Historical Commentary on the Galatians by William M. Ramsay

William M. Ramsay [1851-1939], A Historical Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians

Sir William Mitchell Ramsay’s Historical Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians was based on his own travels in Turkey in the late 19th Century. This research made him the foremost authority on the subject of his day and convinced the initially sceptical Ramsay that the New Testament was historically accurate. My thanks to Book Aid for making this public domain title available for digitisation.

William M. Ramsay [1851-1939], A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1899. Hbk. pp.478. [Click to visit the Galatians page for the download link for this title and other resources on this letter]

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  1. Preliminary
  2. North Galatia: Land and Peoples
  3. Pre-Galatic History of North Galatia
  4. The Pre-Gaulish Inhabitants of Galatia
  5. The Religion of Asia Minor
  6. Settlement of the Gauls in Galatia
  7. The History of Galatia B.C. 232-64
  8. The North Galatian State
  9. The Religion of North Galatia
  10. Galatia as a Roman Client State
  11. Origin of the Province Galatia
  12. History of the Province Galatia, B.C. 25-A.D. 50
  13. Civilisation of North Galatia under the Roman Empire
  14. Language and Letters in North Galatia
  15. The Influence of Christianity in North Galatia
  16. Later History of the Province Galatia
  17. The Cities and the Peoples of South Galatia
  18. The Jews in South Galatia
  19. Pisidian Antioch
  20. Iconium
  21. Lystra
  22. Derbe
  23. Summary
  • Historical Commentary


The attempt is made in this book to show how much light the Epistle to the Galatians throws on contemporary history in the widest sense-the history of religion, society, thought, manners, education- in the Eastern Provinces of the Empire. The introductory study of society and religion in Central Asia Minor may seem perhaps too elaborate; but it could not be put more briefly if any adequate conception were to be given of the forces acting on the minds of Paul’s Galatian hearers.

The Commentary is intended to be complete in itself, able to be read and folly understood without continually looking back to the Introduction. The Commentary was written first, and published in the Expositor, June,1898-September, 1899. Many passages have now been completely rewritten (after the Introduction had been composed), three chapters have been suppressed and eleven added.

My first intention was tacitly to carry out the South Galatian Theory, leaving the reader to contrast the flood of light thrown on South Galatia by the Epistle with its barrenness as regards North Galatia…

Page vii

Perhaps less well known is William M. Ramsay’s Historical Commentary on the Epistles to the Corinthians. This was originally Published in The Expositor, sixth series, 1900-1901 in 10 articles, but is available here as one file.

Caribbean Journal of Evangelical Theology Vol 18 (2019) on-line

The Caribbean Journal of Evangelical Theology is hosted on biblicalstudies.org.uk. The editors have just sent me the latest issue to upload.

Volume 18 (2019)

David Corbin, “A Theology of Joy: An Evangelical Response to Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago,” pp.1-10.

Clinton Chisholm, “Are All Religions Alike?” pp.11-24.

Brendan Bain, “The Future is Now,” pp.25-35.

Anthony Chung, “Reflections on Theological Education,” pp.36-38.

Ricardo O’N Sandcroft, “The Buggary Law in Jamaica,” Caribbean Journal of Evangelical Theology 18 (2019): 39-48.

D.V. Palmer, “Galatians 5 in Context,” pp.49-64.

Marlene Roper, “Book Review: Living Wisely (by Burchell Taylor),” pp.65-66.

Click here to visit the download page for this journal and view the other available issues.

Lightfoot’s Commentary on Galatians

Joseph Barber Lightfoot [1828-1889], Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians.

I recently digitised a hard-to-find article by F.F. Bruce:

F.F. Bruce, “Bishop Westcott and the Classical Tradition,” Spectrum 11 (September 1978): 19-21. [Click to download this article in PDF]

Bruce’s thesis in this article is that training in the Classical tradition (typically that of the old Public School in the UK) is essential if one is to become truly competent in New Testament Greek. I have grave reservations about this idea – and I think the recent history of both linguistics and biblical studies in general have proved him wrong. I guess that Bruce is not alone in thinking his our own training was “the best” for his particular field. Nevertheless, I think that this article is helpful for its discussion of three of the greats of Nineteenth Century New Testament scholarship, Westcott, Hort and Lightfoot. I was therefore delighted to find a number of their commentaries at Book Aid recently. The first to be uploaded is J.B. Lightfoot commentary on Galatians.

Joseph Barber Lightfoot [1828-1889], Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. A revised text with introduction, Notes and Dissertations. London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1896. Hbk. pp.384. [Click to visit the download page]

I would be interested to hear what others think about Bruce’s thesis. Is a classical education a help or a hindrance to being a proficient student of New Testament Greek?