Piero Stefani, Letter to the Galatians
What does it mean that Paul goes to Jerusalem to meet the three “pillars”: James (not one of the Twelve), Cephas and John to expound the gospel in order not to run in vain? In both cases, contemporary implications of the text will also be discussed.
In the West, in the modern age, the Letter to the Galatians has been especially designed in the perspective of the dialectic between Law and Gospel. This theme can also be read differently. In particular, two key issues derive from it: identity and authority. The Pauline assertion that in Christ there is neither Jew nor greek, neither male nor female, involves investigating the relationship that exists between being “new creatures” and the permanence of previous distinctions – anthropological, cultural, but even theological – not established by the Gospel. In Galatians, the speech, not elaborated in relation to male and female, is widely treated with respect to the relationship between Jews and Greeks. It is a paradigmatic matter for the life of the Church community of all times. Similar considerations apply in relation to authority. Paul is made Apostle by virtue of a direct call of God; It is therefore essential to investigate the relationship he had with the “pillars” of the Church: James, Cephas and John. The argument involves two moments symbolically located one at the “center”, Jerusalem, and one in the “periphery”, Antioch respectively. Two other figures (seemingly marginal) play a crucial role as well: the greek Titus and the Jew Barnabas. From the intertwining of these references a sense of authority emerges, that is quite different from what, later on, would be consolidated within the historic churches.
The meeting will be divided into two parts: the first will focus on the theme of identity, followed by a long discussion; after the interval, the second part will primarily explore the topic of authority; a discussion will follow also in this case.
Speaker: Piero Stefani has taught history and philosophy at the A. Roiti High School of Ferrara between 1975 and 2006. He currently lectures Philosophy of Religion at the University of Ferrara. He teaches Jewish-Christian Dialogue at the “S. Bernardino” Institute of Ecumenical Studies of Venice and Judaism at the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy in Milan. He lectures at the Institute of Judaic Studies courses Card. Bea at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He is an editor of the “Il Regno” magazine. He is a member of the Scientific Committee and editor of the “Notiziario di Biblia, Lay Association of Biblical Culture.” Among his publications, let us mention Dies irae. Immagini della fine (2001), The Jews (2004), La Bibbia (2004), Le radici bibliche della cultura occidentale (2004), L’apocalisse (2008), all published by Il Mulino, L’anti-giudaismo. Storia di un’idea (2004) and Le religioni secondo Andrea (2007), Laterza Publishers; the introduction and editorial care of Liana Millu, Tagebuch. Il diario del ritorno dal Lager, Giuntina Publishers, Florence 2006.