Friday, September 17, 2010

Review of Campbell’s Deliverance PART 4

A summary review PART 4

of Campbell, Douglas A. The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2009

In the next few posts I will spend a fair bit of time on Justification Theory and misunderstandings of DC’s argument at this point. Hopefully we will then be in a place to better understand the brilliance of DC’s solution: a rhetorical and apocalyptic reading of Paul.

Part One: Justification Theory, and Its Implications

Chapter One: The Heart of the Matter: The Justification Theory of Salvation

In Part 2 we reviewed DC’s solution to the problem of entering the knotty problems associated with reading texts saturated by ideology, theological presuppositions etc, namely to initially analyse ‘a set of preliminary characterizations that were largely incontestable and could serve to establish and initiate the principal issues’ (xxvii). His much misunderstood Part One begins this process, the task of describing a particular soteriology, what he will call ‘Justification Theory’ (hereafter JT). It is key to recognise that JT is an:

‘... amalgam of a particular reading of various Pauline texts ... and a theory of salvation that, given certain key elements, simply must develop in certain directions as a matter of sheer rationality’ (12).
Had this point, and DC’S elucidation of it, been taken seriously, a number of misreading of DC’s thesis could have been avoided. JT is not simply a description of what Luther, Calvin, Moo etc. believe, nor did it ever claim to be. DC is well aware that the reformers, and those who followed, cannot be forced into the neat lines of the soteriology he will now describe. As DC explains: ‘There is a sense, then, in which this is something of a thought experiment: if Paul is interpreted ultimately a certain points in the following fashion, then all these consequences follow. And what follows is an individualistic, contractual soteriology grounded ‘in certain critical metaphors and reinforced by certain ideological and cultural positions, many of them distinctively modern’ (14). It is for this reason that DC’s JT cannot simply be dismissed as a ‘monolith’ (Watson), as if it were illegitimately imposed upon readers of Paul.

Given that misunderstandings are so common at this point, I will develop the point made above in the next installment in dialogue with Francis Watson and Mark Seifrid.



At 9/17/2010 9:06 PM, Anonymous J. R. Daniel Kirk said...

I disagree fairly strongly with your defense of Campbell here.

His thought experiment becomes a straw man because nobody actually holds to the position he critiques. It's not enough to say, "This is what everyone should say if they were consistent." The position he counters doesn't actually exist, and that's a real problem that keeps the book from being as helpful as it could/should be.

It's too easy to read the book and say, "Well, that critique doesn't apply to me," which almost everyone can do. I think was an unfortunate argumentative strategy that detracts from some of the volume's positive contributions.

At 9/17/2010 10:14 PM, Blogger Stephen C. Carlson said...

In my opinion, Campbell's analysis of a coherent JT is sufficiently detailed such that anyone denying that he has actually described their theory has the burden of showing that their own theory is also coherent.

It is not enough, to my mind, to merely say one's theory of justification is different--one also have to explain how these differences do not render their version of justification theory incoherent. That I haven't seen from Moo, etc.

At 9/18/2010 11:19 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Hi Daniel,
Great to hear from you - I am honestly glad that a real Romans expert is in touch with these posts, and if you find time to interact, I look forward to learning from you.

Regards your point, I think it will be best to leave a rejoinder until I am finished with this particular line of argument (I will expand the point in the next two posts).

All the best to you (loving your blog, btw)

Hi Stephen, again so glad to have your likes lurking around.

At 9/20/2010 1:22 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

I have to say my sympathies are with Campbell on this one. He is trying for some general critiques of a general type of position. He's proceeded reasonably in the only way he really can - outline the general position he is critiquing as clearly as possible and make his critiques clearly. He does that. Personally I felt Campbell did a good job of outlining the general view that is widely taught.

I have no sympathy with scholars who respond with "well, my view is a tiny bit nuanced on one of the points, so NONE of his criticisms apply to me!" Where a given scholar's position does deviate, it is usually possible to adapt any particular criticism with a moments thought in order to target the deviating position more accurately. But people whose position is under attack inevitably prefer to scream 'straw man' instead of applying the one iota of thought needed to adapt the criticisms to target their own position and then actually take it seriously.


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