a Gentile who began on the correct side of the boundary (faith) to submit now to circumcision would mean to cross back over the boundary to the wrong side.
The Epistle to the Galatians, then, reflects Paul's incessant boundary making, a perception of two mutually exclusive systems or ways of serving God. The boundary is legitimated in history (3:6-13; 4:21-31), exemplified in experience (I: 15-17; 3:2-5), and illustrated by specific practices (2: 16-17; 5:4). The boundary, moreover, is endlessly presented in a series of redundant dualisms  which replicate and reinforce the basic distinction between Christians and Jews according to Paul.
Redundant Dualisms in Galatians
Covenant with Abraham -1- Covenant with Moses
characterized by characterized by
Belonging through -2- Belonging through
Sarah and Isaac Hagar and Ishmael
Blessing -3- Curse
Grace -4- Sin
Freedom -5- Slavery
Free gift of Spirit -6- Earned merit through deeds
Spirit -7- Flesh
Paul, then, is adept at erecting boundaries which become the major lines of his "purity system." Yet, according to Paul, the Judaizers have attacked that boundary by asking people who stand correctly to cross back into "slavery," "flesh," and "curse," the covenant with Moses.
Besides the ritual of boundary making, Paul indicates a second kind of ritual which is appropriate for dealing with polluting invaders who are discovered to have breached the boundaries. They must be identified and expelled.  In two clear places, Paul explicitly calls for the expulsion of the pollutants (and their ideas). Apropos of the Sarah-Hagar allegory, Paul formally cites from Gen 21:10 Sarah's demand to Abraham that Hagar and her son be expelled from his household because of Ishmael's threats to Isaac's well-being. "Cast out the slave and her son" (4:30). In the context, Paul clearly intends this as a warrant for expelling those who are allegorically linked with Hagar, Ishmael, and the covenant of flesh, viz., those who preach “another gospel.” 
In a more symbolic statement, Paul prays that those who urge circumcision and so introduce polluting doctrine into the church would themselves "cut off." In 5:4, Paul already indicated that those who "cut" themselves bodily in circumcision are automatically "cut off" from Christ. Then, in what is evidently a play on the term "cut,"  Paul prays that "those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves" (5:12) by castration, which in a Jewish cultural system would mean being "cut off" from the temple of God and being rendered permanently unclean.  Mutilation  is a richly charged word here, suggesting the ritual impurity which comes from bodily mutilation; Lev 21:20 indicates that those with "crushed testicles" cannot approach to offer the bread of God.  Mutilation, moreover, would cancel "glory," which in 6: 13 is a euphemism for the circumcised penis (see Phil 3:19). Finally, mutilation symbolically suggests Paul's desire that these heretics be cut off from the church, made shameful, and rendered permanently unclean. Permanent removal from the holy body, then, is the ritual described by Paul in 5:12.
Passing note should be taken of the anathema Paul directs at those who would introduce "another gospel" into his churches (1:8-9). The curse of anathema clearly labels those who bring deviant doctrines as pollutants and demands their separation both now and forever from God's holy realm.  In Rom 9:3, anathema is linked with and explained by a phrase which clearly exposes its meaning as a form of expulsion or banning: "...accursed and cut off from Christ." 
Personal Identity. The identity of individual
people in Paul's world is found in terms of another, which might be in terms
of the town of one's birth, one's family, trade, or some other identifying
stereotype.  Paul, e.g., is always God's prophet or Jesus'
apostle: he never speaks on his own. Peter, James, and John are not only Christians
but also pillars of the
In this regard,
As regards Paul himself, ambiguity shrouds him on every side. Although he insists that he never preached circumcision or spoke in favor of Jewish practices, others at least perceive him as being two-faced, saying one thing and doing another.  In several places he notes the criticism that he "pleases men" (1:10)  or that he too has approved circumcision (5: 11).  These are not implausible criticisms, inasmuch as Paul admits that he is extremely flexible in his preaching (1 Cor 9: 19-23). 
Similarly, we consider
the ambiguity in the explanations for his visit to
Besides warning his churches
about the ambiguity which exists between the way people present themselves
and what they really are, Paul indicates that this discrepancy is probably
a matter of deceit and masquerade. For example, in 6:3 he issues a general
warning: “If anyone thinks he is some- thing, when he is nothing, he deceives
himself” (cf. 1 Cor 3:18; 8:2). In Galatians, the “pillars of
In this vein, Paul himself is trying to make a counterargument that the Judaizers, who ostensibly preached a doctrine of "perfection" which comes with the full keeping of the Law,  are themselves masquerading as good while they are evil. Urging an external action such as circumcision, which they claim will result in "glory," in reality they would destroy faith. Urging the observance of "days, months, seasons, years" (4:11), they effectively deny the importance of Jesus' faith and God's grace. Arguing the perfection which comes with the Law, they would cheat the Galatians of freedom and put them back in bondage (4:8-9).
We will return to these texts when we examine them under the rubric of witchcraft accusations, but 3:1 and 1:8 deserve to be considered here as examples of this masquerade. Paul, of course, does not consider his Judaizing opponents to have the truth which they claim when he exclaims, "Who has bewitched you?" (3:1). They have passed off as coin of the realm "another gospel" which is not just worthless but costly. And in his remark about "an angel from heaven preaching a gospel contrary to what we preached" (1:8), Paul would seem to be alluding to the popular myth that Satan disguised himself as an angel of light to seduce Eve,  a midrash which stands behind his accusations about the "superapostles" in 2 Cor 11:3, 13-15.  It is correct to take Paul ''as an angel of God" (4:14), but not other preachers, who are only demons in disguise. 
genitals: fornication, impurity, licentiousness
mouth: drunkenness, carousing, anger
eye: sorcery, envy, jealousy
In Galatians, Paul focuses on two bodily orifices, the mouth and the genitals. In regard to the mouth, he typically expresses the Semitic preoccupation with mouth vis-à-vis speech, i.e., concern with false witness, foolish speech, and wrong doctrine. He would regulate the mouth so that only certain things should be spoken, while other things should never be spoken. He proscribes "another gospel" (1:8-9), which would advocate circumcision or observance of the Law of Moses. And he prescribes other speech: (a) his correct gospel (1:11; 5:2); (b) public reproach of those who in any way advocate the other gospel, either reproach of Peter (2:11,14) or sarcastic rebuke of the Galatians themselves (3:1-5; 4:20); and (c) speech in the Spirit (4:6).
The crisis over circumcision, moreover, focuses on the regulation of the genital orifice. Ironically, Paul might seem to stand for no control over this orifice because he eschews circumcision, but that would be misleading. He rigorously demands control of the genital orifice represented by circumcision, only he demands that it not be circumcised. Just as Jesus' insistence that hands need not be washed did not mean that he had no purity concerns, only concerns quite different from those of the Pharisees, so Paul's insistence that the male genital orifice not be circumcised is also a purity concern and a demand for strict control of that orifice.
In general, Paul urges "self-control," which implies bodily discipline. The reader should not mistake Paul's emphasis on spirit versus flesh and freedom versus slavery to imply that he does not urge bodily control. Eschewing circumcision and other Jewish bodily practices, he nevertheless enjoins a bodily control corresponding to the social structures that he claims characterize the true covenant of God. 
Sin. Given the strong sense of "purity" or social organization, one would expect to find sin defined in terms of the violation of society's (and God's) basic laws.  This is the case in 5:18-21, where the "works of the flesh" which are condemned are basically the Ten Commandments, transgression of which will cause the loss of eternal salvation: "I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (5:21; cf. 1 Cor 6:9-10).
Yet in this ambiguous world where evil is attacking the boundaries of society and body alike, sin is also perceived as pollution which corrupts the body totally.  In this regard, the doctrine and practice of the Judaizers are a "leaven" which is corrupting the purity of God's people (5:9); and so their sin is clearly seen as a pollution which must be expelled. 
This cosmos is perceived in anthropomorphic  terms. Paul no doubt understands
But in this world there also exists a dominant evil force that is perceived anthropomorphically.  This personal Evil stands behind Paul's charge that someone is bewitching the Galatians (3: 1) or someone might be disguising himself as an angel of God (1 :8). Although individuals are personally responsible for their own behavior and will be judged accordingly (6:8), yet personal Evil exists in this world; it attacks and seduces people, thus causing their ruin as surely as if they had broken all of God's commandments.
For example, Paul speaks of himself as personally attacked by Satan. On one occasion "Satan hindered me from coming to you" (1 Thess 2: 18); elsewhere he describes how a thorn afflicted him, "a messenger from Satan, to harass me" (2 Cor 12:7). Paul also speaks of his churches as attacked by Satan, i.e., by "superapostles," agents of Satan (2 Cor 11: 13-15). Paul readily concedes that he and the churches must regularly strive "to keep Satan from gaining the advantage over us" (2 Cor 2: 11), an Evil figure who still tempts them (1 Cor 7:5) and who works to keep people from believing the gospel (2 Cor 4:4).
In Galatians, Paul speaks of an Evil which enslaves humans (4:9), bewitches them (3: 1), and through its earthly agents "persecutes him who is born according to the spirit" (4:29), not just Isaac but those of his lineage (see 1 Thess 2: 14-15). In short, Paul tends to ascribe all the evils of this world to the agency of this Evil figure:  sickness, death, and especially "heresy." 
This world, moreover, is dualistically perceived. Just as everything in the cosmos is dualistically divided into two kingdoms (see purity, ritual above), so the two kingdoms are themselves ruled respectively by two figures at war with each other, God and Satan. Apropos of the warring cosmic powers, some scholars would invite us to consider the doctrine of the "two spirits," the yeser hattob and the yeser hara,  which are at war in human hearts, a suggestion which I find plausible in light of the current discussion. This cosmos, then, is a battlefield of warring spirits, many of whom are disguised as angels of light.
Suffering misfortune. In a dualistic world where
Evil attacks the boundaries and bodies of God's covenant people, it goes without
saying that the world seems quite unjust at times. Paul himself serves as
an excellent example of the cosmic injustice whereby the good suffer, despite
their being God's chosen ones who are blessed with grace and Spirit. A prophet
called by God (1:13-16), an apostle legitimated by
II. Accusations of Bewitchment
Let us be clear from the beginning about what we are discussing when we speak of "witchcraft accusations." We are not interested in black cats and broomsticks, but in the social phenomenon of an accusation that one's enemy or rival is either the devil himself or someone acting under the devil's power. We focus, then, on the accu.sation of demon possession ("witchcraft accusation ") with attention primarily on the function of such an accusation.
a more specific model for studying bewitchment in
1. External Boundaries Clearly Marked.  As we noted above, in Galatians there is no ambiguity in Paul's mind about who is "in" and who is "out"; for the primary ritual in which Paul engages is boundary building and maintenance.
Internal Relations.  In the churches of
moreover, indicates considerable confusion on Paul's part about roles and
statuses in the church. Paul knows of leaders at
and Unavoidable Interaction.  Granted Paul is physically absent from the Galatian
churches, yet he remains in close contact with them, just as he was with
Although it is not clear how Paul comes to know about the crisis in Galatia, from his other letters we get the sense of a person in very close contact with his churches, especially when absent. As he himself says, although absent he is present (1 Cor 5:3) in a variety of ways:
(a) through his messengers to them (1 Cor 4:17; 16:10; 1 Thess 3:2), who return to him with news (1 Thess 3:6; 2 Cor 7:6,13-14);
(b) by oral reports from members of the churches (1 Cor 1:11);
(c) by letters from them (1 Cor 7:1);
(d) by his own letters to them. 
The contact, then, is intense and unrelenting.
Techniques Underdeveloped. Techniques for distancing, regulating, and
reconciling these conflicts are little developed here. While in
Authority.  The ability to control effectively the behavior
of people in
It is noteworthy
that when Paul's "apostleship" comes under attack (1:1), he redefines
the legitimacy of his position by describing his role as that of a "prophet."  Like Jeremiah and Isaiah he claims to be "set
apart even from his mother's womb" (1:15). God, not Jesus, "called
him" and gave him a revelation to proclaim (1:16). Nowhere else in his
letters does he pass himself off as a prophet like the prophets of
Disorderly Competition. Accusations of demonic possession tend to occur
in groups characterized by intense, disorderly competition for leadership.
Consider: Paul versus the pillars at
Definition of Witch. A "witch" is best defined in terms of the misfortune such a person is said to have caused and the context in which such misfortune appears.  In the Gospels, accusations of witchcraft occur in the context of illness (Matt 12:22-29// Luke 11:14-22), whereas in Galatians the context is doctrine and practice.
From her analyses,
1. The witch is one whose inside is corrupt;
2. the witch has a perverted nature, a reversal of the way things ought to be; he or she is a deceiver whose external appearance does not betray his or her inner nature;
3. if the witch is seen as living within the group, he or she attacks the pure and innocent by life-sucking or by poison.
Although Paul does not formally name or describe his Judaizing opponents, there are bits of evidence in the letter which indicate that he perceives them as "witches."
Corrupt Insides: Paul understands the covenant with Moses (Law/works) as producing a "curse" (3:10-11); it was, after all, given "because of transgressions" (3:19), and according to the Scriptures "all were consigned to sin" (3:22) who live in it. Conversely, no one can be justified before God and by the Law (3:11; 2:16). It follows, then, that the Judaizers who urge a return to this covenant must themselves be sinners still, under God's "curse," and definitely not justified before God. Paul infers, then, that they are still in sin; in anthropological terms, their insides must be corrupt.
Perversion/ Deception: In
some way, Paul links the Judaizers in
Poison/ Life-Sucking: In one telltale remark, Paul describes the false doctrine of the Judaizers as "leaven," even a pinch of which necessarily corrupts the whole batch of pure flour (5:9). Paul understands "leaven" here as a metaphor for wickedness and pollution, just as he does in 1 Cor 5:8.  This doctrinal "leaven " corresponds to the witch's poison which corrupts and kills when ingested (see Matt 16:11-12).
"life-sucking," we should attend to two phenomena in Galatians.
Paul himself is concerned that he be "full" and not "empty"
(kenos), and so he goes to
Function of Witchcraft Accusations. There are two "witchcraft accusations" in Galatians,
3:1 and 1:8. As was noted in the beginning of this study, baskanein in
3:1 is the technical term in the classical Mediterranean world for "bewitch."
The anthropological model we are using suggests that we understand this term
as a genuine accusation by Paul that the churches in
labeling of 1:8 depends on our appreciation of a clearer use of this language
in 2 Corinthians 11. Paul accused the "superapostles" who preach
of light," then, is a fundamentally ambiguous figure, who might be God's
but who might just as well be Satan in disguise. I suggest that
Paul's remark in Gal 1:8 about an "angel from heaven" who' preaches
"a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you" should be unmasked
as a deceiving "angel of light," i.e., as Satan in disguise. The
unfortunate fact for Paul
is that such a gospel has already been taught at
It would be
an understatement to say that Paul is fiercely jealous of his turf. In letter
after letter, either he states his policy of "making it my ambition to
preach the gospel not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on
another's foundation" (Rom 15:20); or he complains bitterly about those
who have crossed the line and come on to his turf to poach: "We will
not boast beyond limit, but will keep to the limits God has apportioned us....For
we did not overextend ourselves. ...We do not boast beyond limit, in other's
labors...boasting of work already done in another's field" (2 Cor 11:3,
13-16).  It was on this occasion that Paul accused the
fairly bristles with a sense of rivalry and competition. We recall Paul's
competition with the
But the most
intense rivalry occurs between Paul and his opponents for leadership over
the churches of
If apology serves to deflect their criticism of Paul, his own "witchcraft accusations" against these rival preachers function offensively to reduce their status. The Judaizers are those who not only "pervert the gospel" (1:7), but they act as disguised agents of the devil by "bewitching" the poor Galatians (3:1). Yet it is not enough to identify the Judaizers as demons in disguise, for such evil persons should then be expelled from the church; Paul explicitly calls for this when he cites Gen 21:10: "Cast out the slave and her son" (4:29).
accusations might serve one of two purposes, either expulsion or fission.  It does not appear that Paul quit the fight,
abandoned the churches in
Summary and Conclusions
1. From this
study, it would seem correct to identify Paul's cosmological perspective as
strong group/low grid, a viewpoint characteristic of a highly
conflictual, competitive society.
2. Anthropological perspectives on "witchcraft accusations" offer a cross-cultural model for appreciating not only specific verses in Galatians (1:8; 3:1) but also the cosmological background against which such accusations are plausible and functional.
3. The test
of any model lies in its ability to account plausibly for the most data and
to suggest fresh insights and new lines of inquiry. In this regard
4. The model, moreover, allows Western critics of Paul to enter his world more sensitively both in terms of the language about demons and bewitchment and in regard to the conflictual, competitive social dynamics, areas for which conventional methods of exegesis are not suited. As such, this type of investigation should be seen as a welcome addition to the scholar's repertory of methods and skills.
5. Whereas typical scholarly readings of Galatians tend to focus on the theological issues argued, the nitty-gritty social world of Paul rarely gets addressed. The current use of anthropological models fills that void and offers important insights into the social problems and dynamics of Paul and the early church. The issue is not the reduction of the NT from theology to sociology, but a fuller reading of the theology embedded in a lively social context.
 See “Jesus the Witch,” Calling Jesus Names, forthcoming from the Polebridge Press.
 “Luke 11: 14-23-Accusations of Demonic Possession,” an unpublished paper delivered at the Westar Institute's Social Facets Seminar, Notre Dame University, October 1986.
 “Witchcraft Accusations in 2 Cor 10-13: Paul in Social Science Perspective,” Listening 21 (1986) 160-70.
 H. D. Betz, Galatians (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970) 131.
 Cf. Deut 28:54; see Vincent
Taylor, The Gospel According to St. Mark (2d ed.;
 The evidence may be conveniently found in J. Moulton-G. Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974) 107; LSJ, 310; and Betz, Galatians, 131; see also Plutarch, Quaest. Conv. 680C-683B in Plutarch's Moralia (LCL; 16 vols; ed. F. C. Babbitt; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University; London: Heinemann, 1969) 8. 416-32.
 Suggestions have been made in the classical commentaries on Galatians in this regard, but with no further attention to what type of cosmos is implied or how such an accusation functions; see J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (London: Macmillan and Co., 1881) 133; Ernest DeWitt Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (ICC; Edinburgh: Clark, 1921) 144.
 Although we are concerned in this study with accusations of demon possession, a full consideration of the typical NT perception of the activity of demons would necessarily entail a study of exorcisms, a phenomenon described in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts; see James M. Robinson, The Problem of History in Mark (London: SCM, 1957) 21-42; and Paul W. Hollenbach, "Jesus, Demoniacs, and Public Authorities: A Socio-Historical Study," JAAR 49 (1981) 567-88. See also Everett Ferguson, Demonology of the Early Christian World (New York: Mellen, 1984); and Walter Wink, The Powers: Vol. 2, Unmasking the Powers (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986) 1-68.
 E.g., Daniel Arichea and Eugene Nida, A Translation Handbook on Paul's Letter to the Galatians (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1976) 53.
 Anthropologists concern
themselves with contemporary societies; their field studies are based on them
and verified by them. In dealing with ancient societies, contemporary social
science models can still be useful, in particular in dealing with "witchcraft"
in the Mediterranean world. The "evil eye," although found in contemporary
Mediterranean cultures, is indeed ancient; see Dov Noy, "The Evil Eye,"
EncJud (New York: Macmillan, 1972) 6. 997-1000; Bernhard Kotting, "Boser
Blick," RAC 2 (1954) 474-82. It is a perspective of the world
which has persisted over centuries. Certainly, specific cultures develop variations
of this general phenomenon in terms of place and time, which would be important
to sort out given time and space. It is nevertheless legitimate to work at
a higher level of abstraction in which specific differences disappear as one
attempts to grasp a more general understanding of the typical features and
general function of a phenomenon such as "witchcraft accusations,"
which is the procedure in this study. Although the model used here is based
on Mary Douglas's field work in
 Besides the many papers using Douglas's materials that have been presented at the conferences of the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Catholic Biblical Association, there is an increasing body of literature using her modeling: e.g., with regard to Judaism, Jacob Neusner, The Idea of Purity in Ancient Judaism (Leiden: Brill, 1973); with regard to early Christianity, Bruce Malina, Christian Origins and Cultural Anthropology (Atlanta: John Knox, 1986); see most recently, Social-Scientific Criticism of the New Testament and Its Social World (Semeia 35; ed. J. H. Elliott; Decatur, GA: Scholars, 1986).
 See Peter Brown, "Sorcery,
Demons, and the Rise of Christianity from Late Antiquity into the Middle Ages,"
Witchcraft Confessions and Accusations (ed. Mary Douglas;
 Her own exposition of
grid and group is found in Natural Symbols (New York: Pantheon, 1982)56-60;
other scholars have schematized it more completely for use by students of
religion; see, e.g., Sheldon Isenberg and Dennis Owen, "Bodies Natural
and Contrived: The Work of Mary Douglas," RSR 3 (1977) 5-8; and
especially Bruce Malina, Christian Origins and Cultural Anthropology, 13-44.
See also James V. Spickard, Relativism and Cultural Comparison in the Anthropology
of Mary Douglas: A Meta-Theoretical Evaluation of Her Grid/ Group Theory (unpublished
 E.g., Malina, Christian Origins and Cultural Anthropology, 37. From my work, I would suggest that Romans, Ephesians, and the Pastorals reflect an attempt at consensus and thus desire a high grid response.
 This is spelled out in greater detail in my article, "The Idea of Purity in Mark's Gospel," Social-Scientific Criticism, 91-128.
 This digest comes from Malina, Christian Origins and Cultural Anthropology, 15, and is explained by him in detail later on pp. 37-44.
 Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966) 35.
 What "purity" looks like concretely in temple and synagogue may be found in my "The Idea of Purity in Mark's Gospel," 92-105.
 See Michael Newton, The
Concept of Purity at
 On Paul's perception of "dirt" which pollutes the holy body of Christ, see my essay, “Body Language in I Corinthians: The Use of Anthropological Models for Understanding Paul and His Opponents,” Social-Scientific Criticism, 138-49.
 On the conceptual differences between these two types of covenants, see Ronald Clements, Abraham and David (SBT 2d ser. 5; Naperville: Allenson; 1967); and M. Weinfeld, "Covenant, Davidic,” IDBSup, 188-92.
 Just as Paul can map out the Christian purity system with precise lines and boundaries, the same can be said of Judaism in Paul's time; see R. Heiligenthal, "'Soziologische Implikationen der paulinischen Rechtfertigungslehre im Galaterbrief am Beispiel der 'Werke des Gesetzes.' Beobachtungen zur IdentiUitsfindung einer frilhchristlichen Gemeinde," Kairos 26 (1984) 38-53.
 See David Lull, “’The Law Was Our Pedagogue’: A Study of Galatians 3:19-25,” JBL 105 (1986) 485-86.
 On the "faith of Jesus," see D. W. B. Robinson, "'Faith of Jesus Christ'-A New Testament Debate." Reformed Theological Review 29 (1970) 71-81; George Howard, "Notes and Observations on the 'Faith of Christ,'" HTR 60 (1967) 459-65; Richard Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ (SBLDS 56; Chico, CA: Scholars, 1981) 157-76; Luke T. Johnson, "Romans 3:21-26 and the Faith of Jesus." CBQ 44 (1982) 77-90; and my The Passion According to Luke (New York: Paulist, 1985) 156-92.
 Ordinarily, Paul describes
the members of his churches as "the saints" (see Wayne Meeks, The
First Urban Christians [New Haven: Yale University, 1983] 85-86), a term
missing in Galatians, perhaps an indication that he sees them now polluted
by false doctrine and practice and so not worthy of the name of "saints."
On Paul's concept of "purity" or holiness, see
 The best discussion of the whole issue of "righteousness" is currently found in John Reumann, Righteousness in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982) 41-90.
 From my study of the importance of unity as the equivalent of purity in 1 Corinthians ("Body Language in 1 Corinthians: The Use of Anthropological Models for Understanding Paul and His Opponents," Social-Scientific Criticism. 139-42, 144-45, 157-58), 1 would include in the discussion of "purity" in Galatians Paul's desire for a unified, i.e., homogeneous church: one people, one doctrine, one practice.
 Although he is not using social science modeling, E. P. Sanders persuasively discussed "transfer" language in Paul's theology, indicating in a series of dualisms the former and subsequent states of those whom God has saved in Christ; see his Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983) 4-9.
 See James D. G. Dunn, "Works of the Law and the Curse of the Law (Galatians 3:10-14)," NTS 31 (1985) 524-27.
 See C. K. Barrett, "The Allegory of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar in the Argument of Galatians," Essays on Paul (Philadelphia; Westminster, 1982) 154-70.
 An "apocalyptic" view of the dualisms in Galatians is offered by J. Louis Martyn, "Apocalyptic Antinomies in Paul's Letter to the Galatians," NTS 31 (1985) 412-20.
 Malina, Christian Origins and Cultural Anthropology, 38.
 Paul also claims that the Judaizers are trying to build boundaries as well, boundaries which will "shut you out" of God's kingdom (4: 17).
 See Hans von Campenhausen, "Ein Witz des Apostels Paulus und die Anfange des istlichen Humors," Neutestamentliche Studien fuir Rudolf Bultmann (BZNW 21; ed. W. Eler; Berlin: Topelmann, 1954) 189-93.
 This is based on the purity rule in Judaism that bodily unwholeness means unholiness; see my "Symbolism in Mark 7," to be published shortly; apropos of the uncleanness of eunuchs Lev 22:24; Deut 23:1.
 Betz, Galatians, 270.
 Castration, moreover,
literally means that one's line is cut off from the covenant of
 See Goran Forkman, The
Limits of the Religious Community (ConNT 5;
 See Johannes Behm, "anathema," TDNT I (1964) 354-56; Betz, Galatians, 50-51.
 See Malina, The New
Testament World, 51-60. Apropos of Paul, see my article, "The Forensic
Defense Speech and Paul's Trial Speeches in Acts 22-26," Luke-Acts.
New Perspectives from the Society of Biblical Literature Seminar (ed.
C. H. Talbert;
 It is interesting to note that in Matthew's Gospel, even as followers of Jesus are put on guard against the alleged "hypocrisy" of others who pray in public, they are themselves told to deceive others with regard to fasting: "When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men" (6:17). The very emphasis on "secrecy" in Matt 6:1-18 suggests a strategy of deception.
 The classical explanations run as follows: (a) either he allowed Jews to be Jews (1 Cor 9: 19-23), a position seemingly affirmed by the agreement with Peter that there is a mission to the Jews (Gal 2:7-8); or (b) he gave the Galatians only the first and easy elements of the Christian torah, with the substance and perfection yet to come, a charge which he admits in 1 Cor 3: 1-2.
 Paul boasts that he does in fact strive to "please all men" in 1 Cor 10:33, whereas in 1 Thess 2:4 he insists that he does not "please men"; yet see I Cor 9: 19-23.
 Can Luke be totally wrong in Acts 16:3 when he narrates that Paul wanted Timothy to be circumcised in view of his future work with synagogue-Jews?
 On this, see D. Carson, "Pauline Inconsistency: Reflections on I Corinthians 9:19-23 and Galatians 2:11-14," Churchman 100 (1986) 6-45.
 This is, of course, comparable to the remarks of Paul in 1 Cor 2:1-5, that he preached on God's power in weakness, God's wisdom in words of foolishness. To the elitist Corinthians, he never ceases to boast of infirmities, afflictions, dishonors, even bodily ailments (see 1 Cor 4:9-13; 2 Cor 4:8-9; 11:23-29; 12:7), probably to deflect the depreciation of him because of these phenomena.
 See Paul Sampley, "'Before God, I Do Not Lie' (Gal 1.20). Paul's Self-Defense in the Light of Roman Legal Praxis," NTS 23 (1977) 477-82; see also Saul Liebermann, Greek in Jewish Palestine (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1942) 115-42.
 A revealing indication of his ambiguous speech can be found in the on-again, off-again travel plans mentioned in 2 Cor 1:16-20.
 For an excellent recent
study of that incident, see James D. G. Dunn, "The Incident at
 Apropos of Gal 3:3, see Ernst Baasland, "Persecution: A Neglected Factor in the Letter to the Galatians," ST 38 (1984) 139.
 See Nils A. Dahl, "Der Erstgeborene Satans und der Vater des Teufels (Polyk. 7:1 und Joh 8:44)," Apophoreta (BZNW 30; Ernst Haenchen Festschrift; ed. W. Eltester; Berlin: Topelmann, 1964) 70-84.
 See my article, "Witchcraft Accusations in 2 Cor 10-13," 169.
 Another example of ambiguity and masquerade involves Paul's understanding of the God who is not deceived by disguises (6:7), but reads human hearts; see my article, "Eschatology in 1 Thessalonians: The Theological Factor in 1:9-10; 2:4-5, 4:6 and 4:13-18," SBLASP (1980)
 Natural Symbols. 65-81; see also my "Body Language in 1 Corinthians," 129-70; and my "Symbolism in Mark 7."
 See Betz, Galatians. 281-83.
 On the moral importance of "walk," see Georg Bertram, "pateo." TDNT 5 (1967) 940-45; and Gustaf Wingren, ".Weg,' 'Wanderung' und verwandte Begriffe," ST 3 (1949) 111-23.
 See Walter Grundmann, "egkrateia." TDNT 2 (1964) 339-42; this should be seen alongside Paul's own boast that he disciplines his body (1 Cor 9:24-27).
 This is most clearly stated in Rom 6: 15-22.
 See Malina, Christian Origins and Cultural Anthropology, 32.
 Ibid., 40; see
 See Forkman, The Limits of the Religious Community, 147-49.
 See Malina, Christian Origins and Cultural Anthropology, 32-33, 40.
 See Barbara Hall, Battle
Imagery in Paul's Letters: An Exegetical Study (unpublished dissertation;
 In his recent article ("Apocalyptic Antinomies," 417) Martyn only hinted at a sense of cosmic warfare between two Spirits; Douglas's suggestions urge the exegete to complete a sketch of Paul's cosmos, indicating how pervasive is his sense of the world attacked by an Evil Spirit; see Rom 5:14,17, where "Death" is personified as "reigning" over all humanity.
 This perspective is common in the literature of Qumran; see James H. Charlesworth, "A Critical Comparison of the Dualism in 1QS 3:13-4:26 and the 'Dualism' Contained in the Gospel of John," John and Qumran (London: Chapman, 1972) 77-89; see also P. von der Osten-Sacken, Gott und Belial (SUNT 6; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1969); and H. W. Huppenbauer, De, Mensch zwischen zwei Welten (ATANT 34; Zurich: Zwingli, 1959).
 It is, of course, part of the cosmology of NT writers to attribute disease to Satan (Luke 13:16), as well as death, inasmuch as Satan entered Judas to work Jesus' death (Luke 22:3). Satan is credited with stealing the word-seed from human hearts, even as it is planted (Mark 4:15); see Joel Marcus, "Mark 4:10-12 and Markan Epistemology," JBL 103 (1984) 558, 561-62, 566.
 See Frank C. Porter, "The Yecer Hara: A Study in the Jewish Doctrine of Sin," Biblical and Semitic Studies (Yale Bicentennial Publications; New York: Scribner's, 1902) 108-9; W. D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism (New York: Harper & Row, 1948) 20-28; Herbert May, "Cosmological Reference in the Qumran Doctrine of the Two Spirits and in Old Testament Imagery," JBL 82 (1963) 1-7; Joel Marcus, "The Evil Inclination in the Epistle of James," CBQ 44 (1982) 606-21.
 Baasland ("Persecution," 140-43) discusses the phenomenon of the passio iusti in the Scriptures, applying it to Paul's remarks about his own suffering in Gal 5:11 and 6:12.
 Graham Shaw (The Cost of Authority [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982] 41) speaks of the prestige of persecution, which identifies the one attacked as clearly on God's side.
 The central symbol of the crucified Christ is itself an instance of the sense of the unjust sufferings of the righteous; the cross, moreover, is singularly ambiguous in Paul's world, for it is a "curse" to some, but grace to others; see Max Wilcox, "'Upon the Tree'-Deut 21:22-23 in the New Testament," JBL 96 (1977) 85-99.
 Ibid. 111-14, 119.
 The dispute over Paul's "apostleship" is not unique to Galatians, a fact which suggest that Paul lived in a state of controversy over his own role and status (see 1 Cor 9:2; 15:8-11).
 See 1:6-9; 3:1-2,5; 5:17; 5:7-12; 6:12-14; see J. Louis Martyn, "A Law-Observant Mission to Gentiles: the Background of Galatians," SJT 38 (1985) 313-17.
 On Paul's letters and his presence, see Robert W. Funk, "The Apostolic Parousia: Form and Significance," Christian History and Interpretation (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1967) 249-59.
 See esp. Martyn, "A
 On the ambiguity of Paul's
 See Jacob Myers and Edwin
Freed, "Is Paul Also Among the Prophets?," Int 20 (1966)
44-49; and Beda Rigaux, The Letters of
 In this context, Hall's
 Although Gal 3:1 can be understood in terms of the emic notion of "evil eye," this study validly introduces etic notions like "witch" to allow the scientific observer to bring more .interpretative materials to bear; on the distinction between emic and etic, see Marvin Harris, "History and Significance of the Emic/Etic Distinction," Annual Review of Anthropology 5 (1976) 329-50.
 On the metaphorical meaning of "leaven," see Hans Windisch, "zyme, " TDNT2 (1964) 903-6; see also my article, "Body Language in 1 Corinthians," 138-40. This meaning is found in both Jewish and Greco-Roman literature.
 A full exposition of this argument may be found in my "Witchcraft Accusations in 2 Cor 10-13," mentioned in n. 3.
 In 4:14, this "angel of light" is none other than Paul himself.
 See Betz, Galatians. 53.
 See Mair, Witchcraft.
203, 216; and Esther Goody, "Legitimate and Illegitimate Aggression
 See C. K. Barrett, A Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (HNTC; New York: Harper & Row, 1973) 262-68.
 Although he puts on an
amicable face, Paul is no less upset by rival preachers at
 For clear examples of this trait, see Phil 3:3-6 and 2 Cor 11:21-23.
 Yet one wonders about
Paul's plans in Romans 15 to leave the churches over which he was so protective;
he says that he is uncertain whether his offering is acceptable in Jerusalem,
perhaps suggesting a deep sense of how out of place he had become in the East.
This is all speculation, but
Jerome H. Neyrey