Friday, January 29, 2010

Galatians Journal: Chapter 6, verse 11

Galatians 6:11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!

This is a very odd interjection, but it shows Paul’s intimate involvement with the Galatians and his passion for what he is teaching them.

"See” The implication here is to “take note,” or “mark carefully.” He really wants them to take notice of his closing remarks.

“what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand” Most historical commentators indicate that the common method for a man of Paul’s stature to produce a lengthy letter like this was to dictate it to a scribe – a secretary, if you will, trained in the art of writing and quick dictation. Writing with a quill pen on parchment-like paper, the scribe would have written in a small font in order to write quickly and keep up with the dictation. Paul apparently grabs the pen himself here, and writes the rest of the letter himself. He apparently wishes to drive the point home with a personal emphasis. There is the possibility that he has drafted the entire letter with his own hand, and now is shifting to a larger style for emphasis.

There is a scholarly debate involving why the “large letters.” Paul simply may be unaccustomed to writing long letters, using a scribe to take down his dictation (recall, Galatians is probably one of Paul's earliest letters), and may simply not used to writing in the smaller style. He may have taken pen in hand, and was struck by the largeness of his script compared to the scribe’s. Others speculate that Paul is making excuses for his own weakened hands, perhaps because of overuse in his tent making trade. There is also speculation that Paul had poor eyesight, and needed to write so large in order to read it. Back in Galatians 4:13-15, there is speculation that the “illness” Paul speaks of there was some sort of issue with his eyes, and some point to this verse as further proof.

All of this is interesting, but not really relevant. The important point here is Paul’s intimate involvement. He so wanted to reach the people of Galatia with this message, and he cared about their spiritual welfare so much, he himself took the pen from the scribe and finished the letter. The emphasis here is he is writing “to you” – a redundancy, to be sure – obviously he is writing to them. But the heartfelt importance of this can’t be avoided. Again, the emphasis is on RELATIONSHIP, not theology – though the truth about what Paul is emphasizing is vital, too. But the most important ingredient is still RELATIONSHIP.

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