Abrahamic Descent, Testamentary Adoption, and the Law in Galatians

Differentiating Abraham’s Sons, Seed, and Children of Promise


In this volume, Bradley R. Trick argues that Hellenistic testamentary adoption provides the key to understanding Abrahamic descent and its implications for the law in Galatians. By thoroughly analyzing the Greco-Roman and Jewish contexts of Paul’s references to testaments/covenants (διαθῆκαι) and adoption, Trick establishes that Gal 3-4 portrays the Abrahamic διαθήκη as a Hellenistic testament through which God adopts Abraham. This insight enables a coherent and collectively consistent interpretation of Paul’s Abrahamic appeals to emerge, one in which “sons” (3:7) designates Jews, “children of promise” (4:28) designates gentiles, and “seed” designates Christ (3:16) and the interdependent union of Jews and gentiles in Christ (3:29). The need to preserve the singularity of this seed then grounds God’s giving of the law.
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Biographical Note

Bradley R. Trick, Ph.D. (2010), Duke University, is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, NC. He is also the author of “Death, Covenants, and the Proof of Resurrection in Mark 12:18-27” ( NovT 49 [2007]: 232-56).

Table of contents


1 Abrahamic Descent in Galatians: Sons, Seed, and Children of Promise

Part 1BR/>
Sons (Gal 3:6–14)

2 The Jews as the Faith-Based Sons of Abraham in Gal 3:6–7

3 Transgressing the Law in Faith as the New Expression of Jewish Sonship in Gal 3:6–14

Part 2

Seed (Gal 3:15–4:11)

4 Testamentary Adoption, Dual Sonship, and the Identification of Christ as the Abrahamic Seed in Gal 3:15–16

5 The Singularity of Abraham’s Seed and the Law’s Irrelevance for Inheriting the Promise in Gal 3:15–20

6 The Abrahamic Seed as the Key to Understanding the Law in Gal 3:21–4:11

Part 3

Children of Promise (Gal 4:21–5:1)

7 The Contrast of Nonadoptive (Sinaitic) and Adoptive (Abrahamic) Testaments as Jewish “Mothers” in Gal 4:24–27

8 The Interdependent Union of the Gentile Children of Promise with the Jewish Children of the Free Woman in Gal 4:21–5:1


9 Jewish Sons, Christ the Seed, and the Gentile Children of Promise


Index of Authors

Index of Ancient Sources


Any scholar interested in Paul, (Pauline) theology, Galatians, Abrahamic descent, the Jewish law, Greco-Roman adoption practices, testaments/covenants, the use of the OT in the NT, or Jew-gentile relations in Christ.