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Jesus Remembered: Christianity in the Making, Volume 1 Hardcover – July 29, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"This tome takes its place among the equally voluminous and deep contributions of scholars like Crossan, John Meier, N.T. Wright, and Walter Wink. . . Most important for preachers is the way Dunn interprets the words and deeds of Jesus and stories of his life as an unfolding, living tradition of interpretation. It helps us to understand our own work as part of that unfolding, living tradition. . . ."

Toronto Journal of Theology
"Dunn is to be commended for his challenging and insightful work. It must be read by all who are interested in the field, and it is destined to become a significant conversation partner in future discussions of the historical Jesus."

Christopher Tuckett
"A magnificent achievement. Jesus Remembered is massively thorough and wide-ranging, innovative in its stress on orality, at times provocative, yet also immensely readable and clear. James Dunn's book will undoubtedly shape Jesus study for the next generation and more. This is a 'must' for all those engaged in study of Jesus at whatever level."

Dale C. Allison Jr.
"This is not just one more book on Jesus but rather an esteemed scholar's wide-ranging presentation of conclusions arrived at over a lifetime of informed, critical reflection. It is full of good sense and much learning. As always, James Dunn's work is characterized not only by a genuine familiarity with Jesus' first-century Jewish world but also by an unsurpassed knowledge of the vast secondary literature. Especially suggestive is the consistent appeal to continuing oral tradition, which often appears justified."

Samuel Byrskog
"In this study one of the most prolific New Testament scholars of today presents an impressive new approach to the old 'quest for the historical Jesus.' James Dunn's central thesis that a hermeneutically informed dialogue with the ancient texts will legitimate an account of the impact of Jesus as it was remembered by his earliest followers convincingly places the oral character of the Jesus tradition at the very center of attention. The book should not only help scholarship to free itself from the prevailing literary paradigm, but also promote a healthy balance between positivistic optimism and postmodern relativism in the search for the so-called historical Jesus. "

John P. Meier
"For decades James D. G. Dunn has been a leader in serious and balanced study of both christology and history-of-Jesus research. I have profited greatly from his many books and articles, and I am delighted to read this massive distillation of his many years of reflection and publication on the historical Jesus. I highly recommend Jesus Remembered to all those interested in a thoughtful and methodologically sophisticated approach to the major questions that plague and stimulate historical-Jesus research today."

Mark Allan Powell
"Any serious student of the historical Jesus will want to become familiar with James Dunn's thorough and somewhat unique treatment of the subject. Dunn focuses his attention on characteristic features in the early traditions concerning Jesus in order to determine the impact that the latter had on his first followers. The portrait that emerges is both convincing and thought-provoking ? an indispensable contribution to an ongoing quest to comprehend the significance of Jesus for the history of Christianity and for modern civilization."

Jonathan L. Reed
"Jesus Remembered provides a fresh and thorough look at Christian origins that is provocative and at the same time judicious in its assessments. James Dunn is equally at home in the history of scholarship, in the details of the Gospels, in the array of nonbiblical sources, and in the archaeology of Jesus' world, and he weaves these into a coherent and credible account of the Jesus traditions.Jesus Remembered is absolutely essential reading for scholars and pastors, and Dunn's clarity and fluid style make complex issues accessible to undergraduate students and laypersons as well."

From the Back Cover

James Dunn is regarded worldwide as one of today's foremost biblical scholars. Having written groundbreaking studies of the New Testament and a standard work on Paul's theology, Dunn here turns his pen to the rise of Christianity itself. "Jesus Remembered" is the first installment in what will be a monumental three-volume history of the first 120 years of the faith.

Focusing on Jesus, this first volume has several distinct features. It garners the lessons to be learned from the quest for the historical Jesus and meets the hermeneutical challenges to a historical and theological assessment of the Jesus tradition. It provides a fresh perspective both on the impact made by Jesus and on the traditions about Jesus as "oral" tradition -- hence the title Jesus Remembered. And it offers a fresh analysis of the details of that tradition, emphasizing its "characteristic" (rather than dissimilar) features. Noteworthy too are Dunn's treatments of the source question (particularly Q and the noncanonical Gospels) and of Jesus the Jew in his Galilean context.

In his detailed analysis of the Baptist tradition, the kingdom motif, the call to and character of discipleship, what Jesus' audiences thought of him, what he thought of himself, why he was crucified, and how and why belief in Jesus' resurrection began, Dunn engages wholeheartedly in the contemporary debate, providing many important insights and offering a thoroughly convincing account of how Jesus was remembered from the first, and why.

Written with peerless scholarly acumen yet accessible to a wide range of readers, Dunn's "Jesus Remembered," together with its successor volumes, will be a sine qua non for all students of Christianity'sbeginnings.


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Product Details

  • Series: Christianity in the Making (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 1037 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans (July 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802839312
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802839312
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 2.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. E. Moore on January 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I would rank James Dunn with the best New Testament scholars I have read to include John Meier, Richard Bauckham, E. P. Sanders, and Albert Schweitzer. Dunn is a secular scholar. This is not the kind of fluff you would find in an evangelical bookstore. Yet he challenges the theories of modern liberal Jesus questers who want to transform the historical person of Jesus into a non-apocalyptic moral sage or a political revolutionary.

Dunn rightly claims that the idea of Jesus as a Mediterranean peasant or a wandering cynic philosopher fails to place him within first century Palestinian Judaism. The idea of Jesus as a political revolutionary also lacks merit. The Zealot party and the events leading up to the Jewish War ocurred decades after Jesus was crucified.

Dunn also challenges the theory of a separate "Q" gospel and the so-called "Q" community. The "Q" verses makes no mention of Jesus' resurrection which is an event too critical to have been glossed over by any of his followers. The most likely explanation for these verses is that that Luke's gospel borrowed them from Matthew.

Dunn claims that the historical Jesus is enshrined in the gospels. Even though the gospels were written in light of the resurrection, they are still the only real sources we have in regard to the historical person of Jesus. The traditions preserved in the synoptic gospels reflect a time when the day of judgemnet and the full manifestation of God's Kingdom were expected to occur in the near future. The apocryphal or so called gnostic gospels, including the highly touted Gospel of Thomas, lack this apocalyptic element and were therefore most likely written long after the fervor of Jesus' imminent return died down.
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Format: Hardcover
James Dunn's massively documented "Jesus Remembered" is the first of a planned trilogy on the first 120 years of Christianity. He starts off with of his discussion of the Jesus tradition, and what we can know about the historical Jesus. After his discussion of the past two centuries of Jesus research Dunn gets down to his new approach to the question. Much of the study of the historical Jesus has dealt with texts; Mark, Q, Matthew and Luke and their own unique sources. Dunn argues that the differences between these sources cannot simply be viewed as theological redactions. Instead they often relied on oral tradition. Dunn has looked at how oral traditions develop and notices that while stories passed orally often change in details ("performance variations") the essential core of the story often remains unchanged for a long time. Although Dunn says several times that the best we can hope for is what Jesus' followers remembered about him, he often believes that if a tradition fits his oral history paradigm given above it is most likely to have originated with Jesus himself.
So what does Dunn conclude from his approach? First off, Dunn himself is a Christian and on page 879 affirms the resurrection. So it is important to point out how much of Christian belief Dunn has to leave by the wayside. The Gospel of John's narrative is not reliable, nor the claims it makes for his quasi-divine status. There is little to support the infancy narratives. There is little evidence that Jesus supported a mission to the gentiles. Contrary to the gospels, there is no evidence that Jesus saw himself as any kind of messiah. (The term does not even appear in Q.) Nor is there much left of the "Son of Man," except for a few uncertain eschatological allusions.
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Format: Hardcover
For well over a century, scholars of the New Testament have concentrated on theories about how the New Testament came together. Were all the gospels written a century or later than the events recorded? Did later redactors edit the New Testament to change dogma? Had the collectors of the New Testament ignored other, just as valuable, gospels?

These questions have been argued, and many seem now answered.

The chief question many scholars are now concentrating on is the way that Jesus was remembered and how those memories came to be written.

Moreover, Dunn points out, scholars are now acknowledging "the failure to take seriously the fact that in the initial stages of the traditioning process the tradition must have been oral tradition; and...the failure to investigate the character of the tradition in its oral phase" (p 192).

That failure is now being remedied by a renewed interest in how oral tradition was passed on, not only among early Christians, but for Second Temple Jews. Indeed, oral tradition was regarded as the equal of scripture for the Jews. And it was regarded as binding.

For this reason, Dunn notes the importance of teachers in early Christianity, since teachers "seem to have been the first regularly paid ministry ...(Gal. 6.6; Did.13.2)" (p 176.) Nor can there be any doubt of the importance given to the twelve apostles, and, in particular, Peter, James, and John, who would have known the tradition most deeply.

Teachers, from a father teaching his son, to the importance of the Pharisees and scribes, were an integral part of Second Temple Judaism.
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