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Union

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Principal and Professor of New Testament

Rev Principal W Gordon Campbell

BA BD PGCE DEA PhD

I became Professor of New Testament Studies at Union in 2007 and I have been a teacher most of my life. I started out teaching modern languages in a local post–primary school and I am as passionate about theology now as I was about French or German back then.

After studying theology at Union, training for ministry and serving as an assistant minister in Belfast, I worked in France for sixteen years. First, I was a minister in the Reformed Church of France, in parish ministry in Cognac and Segonzac and then Marseilles South–East. Then I taught New Testament in John Calvin Seminary, in Aix–en–Provence, where I was also vice–principal and then principal for a time: ever since, I have continued to help deliver the New Testament curriculum in Aix on an annual basis. I am also visiting Professor of New Testament at Baltic Reformed Theological Seminary in Riga, Latvia. 

I have especially enjoyed working with undergraduate students, so I am excited about Union’s new BA in Theology, awarded by St. Mary’s University, Twickenham. The BA has an important component of biblical studies, where students can expect to be taught by me and by our whole biblical studies team comprising experts in both Old and New Testament, or Hebrew and Greek (the Bible’s original languages). 

Graduates of Union are equipped to go on to further study, ministry, teaching, work in the caring professions or the charitable sector, and many other roles. In my teaching and supervision at bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral levels, I see my particular contribution as helping students become skilled and thoughtful readers of New Testament texts and confident and creative interpreters of their complex and diverse impacts on faith, culture and life in society. 

As College Principal at a time of considerable change and development for Union, I have the privilege of leading our team of academic and support staff as they bring their combined expertise, energy, commitment and enthusiasm to the College’s mission. I also work closely with representatives of the Presbyterian Church who help manage the College.

Outside of responsibilities at Union, I am an elder in a Belfast church, on the rota of pianists and I preach occasionally. I like meeting new people and exploring new places. My wife, Sandra, is a nursery–school teacher in Belfast. We are parents to four young adults (Aimée, Myriam, Stuart and Marc) and we have one grandchild (Anna). We live in Bangor.

My teaching draws on my research and publications. In my writing, I approach Scripture with respect for the integrity of texts, while taking account of the responsibility of the reader. I also attach priority to the way each New Testament text makes its particular contribution, both to larger corpora –like the collection of Gospels or of Paul’s Letters – and to the biblical Canon as a whole. Finally, I am interested in how communities of faith read Scripture and in the Bible’s impact on culture or society.

The Book of Revelation is my special interest and area of expertise. My PhD dissertation in French was on Parody in the Apocalypse (2002). This was reworked and published as a unique thematic study of Revelation (2007), then in English as Reading Revelation: A Thematic Approach (Cambridge, James Clarke, 2012). For its tenth anniversary, this has just been republished in the Foundations of New Testament Criticism series (Reading Revelation: A Thematic Approach (jamesclarke.co)), incorporating a new postscript in which I respond to scholars’ reception of my research.

Since 2016, I have undertaken a research project focusing on the unusual yet crucial role played by the Book of Revelation in Martin Luther’s Bible publishing. The project to date has involved a series of academic papers, delivered in various contexts, and several published contributions (2017 – 2020), listed below. I will offer an evaluation of Luther’s epoch–making achievements, during a quarter–century of Bible publication in Wittenberg, as part of the forthcoming International Conference, here in College (12th–13th September 2022), to mark the quincentennial of the publication of Luther’s September Testament.

Publications

Forthcoming

 2023

 “Reading Revelation as Refugees and Returnees: Interpretation of the Apocalypse in the Geneva New Testament and Bible.” (provisional title). To be published in Unio cum Christo (Oct 2023), volume on the doctrine of the Church: 7,000 words.

2022

“Spirit, spirits and anti–spirits in the Book of Revelation.” In J. Corley & J. Rogers (eds.), Missed Treasures of the Holy Spirit—Distinctive New Testament Pneumatologies(Catholic Biblical Quarterly: supplement series). To be published as a supplement to papers from the Maynooth–Salamanca symposium (May 2017) on the Holy Spirit. 9,900 words.

“When and How Did the Book of Revelation Gain Canonical Recognition?” In S. Porter & B. Laird, The New Testament Canon in Contemporary Research (Texts and Editions for New Testament Study series), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2021: 8,000 words.

Already published

 2022

 Reading Revelation: A Thematic Approach. James Clarke & Co.: Cambridge. 450 pages. (Foundations in New Testament Criticism). Second Edition, incorporating a new Postscript responding to scholarly reception of the 2007 (French) and 2012 (English) original.

“Gethsemane.” Dictionary Entry in A. Louth (gen. ed.), The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Fourth Revised Edition), Oxford: OUP, 2022 (p.775).

“Gog and Magog.” Dictionary Entry in A. Louth (gen. ed.), The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Fourth Revised Edition), Oxford: OUP, 2022 (p.795).

“The Resurrection of Christ.” Dictionary Entry in A. Louth (gen. ed.), The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Fourth Revised Edition), Oxford: OUP, 2022 (p.1642)

2020

The “Last Word” in Pictures: Enhanced Visual Interpretation of Revelation in Luther’s High German Bible (1534). In Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts 11.1 (pp.5–33) https://doi.org/10.1558/post.17389.

2019 

“Visualising Revelation for Luther’s New Testament (1522–1546): debt, design and development.” In Biblische Notizen (University of Salzburg) 183.4 (pp.73–99).

Review Article of Jon Morales, Christ, Shepherd of the Nations: The Nations as Narrative Character and Audience in John’s Apocalypse (The Library of New Testament Studies, 577), London and New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018. In The Journal of Theological Studies 70 / 2019.2 (pp.825–827) https://doi.org/10.1093/jts/flz062.

“Luther, the Letter of James and ‘all Scripture’ (2 Tim 3.16): when faith that justifies works to critique the canon.” My English translation of the following entry, published online on the ResearchGate website (May 2019).

“Luther, la lettre de Jacques et ‘toute l’Ecriture’ (2 Tm 3.16). Quand la foi qui justifie œuvre pour la critique du canon.” In Y. Imbert (ed.), Foi et Œuvres, Cléon d’Andran/Aix–en–Provence : Editions Excelsis/Kerygma (pp.59–74).

2018

“Le pèlerin en chef et les pèlerins: la solidarité entre le Christ et ceux qui marchent à sa suite dans l’épître aux Hébreux.” In Revue Réformée (Aix–en–Provence/France) 287 (p.27–58). French version of “The Pilgrim Leader etc.” (see 2016 below).

2017

“Visual exegesis of the Book of Revelation in Martin Luther’s September Testament (1522).” Published online on the Academia website (Aug. 2017).

“Collaborative verbal and visual interpretation of Revelation in Luther’s September Testament (1522) and revised New Testament (1530).” In Proceedings of the Irish Biblical Association (PIBA) 40 (p.43–72).

“Luther, Revelation and the New Testament Canon.” In L. Kirkpatrick (ed.), Martin Luther 500, Belfast: Union Theological College (p.57–77).

2016

“The Pilgrim Leader and the pilgrims: wayfaring solidarity between Christ and his followers in Hebrews.”In R. Burnet, D. Luciani & G. Van Oyen (eds.), The Epistle to the Hebrews. Writing at the Borders (Contributions to Biblical Exegesis & Theology, 85), Leuven: Peeters (p.163–184).

“Revelation’s Implied Worshipper.” My English translation of the following entry, published online on the Academia website (Jan 2016).

“Apocalypse johannique et Adorateur implicite.” In Revue Théologique de Louvain 47.3 (p.338–352). 

“From Ignominy To Glory. Jesus’s Death and Resurrection in Calvin’s Harmony of the Gospels.” In Unio cum Christo (USA), vol. 2.2 The New Testament: Gift to the Reformation (p.97–114).

“The Book of Revelation and New Testament Theology.” In Mark H. Elliott & Carey Walsh (eds.), Biblical Theology. Past, Present, and Future. Part III: Constructive ways forward for Biblical Theology, Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock (p.214–233). Papers of ISBL Biblical Theology Study Group (2013–2014).

2015

“Facing Fire and Fury: One Reading of Revelation’s Violence.” In Garrick V. Allen, Ian Paul and Simon P. Woodman (eds.), The Book of Revelation: Currents in British Research on the Apocalypse [WUNT II series], Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck (p.147–73). Papers from the British New Testament Conference Revelation Seminar.

2012

Reading Revelation: A Thematic Approach. James Clarke & Co.: Cambridge. 430 pages. My own English translation of the French original (see 2007 below), incorporating a fully revised thematic index.

2011

“Jesus of Geneva: Encountering Christ with Calvin in the Gospels.” In B. McConvery (ed.), The Witness of John Calvin and Ignatius Loyola, Dublin: Veritas (p.57–73). Papers from the conference Living in union with Christ in today’s world: the contribution of John Calvin and Ignatius Loyola,  St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth (October 2010)

2010

“Jésus de Genève”: Pour le Rédempteur de Calvin, quelle pertinence aujourd’hui?” In Revue Réformée 255 (p.83–96). My French translation of the following entry (2009). 

2009

“Jesus of Geneva: Has Calvin’s Redeemer Got Contemporary Relevance?” In T.D. Alexander & L.S. Kirkpatrick, John Calvin: Reflections on a Reformer, Belfast: Union Theological College (p.75–87).

2007

L’Apocalypse de Jean. Une lecture thématique. Cléon d’Andran: Editions Excelsis 558 pages.

2006

“Chiavi di lettura dell’Apocalisse.” In Studi di teologia (Padua/Italy) 35 (p.2–6). Italian translation of “Pour comprendre l’Apocalypse” (see 1999 below). 

“I temi dell’Apocalisse.” In Studi di teologia 35 (p.7–25). Italian translation of “Pour lire l’Apocalypse de Jean (etc.)” (see 2003 below).

“Mort et résurrection” (Death and Resurrection). In Dictionnaire de Théologie Biblique, Cléon d’Andran: Editions Excelsis (p.767–75). [French adaptation & enlargement of New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, IVP, 2000], 

“Dieu a–t–il une histoire? Lc 1 – 2 entre historicité et historiographie” (“Does God Have a History? Luke 1–2 in the Perspective of Ancient Historiography”). In P. Berthoud et P. Wells, Texte et historicité. Récit biblique et histoire (Text and Historicity: Biblical Narratives and History), Cléon d’Andran & Aix–en–Provence: Editions Excelsis/Kerygma (p.79–98).

“Apocalypse johannique et persévérance des saints” (“Revelation to John and ‘Perseverance of the Saints”). In Revue Réformée 236 (p.43–55).

2005

“Vivre et mourir devant Dieu: esquisse de théologie biblique” (“Outline for a Biblical Theology of Living and Dying in God’s Presence”). In Revue Réformée 234 (p.5–20).

“Le récit du Royaume de Dieu dans l’évangile selon Saint Luc” (The Story of the Kingdom of God in the Gospel According to St. Luke”). In Revue Réformée 233 (p.24–43).

“La royauté de Dieu, de l’Agneau et des siens dans l’Apocalypse de Jean” (“The Royalty of God, the Lamb and His Followers in John’s Revelation”). In Revue Réformée 233 (p.44–61).

2004

“Fidèles de l’Agneau, esclaves du monstre: identités rivales dans l’Apocalypse de Jean (deuxième partie)” (“Followers of the Lamb, Slaves of the Beast: Rival Identities in the Book of Revelation (Part 1).” In Théologie Evangélique (Vaux–sur–Seine/France) 3.2 (pp.113–122). 

“Fidèles de l’Agneau, esclaves du monstre: identités rivales dans l’Apocalypse de Jean (première partie)” (“Followers of the Lamb, Slaves of the Beast: Rival Identities in the Book of Revelation(Part 2).” In Théologie Evangélique 3.1 (p.41–54).

“Apocalypse de Jean” (“Book of Revelation”). In Grand Dictionnaire de la Bible, Cléon d’Andran: Editions Excelsis (p.87–93). [French adaptation & enlargement of TheNew Bible Dictionary, IVP, 1996] 

“Colossiens (Epître)” (“Epistle to the Colossians”). In Grand Dictionnaire de la Bible, Cléon d’Andran: Editions Excelsis (p.339–41). 

“Persécution” (“Persecution”). Published in Grand Dictionnaire de la Bible, Cléon d’Andran: Editions Excelsis (p.1248–50). 

“La question synoptique” (“The Synoptic Problem”). In Grand Dictionnaire de la Bible, Cléon d’Andran: Editions Excelsis (p.1595–1607).

“Antithetical Feminine–Urban Imagery and a Tale of Two Women–Cities in the Book of Revelation.” In Tyndale Bulletin 55.1 (p.81–108). 

“Findings, Seals, Trumpets and Bowls: Variations upon the Theme of Covenant Rupture and Restoration in the Book of Revelation.” In Westminster Theological Journal (Philadelphia/USA) 66 (p.71–96).

2003

“True and False Proclamation in the Book of Revelation (Part II).” In Irish Biblical Studies25.3 (p.106–20). 

“True and False Proclamation in the Book of Revelation (Part I).” In Irish Biblical Studies 25.2 (p.60–73).

“Apocalypse et extermination” (“Apocalypse and Extermination”). In Revue Réformée 225 (p.89–107).

“Culte du corps et corps du Christ à Corinthe” (“Cult of the Body and Body of Christ at Corinth”). In M. Johner (ed.), Le corps et le christianisme, Cléon d’Andran/Aix–en–Provence: Editions Excelsis/Kerygma (p.109–21).

“Pour lire l’Apocalypse de Jean: l’intérêt d’une approche thématique” (“Towards an Understanding of the Book of Revelation: the Advantages of a Thematic Reading”). In Revue Réformée 224 (p.43–65).

2002

“L’alliance et la famille au travers du Nouveau Testament” (“Covenant and Family in New Testament Perspective”). In Revue Réformée 220 (p.13–26).

“Un procédé de composition négligé de l’Apocalypse de Jean: repérage, caractéristiques et cas témoin d’une approche parodique” (“Parody Approach – a Neglected Compositional Procedure in the Apocalypse of John: Location, Characteristics and Test Case”). In Etudes théologiques et religieuses (Paris–Montpellier/France) 77 (p.491–516).

2001

“How to say what. Story and interpretation in the Book of Revelation.” In Irish Biblical Studies, vol. 23, July 2001 (p.111–134).

2000

Editing and rewriting of Section and Verse notes on the books of Philippians and Revelation, together with a general introduction to both books, for the Study Bible Le Semeur, Cléon d’Andran: Editions Excelsis. 45 pages.

“La croissance de l’Eglise pagano–chrétienne dans le Nouveau Testament” (“The Growth of the Gentile Christian Church in the New Testament”). In Revue Réformée 210 (p.49–66).

1999

“Pour comprendre l’Apocalypse” (“Towards an understanding of the Book of Revelation”). In Revue Réformée 205 (p.67–73).

“The Struggle for the Progress of the Gospel at the Heart of the Pauline Mission.” Published in Irish Biblical Studies 21 (p.59–78). 

“Le combat pour le progrès de l’Evangile au cœur de la mission paulinienne.” In Revue Réformée 204 (p.19–31). Precursor of the previous entry in English.