This is a response to a question I got in my Cambell review about whether the PPME is growing in relation to JF. My answer was getting so long that I thought I’d do a post. My pauline theology is getting better but some of the finer details stand to be corrected, or probably major one’s as well, so if any of you see places to correct, please do. So off we go…
The PPME is just Cambell’s terminology, but in general it is gaining more momentum. Here’s kinda the modern history… JF was one, well really the main focus of the reformation, as you know. Along with combatting other things Albert Schweitzer’s Mysticism of the Apostle Paul argued for what could be termed a ‘participationist eschatology’ in Paul (or PE). At the time of writing it didn’t make the make big inroads into scholarly opinion–as Barth, Bultmann, and Käsemann all stayed with the JF model (though eschatology became to be much more integrated).
So come along E.P. Sanders. He proposes that 1st century Judaism wasn’t really about legalism; it was also a religion of grace. Well, that causes a little problem for the JF model in the grace/law model that we have inherited from Luther. Sanders, as chose Schweitzer’s PE model as what he thinks Paul is talking about. So, along with others, Sanders helped form the basis of the ‘New Perspective on Paul’ movement (NPP). Don’t you love all the acronyms.
The NPP movement has waned some as time passed, but it has definitely reshaped current views towards Paul’s Jew/Gentile discussions–Paul is dealing much more with promoting a gospel that unites these two groups (more of a corporate focus than the individual focus as thought before). Anyhow, N.T. Wright is a main writer in this area. Although, he may be more in the SH camp. (Somebody, help me out here that is more up on Wright.)
Campell, then, is following in this stream. Although, I’m not sure he would term himself as NPP. His goal then was to refine what Schweitzer and Sanders had promoted by adding Pneumatalogical & Martyrological to the Participationist Eschatology model, thus the PPME. I like the direction he’s going, but just didn’t think he did much to really get us there.
In fact, much of my work is to help better define Paul’s theology in this area. It’s regularly commented that there is no definitive English-language work that captures Paul’s theology in this area. Not that my thesis plans to be that, but hopefully it will move the discussion closer. Hopefully, the discussion of theosis (or union with God) will help us understand what union with Christ (read: participation in Christ) in Paul means.