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The Oral Gospel Tradition
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The Oral Gospel Tradition


Eerdmans 2013

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The traditions about Jesus and his teaching circulated in oral form for many years, continuing to do so for decades following the writing of the New Testament Gospels. The Oral Gospel Tradition, a collection of 15 essays by James Dunn, discusses such issues as the role of eyewitnesses and of memory, how the Jesus tradition was shaped by oral usage, and the importance of seeing the biblical materials not so much as frozen writing but as living tradition.

Get more works by James Dunn with the James D.G. Dunn Collection (5 vols.).

Key Features

  • Presents a collection of 15 essays by James Dunn
  • Disccuses how the Jesus tradition was shaped by oral usage
  • Demonstrates the importance of seeing the biblical materials as living tradition


  • Prophetic ‘I’-Sayings and the Jesus-Tradition: The Importance of Testing Prophetic Utterances within Early Christianity
  • Altering the Default Setting: Re-envisaging the Early Transmission of the Jesus Tradition
  • Q1 as Oral Tradition
  • Matthew’s Awareness of Markan Redaction
  • Matthew as Wirkungsgeschichte
  • John and the Oral Gospel Tradition
  • John’s Gospel and the Oral Gospel Tradition
  • On History, Memory and Eyewitnesses: In Response to Bengt Holmberg and Samuel Byrskog
  • Eyewitnesses and the Oral Jesus Tradition: In Dialogue with Birger Gerhardsson and Richard Bauckham
  • Social Memory and the Oral Jesus Tradition
  • Kenneth Bailey’s Theory of Oral Tradition: Critiquing Theodore Weeden’s Critique
  • Remembering Jesus: How the Quest of the Historical Jesus Lost Its Way
  • Between Jesus and the Gospels
  • The History of the Tradition (New Testament)
  • Living Tradition

Praise for the Print Edition

Over many years Jimmy Dunn has alerted us all to the importance of taking seriously the presence of oral tradition in and behind our present Gospels. This volume provides many of his key essays on that broad topic, including a number of responses to critiques by others. As with all of Dunn’s work, the argument is invariably readable, persuasive, and compelling. This will be an invaluable resource for all those engaged in study of the Gospels, their sources, and their witness to the person of Jesus.

Christopher Tuckett, professor of New Testament studies, University of Oxford

This book helpfully brings together a number of significant essays by a leading voice in the study of Jesus, the Gospels, and early Christian tradition. As indicated by the new and very helpful introduction, the collection not only surveys Dunn's own voluminous work on the topic but also serves, in many respects, as a recent history of research, tracing trends in the evolution of study on the media history of early Christianity.

Tom Thatcher, professor of New Testament, Cincinnati Christian University

For more than 35 years, James Dunn has been a leading voice in New Testament studies regarding the role of oral tradition in the formation of Gospel narratives. This volume affords Dunn the opportunity to respond to criticisms of his various proposals and so to present time-honored ideas afresh for a new generation. Anyone who seeks to understand the Gospels as a living tradition will appreciate this book and benefit from Dunn’s rich contributions to the field.

Mark Allan Powell, Robert and Phyllis Leatherman Professor of New Testament, Trinity Lutheran Seminary

Product Details

About James D. G. Dunn

James D. G. Dunn is Lightfoot Professor of Divinity Emeritus at the University of Durham and is a leading British New Testament scholar. Dunn studied at the University of Glasgow where he received his MA and BD He also received a PhD and DD from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of, among other books, Romans 1–8 and Romans 9–16 of the Word Biblical Commentary, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon in The New International Greek Testament Commentary, Unity and Diversity in New Testament Theology, and Christology in the Making.

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