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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Search of a Link Between Jesus and Paul
James Dunn is, in my opinion, a model scholar. He begins from liberal presuppositions but his conclusions tend to be quite conservative.
As a liberal, Dunn does not assume that the Bible is inerrant; for each issue he raises, he proceeds to examine the evidence in detail. But despite his liberal presuppositions, he always employs careful exegesis. He does not make...
Published on February 26, 2002 by Stephen Peltz, student of the ...

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11 of 65 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstands Judaism & Justification
James Dunn in this volume demonstrates the willingness characteristic of New Perspective scholars to value the contribution of any other source, even rabbinnic sources of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, above the New Testament. This is worse than rejecting inerrency - it is rejecting the NT as a primary source for the first century! Even if Dunn's reinterpretation of Paul...
Published on October 11, 2003


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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Search of a Link Between Jesus and Paul, February 26, 2002
This review is from: Jesus, Paul and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians (Paperback)
James Dunn is, in my opinion, a model scholar. He begins from liberal presuppositions but his conclusions tend to be quite conservative.
As a liberal, Dunn does not assume that the Bible is inerrant; for each issue he raises, he proceeds to examine the evidence in detail. But despite his liberal presuppositions, he always employs careful exegesis. He does not make unwarranted leaps from the biblical text to supposed extra-biblical parallels, but closely examines the biblical text in its own light before extending his inquiry cautiously outwards.
It is widely recognized that there is a large conceptual leap between Jesus (as presented in the Gospels) and Paul. Jesus lived as a Jew, in obedience to the Law of Moses, and he restricted his mission to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt. 15:24). Paul devoted himself primarily to the conversion of Gentiles. He held that Gentiles could be saved apart from circumcision and other works of the Law, asserting that Christ was "the end of the Law" (Ro. 10:3).
Dunn argues that the conceptual link is not as unbridgable as many scholars assume. Indeed, he argues that Jesus' attitude toward the Law constitutes a bridge to later Christianity. In Dunn's opinion, Paul was merely following Jesus' position to its logical conclusion, responding to issues as they subsequently arose in early Church history in a way that was consistent with Jesus' own stance.
For example, Dunn examines Mark 7 in detail. (There Jesus is reported to have "declared all foods clean".) Dunn does not assume that Mark's report is historical, but weighs the evidence pro and con. He ultimately concludes that Jesus made a somewhat ambiguous statement. Mark interpreted it one way; Matthew interpreted it somewhat differently. It was the ambiguity of Jesus' position which gave rise to subsequent controversy in the Church. Yet Jesus did lay a foundation for the position ultimately expounded by Paul.
Such a brief summary does not do justice to Dunn's approach, however. The value of the book is in its detailed argumentation. In addition to his careful exegesis, Dunn builds on the research of E. P. Sanders on extra-biblical Jewish literature -- though Dunn reaches different conclusions than those of Sanders. At various points, Dunn explores the intertestamental history recorded in 1 and 2 Maccabees, he discusses "Jesus, the Pharisees, and sinners" -- in direct response to Sanders -- and he talks about the Hellenists (see Acts 6:1ff.) as a historical bridge between Jesus and Paul. He also attempts to unravel controversies in the early Church -- notably that between Paul, Barnabas, Peter and James (see Gal. 2).
The net effect is to set Jesus in a broad historical context: Dunn reaches back to critical intertestamental events, carefully considers Jesus' position vis-a-vis the Pharisees, and proceeds forward through the Hellenists to Paul and other early Christian leaders. The broad sweep of the argument is, to my mind, quite persuasive.
The book is not a light read! It consists of a series of articles on individual New Testament texts. Dunn wrote the articles as part of his research for a commentary on Romans (since published in the Word Biblical Commentary series). Each article was published in a theological journal, thus each chapter of this book has been submitted to scholarly review. In compiling the book, Dunn has added a brief appendix to each chapter, in which he responds to the scholarly critique of each original article. Given the detailed nature of the argumentation, and the scholarly audience to which the articles were originally directed, readers may find it a difficult read. It is not necessary to read Greek in order to make sense of the book, however.
The first few chapters of the book focus on the Gospel of Mark; the remainder of the book examines passages critical to the interpretation of Paul's letter to the Galatians.
To a scientific mind, there is no such thing as "the last word" on any given subject. Other scholars vigorously dissent from Dunn's conclusions. But for Christians who are troubled by the radical scepticism of many scholars, Dunn demonstrates that conservative conclusions can be defended in a responsible manner.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read, June 18, 2007
By 
M. Parks (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Jesus, Paul and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians (Paperback)
As a layman, I've been intrigued by the New Perspective on Paul and wanted to go back and read something that got this conversation started, so I read this and was extrememly impressed by the scholarship. The arguments by Dunn are sophisticated. I can't give a review the like the first person here, but I can say that this book is worth the effort. Though I am not persuaded by the NPP, I appreciate its insights and value the work done by these guys, esp. Dunn. His Theology of Paul is outstanding and is sitting next Ridderbos on my shelf.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Response to "A Customer", November 30, 2008
By 
M. McRae "Review" (Cambridge, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Jesus, Paul and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians (Paperback)
In response to the "Misunderstands Judaism and Justification" review below, I must say that Dunn gives absolute prominence of place to the New Testament. Not only in "Jesus, Paul and the Law" but in his many other books, including "The Theology of Paul the Apostle," at least the first two volumes of his "Jesus Remembered" trilogy, as well as the dozens of other books and commentaries on the NEW TESTAMENT writings which he has authored, Dunn makes it abundantly clear that the only way to proceed with any study of Jesus, Paul, or any other New Testament personality, as he sees it, is to stick to the New Testament text itself. Of course he brings in "other source(s)" as necessary, but to claim that Dunn ignores the New Testament in favor of other writings is simply not true and betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of what Dunn is so obviously trying to say.
Jesus, Paul and the Law is another fine example of Dunn's scholarship, which I can only describe as exemplary. You may not necessarily agree with his conclusions, (thought I honestly don't see why), but his methodology is impeccable. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Pauline or New Testament studies in general.
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11 of 65 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstands Judaism & Justification, October 11, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Jesus, Paul and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians (Paperback)
James Dunn in this volume demonstrates the willingness characteristic of New Perspective scholars to value the contribution of any other source, even rabbinnic sources of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, above the New Testament. This is worse than rejecting inerrency - it is rejecting the NT as a primary source for the first century! Even if Dunn's reinterpretation of Paul were true (which it isn't), he would still have to account for the woes pronnounced by Jesus in Matthew 23. Sounds like legalism to me!
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Jesus, Paul and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians
Jesus, Paul and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians by James D. G. Dunn (Paperback - April 1, 1990)
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