Category Archives: Dissertation

Review of She Must & Shall Go Free – Ciampa (JETS 55 [2012]: 199-202)

Part of life in the academy is having your work reviewed by other scholars. Since I have mentioned other reviews (see here) of my dissertation She Must and Shall Go Free: Paul’s Isaianic Gospel in Galatians, I wanted to draw attention to a recent review by Roy Ciampa, who is a NT professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a widely respected scholar in the field of the use of the OT in the NT. He also has written an excellent monograph on the use of Scripture in Galatians 1-2. The review was published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (pp. 199-202). Unfortunately it is only available online to members of the Evangelical Theological Society, so I will have to summarize its contents (I’ll skip the part where he simply summarizes the contents).

Ciampa begins with the positives. He commends my work in the relevant secondary literature and the effort to “turn over every rock and look behind every tree in order to bring to our attention both potential instances of Isaianic influence and possible ties between such instances within Galatians” (199-200).  While noting that other scholars have noticed some of these instances, he notes that a number are new and provide insights that others have missed. He especially appreciated my treatment of Galatians 4:21-5:1 and the role of Isa 54:1 in that section, even though he disagrees with the extent of the influence I propose. And he agrees with my conclusion that this section is not a digression but rather the climax of Paul’s exegetical argument.

The problem for Ciampa arises when he comes to my central thesis that Paul’s argument in Galatians as whole has been shaped by Isaiah 40-66. He writes: “While I am impressed with the boldness of the thesis and the work carried out to defend it, I find myself largely unconvinced, but still grateful for insights gleaned along the way” (200).  He claims that I do not pay enough attention to other sources of influence for Paul’s thought in Galatians (though he notes that such attention would require a much longer and more complicated study!). While acknowledging that Isaiah was an important influence, Ciampa contends that Paul draws his gospel “from a much wider swath of material” (200). He then provides examples of where other such sources do not appear to have been read through Isaianic lenses.

I am grateful that Ciampa devoted careful attention to my monograph. In many respects this is the highest compliment that a scholar can receive–to have his work taken seriously.  He has been more than fair in his assessment of my work. While nothing he has said has changed my mind, his review has certainly given me food for thought as I revisit Galatians down the road in a future commentary.

On a personal note, Ciampa has gone out of his way to be kind, encouraging, and gracious in our various personal interactions. He has been an excellent model to me of how to engage in gracious critical interaction with those whom he disagrees.

Review of She Must and Shall Go Free

It is both a strange and humbling experience to have something you have written reviewed by someone you have never met. Yesterday, a review of my published dissertation She Must and Shall Go Free: Paul’s Isaianic Gospel in Galatians was published in Themelios 37.1. You can read the review here.

The reviewer, John Anthony Dunne, was kind enough to send me an advance copy to ensure that he represented my views fairly. He was more than fair; in fact, he is exceptionally gracious when he writes:

Overall, Harmon’s book is an exciting and informative read. His explanations are insightful, and he includes many helpful charts comparing the MT and LXX of Isaiah with Pauline texts. Although a few of Harmon’s suggestions are not fully convincing to me, he succeeds in demonstrating how impactful Isaiah was for Paul as he wrote his letter to the Galatians. She Must and Shall Go Free is a must-read for those serious about Galatians and Paul’s use of the OT.

To God be the glory for Dunne’s kind words and any usefulness my work might have for understanding God’s Word better!

Now Available – She Must and Shall Go Free: Paul’s Isaianic Gospel in Galatians

Looking for the cure to insomnia? Or perhaps have an extra $140 burning a hole in your pocket that you are just desperate to spend? Then I have good news for you. My dissertation has now been published and is available for purchase. Here is a brief description:

Scholars have long recognized the importance of Paul´s citations from the Pentateuch for understanding the argument of Galatians. But what has not been fully appreciated is the key role that Isaiah plays in shaping what Paul says and how he says it, even though he cites Isaiah explicitly only once (Isaiah 54:1 in Galatians 4:27). Using an intertextual approach to trace more subtle appropriations of Scripture (i.e., allusions, echoes and thematic parallels), Harmon argues that Isaiah 49-54 in particular has shaped the structure of Paul´s argument and the content of his theological reflection in Galatians. Each example of Isaianic influence is situated within its original context as well as its new context in Galatians. Attention is also paid to how those same Isaianic texts were interpreted in Second Temple Judaism, providing the larger interpretive context within which Paul read Scripture. The result is fresh light shed on Paul´s self-understanding as an apostle to the Gentiles, the content of his gospel message, his reading of the Abraham story and the larger structure of Galatians.