Betz exhibits a massive control of the literature on Galatians and especially of the ancient literatuer relevant for understanding it. He has a gently rigorous way of demolishing fanciful and unsupported exegesis of the past while still taking clear positions on controversial issues.
"Luther had a very sharp and satirical style; but his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians was his favorite work. His favorite doctrine was justification by faith alone, and not by works, moral, legal, or evangelical; but we must do him the justice to observe, that he perpetually inculcated the absolute necessity of good works. According to him, a man is justified only by faith; but he cannot be justified without works; and where those works are not to be found, there is assuredly no true faith... His followers called themselves Lutherans, much against his mind; but they recede from him in many things, as may be seen by their writings... Melancthon says, 'I am a logician; and Justus Jonas is an orator; but Luther is good at everything: the wonder of mankind; for whatever he says, or writes, it penetrates the heart, and makes a lasting impression." (Excerpts from "Life of Luther," in Luther's Commentary on... Galatians, p. lxx).
Recent biblical studies have shed considerable new light on the New Testament and its world. Ben Witherington brings together all the latest findings on St Paul's Letter to the Galatians, and presents a comprehensive, textbook commentary on Galatians and early Pauline thought. Professor Witherington draws on recent work in the fields of archaeology and social history to provide an illuminating description of the life and context of the Galatian Christians, together with many new and important insights. He also discusses how the many teachings in Galatians can be applied to the modern world.
Sometime after Paul had departed from the cities of Galatia, some other teachers arrived with a modified belief-system that inculcated adherence to the Judaic Law of the old covenant. It is difficult to reconstruct the precise identity of these interlopers, but it is obvious that they were advocating the necessity of religious observances (4:10), as well as male circumcision (5:2; 6:12), and attempting to seduce these new Christians into legalistic old covenant concepts (3:2; 4:21). The author believes that "Galatianism" is pervasive and prevalent in the churches today, as religious legalists have duped Christians with the didactic declarations of "how-to" Christian religion in prescribed procedures, formulas, techniques and duties which allegedly determine the distinguishing marks of a true disciple. The Church today is in dire need of the message of "grace and liberty.
This ACT volume is the second of two volumes that will offer a first English translation of the anonymous fourth-century commentary on the thirteen letters of Paul. Widely viewed as one of the finest pre-Reformation commentaries on the Pauline Epistles, this commentary, until the time of Erasmus, was attributed to Ambrose. The name Ambrosiaster ("Star of Ambrose") seems to hav been given to the anonymous author of the work by its Benedictine editors (1686- 1690).