Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Christian Apologetics Journal
Volume: CAJ 05:1 (Spring 2006)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

A New Perspective on Jesus: What the Quest for the Historical Jesus Missed. James D. G. Dunn. Baker Academic, 2005. 136 pp., $12.99, ISBN 0801027101.

So-called religious liberals have always had a love affair with “the historical Jesus,” especially in contrast to “the Christ of faith.” And as the decades have come and gone, their quest for the historical Jesus remains unabated. They are dogmatically determined to deliver the church from its naïve and superstitious commitment to “the Christ of faith,” the Christ of the church creeds, a commitment that has nothing to do with the real world of scholastic history and “the historical Jesus” (i.e., the religious liberal’s world of true and enlightened/Gnostic scholarship). This contrast between “the historical Jesus” and “the Christ of faith” initially came to prominence with the publication of F. D. E. Schleiermacher’s Life of Jesus in 1865 and has continued down to our own day, best expressed in the latest quest for the historical Jesus by the so-called Jesus Seminar, led by Robert Funk and his colleagues. In the words of Dunn, a striking feature is readily apparent from those committed to the quest for the historical Jesus: “That in the quest of the historical Jesus, faith is a hindrance, faith leads the searcher

down the wrong road, faith prevents the searcher from recognizing the real Jesus. Faith is bad, history is good” (22). In other words, there is a radical bifurcation between the Christ of faith (from sincere although naïve Christians) and the historical Jesus (from enlightened scholastic historians), and the two quests should never be confused.

Evangelical New Testament scholar, James D. G. Dunn, Emeritus Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at the University of Durham, has written A New Perspective of Jesus: What the Quest for the Historical Jesus Missed as a response to the current debate on “the historical Jesus” as opposed to “the Christ of faith.” And he has done so on the debaters’ own turf, that is, the nature of faith in Jesus itself, especially in light of the early New Testament role of oral communication among Jesus’ disciples. Actually, this book is a smaller follow-up to Dunn’s rather formidable book, Christianity in the Making (Eerdmans), published in 2003, which was his all out engagement with the long-running quest for the historical Jesus. In this former work Dunn interacted with all the key issues of this debate—such issues as the historical, hermeneutical, theological, methodological, and classic expositions of these issues. Dunn’s current book seeks to further interact with the ongoing quest for the historical Jesus at three points...

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