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Jesus, Paul and the Law [Paperback]

By James D. G. Dunn (Author)
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Item description for Jesus, Paul and the Law by James D. G. Dunn...

Here is a master new Testament scholars decade of research - along with new material - on a major issue on the study of Christian origins. Extended international debate has been concerned with this question: What were the attitudes toward the Jewish law within earliest Christianity?

Publishers Description

Drawing upon ten years of research experience, the master scholar James D. G. Dunn presents a book on a major issue in the study of Christian origins: what were the attitudes toward Jewish law within earliest Christianity? This volume not only gathers the author's significant contributions to date but also includes new material. Divided into nine parts, it is set in the wider context of a living dialogue and debate. The introduction maps out Dunn's extensive work in Pauline and Markan studies. The final chapter, "The Theology of Galatians," serves as a summary of Dunn's current position on Paul and the law and brings the volume to a convincing conclusion.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.7" Width: 5.66" Height: 0.73"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 1990
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  0664250955  
ISBN13  9780664250959  

Availability  143 units.
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More About James D. G. Dunn

James D. G. Dunn James D. G. Dunn is Lightfoot Professor Emeritus of Divinity at Durham University and one of the foremost New Testament scholars in the world today.

James D. G. Dunn currently resides in Durham. James D. G. Dunn was born in 1939 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Durham.

James D. G. Dunn has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Christ and the Spirit
  2. Christianity in the Making
  3. Didsbury Lectures
  4. Inquiry Into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation
  5. Library of Biblical Theology
  6. New International Greek Testament Com (Eerdmans)
  7. New Testament Theology
  8. T & T Clark Study Guides
  9. Understanding Jesus Today
  10. Word Biblical Commentary

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > Commentaries
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > Study Resources > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Jesus, Paul and the Law?

Worth a read  Jun 18, 2007
As a layman, I've been intrigued by the New Perspective on Paul and wanted to go back and read something that got this conversation started, so I read this and was extrememly impressed by the scholarship. The arguments by Dunn are sophisticated. I can't give a review the like the first person here, but I can say that this book is worth the effort. Though I am not persuaded by the NPP, I appreciate its insights and value the work done by these guys, esp. Dunn. His Theology of Paul is outstanding and is sitting next Ridderbos on my shelf.
Misunderstands Judaism & Justification  Oct 11, 2003
James Dunn in this volume demonstrates the willingness characteristic of New Perspective scholars to value the contribution of any other source, even rabbinnic sources of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, above the New Testament. This is worse than rejecting inerrency - it is rejecting the NT as a primary source for the first century! Even if Dunn's reinterpretation of Paul were true (which it isn't), he would still have to account for the woes pronnounced by Jesus in Matthew 23. Sounds like legalism to me!
In Search of a Link Between Jesus and Paul  Feb 27, 2002
James Dunn is, in my opinion, a model scholar. He begins from liberal presuppositions but his conclusions tend to be quite conservative.

As a liberal, Dunn does not assume that the Bible is inerrant; for each issue he raises, he proceeds to examine the evidence in detail. But despite his liberal presuppositions, he always employs careful exegesis. He does not make unwarranted leaps from the biblical text to supposed extra-biblical parallels, but closely examines the biblical text in its own light before extending his inquiry cautiously outwards.

It is widely recognized that there is a large conceptual leap between Jesus (as presented in the Gospels) and Paul. Jesus lived as a Jew, in obedience to the Law of Moses, and he restricted his mission to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt. 15:24). Paul devoted himself primarily to the conversion of Gentiles. He held that Gentiles could be saved apart from circumcision and other works of the Law, asserting that Christ was "the end of the Law" (Ro. 10:3).

Dunn argues that the conceptual link is not as unbridgable as many scholars assume. Indeed, he argues that Jesus' attitude toward the Law constitutes a bridge to later Christianity. In Dunn's opinion, Paul was merely following Jesus' position to its logical conclusion, responding to issues as they subsequently arose in early Church history in a way that was consistent with Jesus' own stance.

For example, Dunn examines Mark 7 in detail. (There Jesus is reported to have "declared all foods clean".) Dunn does not assume that Mark's report is historical, but weighs the evidence pro and con. He ultimately concludes that Jesus made a somewhat ambiguous statement. Mark interpreted it one way; Matthew interpreted it somewhat differently. It was the ambiguity of Jesus' position which gave rise to subsequent controversy in the Church. Yet Jesus did lay a foundation for the position ultimately expounded by Paul.

Such a brief summary does not do justice to Dunn's approach, however. The value of the book is in its detailed argumentation. In addition to his careful exegesis, Dunn builds on the research of E. P. Sanders on extra-biblical Jewish literature -- though Dunn reaches different conclusions than those of Sanders. At various points, Dunn explores the intertestamental history recorded in 1 and 2 Maccabees, he discusses "Jesus, the Pharisees, and sinners" -- in direct response to Sanders -- and he talks about the Hellenists (see Acts 6:1ff.) as a historical bridge between Jesus and Paul. He also attempts to unravel controversies in the early Church -- notably that between Paul, Barnabas, Peter and James (see Gal. 2).

The net effect is to set Jesus in a broad historical context: Dunn reaches back to critical intertestamental events, carefully considers Jesus' position vis-a-vis the Pharisees, and proceeds forward through the Hellenists to Paul and other early Christian leaders. The broad sweep of the argument is, to my mind, quite persuasive.

The book is not a light read! It consists of a series of articles on individual New Testament texts. Dunn wrote the articles as part of his research for a commentary on Romans (since published in the Word Biblical Commentary series). Each article was published in a theological journal, thus each chapter of this book has been submitted to scholarly review. In compiling the book, Dunn has added a brief appendix to each chapter, in which he responds to the scholarly critique of each original article. Given the detailed nature of the argumentation, and the scholarly audience to which the articles were originally directed, readers may find it a difficult read. It is not necessary to read Greek in order to make sense of the book, however.

The first few chapters of the book focus on the Gospel of Mark; the remainder of the book examines passages critical to the interpretation of Paul's letter to the Galatians.

To a scientific mind, there is no such thing as "the last word" on any given subject. Other scholars vigorously dissent from Dunn's conclusions. But for Christians who are troubled by the radical scepticism of many scholars, Dunn demonstrates that conservative conclusions can be defended in a responsible manner.


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