- The 'justification by faith' one
- The 'salvation history' model and
- The pneumatological participatory martyrological eschatology model (which in important ways is similar to what others call an 'apocalyptic' model) – Campbell makes a case that this is the best one to adopt.
The problem is that this procedure is blatantly manipulative. By placing the first two positions in quotes, it says to the reader: this is a static, closed, stock option which has already been defined and is thus open to no new interpretations. Similarly, by adding no qualifiers, in contrast to the highly qualified third option, it appears as if there is nothing more to be said about the first two options—as if they are each limited to “justification” and “salvation history,” respectively. The consequence is that the third model appears like a breath of fresh air: it is complex, interesting, new, and exciting all at once. We are psychologically predisposed to accept Campbell’s third option because of the freshness that it brings, when in fact we should be investigating the relative merits of each position with a fair and charitable disposition. But this kind of presentation is anything but charitable. It is thoroughly and unabashedly biased.
Second, it is by no means self-evident that the third option—“the pneumatological participatory martyrological eschatology model”—is really the same as the apocalyptic model which is so much in vogue today, thanks to the work of J. Louis Martyn, Beverly Gaventa, and Douglas Harink, among others. The description of the third option could also, it seems to me, be applied to Schweitzer’s mystical understanding of Paul. Moreover, it could also apply, in a way, to the work of E. P. Sanders and the New Perspective on Paul, though this group is partially represented under the “salvation history” model. In any case, these are three distinct groups (despite the historical connections to each other), and the incredibly broad and encompassing third option provided by Campbell is all the more compelling (and problematic) precisely because it blurs the distinctions between these various groups.
Because of its plethora of sexy adjectives, Campbell’s third option entices us by seeming to engulf all the right ideas within its overly generalized academic maw. The third model looms like a scholarly monstrosity, bullying and intimidating all other models so that it alone remains. And yet, like any bully or monster, when the dust settles, it’s unclear exactly who or what it actually is. The monster has no face. Similarly, the third model has no clear position; it is too general to stake a particular claim. It’s not identifiable with any of the three other options listed above (apocalyptic, mystical, New Perspective), because it is intentionally meant to encompass them all within its pacifying gaze. In other words, Campbell, I assume, intends to get beyond the contemporary debates over the New Perspective by offering a position which is so broad that all of the competing groups are included within it. But this does no one any good. Not only does it avoid addressing the actual differences between these groups (including the differences among those who identify in some sense with the New Perspective, which is itself a kind of academic monstrosity), but it also avoids examining whether the first two models might have anything constructive to offer to this conversation. Campbell’s third option presupposes that “justification” and “salvation history” have nothing new to say to us, and that’s a shame.
Third, in light of what I said above, what seems clearest to me is that Campbell’s list is seriously impoverished. At the very least, we could expand the list in the following way:
- Justifying address-divine righteousness model
- Covenantal-salvation historical model
- Cosmic-apocalyptic model
- Mystical model
- Judaic-eschatological model
- Pneumatological-participatory model
- Christological-typological model
Having outlined what I think is a more helpful typology, let me ask Chris’s question over again, along with some questions of my own:
- What is your preferred model for understanding Paul?
- Do you find my alternative list helpful in any way? If so, how?
- How might you augment or pare down or change my list?
- Do you have other examples of academic manipulation?