James D.G. Dunn
Eerdmans, 192 pages
This book is a summary of James Dunn’s brilliant scholarship over 50 years of teaching on Jesus. The chapters, which cover the entire New Testament witness, were originally lectures delivered in Chichester, England. Dunn’s writing, which is clear, precise and accessible for the non-scholar, makes this volume so enriching. He stays focused carefully on his subject: Jesus. Beginning with his own conviction that Jesus had self-understanding that formed the memory of his earliest followers, he then goes on to explore the contributions of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, each receiving commentary unique to the telling. Against a tide of skeptical scholars, Dunn is emphatic that subsequent beliefs about Jesus were grounded in what he actually said and how he acted. He declares boldly: “Jesus according to Jesus is firmly at the root of Jesus according to the evangelists.” I can’t imagine a better introduction to the New Testament than this one. It contains a level of scholarship that will delight pastors, preachers, seminarians and teachers without sacrificing any accessibility for a wider audience. Having explored Jesus and the Gospel writers, he explores in-depth the Apostle Paul, Hebrews and the non-Pauline writings, concluding with a sharp chapter on Revelation. For all who want to keep going deeper in the knowledge of Jesus: Read this book. Gather a study group in your church. It’s the best.