Paul and Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study
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Paul and Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study

Zondervan / 2012 / Paperback

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Stock No: WW329050

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A thorough and complete exegetical and theological examination of the one of today's most pressing questions: What does it mean to be in "union with Christ"?

Paul and Union with Christ is a theological interdisciplinary work that encompasses hermeneutics, historical theology, exegesis, and constructive/systematic theology. Part 1 provides a methodological review that sets the stage for the work Campbell will do.

Part 2 recapitulates the views of leading biblical scholars and/or theologians on 'union with Christ' starting in the late 19th Century with the work of Adolf Deissman (1892) and covering the major treatments of the issue up to Michael Gorman (2009). From this historical-theological analysis, Campbell frames the conceptual issues in play and prepares the reader for engagement with the biblical text.

The exegetical section, part 3, of Paul and Union with Christ is the heart of the book and contains 5 chapters. Here Campbell examines lexical data and literary structure as well as Paul's use of metaphor in reference to 'union with Christ'. Many of these chapters are highly technical and restricted to only discussion and examination of Greek phrases, but they also provide the necessary in-depth analytical study to adequately elucidate Paul's understanding of 'union'.

The final section of the book articulates a constructive theology of 'union with Christ'. This topic is examined in its relationship to the work of Christ--with which Campbell believes 'union' to be inextricably linked--as well as the trinity, the Christian life, justification, and a host of other topics.

Readers of Paul and Union with Christ will need to have at least one strong year of Greek, and preferably two. That is not to say that non-Greek readers cannot benefit, but the degree of benefit absent knowledge of Greek will be minimal.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 480
Vendor: Zondervan
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 0310329051
ISBN-13: 9780310329053

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Publisher's Description

Paul and Union with Christ fills the gap for biblical scholars, theologians, and pastors pondering and debating the meaning of union with Christ.

Following a selective survey of the scholarly work on union with Christ through the twentieth century to the present day, Greek scholar Constantine Campbell carefully examines every occurrence of the phrases ‘in Christ’, ‘with Christ’, ‘through Christ’, ‘into Christ,’ and other related expressions, exegeting each passage in context and taking into account the unique lexical contribution of each Greek preposition. Campbell then builds a holistic portrayal of Paul’s thinking and engages contemporary theological discussions about union with Christ by employing his evidence-based understanding of the theme.

This volume combines high-level scholarship and a concern for practical application of a topic currently debated in the academy and the church. More than a monograph, this book is a helpful reference tool for students, scholars, and pastors to consult its treatment of any particular instance of any phrase or metaphor that relates to union with Christ in the Pauline corpus.

Author Bio

Constantine R. Campbell is Associate Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of several books, including Paul and Union with Christ; Verbal Aspect, the Indicative Mood, and Narrative; and Outreach and the Artist. Dr. Campbell is a preacher, musician, and author, and lives in Chicago.


A valuable reference work for all students of New Testament theology.
-I. Howard Marshall

Here there is no reductionism, but sure-footed guidance through the biblical evidence and sensible, even-handed conclusions. Highly recommended.
-D.A. Carson

Campbell succeeds in showing that a close reading of these prepositional phrases can shed light on Paul's deepest theological convictions.
-Francis Watson

A crucial resource for exegetical reflection and precision on such an important topic.
-Michael S. Horton

Campbell's tour de force will be the authoritative book on the subject for decades to come.
-Michael F. Bird

Carefully examines all the expressions related to 'in Christ', sensibly explains their meaning within each context, and insightfully integrates the results into Paul's overarching teaching and practice. This book is an invaluable tool.
-Peter T. O'Brien

Constantine Campbell demonstrates the theme's important role in theology. his book is a helpful reminder of how essential this idea is for our understanding of Paul.
-Morna D. Hooker

Impressive for its comprehensive scope, its careful attention to exegetical deatil yet with the overall theological picture also in view...this book is bound to benefit anyone interested in this important topic.
-Richard B. Gaffin Jr.

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  1. bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    an academic study of union with Christ
    December 5, 2012
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Paul's theme of union with Christ is prevalent in his writings but nowhere does he actually define it. This book covers two topics - what union with Christ really is and what role it performs in Paul's theology. Campbell's approach is exegetical and theological.

    The book is in three parts: introduction and survey of developments to the present, exegesis of the relevant texts, an attempt to integrate the results of the exegetical studies into the broad sphere of Paul's thought.

    Campbell's task is not easy. He notes, "...a majority of scholars have recognized that Paul's 'in Christ' language serves more than one purpose and enjoys a wide range of use." (60)

    In the exegetical section, Campbell looks at all 73 appearance of "in Christ." He then investigates all the variations of "in Christ," "with Christ," and "through Christ." He also explores the metaphors Paul uses to express his thoughts, such as "body of Christ," marriage, a building, and new clothing.

    In the theological study, Campbell shows that every work of salvation is related to union with Christ. "The ways in which the various elements of Christ's work relate to union with Christ differ according to the nature of the work and the language employed." (332) In some cases Christ performs the will of God toward the people. In others a participation with Christ in various elements of his work is indicated. "As Christ performs his works, he represents believers while in some spiritual sense they partake in the events that he undergoes." (332) The use of metaphors indicate a "static" union where believers are in a state of benefiting from work Christ has done. Campbell spends some time on "dying" and "rising" with Christ, reviewing other authors.

    In his review of the first two parts of the book, he reminds us, "It is apparently necessary, therefore, to acknowledge that union with Christ does not merely address believers' union with him; it also addresses Christ's union with his Father and with the Spirit." (356) He investigates all the issues within the topic of the Trinity in connection with union with Christ, including theosis.

    He investigates what union with Christ means with respect to Christian living. The activities of Christians are conditioned by their union with Christ. "...[T]he very terminology Paul uses to call someone a Christian is taken directly from the vocabulary of union with Christ since the reality of their connection to Christ is of such significance that it summarizes their entire Christian existence." (374)

    He then turns to union with Christ, justification and imputed righteousness.

    He reviews his definition of "union with Christ" showing it is a result of the exegetical and theological studies. He uses union, participation, identification, and incorporation to give justice to the widespread variety and nuance of Paul's language theology, and ethical thought. (420)

    He ends with a chapter on the implications of the study and suggestions for further thought. He proposes and uses a web-shaped model for Paul's thought, "union with Christ" being the "webbing" holding it all together.

    Campbell hopes that the conclusions of this study "will shape subsequent discussions of Paul in general and union with Christ in particular." (443)

    As Campbell notes, there has not been before such an ambitious study of union with Christ in scope, nor in the attempt to integrate exegesis with theology.

    I certainly look forward to someone following his suggestion to explore the pastoral and devotional implications of union with Christ. As he suggests, this would be on a more popular, rather than academic, level. "It ought to be clear that union with Christ offers a wealth of pastoral and devotional potential and should be extolled from every pulpit and basic to every believer." (444)

    Campbell stated early on that this work "is not for academia alone. It is also for the church." (28) A pastor will certainly find a wealth of information here.

    However, this book is quite academic. A layperson would be overwhelmed with this work, I think, without a background in Greek studies.

    I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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