Constantine R. Campbell. Paul and the Hope of Glory: An Exegetical and Theological Study. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, 2020. 517 pages. $34.99 (paperback).
Paul and the Hope of Glory is an exegetical and theological study of Pauline eschatology. When you think of eschatology, you might start with questions about the millennium. Was Paul pre-, post-, or amillennial? This book does not answer this question, because Paul himself does not talk about the millennium. Nevertheless, Campbell argues that eschatology, while not central, was pervasive in Paul’s writings. If Paul’s writings were a bicycle wheel, Campbell argues that union with Christ would be the spokes, and eschatology would be the frame. Fittingly, Paul and the Hope of Glory follows Paul and Union with Christ as the second installment in Campbell’s series.
The book is divided into three parts. It starts with a treatment on methodology and a history of interpretation. Though it is a relatively brief treatment, Campbell proves to be a trustworthy guide for scaling the rocky terrain of literature on Pauline eschatology. He ably surveys key thinkers from Albert Schweitzer to Rudolf Bultmann, E. P. Sanders to N. T. Wright. Part 2 is an exegetical treatment of the lexical and conceptual data on the eschaton such as “age,” “realm,” “parousia,” and—most importantly—“hope” and “glory.” Campbell readily admits that this section lacks the context that one would find in a commentary on one of Paul’s letters. Instead, his goal is to put these exegetical themes next to each other in order to see the beautiful mosaic that is Pauline eschatology. The third part is a theological study of Campbell’s exegetical findings. This section is the true genius of the book. Campbell takes over 300 pages of research (parts 1 and 2) and brings it together to present a Pauline eschatology that contains fresh insights on every page.
Campbell is an eclectic scholar who cannot easily be placed in one theological camp. His focus on Paul’s “two realms” theology leads him to deny both the imputation of sin and righteousness in the believer, although he argues that his position does not deny original sin or justification. Interacting with Rom 5:12–21, he possibly forces a false dichotomy. He does not think that Paul is using a forensic structure (i.e. imputation) but rather a “realm structure that contrasts the domain of sin and death with the domain of grace and righteousness” (67). In addition, Campbell perhaps makes too much of Paul’s silence on hell. While Campbell does not think that Paul was a universalist, he unfortunately leaves the door open for annihilationism, saying that “his writings do not strongly counter that perspective” (399). More positively, Campbell’s attention to the non-temporal sense of Greek verbs in Rom 8:28–30 is especially illuminating (259–62).
Few people read 500-page books. If you’re intimidated by the length, Part 3 is worth the price of the book, and the exegetical work can serve as a reference guide. Though you won’t agree with every conclusion in the book, Campbell has provided a unique treatment of Pauline eschatology that will surely shape the scholarly conversation for years to come.
Mark Baker (Ph.D., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as Professor and Assistant Director of the Scarborough College Darrington Campus in Houston, TX.