Review of Campbell’s Deliverance PART 6
Many of the misunderstandings of DC’s thesis, which have surfaced in the comments to my earlier posts, could perhaps be avoided if one bears in mind that DC never argues that readers of Paul subscribe to JT in toto. He simply does not say that JT completely sums up readings of Paul – even Melanchthon, who is pretty close, doesn’t entirely. DC is well aware that other scholars know there is much more in Paul than JT. The point is this: to say other things about Paul, to make him more palatable, to include pneumatology etc., one has to amalgamate contradictory theologies into one. DC aims to sharpen our appreciation for the actual theological content of Romans 1-4, to clarify what is at stake. This all means that the straw man argument employed by some reviewers is in fact itself a straw man! Have not DC’s critics set up a weak caricature of his position, which ultimately means that they don't have to engage with its substance? The point is this: if you read Paul – which is after all what we are all supposed to be doing – you then end up with a certain argument, and then a certain theory, one that cannot simply be dismissed (i.e. you have to provide an alternative reading of the actual texts).
To clarify matters, I suggest that it is a good idea to treat DC’s theological elucidation of JT as a thought experiment (based mainly on Romans 1-4), to examine the theological content of those chapters. I am thus reminded of Karl Barth’s justified protest at those who wrote ‘merely the first step towards a commentary’ on Romans, and perhaps it will help to quote that great man at length:
‘I have, it is true, protested against recent commentaries on a Epistle to the Romans. The protest was directed not only against those originating in the so-called "critical" school but also, for example, against the commentaries of Zahl and Kühl ... My complaint is that recent commentators confine themselves to an interpretation the text which seems to me to be no commentary at all, but merely the first step towards a commentary. Recent commentaries contain no more than a reconstruction of the text, a rendering of the Greek words and phrases by their precise equivalents, a number of additional notes in which archaeological and philological material is gathered together, and a more or less plausible arrangement of the subject-matter in such a manner that it may be historically and psychologically intelligible from the standpoint of pragmatism ... Jülicher and Lietzmann, not to mention conservative scholars, intend quite clearly to press beyond this preliminary work to an understanding of Paul. Now, this involves more than a mere repetition in Greek or in German of what Paul says: it involves a reconsideration of what is set out in the Epistle, until the actual meaning of it is disclosed ... The conversation between the original record and the reader moves round the subject-matter, until a distinction between yesterday and to-day becomes impossible’ (Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, trans. Edwyn C. Hoskyns [Oxford: Oxford UP, 1968], 6-7, italics mine).
We will return, when we examine chapter 7, to the importance of some of the distinctions in play here. Let us press ahead now to DC’s analysis, which builds on J.B Torrance’s analysis of Federal Calvinism.
Labels: Review of Deliverance of God