Forum für Sprachlose. Eine kommunikationspsychologische und epistolär-rhetorische Untersuchung des Galaterbriefs

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The title: Forum für Sprachlose (Forum for the Speechless) indicates the overall objective of this investigation. An attempt is being made to provide a defence for the accused recipients and designated opponents of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. In order to accomplish this objec-tive, I have chosen to engage in a variety of methodological procedures. Having identified, throughout the history of the research on Galatians, certain problems of interpretation, I present a model of communication for the analysis of Galatians, in order to unravel the strategy of persuasion from the angles of authorial intent and reader expectation. Secondly, I employ a number of attribution theories, trying to determine their resonance in the text. Both of these analytical steps aim at a determination in the argumentation of the relationship between situational relevance and reader coercion, in order to make transparent, motives and strategies on the part of the author and his demand on the readers for correction of their behavior. In order to test and enhance the initial findings, I proceed with an investigation of ancient rhetorical and epistolary practices and an inquiry into their usefulness for the analysis of Galatians. A comparison with ancient letter traditions leads to the conclusion, that Galatians is a semi–official, freely composed, letter of petition, with Gal 4.12-20 as its climax. In a final step, singular persuasion techniques (autobiography, diatribe and vilificatory topoi, and enthymeme) are brought to bear on Galatians. The analysis purports a reversal of a number of historical perceptions of the background and the problems that provoked the letter to the Galatians. This concerns first and foremost the conception of the opponents as legalistic Judaizers, the believers’ attraction to a law-obedient gospel, and the perception of a theology of the law (or a theology of the cross for that matter) as being at the heart of the Pauline gospel as it is presented in Galatians. Paul is primarily determined by the conviction, that faith in and faithfulness to the crucified Christ belong together. Discipleship amounts to an imitatio Christi crucifixi. This had been threatened by the Galatians’ wish to be circumcised, not because it amounted to their desire to be completed under the law, but because its motivation was to avoid persecution. The intention of the delegates from Jerusalem was pastoral. They wanted to help the Galatians to avoid unnecessary conflict. Paul’s reaction is furious. In his view, they had diminished the central aspect of the believer’s identification with Christ, of which he himself was the true epitome: ‘I am crucified with Christ…’ (2.19) ‘and to the world’ (6.14).


  • Dieter Mitternacht
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Religious Studies


  • Bible, Paul, Galatians, communication, pragmatic analysis, social psychology, attribution theories, epistolography, epistolary analysis, letters of petition, epistolary formulas, persuasion techniques, diatribe, autobiography, New Testament, vilification, Bibelvetenskap
Original languageGerman
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1999 May 25
  • Almqvist & Wiksell International
Print ISBNs91-22-01833-6
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 1999-05-25 Time: 10:00 Place: Samarkand, Akademiska Föreningen, Lundagård External reviewer(s) Name: Engberg-Pedersen, Troels Title: Prof. Affiliation: Copenhagen, DK ---