Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A New Perspective on Jesus: What the Quest for the Historical Jesus Missed (Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology)
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
While not arguing against documentary theories (e.g. "Q"), he feels many avenues have not been suffiently explored in explaining the gospels. Specifically, he argues that scholars have not sufficiently reflected on the nature of a largely oral (as opposed to literate) society; also that Jesus' positive influence on his hearers has been likewise overlooked.
His view seems to honor the gospels as accurate, historical pictures of Jesus. This small book is useful for apologetics and for better appreciating the world of the New Testament.
Dunn explains a number of implications of an oral paradigm. For example, the "Christ of faith" and the "historical Jesus" cannot be separated, because the oral tradition was faith based from the beginning. An "excavation" method of trying to uncover the historical Jesus is doomed to failure because there is no single account to go back to. There would have been multiple faith based accounts right from the beginning, because different followers would have heard or understood various sayings differently. Also, to determine historicity scholars have tended to focus on what was unique within the first-century Jewish or early Christian contexts, but Dunn argues that emphasis should go onto what is characteristic of the oral tradition, and the events that could have given rise to it.
This book left me with a sense of the gospels as a snapshot of a dynamic oral tradition. My impression after reading this book is that the gospels are historically reliable providing one comes to them with expectations appropriate to this tradition. This book is highly readable, but those without any knowledge of the historical quests may prefer to begin with an introductory text, perhaps something like NT Wright's "The Contemporary Quest for Jesus."
This is a revolutionary book of biblical scholarship. Yet it is a mere 125 pages long. And it's written in Dunn's usual clear style, so that it's accessible to anyone interested in the subject.
For almost 200 years, scholars have been trying to find a different, more 'historical' Jesus from the Jesus of faith presented in the gospels. Their assumption was that the historical Jesus must be different from the Jesus of the New Testament, and that, with enough research, they'd be able to tease out this other Jesus.
But as Dunn points out, the quest was flawed. Where could they find this other Jesus? "The only Jesus available to us...is Jesus as he was seen and heard by those who first formulated the traditions we have--the Jesus of faith, Jesus seen through the eyes and heard through the ears of the faith that he evoked by what he said and did" (p 31). Yet there is an entire industry of alternatives to the actual gospels, suggesting all sorts of dark conspiracies. Jesus as a mushroom! Jesus as Caesar! Jesus as the hippie Cynic sage! Alll of them based on hot air and a vivid fantasy life.
The problem for all these desperate alternatives to the gospels is that "to discount the influence that Jesus actually had, to strip away the impact that Jesus actually made, is to strip away everything and to leave an empty stage waiting to be filled by...the historian's own imagination. If we are unsatisfied with the Jesus of the Synoptic tradition, then we will simply have to lump it; there is no other" (p 34).
This would make a terrific Christmas present to any biblical scholars you know.
He wrote in the Preface to this 2005 book, "I soon realized that what I regarded as the key methodological contributions made by 'Jesus Remembered' might become lost in the scale on which I found it necessary to operate in the book. Fortunately, the invitation to deliver the Hayward Lectures [in 2003] ... gave me the opportunity to spell out these insights more fully and to carry them further forward in the light of my continuing research." (Pg. 8)
He suggests, "we may say that the 'Gospel of Thomas' is like the Gospel of John: they both attest the influence of later faith, in the one case the gnostic faith, in the other Christian faith; that is, both exemplify in their different ways the Christ of faith in protest against which the quest of the historical Jesus was first undertaken." (Pg. 32)
He argues, "The brutal fact is that we simply cannot escape from a presumption of orality for the first stage of the transmission of the Jesus tradition.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The paradigm for the study of the "historical Jesus" has been all wrong. This is the essential thrust of James D.G. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Garrett Craig
It's not about Jesus. It's about what scholars ought not to attempt to do when studying Jesus. Given that qualification, it's a fine book.Published 17 months ago by FHH
If one were to judge what 'The Quest' missed by the length of this book, the conclusion would be 'not much'. But this book packs quite a punch for it's size. Read morePublished on August 20, 2013 by Grant Marshall
So, you want to begin to study the scholarship on the "Historical Jesus." Where does one start, for the published works have almost become an industry unto themselves. Read morePublished on July 4, 2011 by Rev. John D. White
This is a look at historical Jesus research with fresh eyes which is much appreciated. Dunn questions much of the assumptions of the field and offers suggestions for the future... Read morePublished on July 10, 2010 by Ronald C. Payne
Professor James Dunn has written a marvelous introduction for someone new to the questions regarding the study of the "historical Jesus. Read morePublished on April 1, 2007 by Rev. John D. White