Douglas Campbell – Paul: An Apostle’s Journey

Episode: It was half an hour before coffee and cake with the Campbell family, so Chris sits down with Douglas Campbell to interview him on his new book on the Apostle Paul, a particularly racy, fast-paced and electrifying book which Douglas Harink has described as “The best book on Paul since Acts”! Douglas Campbell is one of the leading Pauline scholars in the world, but this new and more popular level book reads very differently from his previous, more technical, works. Paul: An Apostle’s Journey (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2018).

Guest: (from the Duke Divinity School webpage) Professor Campbell’s main research interest is the life and theology of the apostle Paul, with particular reference to an understanding of salvation informed by apocalyptic as against justification or salvation-history. However, he is interested in methodological contributions to Paul’s analysis from any disciplinary angle, ancient or modern, whether Greco-Roman epistolary and rhetorical theory, or insights into human networking and conflict-resolution discovered by sociologists. His recent book-length publications include Paul: An Apostle’s Journey (Eerdmans, 2018), Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography (Eerdmans, 2014), The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul (Eerdmans, 2009), and The Quest for Paul’s Gospel: A Suggested Strategy (T & T Clark, 2005). A book of essays has been published analyzing his critical approach to justification: Beyond Old and New Perspectives on Paul: Reflections on the Work of Douglas Campbell (ed. Chris Tilling, Wipf & Stock, 2014).

Book: Paul: An Apostle’s Journey (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2018). In this short but spirited book Campbell presents Paul in terms of his life and activities. Biography, theology, and Pauline scholarship are all rolled together into a potent mix, with special emphasis on how Paul might challenge us afresh today. Readers, as the book description states, are invited to “relive the story of Paul’s action-packed ministry, and follow the development of Paul’s thought throughout both his physical and his spiritual travels”. This is a dramatic and rather unique book, and will appeal to a wide audience.

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3 Replies to “Douglas Campbell – Paul: An Apostle’s Journey”

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    Campbell’s approach might be invigorating for some, interlocking Pauline scholarship and mission. However, I have a few questions that left me feeling vaguely a bit confused:

    1. Campbell says that we need to start with God and God revealed through Jesus and the Spirit, and not with Paul. Campbell seems to assume that we can dissociate Christ from Paul, but when does he place our other sources on this Jesus we are supposed to reckon with first? Surely he can’t be placing them before his seemingly excessively early dating of the Thessalonian correspondance can he?

    2. Raised a Christian and still deeply engrossed by the challenge of living out what we study, I do like the idea of insufficiency of understanding on a uniquely academic level. Fair enough, but I’m not clear from this interview, how does this tie in with Campbell’s methodology except to expose it to a frankly speculative reconstruction?

    I’m glad your guest was able to line up his ducks at last, but I’m not convinced!

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