Best Books– Part Five

Best Books– Part Five March 18, 2015


It would be difficult to fully assess in one blog post the work of J.D.G. (Jimmy) Dunn. For one thing, he is among the most prolific NT scholars of the modern era. Don’t believe me? Check this out….

James D. G. Dunn (1970). Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Studies in Biblical Theology Second Series 15). London: SCM Press.
James D. G. Dunn (1975). Jesus and the Spirit. London: SCM Press.
James D. G. Dunn (1985). The Evidence for Jesus. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. ISBN 978-0-664-24698-3.
James D. G. Dunn (1980). Christology in the making: a New Testament inquiry into the origins of the doctrine of the incarnation. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. ISBN 0-664-24356-8.
James D. G. Dunn (1988). Romans 1-8, 9-16. Waco, Tex: Word Books. ISBN 0-8499-0252-5.
James D. G. Dunn (1990). Jesus, Paul, and the law: studies in Mark and Galatians. Louisville, Ky: Westminster/John Knox Press. ISBN 0-664-25095-5.
James D. G. Dunn (1990). Unity and diversity in the New Testament: an inquiry into the character of earliest Christianity. London: SCM Press. ISBN 0-334-02436-6.
James D. G. Dunn (1991). The Partings of the Ways between Christianity and Judaism and their Significance for the Character of Christianity. London: SCM Press. ISBN 0-334-02508-7.
James D. G. Dunn (1993). The Epistle to Galatians. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers. ISBN 1-56563-036-X.
James D. G. Dunn and Alan M. Suggate (1994). The justice of God: a fresh look at the old doctrine of justification by faith. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-0797-6.
James D. G. Dunn (1996). The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon: a commentary on the Greek text. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-2441-2.
James D. G. Dunn (1998). The theology of Paul the Apostle. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. ISBN 0-8028-3844-8.
James D. G. Dunn (editor) (2003). The Cambridge companion to St. Paul. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-78694-0.
James D. G. Dunn, general editor, editor of the New Testament; John W. Rogerson, editor of the Old Testament and Apocrypha (2003). Eerdmans commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-3711-5.
James D. G. Dunn (2003). Christianity in the Making: Vol. 1, Jesus Remembered. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-3931-2.
James D. G. Dunn (2005). A New Perspective On Jesus: What The Quest For The Historical Jesus Missed (Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology). Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic. ISBN 0-8010-2710-1.
James D. G. Dunn (2007). The New Perspective On Paul. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-4562-2.
James D. G. Dunn (2008). Christianity in the Making: Vol. 2, Beginning from Jerusalem. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-3932-0.
James D. G. Dunn (2009). The Living Word (second edition). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. ISBN 978-0-8006-6355-1.
James D. G. Dunn (2010). Did the first Christians worship Jesus?. London – Louisville, KY: Society for promoting Christian knowledge. ISBN 978-0-281-05928-7.

His output is only eclipsed in the U.K. by Tom Wright. Jimmy, like Marshall, like Barrett, is a British Methodist, and like Bruce he is a Scot. What is impressive about Dunn’s work is that so many of his books have been groundbreaking studies, and even many of those which aren’t are of the very highest caliber of scholarship. His doctoral dissertation done under C.F.D. Moule at Cambridge is one of the best dissertations ever— and it became the basis for his earlier work Baptism in the Holy Spirit (1970). This was followed by an equally seminal study Jesus and the Spirit. Dunn had an early interest in pneumatology. I remember his coming to Durham in the late 70s and giving the Lightfoot lecture on glossolalia, which surprised many. Like Barrett and Marshall, Jimmy was equally interested in and adept at Jesus and Paul studies. Christology in the Making and Unity and Diversity in the NT both had wide impact. You can tell when you are dealing with a formidable scholar when even those who strong disagree with him feel that they have to deal with his work at length. Jimmy long had a profound interest in the relationship between early Judaism and the Jesus movement, and the ongoing debate about when ‘the parting of the ways’ happened between these two entities. In my view, it had for the most part already happened even before the fall of the Temple in A.D. 70, as Paul’s letters attest.

In my estimation, one of Jimmy’s very best books is his The Theology of Paul the Apostle. This shows deep and long reflection on Paul’s thought world. While I disagree with him about the New Perspective on Paul issues such as what the phrase ‘works of the Law’ means for Paul, there is so much excellent exposition of Paul’s thought in that volume. And the quality of Jimmy’s work has never dropped off. His recent series on the beginnings of Christianity, Christianity in the Making undoubtedly his own attempt to do for his generation what Cadbury did in their Beginnings study and others did with a multi-volume study with basically is of a very high quality.

Of his various commentaries, I would say that while they are all good, the really top draw ones are his Roman commentary and his one on Colossians and Philemon.

Like Barrett whose chair he occupied once Barrett retired, Jimmy was proud to be in the Lightfoot chair at Durham, being very much a fan of Lightfoot. It is one of the things that unites Barrett and Dunn and myself. Lightfoot would have been very proud of his Durham NT successors, including John Barclay, whom we will discuss in the next post.

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