Douglas Campbell, professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School, has a new book that reexamines the writings of Paul. Paul proclaims in 90 percent of what he wrote that we have been set free, resurrected, and transformed through Christ at the behest of a loving God. This gospel proclamation can be found wherever he speaks of being "in Christ." But this gospel and its account of salvation has been captured by "another gospel," which also lays claim to being Paul's account of salvation. And this gospel is retributive, conditional, and ultimately damaging. "Justification Theory," as we call this false account, lays claim to just under 10 percent of what Paul wrote.
The presence of both these gospels within Paul's interpretation causes numerous acute problems. He is, to name just a few, fundamentally confused, frequently harsh, and unavoidably anti-Jewish. If we reread Paul's justification texts, however, paying more attention to the original historical circumstances within which they were composed, then they turn out to say something subtly but significantly different. Paul's justification texts can be interpreted carefully, faithfully, and consistently, in terms of his usual gospel--our transformation in Christ. Thus Justification Theory is never activated. Paul's true gospel is thereby liberated from its long captivity to a false alternative. We can now see a kinder, gentler, and more consistent, apostle.
Professor Campbell's main research interest is the life and theology of the apostle Paul, with particular reference to an understanding of salvation informed by apocalyptic as against justification or salvation-history. However, he is interested in methodological contributions to Paul's analysis from any disciplinary angle, ancient or modern, whether Greco-Roman epistolary and rhetorical theory, or insights into human networking and conflict-resolution discovered by sociologists.