Doug Hoffer

Hoffer for MMC


Martin Marty Center Fellow

My dissertation concerns the crux interpretum of Gal 3:15–17, a text whose function hinges on the interpretation of the ambiguous term diathēkē, which can refer both to unilateral, revocable dispositions of property (wills) and bilateral, immutable agreements (covenants). In contrast to prevailing readings that emphasize only one side of the will/covenant binary, I contend that Paul interacts with and plays upon both valences of the term at different points in Gal 3–4, their interplay in his argument facilitated by key translation decisions in the Septuagint text upon which he relies. In addition to shedding light on a notoriously thorny passage, this study will clarify the role of the biblical covenants in Paul’s thought and triangulate his position among the various streams of Second Temple Judaism.

As a Marty Fellow, I will be working toward the completion of my dissertation chapters for the mid-point review. I look forward to engaging with colleagues from a varied array of fields in the context of the Seminar and to considering the broader effects and potential significance of my own research as a member of this cohort. Scholars of religion have a particular responsibility to address religion’s place in public life, and the Martin Marty Fellowship affords a unique opportunity to develop in that role.