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Developments in My Field of Study — Douglas Campbell Offers 3: 1970's Literature, Humanities Voices, Western Incarceration

Categories New In My Field of Study

9780310326953Last week we here at Koinonia Blog launched an exciting new series called Developments in My Field of Study. Michael Bird headlined our all-star line-up with a look at what's trending in New Testament studies, providing a glimpse into its current scholarly state.

Today we offer another prophetic voice, Douglas Campbell's, professor at Duke Divinity and contributor to Four Views on the Apostle Paul. In the video below he offers a fascinating look at 3 developments within the field of Pauline studies:

  1. Unanswered questions from 1970's major Pauline studies
  2. Insights from contemporary humanities voices
  3. Engagement with Western and ancient incarceration issues.

While some recent developments do excite him, he's not convinced the most interesting stuff has happened most recently.

In the 1970's, half a dozen major Pauline studies hit the table, from people like Sanders, Meeks, and Becker. But as Campbell insists, "I think we're still struggling to find an account of Paul that makes sense of those challenges that were issued to us 20-25 years ago."

He is, however, excited about insights "leaking across from the humanities. We are constantly under pressure from very, very sophisticated people working [in the humanities] who are basically politically correct and politically sensitive."

While he wants to listen to their challenges and believes Pauline scholars needs to hear them, he explains why they aren't coming from the same place.

Finally, the most provocative work for him has been generated by engaging with imprisonment issues, particularly with the US incarceration industrial complex.

"We forget that Paul wrote half of his material from contexts of incarceration. It's basically prison literature. He's on his way to jail, he's coming out of jail, he's in jail, he's hanging out with incarcerated people. And this has opened up an interesting line on Paul, and also imprisonment."


This is exciting stuff! I appreciate Campbell's astute, insightful overview of trends within his field of study.

Watching the video below will make you more aware of where this field of biblical studies is heading and how your teaching ministry can either correct or combine with it's direction.

-Jeremy Bouma, Th.M. (@bouma)

Do you agree with Campbell's perspective on developments in Pauline studies? What's trending in this wing of biblical theology that excites you?

(Can't see the video? Watch it here)


"Developments in My Field of Study" exposes developments and trends within various fields of biblical studies by showcasing leading evangelical voices who have a pulse on its direction. Our goal is to help students and pastors, teachers and interested Christians alike to understand where various fields are moving for the sake of gospel ministry and teaching.

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