Today I have finally acquired a copy of Douglas Campbell's The Deliverance of God. I have resisted until now because of the sheer size and the vast price, so when I found a pristine copy going for a comparative song at a second hand book shop this morning, I thought 'oh, go on, then...'
I am due to teach a course on Romans from the beginning of February and since Campbell's book is seeking to make an argument about Romans, I thought it would be good to have it to refer to. I have read some bits and pieces of it before (in library copies) and remain to be convinced that his central suggestion that not all of Romans 1-4 represents the thinking of Paul but rather that of a rival teacher he is seeking to correct holds any water.
It's an intimidating read - there are 300 pages of thicket clearing before he actually gets to Romans! The introduction does contain one insight that has set me thinking, however - and augurs well for the journey ahead. He argues that 'at the heart of the conventional "Lutheran" approach to these texts...are powerful commitments to individualism, to rationalism, and to consent.' He goes on to suggest that Luther's reading of Romans (and Galatians) were heavily influenced by the prevailing renaissance culture with its strong attachment to humanism and individualism.
It is of course not new to suggest that protestant and evangelical formulations of the faith are deeply indebted to modern and even enlightenment thinking. But it is new (at least, it is to me) to have a scholar arguing that the very reading of the core texts of protestant Christianity owe more to the renaissance than they do to the apostle Paul.
I am interested to see what Campbell makes of this because one of my current study interests is the whole area of the relationship between literacy and spirituality - both in the NT world (where literacy rates were very low) and in our context (where literacy rates are high but people read less and less - especially in the areas of theology and Christian spirituality).I am wondering if we need to develop a hermeneutics of the faith that is based on oral culture rather than reading, much as the one Paul operated in; wondering if evangelical renewal will come via hearing rather than reading.
And I wondering if a 1200+ page book is going to help me!
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Reading to give ideas a fresh hearing
Labels: New Testament, reading, theology
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Simon this is good news, more baptists need to get a grasp of Campbell's reading of Paul ... I think it leaves the likes of Dunn and Wright in the dust ...
if you want the .pdfs of Campbell's response to barry matlock and grant macskill from JSNT and his response from SBL '09 from SJT let me know ...
I'd love to know how you get on ...
About the hearing ... isn't that what we do every Sunday when we listen to sermons, so central to protestant collective worship? I propose silence instead. Renewal through discovering desert wisdom and contemplative prayer. Nothing quite like Lectio Divina on Romans!
Thanks for this Simon, very helpful. Your point about reading reminded me of the story of Plato, and the concerns he raised when oral culture was giving way to writing – that once you’ve written ideas down on paper and record them, you don’t have to worry about keeping them alive through constant telling and action. It’s interesting to contrast our practices of discipleship in the West (focussed on manuals and concepts, but often still struggling to be genuinely whole-life) with my one experience of visiting the church in India, which has hardly any access to literature but is growing rapidly with a heavy emphasis on accountability and mentoring relationships.
Brilliant point Trevor, thank you; and thank you too for the Plato story.
Andy, would love the SJT material (not a journal I have access to).
Tackling part 1, chapter 1 this afternoon
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