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The search for the origins of Paul's Depiction of Abraham in Galatians and Romans

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posted on 2023-01-11, 14:11 authored by James Stacey
Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the School of History, Faculty of Humanities And Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

The present thesis discusses the origins of Paul's view of Abraham in Galatians and Romans, asking the question, “what influences shaped Paul's view of Abraham?” This broader question is then broken down into two smaller ones. Firstly, was the Abraham of Galatians and/or Romans discernibly affected by the presentations of Abraham in the five Second Temple texts Jubilees; Apocalypse of Abraham; Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum, Josephus' Antiquities, and various treatises of Philo of Alexandria? Secondly, was Paul's view a unique and isolated reading of Genesis, or was his personal understanding augmented from another direction? The majority of the study deals with the first question. The five texts discussed have often been grouped together as texts which speak with one voice about Abraham. They are seen as one tradition. This hypothesised tradition has then been applied to Paul, in an attempt to demonstrate how his view of Abraham was affected by it. Prominent scholarly contributions moving in this direction have been made by Nancy Calvert-Koyzis, George Nickelsburg, and Edward Adams, amongst others. After evaluation, it is here concluded that Paul's Abraham was not discernibly affected by these five texts. In relation to the second question, Roy Harrisville (III) has proposed that Paul was a 'maverick' in disregarding prior views of Abraham. In particular, Harrisville rules out the possibility of any influence from other understandings of Abraham found in the New Testament, since Paul's were the first New Testament documents. Against this view, we note that the New Testament writings often preserve material older than themselves. We then explore the real possibility that Paul's Abraham was influenced by the teachings of such figures as John the Baptist, Jesus, or the Apostles.


Center or Department

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. School of History.

Thesis type

  • Ph. D.

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


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This thesis contains third party copyright material which has been reproduced here with permission. Any further use requires permission of the copyright owner. The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over all other content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

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