Jesus Remembered

Jesus Remembered

Jesus Remembered

Jesus Remembered

Synopsis

Dunn (divinity, U. of Durham) embarks on a three-volume series tracing the first 120 years of Christianity. Here he focuses on the figure of Jesus the Jew, his Galilean context, his mission from its prophecy to its climax, his impact, the traditions about him remembered and passed down as oral tradi

Excerpt

It has long been a hope and intention of mine to provide a comprehensive overview of the beginnings of Christianity. As a student of the New Testament (NT), in both professional and personal capacity, I suppose the ambition has a twofold origin: partly a desire to understand the NT writings in historical context, and not only as theological resource or as literature; and partly an instinctive hermeneutical awareness that the part can be understood only in the light of the whole, just as the whole can be comprehended only through a close understanding of the parts. The desire first took flesh in 1971, when A. R. C. (Bob) Leaney, a wonderfully generous and gentle Head of Department for a recently appointed lecturer, encouraged me to rethink the main NT course in the Theology Department of Nottingham University. With limited teaching resources, and Bob Leaney content to teach what he described as ‘a miniKümmel’ (Introduction to the writings of the NT), the obvious answer seemed to me to be a course entitled ‘The Beginnings of Christianity’. The aim was to give students a fairly detailed insight into the life and teaching of Jesus and the initial developments which constituted early Christianity, in both historical and theological perspective.

I already conceived the task in three phases. A whole term (ten teaching weeks) had to be given to Jesus; how could it be otherwise, given the central importance of Jesus for and in Christianity? That left only one other term for the sequel(s). And in practice the discussion of primitive Christianity and of Paul’s contribution in particular left very little time for anything beyond the first generation. The lecture course always came to an end when analysis of the second generation of Christianity had barely been entered upon. The situation was unsatisfactory, and only a partial remedy was provided by incorporating much of the missing material into an MA course on ‘Unity and Diversity in the New Testament’, which was duly written up for publication (1977). Otherwise the regular . . .

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