Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography

Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography

Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography

Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography


All historical work on Paul presupposes a story concerning the composition of his letters -- which ones he actually wrote, how many pieces they might originally have consisted of, when he wrote them, where from, and why. But the answers given to these questions are often derived in dubious ways.

In Framing Paul Douglas Campbell reappraises all these issues in rigorous fashion, appealing only to Paul's own epistolary data in order to derive a basic "frame" for the letters on which all subsequent interpretation can be built. Though figuring out the authorship and order of Paul's letters has been thought to be impossible, Campbell's Framing Paul presents a cogent solution to the puzzle.


The origins of this project lie — as is often the case — with some of my teachers in graduate school. Richard Longenecker was writing his excellent commentary on Galatians (1990) when I was in the program at the University of Toronto in the late ’80s, and his students were intimately familiar with his extensive defense of the “South Galatian” hypothesis. (The book-length introduction was circulating in manuscript.) But, rather unusually, this defense was crafted in conversation with the views of his colleague in the Toronto School of Theology, and one of our other teachers, John Hurd, from whom Longenecker always encouraged his students to learn. Thus, we were all familiar with John Knox’s arguments, along with Hurd’s (1983 [1965]) superb development of his views in specific relation to 1 Corinthians. Peter Richardson also was interested in biographical issues and brought a fertile mind to any such discussions. So biographical issues were vigorously in play at Toronto in relation to the study of Paul. Then I had a stroke of luck.

The external examiner for my doctoral thesis on Romans 3:21-26, Robert Jewett, recruited because of his expertise in Romans (as seen eventually in his magisterial 2007 commentary), was also, fortuitously, a biographical and chronological expert (1979). and of all these senior figures, it was Jewett who subsequently mentored me through my first post, in the Department of Religion at the University of Otago, facilitating numerous conversations at sbl to the benefit and great appreciation of an unimportant lecturer from Dunedin, New Zealand. By this time, a number of things had become apparent to me.

It was clear that most Pauline scholars were continuing to work with either an Acts-based chronology that had serious problems or with a muddled approach that switched between Acts- based and epistolary systems essentially opportunistically and hence unjustifiably. Moreover, the field still lacked a con-

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