Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review of Campbell’s Deliverance PART 1

A summary review PART 1

of Campbell, Douglas A. The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2009 (and thanks to the kind folk at Eerdmans for a review copy!)

Preliminary comments

It is not often that one picks up a book that truly grabs the imagination and begins to bring into focus thoughts otherwise scattered across the four winds of theological study. Nor is it common to read a volume that has a thesis so majestic that it has the power to literally change lives. In my view, Doug Campbell has succeeded in producing just such a book. It literally raises the bar of New Testament scholarship higher than ever before. It will become obvious that I am generally persuaded by large swaths of Doug's thesis, but I do believe that whether you agree with the main thrusts of his thesis or not, there is brilliance in this book for everybody to appreciate.

Given the number of large ongoing reviews of the book already online, a word is in order justifying yet another. I recently began an introduction to Hegel's thought in which the author noted that his portrayal of Hegel may indeed come across a little too sympathetic. Yet the author preferred it remain so as 'a clear understanding of Hegel's philosophy on its own terms' is 'anyway a prerequisite for serious criticism' (Craig B. Matarrese, Starting with Hegel [London: Continuum, 2010], 25). Given the scope, brilliance and nature of Doug's claims, it is all the more necessary that we carefully listen to what he actually argues. I labour this point a little as I would suggest that some reviews have been penned on the book that arguably have not listened to what Doug is actually saying. Of course, I cannot promise that I will correctly understand, represent or fairly critique Doug's thesis at every point, but I hope to avoid fundamental misunderstandings of his project as is arguably evident in some particularly prominent reviews, whether those published on blogs or in peer review journals. I thus believe there is continued need for an extensive and careful representation of Doug's actual claims.

I do have a second reason for writing this summary review, which in terms of size will approximate to my earlier overview of Richard Bauckham's book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. If Doug is right, then this is an important thesis for more than the academically interested. I hope, and here I want to be a little careful, to make the general contours of his argument available to those who lack the time, energy, will or expertise to work through the thousand or so pages of The Deliverance of God. I hasten to add that I sincerely hope that my words will provoke just those people into picking up Doug's book for themselves. After all, he says it all far better than I could.
OK, that is enough by way of preliminary comments. By the way, from now on I will refer to the author as DC, though I may lapse every now and then into Doug (sorry for the irreverence, DC) and the book will be abbreviated as DoG, while his earlier book, The Quest for Paul's Gospel: A Suggested Strategy (London: T&T Clark, 2005), I will abbreviate as Quest.



At 8/11/2010 1:21 AM, Blogger Nathan Eubank said...

He literally raises the bar of New Testament scholarship, eh?

looking forward to the review.

At 8/11/2010 2:16 AM, Blogger Jim said...

i'm glad you're doing this. i couldn't endure the book. it was overly long. it was too long. it attempted too much.

At 8/11/2010 1:34 PM, Blogger David Mackinder said...

looking forward to this, as I've only just managed to get my grubby hands on a copy . . .

At 8/11/2010 9:20 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thanks Nathan, and you too Jim.

David, I hope you enjoy his book as much as I have done

At 8/11/2010 9:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Chris. I'm hoping to read this book in the next year or so, but it will be great to hear your thoughts. I'm particularly glad that you will be (presumably) offering a more fair review, accurately representing DC's argument than some of the others out there.

While I haven't DoG yet, I know enough of the argument to know that some of the prominent reviews misrepresent DC's work (IMO).

- MIke

At 8/11/2010 10:51 PM, Blogger Theophrastus said...

I agree with this post (except for the misplaced "literally" that Nathan snarkily pointed out), and look forward to your review.

I will say that I found Campbell's volume to be the most thrilling book on the NT I have read in some time.

At 8/11/2010 11:28 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thanks, Mike, I would love to hear more, as this series progresses, which misrepresentations you have come across

Thanks, Theophrastus, yea, I know - so glad people point that kind of stuff out to me!

At 8/12/2010 2:15 AM, Blogger Nathan Eubank said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to be snarky.

At 8/12/2010 10:58 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

There is an even better book on its way to you (arriving at HTB on Sunday via Annette)!

At 8/13/2010 1:59 AM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Hi Nathan, I was only kidding too, I smiled at your comment.

You snarky git!

Andrew, of course, your book is very eagerly awaited! Hope your adventurous August is going well.


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