Skip to main content

The Deliverance of God: Romans 1:-18-3:20


It's finally time to return to the Deliverance of God now that I've finished reading through the many many chapters laying out his understanding of Romans. In this post I will give an extremely brief overview of Campbell's approach to 1:18-3:20. In my next post on this book (probably not for about two weeks), I will take up the suggestion of Michael Gorman from SBL in 2009 and contrast Campbell's work on Romans 2 with that of Craig Keener's recent commentary.

According to Campbell, 1:18-32 functions as a case of speech-in-character, meaning Paul here writes in another's voice. Rather than being the authentic voice of Paul, it's the voice of the Teacher. Here Paul has worked up a speech conversant of Wisdom of Solomon that presents part of the Teacher's opening salvo. Paul does this, so that he can pick it apart, and show its inconsistency with other portions of the Teacher's teaching.

Starting in 2:1 Paul begins the attack. In fact, 2:1 overtly signals a shift in voice. It requires 1:18-32 to have been the voice of another. Paul proceeds through chapter two, condemning the Teacher for being judgmental, and then showing his inconsistency. If the Teacher really believes in a judgment on the basis of dessert, then Jewish privilege is abolished and following the Torah becomes unnecessary. Pagans with more ethical righteousness would 'get in' ahead of Jews with less. If that's the logical outcome of the Teacher's argument in 1:18-32 then he's in trouble, because we know from Galatians that the Teacher tried to enforce law observance on Gentile converts. His grounds have been cut out from underneath him. Following the Law has no advantage. 


Paul continues to push in chapter 3. He asks the Teacher a series of rhetorical questions aimed at producing the same contradiction, and in fact he does. The Teacher has so thoroughly committed himself to a God of retributive justice that he undercuts any notion of Jewish privilege. Paul closes the argument by listing off a litany of verses reinforcing that. If God judges retributively then we're all screwed because everyone is sinful to their core.

Paul doesn't go through this just to undercut a rival teacher, but because he sees deficiencies in the Teacher's theology. First, is the lack of Christological focus. Paul emphasizes that salvation is by Jesus, contrasted with the Teacher's emphasis on works of the Law. Second, Paul has a very different view of God. God is fundamentally benevolent in Paul's theology, where as the Teacher paints God as a strict authoritarian figure.

This is a unique way of reading Romans 1-3. Very little of the content is directly fleshing out Paul's theology. It certainly is possible and has a very high degree of coherence, but is it correct? We'll look at some potentially countervailing evidence from Keener in our next post.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Exploring the Christian Way of Life - The Identity of Jesus - Church History (Pre-Reformation) - Aquinas and Conclusion

When we reach Aquinas we come to the pinnacle of orthodoxy when it comes to the Trinity and Christology. Christology was important to Aquinas and he dedicated the first fifty-nine questions of Tertia Pars of his Summa Theologiae[1] to the topic. In many ways it is refreshing because he does not treat solely the more philosophical questions of who Jesus was that preoccupied theologians from the third century on. He also spent extended time on Jesus earthly ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, and glorification which was a major innovation.[2] Of course every possible topic of Trinitarian and ontological speculation is also probed. For the sake of space we will only hit some highlights.

Aquinas is clearly in step with the tradition that can be traced from Nicea, through Augustine and the Lombard, to the heart of the Middle Ages. One thing to briefly note is that even in his densest argumentation, Aquinas was not trying to prove elements of his theology via rational argument as that…

Exploring the Christian Way of Life - The Identity of Jesus - Church History (Pre-Reformation) - Irenaeus

Starting from Irenaeus, Christology, in some respects, moves on. A big part of this would have been due to the “gnostic” controversies. It became increasingly important to clarify the relationship between Father and Son and to minimize their distinctiveness, while still maintaining Jesus’ full humanity. From this point on, clashes over heresy about the nature of Christ and discussions related to Trinitarian theology dominate Christological discussion to the point that the original emphasis on Jesus’ Messianic identity fades to the background.[1] Maintaining the affirmation that Jesus was both human and divine was critical for Irenaeus and those after him because they saw that as the necessary grounds of salvation.[2]

Of particular interest to Irenaeus was the baptism of Jesus. What happened when he received the Spirit?[3] It was not the means by which the Word entered Jesus. He was not merely human before that point.[4] Rather it was a divinization of the human nature of Jesus, a nat…

End of Summer Review/Update

The school year is now upon us and I'll definitely not be posting the next two months. This summer didn't quite go to plan so I didn't get to do the blogging I was hoping to do. Specifically I was planning on blogging through 2 Thessalonians, but that didn't happen. It may happen late in the fall, but we will see. I may instead decide to pick up a different Pauline letter (perhaps 2 Corinthians). This is my last year of school  and by the fall of next year I should be back on a more regular blogging schedule.

A lack of blogging was not from a lack of productivity (although I'm sure my Pokemon Go playing did cut into my reading time a little bit). I've had a interesting summer learning about Medieval Christianity and specifically focusing on Peter Lombard and Thomas Aqunias. They'll both be featured in my next paper in Exploring the Christian Way which I hope to publish here in late January of 2017. 90% of the reading and 80% of the writing is done for that …