Archive for November 3rd, 2009

A Foretaste of my Review of Campbell’s “Deliverance of God” (1)

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

I have been buried for two weeks writing various essays and presentations, including my review of The Deliverance of God at SBL. I will post more extensive excerpts after the fact, but here are a few brief excerpts to whet the appetite.

1. Douglas’s thesis: “Before presenting his own gospel to the Romans, Paul cites and ridicules the false gospel of the Teacher(s), the outline of which can be found, mixed with some response from Paul, in 1:18—3:20. Rom 1:18—3:20 is simultaneously ‘the intrusion of an alien discourse’ (p. 934) and ‘a reduction to absurdity’ of the Teacher’s alternative gospel (p. 528), by which not even the Teacher himself can be saved (568, 572, 593 et passim). Paul’s own views, according to Douglas, are preserved in Romans 5-8, which presents a liberative, participatory soteriology. This is the heart of his ‘alternative theory’ to Justification theory, and Douglas’s rereading will ‘essentially eliminate Justification theory and all its associated difficulties’ (p. 525; cf. pp. 527-28).” (He lists about 50 such difficulties!)

2. Summary of my review: “I blurbed Douglas’s book and was possibly the most positive of the five who did so:

Douglas Campbell’s continuation of the quest for Paul’s gospel is a bold exercise in deconstruction and reconstruction. One may disagree with parts of the analysis, or take a somewhat different route to the same destination, but his overall thesis is persuasive: for Paul, justification is liberative, participatory, transformative, Trinitarian, and communal. This is a truly theological and ecumenical work with which all serious students of Paul must now come to terms.

This means, more bluntly, that in my estimation Douglas is both profoundly right (‘his overall thesis is persuasive’) and simultaneously off the mark (‘One may disagree with parts of the analysis, or take a somewhat different route to the same destination’). Fortunately, he is terribly right where it really matters: in his perceptive characterization of the liberative and participatory character of justification in Paul. Unfortunately, the relatively narrow topic of this panel’s review—the book’s treatment of Romans 1-3—is where Douglas is, I think, off the mark.”

Have any of you read DOG yet? Any thoughts?