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A New Perspective On Jesus: What The Quest For The Historical Jesus Missed
James D. G. Dunn

0801027101 Retail Price: $15.00
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Format: Paperback, 160pp.
ISBN: 0801027101
Publisher: Baker Academic
Pub. Date: March 31, 2005

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In A New Perspective on Jesus, renowned author James D. G. Dunn critiques the quest for the historical Jesus. He claims that the quest has been largely unsuccessful because it started from the wrong place, began with the wrong assumptions, and viewed the evidence from the wrong perspective.

Dunn's study offers three criticisms of questers' methods. First, Dunn contends that scholars have failed to see how the disciples' pre-Easter faith shaped the Gospel traditions. Second, he claims that a focus on literary transmission has led scholars to ignore the fact that the Gospel traditions arose in an oral culture, which shaped the way the stories of Jesus were told and passed on. Third, Dunn challenges scholars' preoccupation with finding what is distinctive about Jesus and rejecting portions of the tradition portraying Jesus as characteristically Jewish. Dunn concludes by rethinking accepted views of Synoptic relationships in light of the oral nature of the Jesus tradition.

This work offers a compelling critique of the presuppositions that inform much of contemporary Gospel study, and the alternatives Dunn proposes are sure to stimulate scholarly debate. It will interest students and scholars of the Bible, pastors and church leaders, and anyone wanting a fresh perspective on Jesus studies.


"Although this is a small book, the issues are large, and Dunn's critique of so much that historians of Jesus still take for granted is salutary. He thoughtfully asks the hard questions, and his informed answers not only orient us in the right direction but outline further paths for research."
—Dale Allison, Errett M. Grable Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Early Christianity, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

"What Dunn did for Pauline studies when he called for a 'post-Sanders new perspective,' he is now doing for historical Jesus studies. Dunn's 'new perspective' on Jesus is post-tradition criticism and contends that the foundation of the Jesus traditions was shaped by faith. There never was a historical Jesus who could be understood apart from faith. This book summons the academy to the table and contends that it has been epistemologically irresponsible."
—Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University

"A New Perspective on Jesus takes a serious look at the Jesus tradition in its earliest form as oral tradition. The impact of faith, the nature of oral communication, and a focus on the 'characteristic' Jesus are affirmed in a context where faith is often undervalued, form and redaction criticism are said to rule, and the 'dissimilar' Jesus is treated as the authentic Jesus. This work brings needed balance to a study of Jesus that is often out of whack."
—Darrell Bock, author of Jesus according to Scripture

"At last, here is an accessible book by a noted New Testament scholar who takes seriously, and thus builds a strong case for, the role of orality/aurality among the early followers of Jesus. In so doing, Dunn also builds a strong case for the essential reliability of the Gospel materials. I am glad to commend this book as an introduction to the study of Jesus and the Gospels."
—Gordon Fee, professor emeritus of New Testament studies, Regent College


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About the Author

James D. G. Dunn (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is Emeritus Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at the University of Durham. He is the author of numerous books, including commentaries on Romans, Galatians, Colossians/Philemon, and 1 Corinthians, as well as The Theology of Paul the Apostle and Jesus Remembered.

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