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Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?: The New Testament Evidence Paperback – July 15, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"A 'must-read.' Dunn combines an appreciation for complex issues with clarity of argument in this riveting introduction to the role and function of Jesus in the worship of God during the first century." Loren T. Stuckenbruck, Richard Dearborn Professor of New Testament Studies, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Any book by James Dunn is worth reading, and this is no exception. It is a challenging and thought-provoking book which raises central issues for Christian faith and practice." Christopher Rowland, Dean Ireland Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford

About the Author

James D. G. Dunn is Lightfoot Professor Emeritus ofDivinity atthe University of Durham in England.He is one of the world'spremier New Testament scholars.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press (July 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664231969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664231965
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #664,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 111 people found the following review helpful By James F. McGrath on September 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
I probably should preface this post with a disclaimer that this should not be thought of as your typical review. I studied for my PhD under Jimmy Dunn. He is my Doktorvater, mentor and friend. I also didn't receive this book from the publisher - in fact, I ordered my copy from the UK before it was released in the US so as to have a chance to read it sooner. I also had a chance to read an earlier draft of Did The First Christians Worship Jesus? a couple of years ago and to discuss it with Jimmy and another of his former students. And when my copy of the published book arrived, I found that my own recent book on monotheism and Christology (The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context) was cited in the notes on numerous occasions. And so I make no claim to being an "impartial observer" but am rather an engaged participant in the ongoing conversation about monotheism, Christology, and worship that encompasses Jimmy, many of his former students, and a wider community of scholars as well as many others interested in the subject.

The book begins with an acknowledgment of two principal dialogue partners: Larry Hurtado and Richard Bauckham, both of whom have published numerous studies on this topic, interacting with Dunn and with one another. In posing the question that is the title of the book, and identifying his key conversation partners, Dunn also emphasizes that mere citation of texts will not answer the questions, and that his scholarly interaction with others is less a matter of "agreement" or "disagreement" than one of nuance and an attempt to bring further precision and clarity. The introduction ends with an identification of key sub-questions that will be the focus of the chapters in the remainder of the book.
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45 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Sherry M. Peyton on September 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
Let me extend my thanks to Westminster John Knox Press for providing me a copy of James D.J. Dunn's latest, Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?

Professor Dunn is Lightfoot Professor of Divinity Emeritus at the University of Durham in England. He is the author of numerous books and writings, and is accepted as an authority in the field. He put forth the PhD candidacy of Dr. James McGrath, Butler University professor, who occasionally stops by here for a comment and who has authored a book on Christianity and monotheism, and runs the blog Exploring our Matrix. I include this in fairness, since Dr. Dunn refers to McGrath's work and opinions in various footnotes throughout his book.

I am, as most of you know, no more than a humble amateur student of the Bible. It has been my privilege to read many books over the years, written by experts, and if I have come to have some small modicum of understanding, I hope that it come forth here in reviewing this work.

The question posed by Dr. Dunn is provocative to some no doubt, and undoubtedly, some would dismiss it with a "of course they did!" and go about their business. But the question is much more tricky that might be assumed, the answer is not what I expected, and I learned a good deal that I would not have assumed.

As anyone who has taken the time to try to understand what Jesus said and what he taught knows, understanding the mind of the first century Jew is essential to that understanding. The faulty interpretations that are so prevalent among "it says what it means and means what it says" crowd stem precisely from giving 21st century meaning to translated words of 1st century Jews.

If we try to attach our means, we most assuredly will get the wrong answer.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By S. Landers on August 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
James D. G. Dunn examines and exegetes the New Testament evidence which points to a satisfying answer to this question of early Christian Christological belief and practice.

It is an honest and thorough investigation, and the conclusions that Dunn reaches are well-thought-out and resourceful. He does not just hold to traditional views, but considers the question from a variety of aspects, and gives ample space to differing viewpoints.

In this book, the theologian also is a true scholar, objective and erudite. He respects his New Testament sources, and treats them carefully.

This is a wonderful book, a book that anyone can learn from and benefit from, regardless of personal theology.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Brian Gueringer on June 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like me some Dunn. I do not agree with him on everything, like his take on the Kingdom of God and what Jesus thought he would see in his day. However he is one of the most thorough and well thought out writers on the subject of Christ. If you believe Christ is God Almighty then this book may not do much to change your mind. However if you have an open mind he will make you think. When you look closely at the bible and what the church says you will see they do not seem to be saying the samething. Some people will never question anything when it comes to the bible. Some people question everything. I do not think either way is healthy. You should look into things and ask some honest questions. Keep asking questions until you have a handle on things. This book is for people wanting to understand how Jesus saw hmself. I think this is the most important thing we can understand. We can either listen to things that people say about him or we can focus more on what he said. The book also takes a look at the early believers and what they thought about him.

It seems to me that the biggest part of this problem comes from the word(s) we use for God today. If you do an in depth study into the word theos and the word elohim, you find that they are not telling you everything. In fact they are telling you very little about the words and what they mean. In my take on it you cannot trust the Greek way of looking at God. Those are the people who gave you the church you have today. The Jewish concept and in fact the Jesus concept of God is in the Jewish context. It cannot be changed or married to the Greek concept of God. They are two different things.
I know some people will say it was revealed to the Greek mind and that was part of the progressive revealation of God. All I can say is that it leaves the door open for another change down the road and I just do not agree with you. Be it what it may look for truth, make truth you God!!
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