Many readers are already familiar with previous volumes in Zondervan’s Counterpoints series. The idea is to invite several respected scholars who hold different positions on a challenging topic to present their views and interact with each other’s essays. The latest entry in this series is Four Views on the Apostle Paul, edited by Michael F. Bird.
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.
In the latest issue of Themelios, which is now available, you can find my review of Douglas A. Sweeney, Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word: A Model of Faith and Thought. Here’s my summary evaluation:
In sum, this is a book that will benefit every Christian. But pastors, missionaries, theological students, and everyone else in vocational ministry especially should read this book. In fact, if you can only read one book on Jonathan Edwards, make it this one. You will not be disappointed.