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Yehudah

The Biblical Galatians

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St. Paul's letter to the Christian churches of Galatia is now a book of the New Testament. Galatia (formerly Phyrgia) had fallen under Roman rule less than a century before; the region had been colonized by Gaulish mercenary bands c. 279 BC and had a large population of Celtic warriors who had served as mercenaries both for and against Rome.

 

Paul doesn't mention any of the Galatian believers by name, but this may be due to the brevity and severity of his message in his letter. Is there any evidence as to what kind of people he had ministered amongst? Were they local Greeks/Hellenized Asians, or did he bring Christianity to the Celtic parts of Galatia?

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The name 'Galatia' means 'Land of the Gauls'. It's likely then he was preaching to colonists/descendants of gaulish origin.

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The name 'Galatia' means 'Land of the Gauls'. It's likely then he was preaching to colonists/descendants of gaulish origin.

 

Yes but most of Asia minor at this time was Hellenized in culture. What I'm wondering is if the Galatians still had a degree of Celtic identity by the 1st Century AD.

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The name 'Galatia' means 'Land of the Gauls'. It's likely then he was preaching to colonists/descendants of gaulish origin.

 

Yes but most of Asia minor at this time was Hellenized in culture. What I'm wondering is if the Galatians still had a degree of Celtic identity by the 1st Century AD.

 

By 1st century AD? Probably none at all.

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Cultural identity is a suprisingly persistent beast. Even today, the welsh harbour disdain for the english, a remnant of the native celts pushed aside by germanic or gaulish settlers, especialy after the settlement of the Dark Ages. That doesn't mean the galatians were identical in every to the colonists who first arrived there, but I doubt they saw themselves as hellenised even if that was the case.

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Cultural identity is a suprisingly persistent beast. Even today, the welsh harbour disdain for the english, a remnant of the native celts pushed aside by germanic or gaulish settlers, especialy after the settlement of the Dark Ages. That doesn't mean the galatians were identical in every to the colonists who first arrived there, but I doubt they saw themselves as hellenised even if that was the case.

 

Actually I doubt that the Galatians they were Hellenized to any great degree. Anatolia is divided by a series of mountain ranges and valleys which managed to keep many cultures quite distinct. (And does today - ask any Kurd). Pontus alone had dozens of distinct languages.

 

The Galatians settled on the bleak deserty interior plateau, and certainly in the early first century BC still had pretty much retained most of their original language and culture. Given their isolation and the fact that other than Ancyra there was not much urbanization, I'd be surprised if things had changed dramatically by the time of St Paul.

 

(A comment on the original post -Galatia was not entirely Phrygia and vice versa. Some of old Phrygia was in Pergamum and Pontus, and parts of South-east Galatia were never Phrygian.)

Edited by Maty

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Found this intersting comment dated from the third century.

 

...while the Kelts and the Galatae had seers called Druids...

Lives of the Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)

 

If correct, that suggests a more aboriginal religion and certainly not a hellenised format, but caution - Julius Caesar had already described Druidic beliefs in terms of familiar greco-roman deities, though in fairness his comparison may have been based on similar attributes rather than name and origin, and I note that the assmiliation of local beliefs was something the Romans did readily.

Edited by caldrail

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Found this intersting comment dated from the third century.

 

...while the Kelts and the Galatae had seers called Druids...

Lives of the Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)

 

If correct, that suggests a more aboriginal religion and certainly not a hellenised format, but caution - Julius Caesar had already described Druidic beliefs in terms of familiar greco-roman deities, though in fairness his comparison may have been based on similar attributes rather than name and origin, and I note that the assmiliation of local beliefs was something the Romans did readily.

 

I would add a further caution to accepting Diogenes Laertius at face value. Every text I have read mentioning him raises concerns about his uncritical acceptance of 'facts' without seeking corroboration or even providing any information on who or what his sources were.

 

Given the fact that he is the only source for many if not most of the 'philosophers lives' and secondary information he mentions this makes his writings doubly suspect and I would include this snippet about the Druids in that. Don't forget that at best he was writing 150-200 years (although some authorities suggest he could even be a 4th or 5th century author) after the main surving group of Druids were apparently wiped out in the attack on Anglesey let alone the earlier Galatians. :unsure:

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Druids weren't wiped out by the attack on Mona in ad59. Their political power was broken and Claudius had them banned, but they persisted in the background and druids are mentioned at least once in Scotland during the early Dark Age. The Irish sagas that mention druids were first written in the 7th and 8th centuries and portray the druids role as declining.

 

Further, all classical sources that mnention druids invariably describe them as gauls, regardless of the British connection, and the strong persistence of gallic culture in Galatia (as described by Barry Cincliffe) would indeed involve druidic oversight.

 

Please be aware that whilst the druids had a system of belief, they were more a class of wise men with communal power. The rites mentioned in the sources are mostly gallic, not druidic, and it's mentioned that the druids regulated rites and would not permit the sacrifice of a human being unless they were present to officiate over it. Human sacrifice for the purposes of divination was a gallic phenomenon, not a druidic one, and the 'wicker-man' burnings described by Julius Caesar and others have no correlation in archaeology.

 

Whilst Diogenes Laertius may or may not be a dodgy source, he isn't saying anything different about druids than was related by other writers. Where the iron age gauls went, so did their priests, and noticeably the gallic migration to Britain around 500BC corresponds to the creation of Malmudian Law, the 248 triads of rules, regulations, and customs expected of subject peoples. The Druids listed their original heroes from this time as well. Dunwal Malmud, the inventor and lawmaker (and reputedly related to Brennus, the warrior who sacked Rome in 390BC), Prydain, the 'conqueror' of Britain, and Hu the Mighty.

 

Whether such individuals were real people is impossible to say, but notice it was an aggressive expansion from gallic Europe that spurred the druidic connection, thus the arrival of gauls in their expansionist period into Phrygia almost certainly had druids among them.

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The galatians are from the branch of celts that had expanded East from the Danube valley in the Balkans and in Ukraine. I heard no mention of druids in this area.

Druids are mentioned only by late sources in connection with Galia and Britannia and not in the Danube valley, northern Italy or Spain other areas of celtic influence so rather then a widespread "celtic" phenomenon they are maybe a local development in the Atlantic region.

I have little faith in modern understanding of celtic identity.

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But the Gaulish migrants to Phrygia (and earlier sources refer to galatians as 'gallo-graeci') arrived in the same expansion that brought Brennus to Rome, albeit a little later (understandably). When a warrior culture expands rapidly across a region, it's because the internal differences have been sorted in some way. Without a strong central leadership, the tribes simply argue among themselves. This isn't a purely celtic phenomenon, it applies to all warrior peoples. It is noticeable the expansion began after the druid movement assumes religious authority in Gaul.

 

The emergence of druids predates the expansion into asia by about a century or two, at a time when malmudian law had been established, and the classic druid as we understand them had become part of gallic culture. There is every reason to believe the druids went with them.

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The earliest mention of druids that I know of it's in Caesar.

Brennus won at Allia around 390 BC while the great celtic invasion of the Balkans and Greece was in 280-279 BC.

 

When a warrior culture expands rapidly across a region, it's because the internal differences have been sorted in some way. Without a strong central leadership, the tribes simply argue among themselves. This isn't a purely celtic phenomenon, it applies to all warrior peoples.

 

Not always. For example slavs spread on a huge space long before any significant slav state emerged. Viking expansion it's often portrayed as been caused by internal competition and conflict that preceded the establishment of the scandinavian states similar with greek colonization in pre-classical times that preceded or accompanied the birth of the polis.

The main cause of celtic movement can be connected with the german expansion in Central Europe that pushed the celts south and east. The celts had a warrior mind set and, contrary to widespread belief, effective (defensive) weapons and these explain their successes but there is no evidence of a "strong central leadership". Petty aristocratic chieftains always in competition is the usual description of their political system.

Edited by Kosmo

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If the celts had no strong central leadership, where did the 'push' of the Germans come from? Further, although the celtic tribes may have had a similar mindset, there were cultural differences between these tribes. This is something that confounded the Romans. The list of celtic tribes is something that irritated them because they really weren't interested in enthnology to that degree.

 

The division between east and western celts is an artificial one created by the Romans themselves, who for their own convenience lumped the various tribes together as either Gauls or Germans. In fact, the name Germani actually meant "Genuine Celts", thus it might be construed that the Romans created the German identity themselves.

 

For us, the significance here is that the classical sources describe the Galatians as Gauls - the name is derived from the same root word, thus it was the western tribes who spread to Asia Minor. As to whether the Gauls spread outward or were pushed outward, it's as well to realise that the Germans could not have applied cultural pressure to force the Gauls elsewhere unless they had some leadership of their own, as the raids recorded by Julius Caesar across the Rhine were small scale affairs and not intended for territorial conquest.

 

As a major concession to this point, it must be stressed that druids are only mentioned in the context of Britain and Gaul, though it is known that the Galatians had judges who performed the same civic functions, and the Galatans were known for their sacrificial practises such that it was said one should not surrender to them in war.

 

It is possible that the druids were therefore a breakaway sect of these tribal overseers rather than the druids as a universal celtic faction, but that still underpins the view that they were part of a cultural phenomenon.

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I think that the timing between our discussion and this event is funny:

 

"Druids Recognized as Religion for First Time in UK

 

Filed at 7:48 a.m. ET

 

LONDON (AP)

Edited by Kosmo

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Extremely, and hugely incorrect. Druidism is a foreign import that arrived in Britain around 500BC. The claim of an earlier origin in Britain revolves around the assertion by John Aubrey (and his fellow antiquarians afterward) in the seventeenth century that Avebury Circle was a druidic temple, thus Stonehenge got pulled into this myth. In fact, the builders of Stonehenge and the other megalithic sites in Britain and the atlantic coastal region worshipped an entirely different religion, despite attempts to link Druidism to it. There is absolutely no historical or archaeological evidence to support that claim.

 

That doesn't prevent neo-pagans worshipping their chosen faith, but it is a modern reinvention and a distortion of the original. However, any claim to 'right of worship' at Stonehenge or indeed any other stone circle has no credibility.

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