Here’s a brief review of Douglas Campbell’s – The Quest for Paul’s Gospel

Thesis: The JF (Justification by Faith) model of salvation should be rejected in light of the PPME model (Pneumatologically Participatory Martyrological Eschatology), which includes the SH (Salvation Historical). In Romans the different models usually focus on different chapters in the book — JF: 1-4, PPME: 5-8, SH: 9-11.

He argues for this thesis from a high-level (“strategic”) point of view, which is more from a theological and philosophical aspect and then tests it on certain passages.

    Strengths:

  • Clear thesis
  • Did a nice job of laying out the big picture with the 3 main options for the models.
  • Has highlighted a (if not the) central theme in Paul, which is not a currently popular task, but I think it’s good to analyse these things.
  • Details theological and philosophical consequences of the models, particularly of the JF model
  • I really liked Ch 4: the Narrative dimension of Paul’s Gospel, particularly since it is one of the first times I’ve come across narrative readings (which shows that I’m still really a neophyte in Pauline studies)
  • He highlights often the lack of continuity between Judaism (the Law) and God’s work through Christ in the JF model. This seemed to be a weakness in S. Westerholm’s book (Perspectives Old and New on Paul), and, according to Douglas, of all consistent JF people.
    Weaknesses:

  • Relies too much on unsupported assertions, many that will be explained in forthcoming works. For instance that Rom 5-8 is the center of Paul’s argument in that letter. Proving this would seem provide some of the weightiest proof for his argument, but he just asserts it.
  • As with most books that are a collection of previous essays, his argument in the book is not that linear. He picks up and drops off on his goal as he throws in different articles. As a result, he repeats topics and discussions as he returns to them in other essays.
  • I was hoping for a more sustained construction of the PPME model. It seems that he spends a bit of time tearing down the JF and to a limited extent the SH models, but has not spent as much time building up the PPME model.
  • After his pistis christou discussion, where he argues for an almost universal understanding of faithfulness for pistis, I was left unclear about how then one transferred into the PPME experience. He notes the work of the Spirit, which most all agree upon, but I wasn’t clear how it works since the idea of faith isn’t the historical one.
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