The Deliverance of God

Last February I did a 12-part review of Douglas Campbell's book The Deliverance of God. As I said at the time, I was interested in the book because many consider it to be a "game changer" in Pauline studies. For me, I was particularly interested in Campbell's devastating critique of "Justification Theory," the theoretical apparatus most Protestants use to understand Paul's soteriology.

In the end, I only reviewed Parts 1-4 of The Deliverance of God (there is a Part 5) but this does allow you to see the core of the argument, Campbell's critique of Justification Theory and his alternative reading of Romans 1-4. This post exists to pull my review posts together so I can link to the whole series on my sidebar.

My posts/parts are grouped under the four Parts (and their respective headings) from The Deliverance of God:

Part One: Justification Theory and Its Implications
Part 1: Justification Theory
Part 2: The Intrinsic Problems of Justification Theory
Part 3: The Systematic Problems of Justification Theory
Part 4: The Empirical Problems of Justification Theory

Part Two: Some Hermeneutical Clarifications
Part 5: Justification Theory in the Reformation
Part 6: The Unholy Alliance of Justification Theory and Modernity

Part Three: The Conventional Reading and Its Problems
Part 7: Attacking the Citadel of Justification Theory (Romans 1-4)
Part 8: The False Gospel in Romans 1-4
Part 9: The False Gospel, Continued (a note from Douglas Campbell)

Part Four: A Rhetorical and Apocalyptic Rereading
Part 10: The Deliverance of God
Part 11: Father Abraham
Part 12: The Rhetorical Reading of Romans 1-4

There are many other reviews online of The Deliverance of God. I think mine, though from non-specialist, holds up pretty well.

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7 thoughts on “The Deliverance of God”

  1. Hello, Richard
    I've been enjoying your posts for the past few months, and I am excited to see that you will soon be reading James Alison. I have long been a fan of Alison's work extending the insights of Rene Girard into theology, and I've wondered why they aren't more widely appreciated; if anything has been a game-changer in the world of theology, I think The Joy of Being Wrong is it...but it hasn't expanded beyond a sort of cult following, it seems. So, I look forward to seeing some posts about his work! Here is a link to an article of Alison's on the Atonement:


  2. I just finished reading all of these.  Great stuff.  Thanks for doing it.  I'm behind the curve, but very much helped by Doug Campbell and by your review of his work.  Thanks. --Jamey

  3. The simplest explanation of the problem is that Paul is just an
    inconsistent and incoherent writer and wasn't really an apostle of Jesus
    Christ at all -- that we've been sold a bill of good by tradition, and
    should jettison Paul and look for our soteriology in Matthew instead. I mean, seriously, trying to divorce "Justification Theory" from Paul?   You'll note Jesus doesn't say one word about 'justification' in the Synoptics; but its almost all Paul talks about.  Paul IS Justification Theory.  The only way to get rid of it is to get rid of Paul; no re-reading of Paul can get rid of Justification Theory, not is the alternative reading proposed by Douglas any better than Justification Theory.  The problem is one of CANON.  The epistles never should have been canonized; it was a huge mistake on the part of the Catholic Church, and an even bigger mistake on the part of the Protestant Reformation to continue to accept them, and an even huger mistake to make them more important than the gospels!

  4. I want to congratulate you on a very helpful summary of Campbell's *Deliverance of God*. This is not an easy book to read, especially for non-specialists.

  5. Thanks for laying this put for those of us who are non-specialists. Now that I have read your posts, I see Doug's argument. Whereas once I was blind, now I see. Thank you very much, , and God bless you. I feel better now. I'm going to read The Deliverance of God a second time.

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