The “Gospel” in Gal 1:6-7 Revisited

in Novum Testamentum
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Gal 1:6-7 are understood by most commentaries and translations as a clear statement of the apostle Paul in favour of the existence of only one true Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, some alternative solutions (as e.g. by A. Vanhoye and J. Schröter) would like to understand these verses, especially the relative clause in v. 7a, as not denying the possible existence of different gospels. The article tries to show that this is not possible, both for linguistic and contextual reasons. Gal 2:7 is to be interpreted in the light of Gal 1:6-9, and not the other way round.

The “Gospel” in Gal 1:6-7 Revisited

in Novum Testamentum




A. Vanhoye“La définition de l’‘autre évangile’ en Ga 1,6-7,” Bib 83 (2002) 392-398here 398.


J. Schröter“Die Einheit des Evangeliums: Erwägungen zur christologischen Kontroverse des Galaterbriefes und ihrem theologiegeschichtlichen Hintergrund,” in Testimony and Interpretation: Early Christology in Its Judeo-Hellenistic Milieu: Studies in Honour of Petr Pokorný(ed. J. Mrázek and J. Roskovec; London: T&T Clark International2004) 49-67here 65.


Cf. Vanhoye“La définition” 397; Schröter “Die Einheit des Evangeliums” 62.


See R. BeekesEtymological Dictionary of Greek (vol. I; Leiden: Brill2010) 475.


See BeekesEtymological Dictionary72.


F.W. DankerThe Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago: University of Chicago2009) 17 describes the semantic situation as follows: “Usage in the nt is much more fluid.”


DankerConcise Greek-English Lexicon17.


Vanhoye“La définition” 397.


Vanhoye“La définition” 397.


Schröter“Die Einheit des Evangeliums” 60.


Schröter“Die Einheit des Evangeliums” 60.


Vanhoye“La définition” 396.


See Vanhoye“La définition”396. Vanhoye then says (396) that Ramsay “montrait [. . .] une préférence [. . .] pour une traduction très différente.“ This does not seem so clear. W.M. Ramsay A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (London: Hodder and Stoughton 21900) 264 judges the translation “a different gospel which is nothing else save that there are some that . . . would pervert the Gospel of Christ” to be “perhaps the best.” A second proposal “I marvel that you are so quickly going over to another gospel which is not a different gospel (from mine) except in so far as certain persons pervert the Gospel of Christ” (265) is qualified as “less probable perhaps but more vigorous and more characteristic of Paul’s habit of compressing his meaning into the fewest words” (265) by him. Ramsay then names several “difficulties in the way of this second alternative” (265) among them “that by the time when Paul wrote the original distinction between the two Greek words had been lost to such a degree that a pointed contrast between them could not have suggested itself to his mind” (265-266).


J.-P. LémononL’épître aux Galates (Paris: Cerf2008) 59 translates the first part of v. 7 in the same way as Vanhoye: “qui n’est pas autre que (ceci).” He justifies this with the explicit reference to Vanhoye (63) but in the exegesis of vv. 6-7 he does not mention any possibility of different gospels. For Lémonon (60) “il n’y a pas d’autre évangile.” Vanhoye “La définition” 396-397 n. 22 rightly remarks that the German translation of the commentary by Betz also corresponds to his interpretation. There the beginning of Gal 1:7 runs as follows: “was [doch] auf nichts andres hinauskommt als daß es gewisse Leute gibt die . . .”; see H.D. Betz Der Galaterbrief: Ein Kommentar zum Brief des Apostels Paulus an die Gemeinden in Galatien (transl. by S. Ann; Munich: Kaiser 1988) 98. However the English original has the text: “not that there is another [gospel] but there are some who . . .” (see Betz Galatians 6). In the German edition the difference is not explained. Very similar to Ramsay is F. Zorell Lexicon graecum Novi Testamenti (Roma: pib41990) 365 (s.v. εἰ) who translates: “(diversum evangelium) nihil est aliud quam quod quidam exsistunt qui vos perturbant.” Was Zorell influenced by W.M. Ramsay? However cf. the translation by one of the most renowned experts on New Testament Greek M. Zerwick Der Brief an die Galater (Düsseldorf: Patmos 1964) 19: “zu einer anderen Heilsbotschaft 7die es gar nicht gibt; nur daß da gewisse Leute sind die . . .”


See Vanhoye“La définition” 395.


See e.g. BurtonGalatians22; Oepke Galater 23; G. Schneider Der Brief an die Galater (Düsseldorf: Patmos 1964) 30; Mußner Galaterbrief 56; J.D.G. Dunn A Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (bntc; London: Black 1993) 42; Martyn Galatians 109.121.

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