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My papers on Galatians and Ephesians at IBR/SBL 2022

I’ll be presenting two papers at the upcoming IBR/SBL 2022 conferences:

How does the first half of Galatians 6:16 help us understand what Paul means by the “Israel of God”?

Lionel J. Windsor, “‘As many as will conform to this rule’ (Galatians 6:16): Who? What rule? And Why?”

Paper for the Institute for Biblical Research Early Christian Judaism Research Group (SBL Code P19-256).

Respondent: Jason Staples

Saturday, November 19, 2022 | Mountain time 4:10pm-4:50pm (the full session is 3:30pm-5:30pm)

Location: Denver, CO. Sheraton Downtown | Plaza Court 3 (Plaza Tower, Concourse level)


Discussions surrounding the vexed question of the identity of “the Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16 normally assume that the phrase “as many as will conform to this rule” in the first half of the verse refers to all believers in Christ. This paper argues for an alternative understanding of the identity of this group by reading the phrase in light of early Jewish and Christian concerns about hospitality for traveling envoys/missionaries. Against this background, and in view of key elements in the overall discourse of Galatians (including the “as many as” in v. 12), the phrase “as many as will conform to this rule” reads coherently as a principle given by Paul to his gentile addressees to enable them to decide whether to greet or reject any present or future missionary envoys purportedly from Jerusalem who come to them. The “rule” concerning circumcision (v. 15) is a principle for table fellowship. Paul is stating that only missionary envoys who conform to this rule (like himself) should be greeted and received; those who do not (like his opponents in vv. 12–13) should not be greeted or received. This interpretation of the first half of v. 16 opens up further possibilities for reading the second half of the verse, including the key question of the identity of “the Israel of God.”

In the united body of Christ in Ephesians, is there room for plurality?

Lionel J. Windsor, “The body metaphor in Ephesians as a model for pluralistic reconciliation”

(NB I am using the word “pluralistic” primarily in a cultural rather than a religious sense).

Paper for the Society of Biblical Literature Disputed Paulines Program Unit (SBL Code S19-121). “This year,” the program unit convenors “especially welcome papers that explore how any aspect of the Disputed Pauline letters may offer some constructive theology, in particular, a word of hope for the climate of racial tensions in America today.”

Saturday, November 19, 2022 | Mountain time 10:30am-11:00am (the full session is 9:00am-11:30am)

Location: Denver, CO. Colorado Convention Center. Room 103


The theme of unity in Ephesians is clearly prominent and has been highlighted extensively in the scholarship. However, this theme is often treated in such a way that notions of difference and diversity are downplayed or problematized as antithetical to the concerns of the letter. As a result, the vision of unity Ephesians offers tends to be described in overly totalizing terms, such that unity is said to be achieved by abandoning or eradicating difference. Ironically, since such a totalizing vision of unity can easily result in oppressed or marginalized groups being required disproportionately to suppress their identity and grievances in favor of those of the prevailing or powerful groups, it tends to work against the express concerns of the letter to promote peace and reconciliation amongst hostile groups.

The purpose of this paper is to offer a corrective to this tendency towards an over-zealous reading of the theme of unity in Ephesians by a closer examination of the “body” metaphor in the letter, paying special attention to expressions of plurality, difference, and diversity. In the process, the paper will examine connections with, as well as developments from, the use of the body metaphor in the undisputed Paulines. At certain points, particular attention will be paid to aspects of the Greek text, especially where modern English translations have obscured expressions of plurality. Drawing the threads together, it is hoped that Ephesians will be seen more clearly to provide resources to help address modern tensions and hostility.

Kingdom Light Church Strand, Cape Town, South Africa.
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