In Galatians 1:12-16 (“revelation… reveal his Son in me”), is Paul simply focusing on the internal aspect of Jesus’ appearance to him, rather than saying it’s fully internal?
- Galatians 1:16 — “God… pleased to reveal His Son in [ἐν] me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…”
Is Paul simply referring to the powerful internal aspect of Jesus’s appearance to him, leaving open whether there was also an extra-mental component? That is to say, is it just false that Paul is trying to communicate that this whole experience here reduces to a purely internal apprehending of Jesus and his message?
- Gerd Lüdemann: “Here the terms ‘revelation’ and ‘appearance’ or ‘see’ are not mutually exclusive. ‘Revelation’ denotes an experience of a religious kind as coming directly from God, ‘appearance’ describes it in its spatial aspect. By a shift in vocabulary Paul is emphasizing different aspects of the same thing. [What Really Happened to Jesus (John Knox, 1995), 104.]
- Samuel Bryskog: “The prepositional phrase έν έμοί could be a substitute for the simple dative, but perhaps it was deliberately chosen to point to the inwardness of the experience.134 The outward observation coincided, in that case, with the inward illumination (cf. 2 Cor 4:4, 6). It affected Paul's self-understanding. He comprehends, at least retrospectively,135 that the new self-understanding is immediately connected with his ministry to preach the gospel.” [Story as History—History as Story (Brill, 2002), 227.]
If purely internal, it was likely a vision
On the hypothesis that Paul is communicating that the “appearance” of Jesus here was purely intra-mental, it seems probable that the experience was a supernatural vision from God (the normal way God communicates something like this intra-mentally).
This is relevant because this language of “revealed his Son in me” etc. does not recommend a visual component at all, and so does not really accommodate the vision theory. So, by modus tollens, Paul is not communicating that the appearance of Jesus here was internal.
Paul: “Jesus didn’t just appear ‘inside’ me”
Paul decisively rejects the view that Jesus’ appearing to him was vision-like or purely internal to his mind.
This full page analyzes these 3 arguments…
This is relevant because, if Paul then goes on to describe an internal experience associated with Jesus’s appearing, we can safely conclude that it is only focusing on the internal part without excluding the existence of an external part. (And truly, we can anticipate that a physical appearance of Jesus would have both an internal revelatory aspect, and vivid external aspect, even if one is described without mention of the other.)