DOG: Some Hermeneutical Clarifications

Other parts to this series can be found on my Deliverance of God page.

This post concerns Part Two of five in The Deliverance of God. Part Two is much shorter than Part One and Part Three. It’s entitled “Some Hermeneutical Clarifications.” As one would imagine, this part functions as groundwork for his exegetical discussions in Parts Three to Five. The first chapter in this part deals with the “nature of reading.” He moves from the exegetical level (individual verses or sets of verses) up through argumentative (passages), framing (sets of arguments), and theoretical (essentially systematic theology). He argues that readings need to satisfy on all of these levels.

In this chapter he lays out a methodology for examining Romans and Justification theory. Basically, he envisages a sequence of “overdeterminations” and “underdeterminations.” A textual overdetermination is something in the text which is not accounted for in the theory. A textual underdetermination is the opposite: something in the theory which is not accounted for properly in the text. These complement “theoretical under/overdeterminations,” so a textual overdetermination is a theoretical underdetermination, and vice versa. It’s a simple yet elegant methodology. Graphically, it works something like this:

Textual Overdetermination <——-> Theoretical Underdetermination
Textual Underdetermination <——-> Theoretical Overdetermination

What exactly these work out to will be seen in Part Three. The remainder of Part Two deals with two issues: the Church-historical setting of JT, and the “Modern European Pedigree” of JT. His goal here is to “clear the air” before the exegetical work commences. The “Church-Historical Pedigree” is the subject of the next chapter. Here he deals with Luther and Calvin in relation to JT. He places them both in positive and negative relation to JT, meaning that he notes both points in their writings where they promulgate JT, and where they promulgate something different. He then examines Augustine, claiming that he abandons key points of JT later in his life (namely because of the Pelagian controversy). Campbell concludes that Luther, Calvin, and Augustine can be deployed on both sides of the JT debate, though he does note their importance in furthering JT.

The final chapter of Part Two deals with the “Modern European Pedigree.” The chief base of this pedigree is that JT concords with certain principles of “philosophical individualism.” He then traces Justification through as a paradigm which is foundational both for conservatives and liberals. He notes Billy Graham and Bill Bright’s “Four Spiritual Laws” on one hand, and figures culminating in Bultmann on the other. He concludes by noting that JT corresponds suspiciously to the “modern, liberal individual” (liberal in the sense of post-Enlightnment). The purpose is to highlight certain interpretative tendencies that stem from these inherited traditions. Still, it does seem odd for a book primarily about Pauline theology. Campbell leaves no stone uncovered: he tracks JT down through the ages and shows its interaction with any number of things: governments, individuals, or philosophies. This result is that JT gets wound up being implicated in all sorts of bad things: Constantianism, the liberal-nation state, capitalism, etc. I’m yet to be convinced of all of this: I’m wondering if these are “overdeterminations” on Campbell’s part (to use his own parlance).

Regardless, Part Two is concluded. We may finally proceed to the exegesis in Part Three.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s