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Gal 3:28 – Poetry (and Translated Poetry) and Play

September 15, 2012

ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην οὐκ
ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος οὐκ
ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ· πάντες γὰρ
ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ

instances of Jews, not Hellenes, Not
instances of slaves, not freeds, Not
instances of boy and girl.  After all, each
of you all and every one of
in the Anointed, in this one Joshua


Play seems to be what Paul is doing with his words.  His lines are poetic, creative, constructive.  Play, in English, is open, is almost full of frivolity or laden only with lightness and engaged fully in effortlessness — as in child’s play.

Play, nonetheless, can be ambiguous.  Beyond mere playfulness, wordplay can leave it to the reader to interpret.  Or play with words can be suggestive to the reader of new possibilities.  And multiple ones, unconventional ones.  How about we play with some would-be technical phrase for this phenomenon?  How about we make it less poetic sounding and use technical Greeky and Greekish language, like “hermeneutic wiggle room” for this interpretive meaning of play?

Play, likewise, can be powerful, as in a well-performed play.  As actors, players, might perform and interpret what a playwright has written, so audiences must and do respond.  The theater is a place of social construct, of deconstructionism in a safe place that mirrors the real world but that insists on real change on the stage that might also transform life beyond it.  How many of us have heard, even perhaps in Shakespeare’s play, from some actor’s mouth, from one Jaques or another, these lines? and how many of us have believed them for our own world as if that’s all there needs to be?

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,

With this post (in this series of posts), I’m doing more than just essaying.  I’m trying to get us seeing and hearing and playing with and on and from Paul’s Greek words we sometimes reduce to what we call “Gal 3:28.”  How they eliminate difference, and how they therefore deconstruct human hierarchies.

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