The Institute of Midrashic Studies of the New Testament

Sarah’s Missing Mountain in the Galatians Allegory

Here is the summary and abstract of Brandon Elder’s first article.


The tangible solution to Paul’s missing mountain within the Galatians allegory has been found in Golgotha. This is but a piece in a larger set of parallels that encourages the Galatian believers struggling with their inheritance of freedom to step into their emancipation fully, found in Galatians 4:21-5:1. In doing this, Paul presents his readers with two set of symbols and an enthymeme which takes the reader on a journey to Isaiah. There, the reader discovers the Messianic section of Isaiah alluding to the ‘Suffering Servant’ on Golgotha. In a brilliant display of intertextual ethos, Paul realigns the general conception of Zion’s promises and progeny to the centerpiece of Jesus on the Cross. What better way is there for Paul to point towards the work of Jesus on the cross than to point to where Jesus was crucified on the Cross? The reader naturally assumes that Jesus on the cross is the main element in which Paul is encouraging his audience to regard for their freedom, but this idea isn’t mentioned explicitly. Since this is the case, the reader assumes it implicitly. The place and idea of Golgotha is present from the moment that the reader begins to read the words, ‘… you who desire to be under the law…’. Paul is urging the Galatians to accept their inheritance of freedom offered by the redemptive work of Jesus. The conclusion of this small allegory reveals the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham. It was only through the work of Jesus on Golgotha that Abraham’s descendants may now outnumber the stars themselves.


The pericope within Galatians 4, which is often titled ‘allegory’, has been a riddle for many scholars. Contained within the passage is a parallelism portraying a set of symbols which act as theses for their corresponding antitheses. A couple of the symbols are missing their corresponding parallels, and this paper explores the missing symbol of ‘mountain’. Using intertextual techniques, the whole of Scripture is used to give clarification for Paul’s purpose within this passage. The Isaiah passage that Paul quotes directly will be demonstrated to act as a signpost to discover the missing symbol corresponding to ‘mountain’ within Paul’s allegory. The outcome from following Paul’s steps through Scripture results in evidence for the missing mountain, and this paper explores the validity of these findings, as well as other possible biblical mountains.

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