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!)
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.
Labels: Review of Deliverance of God