James Dunn is regarded worldwide as one of today’s foremost biblical scholars. Having written groundbreaking studies of the New Testament and a standard work on Paul’s theology, Dunn here turns his pen to the rise of Christianity itself. Jesus Remembered is the first installment in a monumental three-volume history of the first 120 years of the faith.
Focusing on Jesus, this first volume has several distinct features. It garners the lessons to be learned from the “quest for the historical Jesus” and meets the hermeneutical challenges to a historical and theological assessment of the Jesus tradition. It provides a fresh perspective both on the impact made by Jesus and on the traditions about Jesus as oral tradition—hence the title “Jesus Remembered.” And it offers a fresh analysis of the details of that tradition, emphasizing its characteristic (rather than dissimilar) features. Noteworthy too are Dunn’s treatments of the source question (particularly Q and the noncanonical Gospels) and of Jesus the Jew in his Galilean context.
In his detailed analysis of the Baptist tradition, the kingdom motif, the call to and character of discipleship, what Jesus’ audiences thought of him, what he thought of himself, why he was crucified, and how and why belief in Jesus’ resurrection began, Dunn engages wholeheartedly in the contemporary debate, providing many important insights and offering a thoroughly convincing account of how Jesus was remembered from the first, and why.
Written with peerless scholarly acumen yet accessible to a wide range of readers, Dunn’s Jesus Remembered, together with its successor volumes, will be a sine qua non for all students of Christianity’s beginnings.
This tome takes its place among the equally voluminous and deep contributions of scholars like Crossan, John Meier, N.T. Wright, and Walter Wink. . . Most important for preachers is the way Dunn interprets the words and deeds of Jesus and stories of his life as an unfolding, living tradition of interpretation. It helps us to understand our own work as part of that unfolding, living tradition. . . .
Dunn is to be commended for his challenging and insightful work. It must be read by all who are interested in the field, and it is destined to become a significant conversation partner in future discussions of the historical Jesus.
—Toronto Journal of Theology
A magnificent achievement. Jesus Remembered is massively thorough and wide-ranging, innovative in its stress on orality, at times provocative, yet also immensely readable and clear. James Dunn’s book will undoubtedly shape Jesus study for the next generation and more. This is a ‘must’ for all those engaged in study of Jesus at whatever level.
—Christopher Tuckett, professor of New Testament studies, University of Oxford
This is not just one more book on Jesus but rather an esteemed scholar’s wide-ranging presentation of conclusions arrived at over a lifetime of informed, critical reflection. It is full of good sense and much learning. As always, James Dunn’s work is characterized not only by a genuine familiarity with Jesus’ first-century Jewish world but also by an unsurpassed knowledge of the vast secondary literature. Especially suggestive is the consistent appeal to continuing oral tradition, which often appears justified.
—Dale C. Allison Jr., professor of New Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary
In this study, one of the most prolific New Testament scholars of today presents an impressive new approach to the old ‘quest for the historical Jesus.’ James Dunn’s central thesis that a hermeneutically informed dialogue with the ancient texts will legitimate an account of the impact of Jesus as it was remembered by his earliest followers convincingly places the oral character of the Jesus tradition at the very center of attention. The book should not only help scholarship to free itself from the prevailing literary paradigm, but also promote a healthy balance between positivistic optimism and postmodern relativism in the search for the so-called historical Jesus.
—Samuel Byrskog, professor of New Testament, University of Lund