Jesus, Paul and the GospelsBy James D.G. Dunn (Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge UK: Eerdmans, 2011), 224 pp., $21 (paperback)
By any standards, the academic output of British New Testament scholar James D.G. Dunn is highly impressive. This latest book is a distillation of his opinions on the two principal figures of early Christianity, Jesus and Paul—insights that have been more fully developed in his earlier works, The Theology of the Apostle Paul (1998) and Jesus Remembered (2003). The volume under review is written for a wider audience, yet Dunn succeeds in addressing key current debates within the discipline with clarity and characteristic thoroughness that many readers will appreciate.
Dunn’s approach has always been marked by a careful attention to what the texts are saying. Recourse to the various “turns”—literary, sociological and cultural—that have marked North American scholarship in particular over the past decades, is not for him. For that reason his work may be seen in some quarters as somewhat conservative. Yet his detailed engagement with the texts and his ability to see convergences between what others might deem to be different strands within early Christianity make his work informative and challenging.