Briefly Noted: In the latest issue of the Bulletin for Biblical Research, Tom Schreiner has a brief but helpful review of Douglas Campbell’s mammoth work on justification, The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul (Eerdmans, 2009). Even though the book is a massive work of scholarship, Schreiner is critical. I’ve been reading the book myself, and from what I’ve seen Schreiner’s critique is right on the money.
Campbell essentially adopts a novel interpretation of Romans that understands different parts of chapters 1-4 not as the voice of Paul, but as the voice of his opponents. So what you read in Romans 1-4 is not always Paul, but an interaction between Paul and an opponent who is designated as “the Teacher” (sounds a bit like The DaVinci Code to me, but I digress). The whole scheme seems quite implausible, and that is what Schreiner identifies as the primary shortcoming of the book.
For Schreiner, the weakness of the book comes down to this:
“In the final analysis, Campbell’s construal stands on the basis of his own exegesisâ€¦ It is difficult to believe that his own reading will be anything other than a historical curiosity in the long run.”
I couldn’t agree more.
[Here’s the bibliographic info for those who might want to track down the review: Bulletin for Biblical Research 20.2 (2010): 289-90.]