Below you will find an interview I conducted with world-class biblical scholar Gordon Fee (emeritus, Regent College) with special regard to his recent Galatians commentary (DEO publishing). For being a short commentary, it was very insightful and Fee is such an impressive reader of texts. It was nice to have his perspective on various controversial issues that he is able to weigh in on. I highly recommend it.
Without further ado.
Nijay: How has your previous research helped prepare you to write this commentary. What have you learned from writing your other commentaries?
Gordon: I have taught Galatians in various settings for over 40 years. All I did basically was to write up my very thorough class notes. I learned from the (all positive) reviews of the Corinthians commentary to try to be fair to Paul, to say it precisely, and to think about how it might apply today.
Nijay: How did your Christology book stimulate your thoughts about Galatians?
Gordon: I don’t know that it did. My guess is that I never once referred to the former in writing the latter.
Nijay: I noticed you make several exegetical conclusions based on the particular word-order of the Greek text (such as ‘grace and peace’ in the greeting). Have you always given this much consideration to word order (in Greek)?
Gordon: In that particular case, yes; can one imagine anyone, and especially the Apostle Paul, putting them in any other order??
Nijay: You seem to show some appreciation for the New Perspective on Paul.
Gordon: I did so, because the major proponents are personal friends, with whom I have disagreed vigorously in person. But in the public arena I refuse to do so.
Nijay: Generally, what do you appreciate about the NPP and in what areas would you critique Wright, Sanders, or Dunn with regard to their articulation of Paul’s view of the law and works in Galatians?
Gordon: They are absolutely right that “works” does not mean trying to get God’s favor by “doing something”; at issue is what role the Jewish law plays in what believers “do.” And since the major issue, that got this whole thing started at all, was the one Paul most vigorously opposes (namely the circumcision of Gentile males), I still think most later Christians miss Paul by an arm’s length on this issue.
Nijay: If you had to recommend one commentary to seminary students on Galatians, what would it be and why?
Gordon: Is this a trick question? I would have them read mine, of course; but if you meant another, Isuppose it would be Dunn or Bruce.
Nijay: On a different subject, would you be willing to share what writing projects you are working on for the future?
Gordon: I am now 75 and long of tooth. I have recently finished a commentary on the Revelation; my last hurrah (hopefully) will be an updating of the 1 Corinthians commentary (I have changed my mind very little in the exegesis, but an interaction with 25 years of literature is needed.