#ICYMI – Doug Campbell’s Book is ‘altogether untenable at key points’

From the Tyndale Bulletin

Review Article: The Deliverance of God: an Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul by Douglas A. Campbell, reviewed by Bruce Clark (Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge)

Campbell launches a sustained attack against traditional theological conceptions of justification and aims to free Romans 1–4 (on which these conceptions seemingly rest) from a widespread rationalistic, contractual, individualistic (mis)reading, which gains its plausibility only by the modernistic theological superstructure forced upon it. Campbell then presents an in-depth re-reading of Romans 1–4 (as well as parts of chs. 9–11, Gal. 2–3, Phil. 3), in which Paul engages in a highly complex, ‘subtle’ polemic, creatively employing ‘speech-in-character’ as a means of subverting a Jewish Christian ‘Teacher’ whose visit to Rome threatens to undermine the Roman Christians’ assurance of salvation. Campbell argues that justification is participatory and liberative: Christ’s death and resurrection constitute the ‘righteousness/deliverance of God’, by which he justifies, or delivers, an enslaved humanity from the power of sin. This article concentrates primarily on Campbell’s own exegesis, concluding that, while important aspects of Campbell’s critique of both “justification theory” and traditional readings of Romans 1–4 must be carefully considered, his own exegesis is not only ingenious, asking too much of Paul and the letter’s auditors, but altogether untenable at key points.

It certainly is no mistake to say that his reading of Romans 1-2 is more eisegesis than exegesis.