Bewitched in Galatia:

Paul and Cultural Anthropology


Weston School of Theology


BECAUSE OF PREVIOUS WORK ON ACCUSATIONS of demon possession in Matthew, [1] Luke, [2] and 2 Corinthians, [3] 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, [4] baskanein, which is found only here in the NT, is a common term for the evil eye in the LXX [5] and Greek literature. [6] It is my hypothesis that Paul is using it in its formal sense as an accusation that someone has bewitched the Galatians. [7] This means that Paul is arguing that the false teachers spreading "another gospel" in Galatia are either Satan himself or persons possessed and controlled by Satan. In this regard, Paul would be said to share with the rest of the authors of the NT a common view of the active presence of Satan and demons in the world. [8] Like them, Paul would also engage in the common practice of accusing one's enemies and rivals of sorcery or demon possession, a phenomenon attributed to Jesus and his followers, as the following diagram indicates:

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, [9] 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, [10] 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 Douglas's basic anthropological work. [11] Her modeling of witchcraft accusations has proved useful to students of religion as well. [12]

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 Douglas's works, first a general sketch of the "cosmology" of Paul's world from an anthropological point of view, and then a specific assessment of a "witchcraft accusation," which is a common feature of that type of cosmology.

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's group/ grid analysis, [13] which indicates how cultures vary and how the attitudes to elements such as structure, ritual, body, and identity vary as well.

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. Douglas, then, offers two variables, group and grid, for locating a given social group, variables which yield a scattergram of four ideal types of worldviews or cosmologies.


















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 Douglas's model apropos of NT documents that most of them may be classified as strong group / low grid. [14] Their authors all accept in varying ways the religion of Israel: belief in the one, true God and acceptance of God's Scriptures, with some attendant structures (strong group). But Jesus and his followers do not accept the structuring of Israel's faith as it was traditionally expressed in terms of the temple and the system of order and classification symbolized in the temple; [15] and so they sought to reform Israel's faith (low grid).

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, [16] 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. [17]

Purity. This term is almost synonymous with what Douglas means by group, i.e., the systematic structuring of the social world: the classification of persons, places, times, and things in terms of some value or organizing principle. "Purity," an abstract term, is best understood in terms of its opposite, "dirt."

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. [18]

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. [19] 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, [20] 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, [21] 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). [22] 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. [23] 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). [24] "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.” [25] 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. [26] The unquestionable aim of all religious behavior is "righteousness," [27] 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).

Yet, as Douglas indicates, this strong sense of an orderly, holy cosmos can come under fierce attack. Paul writes Galatians precisely because someone, presumably Judaizers, has come to Galatia and attacked Paul's ordering of the world in the way described above. At this point of the analysis, it is irrelevant just what they said and why it should be persuasive to the Galatians. Suffice it to say that Paul perceives their presence and preaching of "another gospel" as a pollution of God's holy church because it attacks the pure way of serving God which Paul enunciated. They are infecting the church like polluting leaven (5:9; see 1 Cor 5:6-7), or gangrene (see 2 Tim 2:17). [28] Cast in this light, the conflict assumes cosmic proportions.

Rites. Examining the structures of society, Douglas pays special attention to the rites and ceremonies which either define the boundaries of a group (rituals) or celebrate and strengthen its values and structures (ceremonies). In this strong group/low grid cosmos, attention is focused primarily on rites which establish and maintain boundaries. Since people in this cosmos perceive their boundaries already breached by pollutants, they devote themselves to sounding the alarm and rallying to the perimeter which is being attacked, i.e., identifying the pollution and trying to expel it.

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 church of God, trying to destroy it (1:13-14). Yet God brought him across a boundary and made him an insider by an act of grace, i.e., by freely setting him apart, calling him, and revealing his Son to him (1:15-16). Paul not only establishes his legitimacy by this rehearsal of his vocation, thus indicating that he stands on the correct side of the boundary separating good from evil, but his experience also serves as a paradigm of the correct boundary line, viz., the way God works to establish boundaries by grace and faith.

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. [29] 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. [30] 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, [31] 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 [32] 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

            promise/faith                                                     law/doing

            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

            Home: Jerusalem above            -8-                   Home: Mt. Sinai below

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. [33] 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.” [34]

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," [35] 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. [36] Mutilation [37] 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. [38] 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. [39] 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." [40]

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. [41] 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 Jerusalem church; they are, then, known in terms of role and place. The Galatians are the "true Israel"; and individual members of the church are known as "the household of faith" (6:10). They are, moreover, expected to learn their Christian identity by imitating Paul (4:12).

In this regard, Douglas calls attention to a profound problem in learning the identity of people in this social script. Although this world would build boundaries exactly to locate, classify, and identify people, this is also a world in which boundaries are breached and the system is under attack. But the problem here lies precisely in the difficulty of identifying the invading pollutant, because in this world external appearances are not a sure guide to the interior. At best, ambiguity reigns here; but at worst, this world is full of deceit and masquerade which intend to deceive. [42] Evil masquerades as good, even as the good may not be fully recognized for what it is because of some seeming exterior defect. Paul in Galatians is intensely aware of both ambiguity and masquerade.

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. [43] In several places he notes the criticism that he "pleases men" (1:10) [44] or that he too has approved circumcision (5: 11). [45] These are not implausible criticisms, inasmuch as Paul admits that he is extremely flexible in his preaching (1 Cor 9: 19-23). [46]

Similarly, we consider the ambiguity in the explanations for his visit to Jerusalem in 2:1-10. First he insists on his seeming independence from Peter and the Jerusalem church (1:16-17) in terms of both his authority and his doctrine. Yet when he finally goes to Jerusalem, although he claims to go because of a “revelation” from God (2:2), he lays before the Jerusalem leaders his gospel expressly for the purpose of receiving their commendation (2:2b). Ambiguity extends as well to Paul's role and status, for while he may claim to be an "apostle," he is by his own admission the runt of the litter, one untimely born (1 Cor 15:7), who does not deserve to be called an apostle because he persecuted the church (1:13; cf. 1 Cor 15:9). Even on a bodily level, the one who preaches power, holiness, and life is ambiguous. He alludes to a “bodily ailment” which could in the eyes of some belie that he has a gospel of power or the words of life (4:13-14). [47] In this regard, he noted how the Galatians originally saw through the ambiguity of his bodily ailment and "received him like an angel of God" (4:14). Yet his appearance, role, and status, and even his doctrine, are ambiguous. He may take oaths to clear up ambiguity (1:20), [48] but that only indicates it already exists. [49]

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 Jerusalem” are clearly ambiguous to Paul, if not actually deceitful hypocrites. To begin with, Paul regularly characterizes them as those who seem " be someone truthful or holy, viz., "those of repute" (2:2) and those who "are reputed to be something" (2:6-7,9), ostensibly bearers of the truth of the gospel of God. Their "repute," however, rests on "externals," which in this cosmos are ambiguous at best and potentially deceitful: their eyewitness experience of Jesus and their direct access to his words and teaching. Externally, then, they are impeccable and far more qualified to be leaders than Paul, who presumably never knew the earthly Jesus and even persecuted his followers. But Paul accuses Peter of hypocrisy (2: 13) for his behavior at table in Antioch (2: 11-14). [50]

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, [51] 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, [52] a midrash which stands behind his accusations about the "superapostles" in 2 Cor 11:3, 13-15. [53] It is correct to take Paul ''as an angel of God" (4:14), but not other preachers, who are only demons in disguise. [54]

Body. Douglas is at her best in urging us to consider the body and its "roper care as a symbol of the social body. [55] Where there is strong social control (strong group), Douglas expects this to be replicated in strong bodily control. We argued above that Paul sees the world strongly organized and structured, which suggests that he should also urge strong bodily control and discipline. This is verified in Galatians 5-6, where Paul emphatically indicates that freedom from the Law of Moses does not mean lawlessness: “Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh" (5:13). Lest the Galatians not understand him correctly, he delivers a conventional moral exhortation which proscribes certain vices and prescribes specific virtues. [56] Paul understands this catalog in terms of “walking in the Spirit" (5: 16), i.e., as a way of life based on clear, strong rules of conduct. [57] Inasmuch as his aim is strict control of the “flesh," the dominant virtue is “self-control" (egkrateia, 5:23). [58]

Douglas argues that when there is concern for social boundaries, entrances and exits, there will be corresponding concern to control the entrances and exits of the physical body, in particular the sexual, oral, ocular, and aural orifices, which are entrances into the body's interior. [59] In the list of vices of "the flesh" to be avoided, Paul typically identifies in 5:19-20 those vices which involve the body's orifices, which should be controlled and guarded to prevent such evil and pollution:

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. [60]

            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. [61] 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. [62] 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. [63]

            Cosmology. This cosmos is perceived in anthropomorphic [64] terms. Paul no doubt understands Israel's God as a person, who is Father (4:4-6), benevolent (3:2-5), merciful (1:13-16), and just (6:7-8). But Paul's cosmos is also disturbingly full of other personal agents of power who work harm against us, as the following list indicates:

  1. Satan (1 Cor 7:5; 2 Cor 2:11; 11:14; 12:7; 1 Thess 2:18)
  2. principalities (1 Cor 15:24; Rom 8:38)
  3. rulers (1 Cor 2:6,8)
  4. power/exousia (1 Cor 15:24)
  5. power/dynamis (1 Cor 15:24; Rom 8:38)
  6. tempter (I Thess 3:5)
  7. elements (Gal 4:3,9)
  8. beings that by nature are no gods (Gal 4:8)
  9. spirit of the world (1 Cor 10:10)
  10. demons (1 Cor 10:20-21)
  11. god of this age (2 Cor 4:4) [65]

But in this world there also exists a dominant evil force that is perceived anthropomorphically. [66] 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: [67] sickness, death, and especially "heresy." [68]

            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, [69] 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 Jerusalem (2:7-9), Paul is nevertheless held in low regard and even viciously attacked. [70] But then, such has always been the lot of God's true prophets, [71] as it was of Isaac at the hands of Ishmael (4:29). Beyond the fact that Paul interprets the cross of Jesus as the official boundary line between the covenants of Moses and Abraham, Paul glories in this cross and the symbolic suffering attached to it as an indication of where he stands. For identification with Christ crucified would indicate that he not only knows the truth about Jesus [72] but also bodily imitates him (6:17), thus accepting suffering as proof that he is being attacked unjustly by Evil, God's enemy.

            Douglas's basic anthropological model, therefore, offers a secure and enlightening device for examining the worldview of Paul in the Letter to the Galatians. It indicates in more formal terms what is often intuitively grasped: (a) that Paul perceives himself under constant attack, even as he engages in interminable conflict with others; (b) that Paul perceives his world in radically dualistic terms, in which he contrasts his position with that of the Judaizers; (c) that Paul perceives the cosmos at best as ambiguous, but actually as a dangerous world of deceit and masquerade; and (d) that Evil is attacking and polluting his churches. The strength of this model has allowed us to examine texts which might not at first seem important and to see a coherence in Paul's perceptions. This first part of our inquiry, then, has given us a basic framework in which to consider more formally the accusation made in 3:1 and implied in 1:8.

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.

            Douglas offers a more specific model for studying bewitchment in Galatia with her consideration of three elements needed to understand "witches" and "witchcraft accusations": (a) specific characteristics of witchcraft societies, (b) the anthropological definition of a "witch," and (c) the function of accusations of witchcraft or bewitchment. [73]

            Specific Characteristics. Douglas identifies six specific characteristics of what she calls "witchcraft societies," i.e., societies where accusations of witchcraft possession tend to occur. These are clearer definitions of the cosmology described in part one of this study.

            1. External Boundaries Clearly Marked. [74] 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.

            2. Confused Internal Relations. [75] In the churches of Galatia, there appears to be a vacuum of leadership, for Paul founded his churches and moved on, a practice which was his general custom. The letter mentions no one by name, no Stephanas whom he might appoint as regent in his absence (1 Cor 16:15-16), no Euodia and Syntyche, who might be the owners of the house churches where Christians met (Phil 4:2-3). In this vacuum we learn of "teachers" whose credentials are never mentioned, much less refuted. Even Paul's own claims to leadership are contested here. Although claims and legitimacy might be tested and validated in Jerusalem (2:6-9), there is apparently no mechanism in Galatia to sort out the competing claims of Paul or his opponents.

            The letter, moreover, indicates considerable confusion on Paul's part about roles and statuses in the church. Paul knows of leaders at Jerusalem, "pillars" (2:9), but he slurs their authority by describing them as those who only "seem" to have legitimate status. Paul would like to be considered "an apostle," a term which many in Galatia would deny to him (1:10). [76] When he tells the story which functions as the foundation of his role and authority (1:15-16), Paul presents himself using language from the prophetic tradition. This suggests that he perceives himself in some way as a "prophet," a category which should command respect, but which is very hard to test or to define. There are apparently "teachers" in Galatia, but we know nothing about their status or legitimation. [77] Paul, then, disputes the authority and status of all others, even as his own is contested. The internal relations in these churches, then, are extremely confused.

            3. Close and Unavoidable Interaction. [78] Granted Paul is physically absent from the Galatian churches, yet he remains in close contact with them, just as he was with Corinth and Philippi. Because of his claim to be their founder and father, he cannot and will not abandon them; and so he chooses to remain in close interaction with them, even as this means unavoidable and constant friction.

            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. [79]

The contact, then, is intense and unrelenting.

            4. Tension-Relieving Techniques Underdeveloped. Techniques for distancing, regulating, and reconciling these conflicts are little developed here. While in Jerusalem issues may be decided, at Antioch Paul resorts to name-calling. Paul accuses Cephas of insincerity, although by his own admission he himself is a "Greek with Greeks and a Jew with Jews" (1 Cor 9: 19-21); and according to his critics at Galatia, he seems to be less than consistent about circumcision (1: 10; 5: 11). It is especially in regard to the conflicting claims of Paul and the Judaizers that we recognize how underdeveloped are the techniques for settling leadership and doctrinal disputes in Galatia. There is no formal procedure for regulating this intense competition, adjudicating rival claims, or even separating the parties.

            5. Weak Authority. [80] The ability to control effectively the behavior of people in Galatia is evidently unavailable to Paul. It is presumed that Paul's rivals cite to their own purposes the only authority, the Scriptures, [81] just as Paul construes the Scriptures in his own idiosyncratic way. But who is right? And how can the Galatians know? Paul's authority, moreover, is being fiercely attacked by those who denigrate his "apostleship," point out his inconsistencies, and highlight his distance from Jerusalem and its traditions. It is not incidental that, whereas Paul previously laid before Cephas and the Jerusalem pillars his doctrine, "lest somehow I should be running in vain" (2:2), he does not appeal to Jerusalem to adjudicate the present crisis. Implicit in this stance is Paul's sense of his own weak authority in Jerusalem as well as his attack on its alleged authority (2:6,8). [82]

            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." [83] 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 Israel. But here, where he is denied one role ("apostle"), he searches for another label to explain his status and authority ("prophet"). Could he establish this, he would be superior to any "apostle" commissioned by mere men or confirmed by them, for he would be a "prophet" to whom God has directly revealed the truth. The very confusion of roles Paul assumes (apostle, prophet) indicates the weakness of authority in the conflict.

            6. Intense, Disorderly Competition. Accusations of demonic possession tend to occur in groups characterized by intense, disorderly competition for leadership. Consider: Paul versus the pillars at Jerusalem (2:1-10), Paul versus Cephas at Antioch (2:11-14), Paul versus the teachers in Galatia. At every level, we find competition and rivalry. Although scholars tend to focus primarily on the doctrinal issues in Galatians, the fact is that Paul here, as elsewhere, remained in an intense state of competition with rival preachers, a competition which was regularly disorderly. [84] This should not be ignored when trying to understand his theology in its historical context.

            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. [85] 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.

            According to Douglas's model, witches appear in groups dominated by a dualistic point of view which sees the world divided into polarized opposites. Those who consider themselves to be in the correct place and to take the correct stand perceive themselves under attack, especially from hostile outsiders who would corrupt and poison them. And this wickedness is experienced on a cosmic scale: those who immediately threaten them are from the Evil One. The "witch," then, is a figure who sums up all of the above senses of dualism, cosmic evil, and hostility to the group.

            From her analyses, Douglas would describe the "witch" as having the following characteristics: [86]

            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 Galatia with "false brethren" in the Jerusalem church (2:4) in that both of them urge slavery. They are "false" because they deliberately claim to be zealous for God, and to belong to the disciples of Jesus, but in Paul's view they are enemies of God's plan in Christ and are only masquerading as brothers of God's family. They urge, moreover, a doctrine and a practice which they claim leads to t perfection or glory. They indeed seem to argue their case from God's holy Word, but from a part which Paul describes as a temporary covenant given because of sin to sinners, a part of the Scriptures which Paul calls a "curse." They, however, exalt that part of the Scriptures as necessary and desirable, disguising the curse and slavery of their covenant under the lie of perfection and glory. They are deceivers, only pretending to be Christians; in fact, they are enemies of the cross of Christ, which for them is a stumbling block (5:11), that achieved nothing. They are really disciples of Moses, while only pretending to be disciples of Jesus.

            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. [87] This doctrinal "leaven " corresponds to the witch's poison which corrupts and kills when ingested (see Matt 16:11-12).

            As regards "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 Jerusalem to lay his own doctrine before the church lest he have created "emptiness" in people (2:2; cf. 1 Cor 15:10,14,58). He, then, is not empty, nor does he cause others to become empty, sucked of life. Yet his portrayal of the rival teachers implies that they cause emptiness, the loss of previous life in the soul. As Paul argues in 3:3, by urging circumcision and the Law the Judaizers would cause people who "began in the Spirit" (an inside full of God's life) to "end in the flesh" (a shell of a person). They are causing the loss of Spirit, leaving their disciples empty, sucked of life. As Paul says, if they observe "days, months, seasons, and years," then he has labored "emptily"; for the Galatians shall have lost all that Paul would have put in them (4:10-11) through the life-sucking of the preachers of "another gospel."

            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 Galatia have been attacked by an Evil figure, Satan or one of his minions.

            The proper 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 at Corinth in his absence of being demon-possessed. [88] He drew an analogy between Satan's seduction of Eve and the seduction of the holy Corinthian church by these rival preachers (11:3). Noting that Satan is wont to disguise himself as an angel of light (11:14), he argues that the same tactic is used by Satan's servants, the "superapostles": "So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness" (11:15).

            An "angel of light," then, is a fundamentally ambiguous figure, who might be God's messenger, [89] 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 Galatia by teachers whom he considers to be capable of "bewitchment." Gal 1:8, then, contains no positive reference to "angelic revelations," [90] but rather a warning of a potential and even actual deception by a disguised "angel of light," after the analogy of 2 Corinthians 11. Gal 3:1 and 1:8, then, should be formally labeled "witchcraft accusation." But what is their function?

            According to Douglas's profile, the characteristic ritual of this kind of social group focuses on discernment and expulsion of the witch. The primary act in the process of grappling with the attacking Evil is the accusation of witchcraft or demonic possession; for by the accusation, the threat to the group's boundaries is revealed and its cause, the witch, is identified and can be expelled. This points up an important feature we discussed earlier, viz., that this is a highly competitive society marked with strong rivalry and strong ambition. In this context, the accusation functions to denigrate rivals and pull them down in the competition for leadership. [91] Such accusations, in short, are idioms of social control. [92]

            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). [93] It was on this occasion that Paul accused the "superapostles" at Corinth of being Satan in disguise (2 Cor 11:3,13-15). For the sake of peace, Paul may say that he welcomes Apollos' labors at Corinth and considers him his equal in the ministry (3:5), but there is no doubt that Paul planted the seed (3:6) and laid the foundation (3:10). Anyone who would build on that foundation had better look out (3:12-14)! Whereas theologians focus on these conflicts in terms of conflicting theologies, a social science model urges us to see them as evidence of an intense sense of rivalry, competition, and even jealousy.

            Galatians fairly bristles with a sense of rivalry and competition. We recall Paul's competition with the Jerusalem pillars, at whose "repute" he sneers (2:6). We do not know the particulars of the division of the apostolate between Cephas/Jewish mission and Paul/Gentile mission in 2:6-8; but there are hints that Paul came to understand it as a territorial division, which implies a certain exclusivity. He appears reluctant to go on Peter's turf, i.e., to Jerusalem (1:16-24); and the text suggests Paul's discomfort at anyone's coming on to his turf, be it the advent of certain men from Jerusalem (2:12) or the coming of rival teachers into his churches in Galatia. [94]

            Paul's Antioch becomes an occasion of conflict with the arrival of "outsiders" (2:11-12). The apparent harmony which Cephas and Paul shared was shattered when "men from James," presumably "the circumcision party," occasioned a division between them. On one level, the conflict is over eating-rituals, which symbolize theological issues. The use of social science modeling draws attention to Paul's sense that his turf is violated by these men from James, whose theology he considered evil. Cephas' presence at Antioch then becomes a scandal. While stopping short of calling Cephas a witch, Paul accuses him of "insincerity" or hypocrisy (2:13).

            But the most intense rivalry occurs between Paul and his opponents for leadership over the churches of Galatia, which are his turf. I do not doubt that Paul reacted to their very coming on to his territory in the same way he took offense at "certain men [who] came from James" (2:12). Their coming, of course, was linked with their preaching "another gospel." Yet to judge from the intense apology for his own role and status, Paul seems to have perceived and experienced their coming as an explicit attack on his leadership in a church from which he was absent. The issue is not just theology but rivalry as well. A mirror reading of his statements about himself suggests the shape of the polemic, either real or perceived. He is no genuine apostle (1:1); he hides the truth from these churches and so is a false teacher (5:11; 1:10); his ties with the mother church are tenuous at best, implying that he is a maverick figure (2:1-10) with perhaps a defective doctrine. The fact that Paul hastens to find alternate legitimation of his authority and role (1:13-16) suggests a strategy of one-upmanship [95] in the rivalry with the Judaizers.

            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).

            Witchcraft accusations might serve one of two purposes, either expulsion or fission. [96] It does not appear that Paul quit the fight, abandoned the churches in Galatia and moved on-not fission! [97] If we may judge from the Epistle to the Galatians, his strategy was clearly to expel the witches and so to purify the holy group. History does not tell us the outcome of the struggle, but presumably Paul succeeded.

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. Douglas's group/grid model allows us to view individual items in Galatians in a way which highlights their social content and function. Her model, moreover, suggests how the individual anthropological categories replicate the basic cosmological viewpoint and offer a coherent view of Paul's world.

            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 Douglas's modeling seems particularly successful. Not only does it give us a valid procedure for understanding the accusations of demon possession in Paul and other writings in the NT, it also suggests a fresh way of investigating Paul's basic cultural viewpoint.

            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.

[1] See “Jesus the Witch,” Calling Jesus Names, forthcoming from the Polebridge Press.

[2] “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.

[3] “Witchcraft Accusations in 2 Cor 10-13: Paul in Social Science Perspective,” Listening 21 (1986) 160-70.

[4] H. D. Betz, Galatians (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970) 131.

[5] Cf. Deut 28:54; see Vincent Taylor, The Gospel According to St. Mark (2d ed.; New York: St. Martin's, 1966) 346; also F. C. Fensham, "The Good and Evil Eye in the Sermon on the Mount," Neot I (1967) 51-58. For anthropological analysis of the evil eye, see John M. Roberts, "Belief in the Evil Eye in World Perspective," The Evil Eye (ed. Clarence Maloney; New York: Columbia University, 1976) 223-78; and David Gilmore, "Anthropology of the Mediterranean Area," Annual Review of Anthropology II (1982) 197-98.

[6] 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.

[7] 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.

[8] 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.

[9] E.g., Daniel Arichea and Eugene Nida, A Translation Handbook on Paul's Letter to the Galatians (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1976) 53.

[10] 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 Africa, other scholars call attention to the specifically Mediterranean character of a "witchcraft accusation"; see George Murdock, Theories of Illness (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 1980) 21-23, 57-71. Douglas, moreover, attempted to synthesize data from various cultures and present a cross-cultural model of witchcraft, in which the particularities of time and place are omitted in favor of a more generalized theory. The present use of Douglas's material relies on this acceptable social science procedure.

[11] 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).

[12] See Peter Brown, "Sorcery, Demons, and the Rise of Christianity from Late Antiquity into the Middle Ages," Witchcraft Confessions and Accusations (ed. Mary Douglas; New York: Tavistock, 1970) 17-45; Margaret Pamment, "Witch-hunt," Theology 84 (1981) 98-106.

[13] 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 dissertation; Berkeley, CA: Graduate Theological Union, 1984).

[14] 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.

[15] This is spelled out in greater detail in my article, "The Idea of Purity in Mark's Gospel," Social-Scientific Criticism, 91-128.

[16] Douglas, Natural Symbols, 111-12.

[17] This digest comes from Malina, Christian Origins and Cultural Anthropology, 15, and is explained by him in detail later on pp. 37-44.

[18] Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966) 35.

[19] What "purity" looks like concretely in temple and synagogue may be found in my "The Idea of Purity in Mark's Gospel," 92-105.

[20] See Michael Newton, The Concept of Purity at Qumran and in the Letters of Paul (SNTSMS 53; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1985).

[21] 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.

[22] 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.

[23] 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.

[24] See David Lull, “’The Law Was Our Pedagogue’: A Study of Galatians 3:19-25,” JBL 105 (1986) 485-86.

[25] 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.

[26] 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 Newton, The Concept of Purity at Qumran. 52-78.

[27] 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.

[28] 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.

[29] 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.

[30] See James D. G. Dunn, "Works of the Law and the Curse of the Law (Galatians 3:10-14)," NTS 31 (1985) 524-27.

[31] See C. K. Barrett, "The Allegory of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar in the Argument of Galatians," Essays on Paul (Philadelphia; Westminster, 1982) 154-70.

[32] 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.

[33] Malina, Christian Origins and Cultural Anthropology, 38.

[34] 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).

[35] 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.

[36] 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.

[37] Betz, Galatians, 270.

[38] Castration, moreover, literally means that one's line is cut off from the covenant of Israel, a profound curse; as such it renders one unclean or "cut off." See b. Yebam. 24a and -75b; Sabb. 152a; Sola 26a; Sanh. 36b; see also Bruce Malina, The New Testament World. Insights from Cultural Anthropology (Atlanta: John Knox, 1981) 133.

[39] See Goran Forkman, The Limits of the Religious Community (ConNT 5; Lund: Gleerup, 2) 171, 177.

[40] See Johannes Behm, "anathema," TDNT I (1964) 354-56; Betz, Galatians, 50-51.

[41] 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; New York: Crossroad, 1984) 211-13.

[42] 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.

[43] 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.

[44] 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.

[45] 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?

[46] On this, see D. Carson, "Pauline Inconsistency: Reflections on I Corinthians 9:19-23 and Galatians 2:11-14," Churchman 100 (1986) 6-45.

[47] 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.

[48] 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.

[49] 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.

[50] For an excellent recent study of that incident, see James D. G. Dunn, "The Incident at Antioch (Gal 2: 11-18),” JSNT 18 (1983) 3-57.

[51] Apropos of Gal 3:3, see Ernst Baasland, "Persecution: A Neglected Factor in the Letter to the Galatians," ST 38 (1984) 139.

[52] 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.

[53] See my article, "Witchcraft Accusations in 2 Cor 10-13," 169.

[54] 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)

[55] Natural Symbols. 65-81; see also my "Body Language in 1 Corinthians," 129-70; and my "Symbolism in Mark 7."

[56] See Betz, Galatians. 281-83.

[57] 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.

[58] 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).

[59] Douglas, Natural Symbols. 70-71; idem, Purity and Danger. 123-24.

[60] This is most clearly stated in Rom 6: 15-22.

[61] See Malina, Christian Origins and Cultural Anthropology, 32.

[62] Ibid., 40; see Douglas, Natural Symbols. 35-36, 99-106.

[63] See Forkman, The Limits of the Religious Community, 147-49.

[64] See Malina, Christian Origins and Cultural Anthropology, 32-33, 40.

[65] See Barbara Hall, Battle Imagery in Paul's Letters: An Exegetical Study (unpublished dissertation; New York: Union Theological Seminary, 1973) 132-60; for a current bibliography on this topic in Pauline studies, see Wink, Naming the Powers. 6 n.1.

[66] 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.

[67] 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).

[68] 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.

[69] 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.

[70] 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.

[71] 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.

[72] 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.

[73] See Douglas, Natural Symbols. 99-124; idem, Witchcraft Confessions and Accusations. esp. xiii-xxxviii; also Mary Douglas, "Techniques of Sorcery Control in Central Africa," Witchcraft and Sorcery in East Africa (ed. John Middleton and E. H. Winter; London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963) 123-41; idem, "Witch Beliefs in Central Africa," Africa 37 (1967) 72-80; see also Kai T. Erickson, Wayward Puritans (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1966); and E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande (Oxford: Clarendon, 1937).

[74] Douglas, Natural Symbols. 113.

[75] Ibid. 111-14, 119.

[76] 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).

[77] 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.

[78] Douglas, Natural Symbols. 109-14; see also Lucy Mair, Witchcraft (New York: World University Library, 1969) 207-13.

[79] 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.

[80] Douglas, Witchcraft Confessions and Accusations. xviii; idem, Natural Symbols. iii.

[81] See esp. Martyn, "A Law-Observant Mission," 317-24.

[82] On the ambiguity of Paul's status in Jerusalem, see Rom 15:30-31. For a more theological interpretation of Paul's conflict with Jerusalem, see Lloyd Gaston, "Paul and Jerusalem," From Paul to Jesus (ed. Peter Richardson and John Hurd; Waterloo, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University, 1984) 61-72.

[83] See Jacob Myers and Edwin Freed, "Is Paul Also Among the Prophets?," Int 20 (1966) 44-49; and Beda Rigaux, The Letters of St. Paul (Chicago: Franciscan Herald, 1968) 56-58. See also my article, "The Forensic Defense Speech," 219-20.

[84] In this context, Hall's dissertation (Battle Imagery in Paul's Letters. 8-12) becomes all the more important as it thoroughly informs us of the plethora of terms for battle and conflict found throughout Paul's letters. Her work and this project ideally complement each other.

[85] 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.

[86] Douglas, Witchcraft Confessions and Accusations. xxvi-xxvii; idem, Natural Symbols. 113.

[87] 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.

[88] A full exposition of this argument may be found in my "Witchcraft Accusations in 2 Cor 10-13," mentioned in n. 3.

[89] In 4:14, this "angel of light" is none other than Paul himself.

[90] See Betz, Galatians. 53.

[91] Douglas, Witchcraft Accusations and Confessions. xviii; idem, Natural Symbols. 114.

[92] See Mair, Witchcraft. 203, 216; and Esther Goody, "Legitimate and Illegitimate Aggression in a West African State," Witchcraft Accusations and Confessions. 211.

[93] See C. K. Barrett, A Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (HNTC; New York: Harper & Row, 1973) 262-68.

[94] Although he puts on an amicable face, Paul is no less upset by rival preachers at Philippi (see 1:15-17); see my Christ is Community (Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1985) 215-18.

[95] For clear examples of this trait, see Phil 3:3-6 and 2 Cor 11:21-23.

[96] Douglas, Witchcraft Accusations and Confessions. xviii; idem, Natural Symbols. 114.

[97] 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 Douglas's suggestion of "fission" might be a fresh way to analyze the abrupt departure of the jealous Paul from his churches in the East. He, of course, would not be the first to "go out"; see the "secessionists" in 1 John.

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