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Framing Paul

Doug Campbell's new book on Paul is fascinating. For those who haven't come across him before, he's a brilliant, strikingly original scholar who is known for his rereading of Judaism, and for overturning traditional ways of thinking about the law, justification, Christ, eschatology, and who knows what else, in a way that delights some and infuriates many. And so is Doug Campbell.

Anyway, here’s a two minute trailer for Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography. Among the many challenges Campbell brings to mainstream scholarship, some that stand out include the argument that Ephesians, Colossians and 2 Thessalonians are authentically Pauline, that the Thessalonian letters were written in the early 40s, that 2 Corinthians is a unified letter rather than a pastiche of different epistolary frames, and that 1 Corinthians is the “tearful letter” that Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 2 and 7. Typically for Campbell, it’s fascinating and controversial stuff.

You can read a substantial excerpt of the book here, using the Google preview icon. Scot McKnight has helpfully summarised Campbell’s proposed chronology as follows:

Prior to 34 ce:
Previous life as a Pharisee
Persecution of the early church in Jerusalem

Apostolic commission near Damascus

Early 34-mid-36:
Activity in the region of Damascus
Activity in “Arabia”
Return to Damascus

Late 36:
Escape from Damascus, from a governor appointed by King Aretas IV
Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem, 2.x years after commission
Activity in Syria and Cilicia presumably begins

Probable activity in Syria and Cilicia, including in Antioch

(Late 39/early 40):
Announcement of Gaian plan to desecrate the Jerusalem temple

Ca. 40-42:
Mission to Macedonia:
Founding visit to Philippi
Founding visit to Thessalonica
Mission to Achaia:
Founding visit to Athens
Timothy’s visit from Athens to Thessalonica and back
1 Thessalonians
Arrival of further news from Thessalonica
2 Thessalonians
Founding visit to Corinth

Ca. 43-49:
Years of shadow: extensive travel
Mission to Illyricum
Mission to Galatia (the most plausible location currently)
Possible missions to Moesia, Thrace, Bithynia, Pontus, and Cappadocia
Sufferings from travel (shipwrecks) and disciplinary measures (whippings and beatings with rods)
Paul’s second visit to Corinth (during or adjacent to this period)

Late 49/early 50:
Antioch incident (Gal 2:11-14)
Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem, 13.x years after first visit; collection inaugurated

Return to the Aegean by way of Antioch and Galatia
Mission to Asia:
Imprisonment en route, possibly in Apamea
Founding of congregation at Colossae by proxy
Laodiceans (“Ephesians”) / Colossians / Philemon
Release from prison; visits to Lycus valley communities
Founding visit to Ephesus

Late 50:
[Previous Letter to Corinth]
Apollos’s first visit to Corinth

Winter 50-51:
[Corinthian reply]
Informal oral reports from Corinth

Spring 51:
1 Corinthians, later defined as Letter of Tears (2 Cor 2:4), probably dispatched with Timothy
Apollos’s second visit to Corinth
Super-apostles’ visit to Corinth (if they are different from the foregoing)
Titus’s first visit to Corinth, with instructions to rendezvous with Paul in Macedonia or northern Asia
Asian crisis, probably in Ephesus (2 Cor 1:8-10)
Paul’s departure from Ephesus for Troas and then Macedonia

Ca. summer 51:
Rendezvous with Titus in Macedonia
2 Corinthians
Titus’s second visit to Corinth, bearing 2 Corinthians
Paul’s third visit to Corinth

Fall 51-winter 51-52:
Enemies’ arrival in Corinth (see Phil 3:18)
[Previous Letter to Philippi] (Phil 3:2-4:3)
Paul’s imprisonment and capital trial
Epaphroditus’s visit from Philippi and ensuing illness
Philippians, dispatched with Epaphroditus
Timothy’s visit to Philippi
Paul’s release from prison

Spring 52:
Paul’s departure with the collection for his third visit to Jerusalem, via Macedonia, and presumably also Asia — ultimately bound for Rome

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