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The Evidence for Jesus Paperback – January 1, 1986

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; First Edition edition (January 1, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664246982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664246983
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
James D.G. Dunn is a "centrist" New Testament scholar who has written a large number of books, many focusing on the Apostle Paul. Dunn is one of the leaders of the "new perspective on Paul" movement, which argues that the Reformers misunderstood or overemphasized Paul's teaching on justification by faith (or at least that's what their critics assert they are saying).

This relatively small book discusses four questions: (1) the historicity of the Gospels; (2) did Jesus claim to be the Son of God?; (3) what the first Christians believed about the resurrection; and (4) unity and diversity in earliest Christianity. It assumes little or no knowledge of the Gospels and could be studied profitably by beginners and those who are exposed to fanciful stories of Jesus' life (e.g., Jesus married Mary Magdalene and moved to India). The discussion of the resurrection is particularly good, and Dunn shows that there are few parallels to belief in Jesus' resurrection in the pagan or Jewish world of the time.

Not everyone will agree with Prof. Dunn's conclusions. For example, he argues that John's Gospel is something of a theological commentary on Jesus' life and that the dispute with "the Jews" reflects the later separation between church and synagogue. Another book, which complements this one and reaches perhaps more conservative conclusions, is F.F. Bruce's THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS: ARE THEY RELIABLE?
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Format: Paperback
It is nice to see a book dealing with the tough issues of the day with respect to the new testament and modern scholarship. There are so few authors who are tackling the issues (did the resurrection occur? Was Jesus God? Why do the gospels differ in their accounts? Why do christians disagree on so many points?) that I was surprised to find one that did. I would recommend this book for anyone who struggles with some of these issues and would like to see a thoughtful response. I was so impressed with Professor's Dunn's book, I purchased another, Jesus, Paul, and the Law.
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Format: Paperback
If you're looking for an exhaustive treatment of critical scholarship issues, this book is not for you. Its intended audience is the layperson or young college student.
Professor Dunn's book deals with four issues which provide a response to the television series, Jesus: The Evidence, which first aired in the mid-eighties, and, according to Dunn, misrepresented the scholarly consensus in early Christian studies. Rather than provide a balanced overview of scholarship, this show favored the eccentric views of a minority of scholars, and thus misled many viewers. This book is a brief reply, and deals with four salient issues:
1. The Reliability of the Synoptic Gospels
2. Finding the Historical Jesus in the Gospel of John
3. Beliefs of the Resurrection in the Early Church
4. The Early Church -- Christianity or Christianities?
Brief, lucid, and a fine example of deftly blending scholarship with a concern for the contemporary church, this book is a must for every layperson not yet exposed to critical scholarship.
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Format: Paperback
Dunn is a pre-eminent New Testament scholar. As such, I had high hopes that this book may be "the" response to the Jesus Myth. Although useful and well-written, its focus is not necessarily the Jesus Myth, but some of the other liberal treatments of the historical Jesus. The book appears to have been prompted by a British television special featuring a preponderance of radical liberal New Testament scholarship.

A scholar of a moderate bent, Dunn begins by mentioning the difficulties created by the "gap" between Jesus' ministry and the writing of the gospels (which he places at 36-39 years), the fact that the Gospels were written in Greek but Jesus taught in Aramaic, and the redaction of the sources in the Gospels. The discussion of the redaction of material in the Gospels is surprisingly in-depth for such a short book. Dunn demonstrates that though there is redaction, it is focused on a core of historical information accepted by each of the gospels.

Dunn goes on to demonstrate quite convincingly that Jesus considered himself uniquely to be God's son and that the earliest Christians believed in the empty tomb and the bodily resurrection of Jesus. These chapters are not your typical apologetics, because Dunn has quite a sceptical eye for some material. Nevertheless, his careful analysis shows the emptiness of overly sceptical conclusion-jumping.

Dunn considers the early Christian epistles and other evidence to conclude that there was diversity in early Christianity, but not nearly as broad as some contend. Ultimately what bound Christians together was their belief in "Jesus as the climax of God's ongoing purpose for man's redemption, the one whom God had raised from the dead and exalted as Lord, the man who demonstrated most clearly what God is like.
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