Scholars have suggested that Gal 3,28 is comparable to similar sayings found in rabbinic writings, and that the latter can help in interpreting and understanding the meaning and theology of Gal 3,28. In this study we have analysed and compared the alleged similar sayings found in Jewish texts and Gal 3,28 in order to demonstrate that Gal 3,28 is neither literally nor thematically related to the former, and we should not allow the alleged similar sayings found in rabbinic writings to influence our reading of Gal 3,28. Both texts reflect the conceptual uses of pairs of opposites in the Greco-Roman tradition, but at the same time, their subsequent usages or occurrences in Jewish and Christian texts came into being independently from one another.
Recent research in the school papyri of Egypt, especially Oxyrhychus, has illuminated our understanding of the pedagogical process in the Greco-Roman world. Particularly interesting in this respect is the acquisition and social function of grapho-literacy (i.e., the ability to compose writing). Since few were literate, and of those few, fewer could read than could write, understanding how one gained grapho-literacy, who gained grapho-literacy, and how that literacy was employed in day to day life shines new light on passages such as 1 Cor 16,21, Gal 6,11, Col 4,18, 2 Thess 3,17, and Phlm 19. In these passages, Paul draws attention
to the fact that he has personally written in the text. This paper will argue that these passages are not merely interesting asides, but rather significantly heighten the
rhetorical force of the text. They draw attention not only to Paul’s grapho-literacy, but also to his ability to avoid using it.
Read against the background of ancient literary practice (in Near Eastern and Greco-Roman historiography), the 'we' passages in the Acts of the Apostles (in Acts 13–28) and the statements about the beloved disciple in the Fourth Gospel (Joh 13,23; 19,26; 20,2; 21,7.20) should probably be interpreted as autobiographical remarks. Yet, unlike Greek and Roman historians the New Testament narrators wrote their books, including these autobiographical passages, anonymously. They appear to have done so because they wanted to claim personal presence at a few crucial points in the narrated history while at the same time intending to remain as invisible as possible. For the author of Acts the use of the first Person Plural provided the best opportunity to conceal his name without disappearing completely from his narrative. The fourth Evangelist decided to hide behind the anonymous figure of the beloved disciple whom he introduced in the third person; had he used the first person he would have been much more visible throughout his whole book.