Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Binding the Strong Man: A Political reading of Mark's Story of Jesus
(2nd ed.; New York: Maryknoll, 2008)
Available from Amazon.com
Friday, March 27, 2009
A commentary on Galatians by Catholic scholar Frank Matera from the Sacra Pagina series.
The 2003 movie "Luther" starring Joseph Fiennes.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
"The fact that I live in the faith of the Son of God, in my faith in him, has its basis in the fact that He Himself, the Son of God, first believed for me ... the great work of faith has already been done by the One whom I follow in my faith, even before I believe, even if I no longer believe, in such a way that He is always, as Heb 12:2 puts it, the originator and completer of our faith ... His faith is the victory which has overcome the world"
CD II/2, 559.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures . . .
. . . and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
The Word of Life: A Theology of John's Gospel
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008.
Available at Amazon.com
Saturday, March 21, 2009
HT: Justin Taylor
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Myriam Klinker-De Clerck
The Pastoral Epistles: authentic Pauline writings
Die Missionsgeschichte Deutschlands im Kontext der europaeschen Missionsgeschichte
Leonardo De Chirico
Ethics and the Internet, Starting from Theology
The Challenge of Cyberculture
Liebende Selfsthingabe als anfanghafter Glaube? Eine Antwort an Lydia Jaeger
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I cannot live with infant baptism. Having said that, if I were the pastor of the only church allowed in Mecca, maybe… But even then, I simply lack the authority to admit someone to the Lord’s Table who has not been baptized. It is, as one said not too long ago, “above my pay-grade.” I have many dear paedo-baptists friends from whom I have learned much. Yet I see their practice as a sinful (though sincere) error from which God protects them by allowing for inconsistency in their doctrinal system, just as he graciously protects me from consistency with my own errors.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Richard S. Hess
Questions of Reading and Writing in Ancient Israel
Gary N. Knoppers
The Synoptic Problem? An Old Testament Perspective
Jesus, Sinners, and Table Fellowship
John G. Nordling
A More Positive View of Slavery: Establishing Servile Identity in the Christian Assemblies
The Overstated 'New' Perspective?
Thursday, March 12, 2009
5. What is the central argument in your forthcoming book, The Deliverance of God?
Perhaps if I could refer back at this point to question 3, I suggested there that the geniuses of the twentieth century that you mentioned—and one or two others besides—left us with a large number of acutely important problems that were also almost entirely unresolved—Paul’s apparently unfair account of Judaism in certain texts; his oscillation between prospective and retrospective gospels and epistemologies; and so on. (And this was really my suggestion in question 1 as well.) DOG tries to solve a particular cluster of these difficulties, although their complexity necessitates an argument in several stages, and hence the length of the book. In particular—and I am almost embarrassed to admit this—DOG tries merely to reread Paul’s Justification or JF texts in a way that is ultimately compatible with a PPME reading of his gospel. It does not eliminate Justification language—of deliverance from bondage and jail, of belief and fidelity, and so on—but it does eliminate the overarching construal of his gospel at these points in terms of the JF system, replacing that with a tightly contingent argument that ultimately points to a PPME construal. And it is worth emphasising that my approach to the key texts is deeply grounded in practical problems Paul sees unfolding at Rome. We might say then that in response to a critical set of problems raised by Schweitzer and Sanders—and in a way partly presaged by Sanders—I reread Paul’s Justification texts in a way that Martyn would probably approve of, satisfying Beker’s dictum en route as well (which the conventional reading really can not). Hence, I make much of the difficulties caused for Paul by “the Teacher,” who is the leader of a group of Jewish Christian missionaries hostile to Paul’s suggestion that pagans can convert to Christ and then live lives of ethical probity without (for males!) undertaking circumcision and law-observance. These figures clearly regarded Paul as irresponsible and attempted to derail his mission in no uncertain terms. And he regards them as insufficiently Christological, ignoring the route to resurrection that God has actually provided in Christ. So they are “false brothers” (etc.: cf. Gal. 1:7; 2:4)!
It has taken me upward of fifteen years to get my head around all this. But I think it is finally all making sense.
6. What is the major contribution of DOG to Pauline research?
7. How does your understanding of the nature of the Christ-event differ from standard Evangelical-Reformed and Barthian approaches?
I would want to suggest fairly firmly that it doesn’t, although a lot depends on what you mean by the word “standard” here. I view my understanding as a thoroughly Evangelical (particularly in the broader, German sense), Reformed, and Barthian construal of the Christ event that draws directly on theological work that stands squarely in these interpretative traditions—especially Irenaeus, the late Augustine, the Cappadocians, Athanasius, Calvin, parts of Luther, McLeod Campbell, Barth, and the Torrances. (Some of my colleagues at Duke insist that Aquinas and/or Wesley, rightly understood, belong here as well!) Indeed, I see myself very much as attempting to clarify and affirm this set of traditions as clearly as I can. But I hope that my understanding is also thoroughly catholic as well, not to mention Catholic in the best sense.
In the light of these traditions, however, I do push back on the western contractual ordo salutis, which I take to be less central if not alien to Evangelical, Reformed, and Barthian Christology and soteriology. There are occasional footholds for the ordo in some of those thinkers and traditions, but nothing deep or intrinsic. I hold that Paul has been misinterpreted at certain key points by this alternative and essentially alien, non-Evangelical trajectory. Indeed, it is the intrusion of this misinterpretation that has caused so many of our problems. But arguably it is time now to drive the money-changers from the temple!
Unfortunately—and as is probably apparent by now—the clash between these two very different conceptions of the Christ event characterises much of the material that you have introduced here, so there is probably not a single, “standard” view running through it. There is, however, in the end of the day, an authentic view and an alien and unhelpful one. There have been occasional attempts to impose the latter view as the standard one, and even to overrule and expel advocates of the former. But these are deeply misguided, even if frequently also deeply well-intentioned, actions. My book suggests that they are also fundamentally unpauline—something that has perhaps not been appreciated so clearly until now.
8. What is next on the research agenda for you with this book now finished?
I need to recover.
That said, I have been working away sporadically on Paul’s biography in tandem with my work on Justification, in the light of Beker’s important dictum. I have a preliminary framing biography already significantly complete, with most of the key chronological points in Paul researched in detail, and a solution to the overarching chronological puzzles worked out. So I hope to finish this work up shortly.
I want, after this, to write an integrated theological biography—a sustained advocacy of Paul’s gospel in terms of PPME of course! But it will also emphasise issues of theological and ethical contextualisation and missiological innovation, thereby continuing to try to work beyond troublesome thought-act and being-act dichotomies.
9. Does your wife design the covers to your books?
She does. (She is a professional: see http://www.rachelcampbellpaintings.com/.) And they are of course the most thought out and appealing things in them. So in my case please judge a book by its cover.
Doug, on behalf of myself and the readers of Euangelion, thank you very much for your time and we hope that the book does well. Incidentally, I should mention that there will be a review session of DOG at SBL in New Orleans in November!
3. Do you see yourself as heir to Albert Schweitzer, Ernst Käsemann, J.-C. Beker, E.P. Sanders, and J.L. Martyn? How would you situate your own work in relation to their earlier contributions to Paul?
What an honour to be mentioned in the same sentence as these extraordinary and gifted interpretative forbears! In fact I draw heavily on four of them in particular.
Albert Schweitzer was fortunate enough to stand in a tradition of insightful German interpreters (Deissmann, Wrede, etc.) who understood well that Paul possessed an alternative soteriological system to Justification (although at times for slightly odd and outmoded reasons), and he pressed that hard himself, supplying some of the best reasons ever penned in favour of the centrality of what I am calling PPME. (In a way he also benefited from being out of the German academic mainstream as he finished his own positive work on Paul, because he thereby avoided a strong, rather pessimistic swing back to more traditional Lutheran categories after WWI.)
J.-C. Beker has articulated with matchless force the need to interpret Paul carefully in “contingent” terms, never pressing straight through to “coherence.” I share Martyn’s opinion that Beker’s advocacy of “apocalyptic” is at times a little confused—dallying too long with salvation-history for example (that is, in a foundational role). But I will return to his key methodological insight just below.
E. P. Sanders has been enormously important for my work. I regard him as in many ways still the premier Pauline analyst, despite having done his most original and important work on Paul in the late 70s and through the 80s, which is to say that he has set the agenda in Pauline studies—and certainly in theological terms—that we all still struggle with. He sees and states with unparalleled force the conundrum of the Jewish question that I noted above in relation to “otherness,” but he also grasps clearly the clashing soteriological discourses in Paul—notably JF and PPME. He presses in certain very interesting ways on the key Justification texts in Paul, probing them to see if they will yield a more retrospective sense. He struggles with the prevailing reading of Romans 1-3 that lies at the heart of so many of our difficulties. But I maintain that although Sanders—a little ironically—stated “the problem,” he did not provide “the solution.” He left us with a fundamentally unfair and incoherent Paul. (This is of course my reading of Sanders’s and not his own opinion of his work; but I address this point in DOG at some length—see chs. 6 and 12.) It may be that Paul just was these things, as Sanders asserts, but read on....
J. L. Martyn in my view grasped and articulated the retrospective theological and epistemological event that lay at the heart of Paul’s gospel with matchless insight, clarity, and precision. I view myself as very much a disciple of his reading. But the challenge lies not so much in establishing what Martyn has largely proved through Galatians (although it can be tightened a little in certain respects), as in extending that reading plausibly through the Pauline text that most resists it—Romans! And this is largely why I have written DOG. In sum, we might say that Martyn is potentially the solution to the conundrums raised by Schweitzer, and then later, more comprehensively, by Sanders. That solution must also navigate the central dilemma posed by Beker. DOG begins to do this. (I view Ernst Käsemann as wonderfully insightful, but also deeply ambivalent. Although associated with apocalyptic, and clear-sightedly opposed to any foundationalist salvation-history, much of his reconstrual is still quite Lutheran, and that makes him something of a mixed bag for me.)
But may I add one or two figures to your list?
As I engaged in detail through the texts with Martyn’s readings, I found myself weaving Richard Hays’s views on intertextuality tightly into the conversation, and of course I also pursued strongly the subjective reading he has championed in relation to various key pistis genitives—a reading that I actually learned from Longenecker. I found that Hays’s intertextual methods uncovered the detailed dynamics of the texts at certain key points where Martyn had relied—perhaps a little unwisely—on form critical claims. These are not the only things I have learned from Hays, but they were very important for this project.
I was also walking in step at these points with various other “apocalyptic” readers of Paul who I view as on parallel paths to me--Lee Keck, Beverly Gaventa, Mike Gorman, Alex Brown, Kathy Grieb, Ann Jervis, Susan Eastman, and Ross Wagner. (I apologise for any omissions from this somewhat random list; note that I would be honoured if Tom Wright felt appropriately included, but I don’t want to list him here without his permission!)
Finally—and returning in part to Beker’s concern with contingency—I must note the enormous amount that I have learned about the gritty social realities of Paul’s mission and churches, especially at Rome, from Robert Jewett and Peter Lampe. These two brilliantly insightful scholars have begun the considerable task of integrating Romans into an authentically contingent account of Paul’s mission and thinking—the letter that invariably resists that reading and its accompanying interpretative controls, arguably with rather tragic results. The guild has yet to respond fully to their work (and the work of those like them), but hopefully that response is slowly coming.
4. What would you maintain are the top five arguments for understanding pistis christou as a subjective genitive?
It’s difficult to limit things to five but I will try!
a. In Romans 3:22, I find it incoherent to suggest that anything other than that the fidelity of Jesus Christ (i.e., to and through death to resurrection—cf. Hab. 2:4 in 1:17) instrumentally reveals God’s decisive righteous act that saves us, which is what the Greek text says. Christ’s death and life do of course directly reveal God’s salvation to us; they are God’s saving act! So we can in effect “see” it there. Our faith doesn’t actually reveal anything in this sense—although it is an important consequence of this act of divine disclosure, so 3:22b.
b. Similarly, in Romans 3:25 it is difficult if not impossible to refer the phrase “through fidelity” to anyone other than Jesus, since it also seems to be functioning instrumentally, here in the effecting of atonement by God in Christ. (A “parenthetical” function looks unworkable, in particular because it requires the supply of question-begging elisions.) This phrase resumes the fuller genitive construction in 3:22, hence the use of the article—and also anticipates the characterisation of “Jesus” as “faithful” in v. 26. So the pistis texts in Rom. 3:22 and 25 reinforce one another in a christocentric direction.
c. The appositional construction in Gal. 2:20 sends all the right arthrous signals to be read subjectively—in terms of Apollonius’s dictum—and this seems confirmed by its explicitly participatory context—that is, where Paul lives by way of participation in Christ’s death and life. There are reasons why the other pistis Christou texts generally don’t supply articles—principally because the fidelity phrases are a quotation of or allusion to an anarthrous phrase in Hab. 2:4, and names don’t need to take co-ordinating articles in genitive constructions, Paul elsewhere using a combination of the names “Jesus” and “Christ.” But clearly these considerations don’t apply to this instance, which uses pistis simpliciter and “the son of God,” a title. So the fully arthrous construction suddenly appears! (I’m also assuming that the battle over 2:16 has proved—at the least—indecisive, so the reader is not carrying a strong weight of expectation forward at this point. I think that text also tilts in a subjective direction, but it’s not one of the more obvious cases. Certainly I don’t read it as obvious either way.)
d. Gal. 3:22 anchors a series of pistis statements that have proved famously problematic for anthropocentric readers, but are nicely susceptible to a Christological reference (Hays’s point some time ago that is still basically correct and could be taken more seriously by some). Moreover, the surrounding argument really forces this identification, since the “promised pistis that comes” corresponds to the “promised seed who comes,” who is identified by Paul explicitly, earlier on, as Christ! (I could say much more at this point, and in ch. 20 of DOG attempt to do so.)
e. 5:5-6, as Choi has recently suggested (JBL 2005), reads best with christological references for Paul’s uses of pistis, especially in v. 6. Paul frequently abolishes what he takes to be secondary created binary oppositions through Galatians in the name of a primary opposition between creation and the new creation in Christ (cf. esp. 6:14-15). And the new creation is denoted consistently through Galatians by the church’s location “in Christ,” suggesting that pistis in v. 6 refers to him again. Evoking 2:20, Paul’s use of pistis in a Christological sense in 5:6 can also then be given the force it needs in context of “effecting” itself through love (the participle is in the middle; alternatively, the fidelity is effected through love, reading the participle as a passive middle). We now no longer need to appeal to an unattested deponent reading for the participle that also struggles to account for just exactly how faith effects love!
Note that underlying all this language is a constant intertextual echo of Habakkuk 2:4, understood messianically. So a strict translation would often simply render the key material “through fidelity,” but the accurate reader should grasp the echo of the underlying Christological intertext—“the Righteous One through fidelity will live.” Paul is speaking throughout metaleptically, as Hays puts it, of the Christ event—that is, of Easter.
The broader importance of this debate is the opening it creates for an understanding of Paul’s “faith” texts in terms of participation, and for a consequent relocation of the virtue of Christian faithfulness precisely in the Christian condition, as a sign of its reality and hence functioning theologically in terms of assurance, and not as a potential condition, the fulfillment of which allows the gospel’s appropriation. These are critical distinctions for the broader shape of Paul’s gospel. The former reading in terms of participation and assurance allows a retrospective construal of Paul’s gospel as a whole; it leads to a PPME construal. The latter understanding in terms of conditionality and appropriation necessitates—at least at these points—a foundationalist and conditional understanding of Paul’s gospel and a JF approach more broadly—two diametrically opposed theological and epistemological constructions. If Paul is ever to be read coherently in broader terms, then his “faith” language needs to be read in participatory terms. And the not infrequent references to Christ’s fidelity point to the accuracy of this approach.
I first met Doug at SBL in 2005 (Philadelphia). I had just brought his book The Quest for Paul's Gospel, walked about 30m down the book exhibit, and then bumped into him. So I got him to sign it for me and we had a brief chat. Doug is great because he confirms my prejudice that the best biblical scholars in the world are antipodian! Doug is also the most prominent champion of the subjective genitive interpretation of the pistis christou construction in Paul's letters these days. Anyways, here is the first installment of my interview with Doug Campbell on his forthcoming book The Deliverance of God.
1. Can you tell us about your intellectual journey in Pauline soteriology? What were the major moments in your research and what has influenced you the most?
That’s an excellent question to begin with. (Incidentally, I explain all this in more detail in the Preface to The Deliverance of God—hereafter DOG.)
My doctoral work took place in the 80s in Toronto, mostly under the aegis of Dick Longenecker, but influenced by John Hurd, Schuyler Brown, and Peter Richardson as well—all wonderful scholars in their own ways. Longenecker was writing his Word commentary on Galatians at the time, as well as lecturing on Romans, so that conjunction of events really shaped the future of my life. He was heavily engaged with Sanders’s work. (Sanders began his teaching career in Canada and so the two scholars knew each other quite well; moreover, Longenecker had anticipated many of Sanders’s celebrated claims about Judaism in his earlier book Paul, Apostle of Liberty). Longenecker was a strong advocate of participatory approaches to Pauline soteriology in ultimate dependence on Deissmann; of the correctness of the faithfulness of Christ reading of Romans 3:22 etc.; of a positive approach to Paul’s Jewish background; and of the broader importance of Jewish martyrological thinking for Paul’s development. So my work is clearly just a fairly direct continuation of his agenda!
The difficulty I was left with after my doctoral work—during which I focused eventually on Romans 3:21-26—was that Longenecker left most of these dynamic interpretative trends unresolved in relation to one another. One didn’t need to be too stringent interpreting a proto-Rabbi in his view. And this didn’t really satisfy me.
The next event that really changed my life occurred during my first teaching job, at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. The local Presbyterian seminary had just appointed a very young and brilliant theologian, Alan Torrance, to its theology chair (son of J.B., and nephew of T.F.). Alan and I became great friends, and during the course of our many conversations about fishing, music, sport, and university politics, I received an excellent theological education. His father’s work on the role of contractualism in Scottish Presbyterianism over against an unconditional covenantalism was especially important for me at this time—something I learned about after Alan had passed on this material to me (and explained it!). I noticed that it coordinated and articulated with enviable clarity many of the debates that we were struggling with in Pauline studies—concerning the role of Jews and Judaism, the atonement, faith, and so on, that is, many of the very questions that Longenecker’s teaching had left me with. The application of James Torrance’s categories to the concerns and texts of the Pauline interpreter seemed to promise an exciting moment of clarification and theological progress—although this was a task that proved harder to fulfill in detail than to envisage in broad prospect!
In 1996 I accepted a lecturing position in New Testament at King’s College London, partly to continue to work alongside Alan, who had left NZ in the interim, and partly to learn how to do rigorous NT work from scholars like Graham Stanton and Francis Watson. (Graham moved shortly after to the chair in Cambridge, and was replaced by the equally adept Judith Lieu; I also learned a lot at this time from my long-time friend and colleague at Kings, Eddie Adams.) But conditions were very difficult in UK universities in the late 90s and I struggled to make real progress on my project. A year in Germany got it going, but there was still a long way to go. So I moved to Duke in 2003, and finally got the support I needed to get the treatment finished. But this move also enriched the analysis in some additional ways.
I learned in particular from Stanley Hauerwas—who was admittedly in certain respects reinforcing many of the things I had learned at King’s from Colin Gunton—that I needed to incorporate explicitly the political and ethical dimensions in the reading strategy that I was criticising. Putting things at their bluntest, there was an important connection between exegesis and execution that I had not really grasped. But how could I overlook it when I had moved, partly unawares, to a state that still killed criminals, supported all the while by its surrounding, heavily churchgoing populace? Articulating these connections slowed me down and expanded the project still more, but seemed important. I also continued to press against any thought-act and being-act dichotomies in interpretation, and away from universality and “principles” toward particularities. These concerns continued to open up both the primary text and the secondary literature in some surprising ways.
So that’s basically how I ended up writing The Deliverance of God in the broader setting of my academic career. It’s been a long journey, but hopefully it will have been worth the wait.
2. In your last book, The Quest for Paul's Gospel, you championed an approach that you abbreviated PPME. What is PPME and how does it differ from the justification by faith model and salvation-history model?
PPME is just a teaching rubric I use that expands on Sanders’s formula for the heart of Paul’s soteriology for the purposes of greater precision. He—quite rightly in my opinion—viewed the centre of Paul’s gospel in terms of “participationist eschatology,” so in my abbreviation, PE. (He was drawing to a degree on W. D. Davies at this point.) But I have a couple of difficulties with leaving things at this level. I worried in particular that some of my students might be prone to misunderstanding or overlooking some key issues. So paying the price of complexity, I expanded this formula in two ways.
First, I added a P to the P already denoting participationist/participatory to indicate that this all-important process was effected by none other than the Holy Spirit. Our participation in Christ is, in other words, irreducibly and non-negotiably pneumatological. No other sort of participation makes sense, yet this form of participation leads us to the heart of Christian reality. That is, by adding this further P, I was intimating that the very structure of Paul’s soteriological thinking was Trinitarian—not admittedly in a fully developed or articulated form, but irreducibly and inherently so. And recall that consternation about just how participation works or is effected is one of the main criticisms leveled against this particular construal of Paul’s gospel. It is, after all, fundamentally a miracle that we can participate in the new creation of the age to come.
I also worried that an emphasis on participationist eschatology was too oriented toward the resurrection and Christian triumphalism—positions that Paul spent much of his time combatting. So I introduced an M before E, denoting “martyrological,” to indicate that the Christ event in which Christians participated—pneumatologically!—had two critical trajectories spanning the cross as well as the resurrection. The M denotes, in short, Paul’s theology of the cross. And in flagging this up I was also creating a space for the narrative of Jesus’s crucifixion to be told, as elaborated in Phil. 2:5-11 and related texts, that allowed in turn an appropriate emphasis at some point on the way Christ’s fidelity and submission created the space in and through which others are saved. So I was creating a door through which JF terminology could be coherently integrated with what I was already arguing in relation to the heart of Paul’s concerns in PE terms so to speak.
The price paid for these qualifications was of course a degree of complexity. Perhaps it has been a mistake in retrospect, and I should have stuck with a mere name. But the formula PPME was intended primarily to be a teaching rubric, not a scholarly contribution. And I think it has worked pretty well in those terms for me at Duke. Scholars who already know all this should of course feel free to ignore it and to use simpler, more traditional names like “participation,” remaining aware that in any discussion with me I am going to want to supplement that descriptor early on with further qualifications in terms of pneumatology, martyrology—or, perhaps better, cruciformity in Mike Gorman’s insightful word—and eschatology!
Now to address the second part of your question—an equally important set of queries.
The PPME model differs from both Justification and Salvation-historical construals of Paul’s gospel in certain absolutely crucial ways. But before detailing those, let me first note that I use rubrics for these approaches as well in Quest to avoid providing extensive subliminal reinforcement for what I view as deeply problematic translation decisions—especially in relation to “justification by faith.” So I will speak in what follows of the JF and SH models.
The key point to grasp is that these two models—JF and SH—are both variants on classical theological foundationalism, which is to say that, in Sanders’s charming phrase (more or less), they “work” or “think forward.” What he means by this is that their epistemology is established prior to the Christian state, from the ground up so to speak, by human reflection of some sort. The specifics of their reflections and resulting (theological) epistemologies are rather different, but their basic modality is therefore the same. Essentially a phase of human reasoning takes place prior to the proclamation of the gospel to “ground” that proclamation in terms of truths and criteria that have already been clearly established. And this ultimately generates all sorts of problems.
(1) In the entire history of human thought, it has consistently proved untrue. That is, the opening phase that supposedly establishes axioms and criteria that are universally agreed upon invariably fails, creating a question-begging or even deceptive set of preliminary claims.
(2) Those claims tend to turn out instead to be self-reifying (usually in tandem with a sinister othering project). That is, instead of resting on universally demonstrable or perceptible claims, the key axioms and criteria in any foundationalist project invariably turn out to privilege the person or group making those claims in terms of their social and historical location(s)—so the JF model says precious little about regimes in which white, elite, men have (for example) enslaved black, foreign men, women, and children (and so on); it turns rather a blind eye to such situations. (Note Charles Marsh’s devastating account of Douglas Hudgins in God’s Long Summer at this point.) Moreover, Christian foundationalist projects have invariably constructed their notions of soteriological success out of prior “objective” failures in Judaism, generating “necessarily and objectively true claims” about the stupidity and/or immorality of Jews—clearly not a good thing. I am of course painting with a broad brush at this point, but careful and detailed examination of foundationalist projects invariably reveals these sinister tendencies, whether to a greater or lesser extent.
(3) These stringent, if false and self-serving, prior criteria tend to function as a tremendous obstacle to the new categories and truths introduced by the gospel, overruling any attempted evangelical corrections. So, for example, if a conception of the gospel that seems deeply grounded in the nature of Christ, and in the nature of God as revealed by Christ, challenges prior criteria, it tends to get overruled or ignored, or even branded as heretical! (Some of the recent disputes over the atonement spring to mind at this point.)
(4) Of particular relevance to Pauline interpretation is a fourth major point that these models or construals that work forward must intrinsically exist in diametric tension with those construals that work backward. You cannot think forward and backward at the same time—in terms of the derivation of your key theological criteria (i.e., not psychologically)—without being in a terrible muddle. Moreover, the very nature of the axioms and criteria generated foundationally will tend to contradict the very nature of the axioms and criteria revealed through Christ retrospectively. So it does not take much time to detect that the JF and SH models tend to contradict the PPME model at every level, in relation to every major issue—epistemological, theological (i.e., the basic attributes of God), Christological, soteriological, pneumatological, anthropological, ecclesial, ethical, and so on. So we are not talking here about superficial or secondary points of tension, but major faultlines running through the middle of the most important things that Paul says. If Paul thinks both forward and backward at the same time then he is largely useless to the church for theological reconstruction (i.e., in historical terms) because he is so deeply contradictory; different answers could be generated to every major question in terms of the different systems supposedly operative in his work. And at this point I have clearly segued into my suggested solution, that I pursue down one important avenue in DOG, having sketched it out programmatically in Quest—the need to find one basic construal of the gospel, preferably retrospective, that can explain the bulk of Paul responsibly and in a way that eliminates fundamental dependence on basic prospective models.
We need to show in detail and responsibly that Paul primarily thought backward. And this means pushing back against the JF and SH models, in favour of a PPME approach. Enormously important issues are at stake in this comparatively simple set of recommendations.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 09, 2009
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Friday, March 06, 2009
To give an example, I point to one of the texts in NDIEC 9.36-37 which mentions a king being in the "image" of Zeus:
"great [Hephaestus,] king like [the Sun, great king of the up]per and lower regions, [child of the Benefactor gods,] of whom Hephaestrus appr[oved to whom the sun gave his po]wer, living image of Ze[us, son of the Sun]". Text is dated ca. 221-25 BC from Egypt. While theologians debate what it means to be in the "image of God" the designation was a royal title in ANE literature and to attribute it to humanity, as happens in Genesis 1 and 9, is perhaps to say no more than humanity is royal in God's eyes.
Also, the Society for the Study of Early Christianity is having its annual conference on "The Paradoxes of Paul" and keynote speakers include Judith Lieu and Beverly Gaventa in Sydney on 8 May 2009.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Tuesday, March 03, 2009