Some time ago I mentioned that Abingdon had published a short New Testament Theology (introduction) by James D.G. Dunn in thier ‘Library of Biblical Theology’ series. I have had a chance to look it over and I would like to offer my thoughts.
On the back, Brueggemann mentions that this book offers a ‘culmination of James Dunn’s lifelong work’ and he is correct. Though the book is a mere 206 pages, it offers a mature and cogent discussion of NT theology.
In the first introductory chapter, Dunn talks about the definition of NTT: canon, multiple theologies, ‘theologizing’, Paul as model theologian. Rather than seeing the NT as a static repository of doctrine, he sees the history and communal co-reasoning that eventually saw the development of the NT canon. From this perspective, the NT text is ‘a testimony to and expressive flow of the movement of expereince, thought and praxis in earliest Christianity’ (12).
What determines NTT? Dunn offers three factors, the third being too often neglected.
2. ‘the revelation of Jesus Christ’ (Gal. 1.12)
3. ‘the impact of fresh experience of God, attributed to the Spirit of God, bringing new insight and revelation’ (19)
Dunn goes on to discuss, not only the determinative factors for NTT, but also the essential core of its content: God, Salvation, Israel, and Torah. How did the revelation of Christ and the experience of the early Christians challenge, confirm, clarify, and modify these categories? Dunn treats each theme as a separate chapter.
More to come: I will try and blog on each chapter.
NB: This would make an excellent concise textbook for a NTT course, or even a NT survey course with a strong interest in theology.