Tuesday, November 24, 2009

SBL highlights

For more than just a few of us, SBL is a real annual treat. Some of my highlights:

  1. the precious times of ruckus laughing while getting up to no good, especially with Jim West
  2. the meal with the Wipf & Stock crew, who kindly invited me to join their festivities last night. I don't think I have ever eaten so well. What a flippin great bunch of people they are. I got back to my room feeling like I had eaten half a cow (which wasn't far from the truth)
  3. time with Robin Parry, David Vinson, Max Turner, Doug Campbell, and other friends.
  4. the superb review session on Doug's extremely important book, The Deliverance of God. The formal responses from Douglas Moo, Michael Gorman and Alan Torrance were supplemented by short audience participation from Richard Hays, Tom Wright and Barry Matlock. Campbell handled the discussion masterfully and I don't think anyone provided a clear refutation of his exegetical claims – at least in the session. A private conversation with Richard Hays afterward gave me food for thought. But the strength of Doug's thesis surprised me; it is here to stay and needs more serious engagement in the future. Those who dismiss Campbell's work do so at their own peril. Are we seeing the changing of guard in Pauline scholarship, the bursting onto the scene of a new paradigm which will leave the former in many ways redundant?


At 11/24/2009 9:39 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

#1- yup

At 11/25/2009 1:04 AM, Anonymous Doug Chaplin said...

Chris, intrigued that you're the first blogger to really mention Campbell. Given the attention the (comparable?) Bauckham Eyewitnesses session got, I'm surprised. I hope you will expand this. I'd say the presence of Hays and Wright et al in the audience says a great deal about the significance.

At 11/25/2009 4:23 AM, Anonymous Douglas Dobbins said...

What did you think of Doug Moo's analysis?

At 11/25/2009 7:32 AM, Anonymous Geoff said...

I enjoyed the session enough to purchase the book, which I had just decided not to earlier that day. I'm glad I went.

I think that Gorman's criticisms were best. I'm not entirely sure that his thesis made it unscathed. I need to read the three papers, I left early, so I missed Wright and Hays' interlocutions.
I do have a hard time buying the thesis simply because nobody in the early church seemed to catch the rhetorical device...if Paul used it, it missed its mark entirely. But I need to look more carefully, I'll read the book first thing when this semester ends.

At 11/25/2009 5:58 PM, Anonymous Rachel said...

Perhaps I could chip in at this point.

I didn't respond to Doug's analysis point by point partly (as I said) because of time constraints, but also partly because he has subtly misrepresented almost everything I said. To go through his paper and correct all the distortions would have been time consuming and rather boring. And I would have ended up saying, "when you've presented what I actually said then we can have a conversation.... " This isn't to say that some of his concerns aren't valid; they are. But they need to be placed alongside my criticisms of the views that he is constantly presupposing that he tends not to engage with, and my entire argued position in response. In short, "Doug, tolle, lege!"

I don't hold this against Doug, incidentally; I think he was under extraordinary time constraints and did the best that he could. It was very gracious of him to get his response in to me on time. The misrepresentations were just a function of this compression and the complexity of the book.

(Rachel is my wife, incidentally. My real name is Douglas.)

BTW, would you reveal Richard's response to the blog Chris for further engagement, or was it Chatham House rules? Obviously he made some brief comments to me--rather along the lines of Gorman's reframing strategy--but I think this really amounts to wishful thinking. For my views on reframing, see ch. 12....

At 11/25/2009 7:57 PM, Anonymous Pstyle said...

Ahh, too many Dougs/douglas's and douglas's-in-disguise as rachels in (and subject of) this conversation... I'm totally confused.

At 11/26/2009 1:42 AM, Anonymous Andrew said...

I've almost finished reading Deliverance of God, and would be interested in hearing more about the critiques from other scholars at SBL. Is there a way for those of us who didn't attend SBL to see the response papers by Moo, Gormon, and Torrance?

At 11/26/2009 5:42 AM, Anonymous Nick Norelli said...

Andrew: You can listen to the audio of the session here.

At 11/26/2009 5:43 AM, Anonymous Scott Bailey said...


Please. Please, please, please tell me that you filmed another "The West" video.

At 11/27/2009 12:44 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Doug,

Good to see you in New Orleans.

I wrote Richard’s points down somewhere, and I hope they turn up as I unpack. Until then, this is what I remember – and it won’t be breaking news to you!

It seems Richard basically agreed with Michael’s assessment, that we can have the apocalyptic, participatory etc. reading by reading the relevant verses in Romans 1-3 not prospectively but retrospectively (reframing, as you say). This needs to be done because your reading i) didn’t answer his own question sufficiently about 1 Thess. 1:9 and ii) didn’t answer Tom’s objection about Romans 1:17-18. He elaborated on this point a little which gave me something to think about. His basic point was that you take insufficient account of the repeated gars, which makes it unlikely that, as you argue, ‘[t]he Teacher’s rhetorical prelude begins – as Paul presents it – with an important thesis: “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven ...”’ (542).

I’m afraid I cannot remember anymore at the mo until I am all unpacked.

By the way, speaking for your case that the present verb (of ‘reveal’) in 1:18 is equivalent to a future (‘future present’) is the future rendering in an early Greek speaking commentary on Romans 1:18 (I think Chrysostom?) who uses the future explicitly. Hans J. Eckstein has published on this already, actually ‘“Denn Gottes Zorn wird vom Himmel her offenbar werden”. Exegetische Erwägungen zu Röm 1,18', in Der aus Glauben Gerechte wird leben, 19-35 (= ZNW 78 (1987), 74–89)

Scott, I am sorry - I dodn't take my camera! Next time!

At 11/27/2009 12:56 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Doug (Chaplin), I think I was just the fastest. Many more are blogging about it now. I think quite a few have simply not read the book yet.

At 11/27/2009 1:00 AM, Anonymous andrewbourne said...

Chris Jim West suggested that you went to Wright`s lecture at SBL I am intrigued how it went as nothing about it seems to have been mentioned biblioblogsphere in comparison to Campbell which I am reading at present

At 11/27/2009 1:01 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Andrew, I must admit that I didn't attend his session. Hopefully someone recorded it!

At 11/27/2009 3:12 AM, Anonymous Rachel said...

(Douglas here again.)

Thanks for these notes Chris.

Yes, I've heard these objections from Richard before and don't regard them as terribly weighty I'm afraid.

Reframing a prospective argument "retrospectively" makes it say what it doesn't actually say--something you'll see Mike Gorman doing in his paper. He doesn't actually present the argument that's in the text, which was why I wanted someone like Doug Moo in the discussion. The Conservatives don't buy this sort of rereading, and rightly resist it. It is only convincing to those already converted.

It also shifts Paul's argument into a psychologizing realm, which of course is something that the psychologizer has no evidence for. How does Richard, or Mike, know that Paul is deploying this argument retrospectively? Doug Moo would say it's a prospective argument being deployed prospectively, and Heikki Räisänen would say it's Paul just being confused. E. P. Sanders says Paul is thinking about "getting in." Bruce Longenecker says Paul is thinking about undermining ethnic distinctions. Krister Stendahl says that Paul is thinking about defending the gentile mission....

You catch my drift.

As for the gar, Paul uses hundreds of these. And you simply cannot read it inferentially in all cases. Indeed, you have to take it more loosely in several instances in Romans 1-3, which I document. We need something a little more powerful than a possible reading of a gar to launch an entire theological system!

I didn't realize that Eckstein's famous article had caught the reference to Irenaeus on Rom. 1.18. I'll pick that up in future. Thanks for the tip.

At 11/27/2009 11:40 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Doug,

"I didn't realize that Eckstein's famous article had caught the reference to Irenaeus".

To be honest, I only assume it did having discussed this matter with him in person. I suppose it is possible he only made the connection after having written it.

The note on the use of gar is helpful. Thanks.

"Reframing a prospective argument "retrospectively" makes it say what it doesn't actually say"

Yes, precisely! Your point here has has hit me with fresh force recently and I think it has persuaded me.

At 11/27/2009 1:52 PM, Anonymous Michael J. Gorman said...

Chris and all---

I am posting a good chunk of my critique on my blog: michaeljgorman.net.

Meanwhile, Douglas (1) says that "reframing a prospective argument 'retrospectively' makes it say what it doesn't actually say--something you'll see Mike Gorman doing in his paper. He doesn't actually present the argument that's in the text" and (2) asks, "How does Richard, or Mike, know that Paul is deploying this argument retrospectively?"

As for (1) Douglas is confusing the sequential structure of an argument with its logical and theological structure, but they are not synonymous. Failing to recognize this is the real act of "making it say something it doesn't actually say."

And as for (2), the case I made in my SBL response is that we know (as much as we can have epistemological certainty) Paul is arguing retrospectively because his description of sinful Adamic humanity in 1:18---3:30 is the antithesis of en-Christed humanity in chapters 5, 6, 8, and 12-15. This is much more likely retrospective than prospective, but more importantly it makes the case against anything early in Romans being non-Pauline VERY weak.

At 11/27/2009 1:53 PM, Anonymous Michael J. Gorman said...

Make that 3:20, not 3:30. Sorry.

At 11/27/2009 5:58 PM, Anonymous Geoff said...

It does seem that claiming that the verses in 1-3 are retrospective is fairly difficult because Paul is writing to Christians, seemingly about why Jewish and Gentile Christians are indeed apart of the one eschatological people of God. The premise is that the believe the gospel, so the very reason everything from 4 onward is true about those believers, is because the stuff in 1-3 was true about them.

I've been wrong before though.

At 11/27/2009 6:39 PM, Anonymous Jason A. Staples said...

'Twas one of the more entertaining review sessions I've attended over the years.

I'm still a bit frustrated over the way certain aspects of the exegesis of these early chapters have gone unchallenged. As I argued in my paper on Rom 2 (presented earlier the same day as the review on DOG), I'm not convinced that we need to take this section of Romans "retrospectively" OR "prospectively."

There is another option from those discussed in the review session. Douglas noted that his exegesis of Rom 1–3 is more or less the same as the traditional/dominant exegesis but just re-frames it, re-assigns the speaking parts. So the argument at that point isn't over exegesis, it's simply over whose points are being made in those chapters.

The third option is that the traditional/dominant exegesis of these chapters (in a tip of the hat to Douglas, I'll just call it the "JF" reading) is wrong. Douglas' case for a non-JF reading of Romans is outstanding, but it doesn't go far enough in my view. The JF reading of Rom 1–3 should be challenged as well, and not just "reassigned."

At 11/27/2009 6:51 PM, Anonymous Douglas Dobbins said...

Is it possible to salvage Campbell's theological interpretation of Romans, whilst at the same rejecting his historical interpretation of Rom 1-3? Gorman, in his presentation, said yes. Doug Moo said that Gorman could not salvage the theology without adopting Campbell's historical reconstruction.

At 11/27/2009 7:48 PM, Anonymous Michael J. Gorman said...


Can you summarize your paper for us?

Of course what's true in chaps. 4 or 5 following is true of believers in some sense because chaps. 1-3 was true of them. Some people do not think that the prospective/retrospective question is so crucial. My argument is simply that the early chapters make a lot more sense read retrospectively (i.e., in light of Christ and from in Christ) than understood as the vestibule of the gospel. Paul is not preaching the gospel to unbelievers there but reminding believers of their common past to shape their common present.

That said, and as I would have said at SBL if I had had more time, I don't think Paul would hesitate to describe the human condition to non-believers, if asked, in terms similar to what we see in chaps. 1-3. But that's not what he is doing in those chapters, and whatever he is saying, he can and does say so only in and through the prism of Christ.

At 11/28/2009 3:43 PM, Anonymous Rachel said...


I'm just a bit puzzled by some of your responses here.

The argument in Romans 1-3 is theologically, logically, and sequentially prospective. It builds from universal self-evident premises in 1:19-20. Out of these premises, desert is isolated (2:6 etc.). This then drives the rest of the argument. So I just don't know where your critical distinction is coming from at this point (although perhaps I'm not grasping your argument here).

Perhaps this is where you need Adam then--to try to suggest that Paul is painting a picture of Adam in the light of Christ in Romans 1-3, which of course many of us would agree is a valid account of Paul's approach elsewhere. But I think you need to show us exactly where Adam is here, prior to (arguably!) 3:24. I'm afraid I just don't see this--at least, as yet.

Unfortunately, however, it doesn't then follow that because Adam is in play, Paul is arguing retrospectively. Plenty of Christian systems work prospectively at this point--Federal Calvinism among them. Christ is the solution to problem articulated in relation to Adam, the Adamic problem actually driving the solution.

We also need to clarify the "preaching to non-believers/believers" point. There is simply a ton of evidence that Christians preach and teach "salvation systems" to themselves all the time. (There is an important socialization process going on here.) I footnote a really nice study of this by Curtis Freeman in ch. 5, who looks at the local NC evidence in relation to Baptists. So, unfortunately, there is no leverage against the traditional view here in the light of its apparent orientation to non-believers. Paul could quite easily be clarifying "first things" to believers--unfortunately for both you and me.

Having said this, I think the point is worth making. I thought long and hard about generating leverage along the same lines myself, but of course was going to push it in another direction from you!

A final quick point. The decisions we make about the direction of Paul's argumentation in Romans 1-4 will affect our construal of all his Justification language elsewhere, so we will commit in the same way when we construe Philippians 3 and much of Galatians. At this point a particular--and fairly powerful--biography will also be introduced. And it will not be easy just to assert over against the conservatives and the advocates of Pauline inconsistency that all this material is really retrospective underneath it all. I think we've given the game away at this point, which is why I resist a reframing strategy as too weak. So, e.g., Sanders is going to say that Paul is thinking forward in all these texts, as he does when he is thinking about the question of "getting in." How are you going to refute him?

Well, enuf said.

Always a pleasure Mike! Thanks for interacting so insightfully and generously.

At 11/29/2009 9:48 PM, Anonymous Jason A. Staples said...

Mike, I'm emailing you a copy of the seminar paper (which Douglas is already acquainted with in a much earlier form—I owe a lot to Douglas for helping me with an early draft of it). Sorry it's taken me a bit to send it to you.

Briefly, my argument is that the "Gentiles who do the law" and thus "show the work of the law written on their heart" are the center of the discussion in these chapters, establishing Paul's gospel as the fulfillment of the promised new covenant. That much isn't especially new, but I connect this with a larger argument about Israel's restoration which I see as central to the larger argument of Romans, ultimately being concluded in Rom 11.

In the context of this argument, I read Rom 2 as more of a thesis for how God is restoring Israel through the new covenant—a thesis ultimately concluded in Rom 11. The larger argument is way too big to put in a comment here (and I'd like to get at least some of this in print before addressing it online), but it is worth noting that Douglas and I end up agreeing on a whole lot more than we disagree on.

At 11/29/2009 11:42 PM, Anonymous Andrew said...

Thanks Nick for the link to the audio of the SBL session!

I thought Campbell did a great job at the session of clearly presenting his ideas (far clearer than the book itself!). The main thing I took away from Gorman and Moo's presentations was that they weren't convinced Campbell had sufficiently shown the presence of dialog/an interlocutor in Romans... which I thought was a valid criticism.

Having myself independently come to the same view as Campbell regarding the presence of dialog between Paul and the Teacher in Romans 1-3 and 9-11, there were two things I expected to be in the book which were significantly missing:

1. After his (extremely impressive) demonstration of the links between Romans 1:18-32 and Wisdom of Solomon 13-14 I was expecting a relatively thorough review of the theology of Wisdom of Solomon, with a view to showing how that theology presents a view of Jews and gentiles exactly opposite to what is being advocated by Paul. For me, personally, it was the combination of realizing Paul quotes/paraphrases Wisdom in 1:18-32 and yet teaches the opposite of its theology that convinced me he is dialogging with that viewpoint. Wisdom asserts that Jews are supernaturally protected from sin, that God will not punish Jews, yet Romans 2-3 work through these ideas one by one demolishing them and arguing for the absolute equality of Jews and Gentiles before God in terms of sin, righteousness, and final judgment. It is not difficult to lay each theological thesis of Wisdom of Solomon alongside its disproof in Romans and see how Paul is systematically working through the theology of the Teacher and concluding the opposite. I was expecting Campbell to analyze this in detail in DoG, but it was only very vaguely alluded to.

2. I was anticipating a relatively formal analysis of indicative features of dialog in ancient works and a demonstration of where those were used in Romans, with a view to proving that Romans contained dialog. For example, demonstrating that Rom 1:18-32 meets Quintillian's criteria for being 'speech-in-character', pointing to the singular 'you' in 2:1 as indicating a 1-on-1 dialog, etc. I think Gorman and Moo at SBL rightly noted this as missing from Campbell's analysis.

One of the questions in the SBL Q&A surprised me: How come the Patristic commentators didn't take this exegetical route? But of course, the Patristic commentators did think that Romans 9-11 was full of dialog between Paul and an interlocutor!

At 11/30/2009 2:41 AM, Anonymous Rachel said...

Useful questions Andrew but...

I don't think we can assume that the Wisdom of Solomon is in play as a primary text in the Teacher's position simply because he seems to use some of its moves in his preaching preamble. Clearly he is not completely on board with Wisdom, because in some sense he (the Teacher) is now messianic, and some "Christian" categories have influenced his position. So, as we reconstruct that, we end up using other texts like Deuteronomy and certain key insights attested by Philo.

Having said this, I think a lot more can be done. Feel free!

Gorman and Hays push back quite hard on the Teacher thesis in part by appealing to other OT texts in Paul's prose. I don't see how this helps, at least initially, since the Teacher is clearly a scriptural adept. But if a programmatic function for Wisdom can be established--and you and I both obviously think it can--then this probably helps.

As for criteria in Quintilian for establishing prosôpopoiia, etc., I think Stan Stowers has actually done most of this already. I don't think we need to reproduce his work, or Schmeller's for that matter. But, again, if you think more can be done, feel free. The more the merrier. Indeed, I look forward to your research emerging on all this.

At 12/01/2009 4:44 AM, Anonymous Michael J. Gorman said...

As many commentators have noted, there are echoes of Adam (or Gen 1-3 more broadly) in the use, e.g., of (1) "image" language; (2) creatures corresponding to those in Gen 1; (3) male... female language; and (4) sin leading to death.

I do not wish to argue that this proves the non-existence of the Teacher; the alleged Teacher could well have been scripturally adept. My point is simply that the language of 1:18-32 (and beyond--language about glory and life and immortality) is consistent with Paul's own views about life in Adam, characterized by sin, disobedience, and death.

At 12/02/2009 4:48 AM, Anonymous Rachel said...

My previous post seems to have been lost. So, a little more briefly....

(1) The image language in Rom 1 is all applied to idolatry, i.e., negatively. I just can't find a reference to Adam here anywhere. Have I missed something? (If so, where?)

(2/3) It's not surprising that Jewish categories regarding creation are in play, esp. in v. 23. I'm not sure, however, that these dictate an overriding influence from the Adam story in Genesis 1. Jews used these categories a lot. Wisdom uses pretty much these categories (cf. esp. 11:15, 12:24, 13:10, 13-14), and Deuteronomy provides the text that seems the closest to Paul's claims in v. 23 in all extant Greek--4:15-18. Of course the Teacher loves Deuteronomy (something Lou's commentary on Galatians tracks nicely). So this data looks indecisive to me.

(4) I'm struggling to understand how the account of the origin of sin in Rom 1 is commensurable with the account articulated in Rom 5:12-21 and Rom 7--or at least obviously so.

In Rom 1 a generic, universal turn away from the knowledge of God mediated by creation takes place, leading to numerous transgressions--that look suspiciously pagan--and a punishment from God of death. In Rom 5 and 7 one person transgresses a specific commandment from God way back at the start of the human race, leading to the enslavement of all to Death as a demonic power. The former scenario sets up sin as generic transgression and death as a divine act of punishment; the latter sets up sin as enslavement to a power and Death as a demonic enemy of God. (Lou describes all this as the two versus the three actor drama.)

I guess these scenarios just look fundamentally different to me: different conceptions of sin, of God, of salvation, and of death, and consequently of ethics, atonement, and christology--fairly big differences in the grand scheme of things! Either this, or I'm missing something, in which case please help me out!

At 12/02/2009 2:03 PM, Anonymous Michael J. Gorman said...

I would certainly agree that there are differences between 1:18-32 and chapter 5, but I do not find them incompatible. If 1:18-32 looks like a description of pagan idolatry and sin, it is told with surprising allusions to Genesis 1-3 and Exodus 32, even if some of those allusions are mediated by other and/or later Jewish literature. And of course the rhetorical point of the overlap between a pagan "fall" and Jewish stories of "fall" and idolatry becomes apparent in chapter 2.

One should read chapters one and two as the description and diagnosis of symptoms that lead to the more fundamental diagnosis of the underlying cause: the power of Sin (3:9). When Sin and sins are both dealt with through liberation and atonement (3:21-26), Paul can contrast life in Adam with life in Christ as both deliverance from the power of Sin and as concrete acts of (Spirit-empowered) obedience, the replacing of the mind-heart-body dysfunction depicted in chapters 1-3 with the obedience and renewal of the mind-heart-body depicted in chaps. 6, 8, and 12-15.

At 12/02/2009 8:44 PM, Anonymous Rachel said...

An uncharacteristically short response by Rachel [Douglas].

Mike, if what you say is true, then how do you explain the strong emphases in Romans 1 and 2 on culpability--that pagan sinners will be held responsible for their transgressions and executed?

(1) If the Adamic narrative of enslavement to Sin and Death is in play, I wouldn't expect the culpability theme. (It isn't in play in this strong sense in Romans 5 and 7-8.) (2) Given that it is, however, there is now an acute theodicy problem in Romans 1-2.

At 12/03/2009 11:43 AM, Anonymous Pstyle said...

I only just reaslied that the "doug" going by the name "Rachel" is doug campbell (DankeHerr Tilling).. now I finally get where each voice in this thread is coming from... phew.

At 12/03/2009 8:47 PM, Anonymous Julius said...

Andy, Pstyle, and all, How do we know that "Rachel" is (PPMEstically) "Doug"? Could it not also be the case that the "voice" of Rachel is not actually Rachel's and instead her speech in the character of her husband Doug (with whom she has discussed these matters ad infinitum for the past 20yrs)? Alas, I must admit, this too would be a form of PPME.

At 12/03/2009 9:33 PM, Anonymous Jon said...

I'm just looking forwards to the day that Doug Campbell reads Luther carefully and realises that they are fairly similar - read Bonhoeffer's Ethics out of interest. Namely, he is a Lutheran! Still - best not tell him too soon - he's spent the last 15 years writing a book which is largely a defense of Luther... bless.

At 12/03/2009 10:28 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Jon, your comment suggests to me that you haven't actually read Doug's book!

At 12/03/2009 11:39 PM, Anonymous Rachel said...

Jon, on Luther: perhaps you could comment in a little more detail on the treatment of Luther, in two stages, on pp. 250-58 and 264-70 of Deliverance (and feel free to comment on the treatments of Melanchthon and Calvin while you're at it). I'd also be interested in particular to hear of your reaction to the introduction of the Finnish reading of Luther into the debate. Take your time.

At 12/04/2009 10:41 AM, Anonymous Scott Caulley said...

after standing through the (SRO) SBL session with Wright on his book, "Justification," I purchased a copy. I am about half way through-- mostly vintage Wright so far (except for the sometimes pointed responses to John Piper and others). Today the new "Christian Century" (Dec. 1) came across my desk, with a helpful review article on "Justification" by Douglas Harink (King's University College, Alberta). Harink does a good job with his critique of Wright, including some positive comments about the competing ideas of Douglas Campbell.

At 12/04/2009 11:29 AM, Anonymous Scott Caulley said...

after standing through N.T. Wright's (SRO) SBL session on "Justification," I purchased a copy. I'm about half-way through-- mostly vintage Wright so far (except the sometimes pointed responses to John Piper and others). Today the new "Christian Century" (for Dec. 1) came across my desk, with a good review article on "Justification" by Douglas Harink (King's University College, Alberta). Harink does a good job with his critique of Wright, and includes some positive comments on Douglas Campbell's competing approach to justification.

At 12/06/2009 11:11 PM, Anonymous andrewbourne said...

I am surprised no one has critiqued Campbell`s philsophical stance he does it would appear to critique the positivist philosophy he espouses and why he chooses Polyani over Wittgenstein is a mystery.. I believe it`s due to Campbell seeing Polyani as `scientific`. He would have been better reading Charles Taylor`s `A Modern Age`. I also misunderstand his choice of Weber over Durkheim. Durkheim would have given Campbell a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between Protestantism and Capitalism, Mainly in his work on Suicide. However, I wonder has anyone else have any thoughts on the philsosophical emphasis that Campbell is trying to make

At 12/07/2009 4:45 AM, Anonymous Michael J. Gorman said...


DOG is such a wide-ranging book that many angles of critique and appreciation are needed. The SBL panel was limited to its treatment of Romans 1-3.

At 12/07/2009 5:19 AM, Anonymous Jon Butterfield said...

I've been looking in on this debate with some interest (as a rather naive 1st year theology student)though a great deal of it is over my head.

I haven't read the book and none of the folks at LST seem to have either (though Steve Walton said he brought a copy back from SBL for Max Turner to read).

My question is if Campbell is right, what are the wider implications for the churches teaching on evangelism and salvation?

At 12/07/2009 2:09 PM, Anonymous Rachel said...


Good questions.

(1) The implications for evangelism are laid out at length in chapter five, in dialogue with quite a bit of contemporary literature on conversion. They are I think very constructive, in the sense that we can marry a theological account of conversion much more closely to what actually tends to happen on the ground. The emphasis in a nutshell, moves more strongly toward "friendship evangelism," in combination with a deeper appreciation for networks, hospitality, etc. There is less emphasis on rationalizing people into the kingdom, which is a bad approach anyway for many reasons. In many respects the Alpha course embodies the right approach.

(2) The church, including those committed to Justification, already believes all the rest of the material in Paul about salvation that I endorse, which tends to be treated as "sanctification" in some quarters. So nothing new is being suggested in positive terms by my book; the suggestion is rather that certain debilitating commitments be lost and the entire picture of the gospel in Paul simplified and clarified. The resulting quite orthodox stance is sketched out in chapter three (at which point you can also see why Mike's commitment to theosis is illuminating). Rather more importantly, we can see that Paul is laying his understanding of salvation out pretty clearly in Romans 5-8, and then in related texts. Romans 8 is probably the most important chapter he ever wrote in my view.

My best wishes to Max next time you see him!

At 12/08/2009 5:25 PM, Anonymous Pstyle said...

Doug (aka. rachel),

Does your analysis of Romans reinforce the idea that Adam must exist as a historical reality (as an individual) for the Christian (or Pauline) explanations in Romans 5-8 to be valid?

It certainly seems to me that Romans 5-8 hints strongly at the fact that Paul thought Adam was a real person who actually existed in history, and thus the fall was an actual historical event. and it is on this basis that he argues for Christ’s work.

If we take Adam away (from the historical picture), does the basis of Paul's argumentation fall over?

It seems that the Romans 1-3 section does not rely so heavily on an historical Adam for it's theology to be worked out (if, as you suggest, they are in fact different arguments) - If I've understood you correctly.

At 12/08/2009 6:14 PM, Anonymous Rachel said...


You're zeroing in on an important issue, but I would ask you to introduce the prospective and retrospective dimensions into your questions a little more strongly than you seem to be.

We want our account of the gospel to be true. But if we are prospective in our approach to the truth of the gospel, then we commit ourselves to the establishment of the truth of some prior phase of analysis essentially by ourselves, in relation to which the truth of the gospel can then be verified, an enterprise that has invariably failed. It is consequently significant that you have defined both of your scenarios in prospective terms--either Romans 1-3 is true in general terms or Adam's fall and our analysis of that is true in prior terms. But both of these positions are almost certainly doomed. No one has ever succeeded in establishing the truth of a prior position objectively and universally (indeed, arguably about anything, not just God); it would be the wrong God anyway; and it would almost certainly result at some point in sinister self-ratifications. So there are many good reasons for hoping that Paul does not proceed in this way--and anywhere, that is, whether in Romans 1 or Romans 5, etc.

I hope that it is clear that I view Paul's gospel as explicitly retrospective. Truth is for him not grounded on the establishment of the nature and truth of some phase prior to the gospel but on the revelation of the gospel itself in Christ and the Spirit. So truth here does not rest on our establishment of any position at all but comes from God and depends merely on our obedient recognition of that--an ecclesial event, it must be emphasized. This is what the apocalyptic readers of Paul are getting at for much of the time. We, following Paul, then reconstruct our account of the problem in the light of the solution we have already received, in an act of retrospective realization. It is a true account, and always was, but we probably didn't recognize it as such. All of which leads me to your questions.

Your account of Adam in Paul's thinking is not precise enough. Paul is explicitly retrospective in both Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15; it is clear in those texts that he is deploying an Adamic narrative shaped by the Christ event, in counterpoint. And it follows from this that the truth of Christ does not depend on the truth of Adam.

Having said this, I have little doubt that Paul viewed Adam as a historical figure (so to speak). But I'm not sure that Paul's primary position, based on the revelation of the truth in Christ, commits us to that further claim regarding Adam necessarily, which is of course useful. His view of Adam could be wrong, and his view of Christ would still be right. And this is the main thing (in fact, in most situations!). We could even say that his account of sin in terms of an Adamic narrative could be right, because its truthfulness derives from its counterpoint to Christ, but its reference might be absent, i.e., there might be no actual Adam.

I suspect that this is really the way we need to be heading in our overarching analyses of sin and salvation in Paul.

Useful questions: thank you.

At 12/09/2009 11:34 AM, Anonymous Pstyle said...

Doug, thanks for your reply.

It'll take me a few reads to understand I think. I'm a layman when it comes to biblical interpretation, and an environmental scientist, not a textual/historical one! Hence the fact that my questions are very unqualified.

I might have to get myself a copy of your book (which i'm sure you'll appreciate). Although I fear that it might be a heavy read for one more accustomed to the natural sciences.

At 12/15/2009 1:29 AM, Anonymous Jason A. Staples said...

Pstyle, believe it or not, DOG is actually quite readable. Douglas did a really fantastic job explaining a lot of the prior discussions he's entering into that it's actually an easier read (and significantly heavier book in terms of ounces) than many others in this field. Just about anyone familiar with the basics of the Pauline Epistles and typical interpretations of them should be able to do just fine.

At 12/16/2009 9:38 PM, Anonymous Brian said...

I've had the book 3 months and have been picking through it. I read Doug's precurser "The Quest..." that's really helped me sort through DOG.
I'm a full time pastor and I think that something like what Doug is doing in DOG is needed for pastors who desire to preach a realistic christ centered, incarnational gospel...actually from the scripture.
Our church members will throw verses back at our faces like Romans and 1 Thes. so we need help from the academy to keep us aware of the paradigms we think in and preach from.
In my experience, many laypeople seem to stay away from reading Romans (or the NT even)simply because the can't understand Paul. Well, Doug has convinced me of why that might be the case.
Doug- maybe your next book can be geared for us striving to communicate your thesis to the average church goer. In other words, for us to know how you would present your findings from the pulpit. Thanks for this helpful dialog.


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