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The Parting of the Ways: Between Christianity and Judaism and Their Significance for the Character of Christianity Perfect Paperback – January 28, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0334029991 ISBN-10: 0334029996 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Perfect Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: SCM Press; 2nd edition (January 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0334029996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0334029991
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 22.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,198,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James Dunn was Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at the University of Durham until his recent retirement. He is the author of numerous best-selling books and acknowledged as one of the world's leading experts on New Testament study.

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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Terry B. Cullom on March 28, 2006
Format: Perfect Paperback
This is a book written from a rather unique perspective. Biblical scholars often ask the question regarding who the audience was for a particular N.T. writings, and how the audience (specifically Jewish) would have naturally understood what was written. In this book, Dunn reviews the chief "Pillar" teachings of Jewish thought in the Second Temple period (including Torah, Temple, Monotheism), and asks whether Jesus's or the early Christian teaching would have been beyond the bounds of their acceptable thinking. In particular, would they have considered the Christological teaching as a bifuracation of monotheism? Basically, he says it would have been acceptable--though, of course, Jews would not accept that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah.

Chapters 9--11 basically deal with Christology and Monotheism, and I consider this to be the heart of the book. Dunn explores key Christological texts that present a high view of Christ. He notes that in these treatments, while they express very innovative statements about Christ, the authors are careful to distinguish between God the father and Christ. Moreover, he claims their descriptions and treatments have parallels in other Second Temple Judaism writings. He concludes that there is basically nothing that would necessitate a parting of the ways between Christianity and Judaism, in spite of the unique claims for Christ.

He has an excellent discussion of how early Christological thinking was developed in patristics as new issues arose. He contends that as the earlier thinking was forgotten or overlooked, and words, concepts or new definitions were used, Christology did result in views that compromised both Christian and Jewish monotheism (theo--logy).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David W. Jones on August 9, 2012
Format: Perfect Paperback
J.D.G. Dunn's book, The Parting of the Ways, attempts to answer the question of how Christianity became a separate entity over and against Judaism. Dunn investigates the split between Judaism and Christianity in light of its significance for the progress of Christianity. He traces the history of the problem from Baur to Sanders, examining "four pillars" of second temple Judaism: (1) monotheism; (2) election; (3) Torah; and (4) temple. None of these pillars, he concludes, were brought down by Jesus or the writers of the New Testament, for nothing in the Christian Scriptures went outside the bounds of allowable speculation or debate within the Judaism of the times. Thus, early Christianity was very much within Judaism. It was not until much later that the breach occurred (between 70 and 135 CE, with preference given toward the latter). This breach was no single great split, but rather a protracted process that occurred in many stages with varying levels of intensity. The issue of so-called "anti-semitism in the New Testament" is interpreted as prophetic critiques of Judaism on the part of the NT writers. The book concludes by suggesting that the split between Christianity and Judaism may be reversed.

This book has received just praise from reviewers as a clear yet detailed work. On one hand, a reviewer could mention Dunn's "ease of movement over a wide area," while another could praise him for exhaustive citation of current literature, a full bibliography, and an index extremely well done. Everyone seemed to agree that it provided a good a feel for the "jewishness" of Christian origins, suggesting that it would be ideal for introducing students to the "wide sweep of early Christian history and thought.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on February 4, 2012
Format: Perfect Paperback
I've read a number of books by Dunn, who is now retired, and can attest to the fact that he is an excellent scholar; this book is no exception.

Note: I read a copy from 1991, so the page numbering may be a little off.

Dunn begins with a brief background on the history of biblical scholarship over the last few centuries. Which, by the way, means a stride through all the various discarded theories. Bultmann, who famously was influenced by existentialism, has had his theories "broken down in a confused welter of unanswered methodological questions (particularly the failure to achieve an agreed set of criteria for recognizing 'authentic' words of Jesus)...part of a much larger crisis affecting the whole historical critical method" (p 9).

Much has hinged on new archaeological and textual information. Greek is now known to have been "widely known and used in Palestine" (p 10) since the inscriptions in public were in Greek, and about one out of three ossuary inscriptions were as well.

Scholars today widely acknowledge that "talk of Hellenizing in the sense of de-judaizing, or as implying a gulf between a Jewish Jesus and a Greek-speaking Christianity" (p 10) has been severely refuted.

So, indeed, has talk of any Gnostic systems emerging earlier than the second century.

Most important has been acknowledging Judaism's "fierce antipathy to syncretism and virulent hostility to anything which smacked of idolatry" (p 20), an attitude completely at variance with the Hellenistic pagan religions which surrounded the Jews. And, significantly, Jesus never visited any of the Hellenistic cities in Galilee such as Sepphoris.
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