Book Review: Richard Horsley, The Prophet Jesus and the Renewal of Israel

Horsley, Richard. The Prophet Jesus and the Renewal of Israel: Moving Beyond a Diversionary Debate.  Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2012. 161 pp. Pb; $20.00.  Link to Eerdmans 

Richard Horsley is well known for his work on Historical Jesus. In this book he summarizes two issues perennially debated by Historical Jesus Scholars. First, Horsley does not find the dichotomy between “Jesus the apocalyptic prophet” and a “Jesus the sage” particularly helpful. Second, he does not think the focus of Historical Jesus scholars on the individual sayings of Jesus is the right method and has the result of obscuring Jesus’ actual teaching by narrowing down the teaching of Jesus to a series of “one-liners” disconnected from their literary context.

Horsley, The Prophetic JesusIn the first section of the book, Horsley discusses the problem of an Apocalyptic Jesus. In the first chapter is gives a brief overview, summarizing the apocalyptic scenarios of Schweitzer and Bultmann, although his main target in this section is Dale Allison as a “reassertion of the apocalyptic Jesus.” The third chapter interacts with Allison’s Jesus of Nazareth extensively. Although his Constructing Jesus came out in 2010, Horsley apparently did not have access the extensive argument for an apocalyptic Jesus in the first chapter of that book. Horsley summarizes Allison’s argument under several headings (the eschatological judgment, resurrection from the dead, restoration of Israel, eschatological tribulation, and imminence). He then checks these categories against apocalyptic texts in Second Temple Judaism, discovering that there is very little evidence in these texts to support Allison’s categories. He blames this on the Jesus’ scholar’s “relative unfamiliarity with Judean texts” (39). Allison and others have, according to Horsley, imposed their assumptions about Jewish apocalypticism on to Jesus and therefore misunderstood his teaching.

There are several things in this first section I find problematic. His dismissal of those who read Jesus as standing in the tradition of Jewish apocalyptic as ignorant of Second Temple Judaism is simply not the case. What is at issue is the interpretation of these texts. Horsley is inclined read this literature as lacking an “apocalyptic scenario.” This is likely true if one expects to find a dispensational timeline of the tribulation period embedded in 1 Enoch or 2 Baruch. But I am not sure any Historical Jesus scholar thinks this way. The apocalyptic teaching of Jesus resonates with Second Temple Judaism, it does not conform to it. It is telling that Horsley cites Daniel extensively, but always leaves out Daniel 9, one of the texts best supporting an apocalyptic Jesus. In addition, he rarely deals with the eschatology of the Qumran Community, despite the fact that they can be fairly described as “apocalyptic.”

A second problem with this section is the idea than apocalyptic means “end of the world.” Horsley makes this explicit when he describes the eschatology of the Similitudes of 1 Enoch as “’imminent but not apocalyptic’ as the end of the world” (49). To me, this is a misunderstanding of Apocalyptic literature. This material does not describe the “end of the world as we know it” so much as the transformation of this present world into kingdom God intended from the beginning. (In fact, Horsley says something very close to this in an interview concerning the book. He would rather drop the description “apocalyptic” because it has come to mean “end of the world.”)

In the second section of the book, Horsley deals with the sources for understanding Jesus. In these chapters Horsley describes Jesus in the tradition of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible. These prophets were social critics who challenged the status quo and were often in conflict with the governing authority. Rather than an apocalyptic prophet predicting the end of the world, Jesus was a revolutionary prophet who demanded social change. This led to a decisive confrontation with the authorities resulting in the execution of Jesus. Here Horsley builds on his previous work, first in describing the political volatility of first century Galilee and then by showing Jesus is consistent with several uprisings in the first century that eventually led to the first Jewish revolt.

He argues the sayings of Jesus must be taken in their literary contexts, with a heavy emphasis on the strata of Q. Horsley does not interact with recent proposals that dispense with Q, although in fairness some of these challenges have only been developed recently. In addition, this section of the book could be strengthened by some of the recent developments in memory theory and oral tradition (Dunn, Bauckham, LeDonne, etc.) I frankly found chapter 8 to be a bit dated, even though the book was published in 2012.

The last two chapters of the book are the best in my view. For Horsley, Jesus is a revolutionary prophet with the goal of reforming Israel around the Mosaic Covenant. Jesus wanted to renew Israel and call them back to covenant faithfulness in exactly the same way that the prophets of the Hebrew Bible did for Israel and Judah. Jesus and his followers were formed by “Israelite tradition, the deeply rooted memory of Moses and Joshua, the founding prophets of Israel in the events of the exodus and the coming into the land” (117). Everything Jesus did and said was designed to call to mind what Israel was meant to be in the first place; even his healings and exorcisms called to mind Elijah and Elisha.

Because he was leading a prophetic movement, Jesus naturally came into conflict with the ruling authorities, and this resulting in his execution (145). For Horsley, Jesus was a threat to the Roman Imperial order as well as the ruling Temple-state. Because he prophesied against the Temple during the Passover, the aristocratic priesthood moved against him. Jesus was “more than a raving ‘maniac’ uttering mournful laments of doom over Jerusalem,” he was understandably a threat to Rome and the ruling Temple-state, and he therefore became a “martyr to the cause of the renewal of Israel under the direct role of God” (149).

Conclusion. This short book is a good primer for reading Horsley. I have always found Horsley to be stimulating and thought provoking, and this book is exactly what I expected from him. But there is nothing particularly new in the book and there are numerous instances where he cites chapters in previous works for a more developed argument. Since the purpose of the book is in fact to highlight two problems and offer a brief solution, the book is successful. The reader is prodded towards other monographs and articles for the details.

NB: Eerdmans has a nice interview with Horsley talking about the book on YouTube. I bought this book myself, but this did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

Book Review: Mark Harding and Alanna Nobbs, All Things to All Cultures

Harding, Mark and Alanna Nobbs. All Things to All Cultures: Paul among Jews, Greeks, and Romans. Grand Rapids, Mich. Eerdmans, 2013. 426 pp. Pb; $50.00. Link to Eerdmans

This collection of essays was sponsored by the Australian College of Theology and all the contributors have some connection to that institution or Macquarie University. The book is a companion to The Content and the Setting of the Gospel Tradition (Eerdmans, 2010). Like that earlier volume, All Things to All Cultures sets Pauline literature into a Greco-Roman context in order to illuminate the letters and theology of Paul. This is not intended to be comprehensive, nor do the authors agree on all aspects of Pauline studies. Each essay is a self-contained unit and includes a very helpful “recommended reading” list. There are two short appendices by Paul Barnett: “Paul and the Book of Acts” and “A Tabular Analysis of Paul’s Asian Epistles.”

The first four essays focus on introductory issues. Murray Smith provides an overview of recent developments in Pauline studies in “Paul in the Twenty-first Century.” Since there is an avalanche of scholarly interest in Paul in the last 30 years, Smith must work very hard to provide an overview of main contours of the current “debates” in a mere 33 pages (including 212 footnotes)!  The largest section of the essay is of course dedicated to the development of the New Perspective on Paul and the subsequent responses to Sanders, Dunn, Wright and others.

Harding and NobbsComparing the Letters of Paul and the book of Acts, David Eastman presents a basic chronology of Paul’s life (“Paul: An Outline of His Life”). This is always a controversial topic since there are a limited number of “fixed dates” from which to develop a chronology. Eastman dates the Damascus Road experience to 33/34 and the Jerusalem Council to 50/51. He takes Gal 2:1-10 as the same events of Acts 15. Eastman gives a wide range (62-68) for the death of Paul since the traditions concerning his death are unclear. He provides a chart comparing his chronology to other recent scholars (p. 52).

In some ways Cavan Concannon’s essay, “The Archaeology of the Pauline Mission” is unmanageably broad. The archaeology of Corinth or Ephesus would fill a much larger monograph. He therefore focuses his attention on brief surveys the four “Pauline” cities and then to specific topics for each city that specifically illuminate the letters of Paul. For Thessalonica, Concannon examines associations and sacred laws, for Philippi he focuses on Romanatis of the city. For Ephesus he limits his discussion to slavery and cultic practices. Finally, for Corinth he examines the place of women and the poor. This is an excellent strategy, although in each case there is little more than a sketch. Concannon does provide copious footnotes to relevant literature.

Finally in the first section of the book, Brent Nongbri examines the “Pauline Letter Manuscripts.” This is perhaps the least controversial element of Pauline studies, although Nongbri does comment on several competing theories for the development of collections of Pauline letters. The order and content of these collections vary and may have some bearing on current developments in “canonical” interpretation.

The next three essays unpack the Jewish, Greek, and Roman contexts of Paul’s mission. Since the work of Stendahl and Sanders in the late 1970s, the Jewish context of Paul’s theology has become one of the most intensely examined areas in Pauline Studies. Paul McKechnie’s “Paul among the Jews” offers a survey of the life of Paul that deals with the problem of Saul’s conversion. Did Paul “reject Judaism” and turn to Christianity? Relying primarily on Acts, McKechnie lays out the evidence that Paul remained more or less Jewish throughout his career. I found that this chapter lacked a strong conclusion, although the thesis seems clear (Paul remained a Jewish Pharisee). Some will find his presentation problematic since he relies so heavily on Acts, with very little reference to Paul’s letters.

While Christopher Forbes examines “Paul among the Greeks,” he is not concerned with the common question of influence (“was Paul a Stoic?” or “did Paul get baptism from the Greeks?”). Paul must have had some sort of “secondary education” that might be described as “Greek” and his “broad engagement with Greek culture is obvious in his letters” (p. 135). The chapter argues that Paul’s engagement of the Gentiles resonates with the view from the Hebrew Bible that Gentiles would become a part of Israel in the eschatological age.

James R. Harrison’s “Paul among the Romans” engages the issue of anti-imperialism in Paul’s thought. After a short introduction to the current debate Harrison focuses primarily on Romans. While Paul does recommend submission to the government, he does not give any sort of accolades to the Emperor typically found in Roman literature. In addition, local churches are “benefactor communities” that do not accept the benefaction of the Empire. He concludes that Paul was “anti-imperial” when he counters the Augustan claim on peace by pointing out that the peace comes only through the sword (p. 174).

The third set of essays in the book cover the Pauline Letters in canonical order. Each chapter offers some basic background material and an overview of the letter, usually with some sketch of the contribution of the specific letters to Pauline Theology. For example, Michael Bird’s concise summary in “The Letter to the Romans” is an excellent overview of the letter. If there is some classic introductory problem, the author of the chapter briefly summarizes it and offers an opinion. L. L. Welborn sorts out the various problems associated with the two letters to the Corinthians, identifying letters A-H (“The Corinthians Correspondence”).  Greg Forbes (“The Letter to the Galatians”), for example, argues for an early date for Galatians (A.D. 48, before the Jerusalem Council). Murray Smith leans toward 2 Thess being the earlier of the two letters (“The Thessalonian Correspondence”).

Ian Smith has the formidable task of covering the four Prison Epistles (“The Later Pauline Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon”). Authorship and provenance for these letters are notorious problems. After surveying the options, he concludes that all four are written by Paul during the Roman imprisonment. Mark Harding sees the Pastoral letters are pseudegraphical and are designed “to actualize living tradition and cause it to speak to a new situation not originally envisioned” (p. 349, “The Pastoral Epistles”).

In the final chapter of the book Timothy J. Harris writes a short Pauline Theology. As Harris confesses, to write anything on Paul’s theology is “ambitious” and even “perilous,” but to attempt it in a mere 38 pages will leave most readers looking for more. After a short orientation on method and sources, Harris describes Paul’s theology as a “conversion of a worldview” (p.360), but a conversion that is thoroughly Christocentric. It is through Jesus and the cross that God has chosen to deal with the problem of sin. Harris summarized the “Pauline Meta-narrative” as “creation, redemption, and the fullness of time” (p. 369). He briefly interacts with the New Perspective as well as Douglas Campbell’s The Deliverance of God. His summary of Paul’s theology certainly resonates with the New Perspective (especially N. T. Wright), but every writer on Paul must deal with the challenges stemming from that perspective.

Conclusion. I find this to be a very helpful overview of the main issues current under discussion in the world of Pauline Studies. As with all books that attempt to survey a huge area of study, this book is occasionally too much of a sketch to satisfy. A similar sized text could be produced on Pauline Theology and a second volume on the literature. Nevertheless, I would recommend the book for use in a seminary class on Pauline literature and theology because it provides an overview of the landscape without getting distracted by the details.

One problem for this book is that it was published about the same time as N. T. Wright’s massive Paul and the Faithfulness of God. There are many themes in Wright’s book that find expressing in All Things to All Cultures for two reasons. First, the writers have interacted with Wright’s earlier views, but this is to be expected in any book dealing with Paul written in the twenty-first century. Wright’s emphasis on reading Paul’s worldview, for example, is well-known and appears several times in this book simply because that is an excellent way to read Paul. Second, the theological portions of this book often cite the same secondary literature that Wright has read;  they are all reading the same sorts of writers, so there is some similarity. In short, this book should not be overlooked as an introduction to the literature and theology of Paul in the rush to read and dissect Wright’s work.

One Additional Note:  This book appears as part of a collection of books in a sixteen-book Pauline Studies Collection on offer from Logos Bible Software. The collection is in “pre-order” status at the moment. Every book in this collection is worth reading; highlights include Douglas A. Campbell, The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Reading of Justification in Paul, Richard Hayes, The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as Interpreter of Israel’s Scripture, Brevard Childs, The Church’s Guide for Reading Paul: The Canonical Shaping of the Pauline Corpus, and Stephen Westerholm, Justification Reconsidered: Rethinking a Pauline Theme. The whole set is 5300+ pages and works out on pre-order to less than $17 a book. I have most of them on my shelf already!

NB: Thanks to Eerdmans for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

Book Review: Nienhuis and Wall, Reading the Epistles of James, Peter, John & Jude as Scripture

Nienhuis, David R. Robert W. Wall. Reading the Epistles of James, Peter, John & Jude as Scripture: The Shaping and Shape of a Canonical Collection. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2013. 314 pp. Pb; $30.00.  Link to Eerdmans

Canonical approaches to the Bible have grown in popularity in the last two decades. While Brevard Childs is usually associated with the beginnings of this movement, there have been a number of recent books that attempt to study the “shaping of the canon” in its final form. Many of these studies are on sub-canons within the Hebrew Bible (Isaiah, Psalms), Canon studies have caught the attention of New Testament scholarship. For example, Francis Watson’s recent Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective (Eerdmans, 2013) uses the shape of the Canon as a way to get at Gospel origins. Robert Wall has written several important works on the formation of the Canon as well as commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles and James. Nienhuis contributed Not By Paul Alone: The Formation of the Catholic Epistle Collection and Christian Canon (Baylor, 2008). That book focused primarily on the formation of a Catholic canon and used James as a model. Both writers are influenced by Brevard Childs (p. 273) and this book forms a companion to Childs’s The Church’s Guide for Reading Paul: The Canonical Shaping of the Pauline Corpus (Eerdmans, 2008). In this new book, Nienhuis and Wall continue the method developed by Childs by applying it to the seven of the letters that follow the Pauline books.

Nienhuis and WallNienhuis and Wall begin by lamenting the lack of clarity in New Testament studies on the nature of the so-called Catholic Epistles. While the Synoptic Gospels, Pauline and Johannine literature are almost universally recognized as canonical units, the “other books” are less-clearly defined. Should the collection include Hebrews and/or Revelation? If the collection is to be defined as “non-Pauline,” should the deutero-Pauline letters such as the Pastorals or Ephesians be included? If the collection is defined as later representing a later, catholic Christianity, should non-canonical books such as Didache be included? Even the name of the collection varies in New Testament introductions. This book attempts to “rehabilitate” the letters of James, Peter, John, and Jude by suggesting that there is canonical coherence in these seven letters. They reflect a conscious attempt to create a “Pillars collection” that gives balance to the Pauline collection of letters in the overall Canon of Scripture.

In the first part of the book, Nienhuis and Wall devote three chapters to the formation of a Catholic Epistles canon. They trace the development of the canon in general in both the Western and Eastern churches by examining the comments on these letters in Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origin. The main motivation for mentioning the Catholic Epistles during this period is to link the mission of Paul and the “Pillars” from Jerusalem as an answer to Marcion’s claim that only Paul understood the Gospel. Paul’s letters represent a mission to the Gentiles while 1 Peter and 1 John represent the mission to the Jews. This “Acts-inspired missional logic” was used by Tertullian to “demote Paul’s authority” in response to Marcion (p. 21). It is not until Origin that there are references to James, and then primarily because the letter was a useful response to overly fideistic readings of Paul.

In fact, Nienhuis and Wall state that Augustine thought the Catholic Epistles were added to the canon “in order to keep readers from falling into a Paulinist fideism” (p. 35). Paul must be understood through the lens of the canonical frame of Acts on the one side, and the Catholic Epistles on the other.

The “shape” of the seven letter canon is based on at least two factors. First, Nienhuis and Wall argue that James functions as a “frontpiece” to the Pillars collection. As such, the Epistle of James is a presentation of the theology of the collection. This necessarily means that James was composed for the express purpose of drawing the Pillars collection together, taking cues from the book of Acts and the memory of James as leader of the Jerusalem church. Whether or not the “historical James” is the source for the sayings in the Epistle of James is of no interest to this study; the book might come from the real James or not (p.62).  The function of the Letter of James in the Pillars Collection is more important than matters of authorship and history.

Second, the authors argue that these letters were shaped into a collection alongside the book of Acts.  Since Acts indicates that Peter (and to a lesser extent John) was the initial spokesperson for the Jerusalem community and James became the leader of that community, their voices ought to be heard along with Paul. The book of Acts plays “a strategic hermeneutical role in the canonical process” as an “early catholic narrative: that has only a moderate conflict between Paul and the Pillars in Jerusalem (p. 61). Acts gives shape to the Pillars collection rather than Galatians 2,

In order to demonstrate their suggestion, the authors provide a number of “intertextual readings” which they argue show that this collection is the result of an “intentional, deliberate movement” at some point in the canonical process. These intertextual connections traced in the conclusion by reading James as the frontpiece, then showing how 1 Peter takes up themes from James. The chapter steps through the letters in canonical order, attempting to connect the letters (from James to 1 Peter, from 1 Peter to 2 Peter, and so on.

This frequent use of the term “intertextual” is a serious problem, however. The book as a whole uses phrases like “clearly maker by a series of intertextual linkages” (p. 254) often, but never does the book define what an “intertextual linkage” is nor is there any real method for determining if these links are real and intentional, or simply a coincidence due to similar subject matter.

For example, the authors state that there “clear verbal and thematic linkages” between 2 Peter and 1 John that center around the motif of witness. Both 2 Peter and 1 John claim to be written by an eyewitness (p. 255). A second example is language used to describe false teachers: they are pseudoprophetes (2 Peter 2:1 and 1 John 4:1); both letters describe the false teachers as denying Christ (using arneomai, 2 Peter 2:1 and 1 John 2:27); both describe the false teachers are deceivers (using plane and planao, 2 Peter 2:15, 18; 3:17 and 1 John 2:26, 3:7, 4:6, 2 John 7). But is any of this language unique enough to imply a conscious intertextual allusion? Witness language also appears in Acts and John, so it is possible that the intertextual allusion points to those books.

There are similar themes and vocabulary to be sure, but what is to be made of this? Is this “intertext” evidence of a common source? Perhaps one writer made use of the other to expand on an idea? Was the source of this intertext the author of the letter or at the “canonical shaping” level? As with most intertextual studies, there is uncertainty as to which direction the intertext flows, but that is not really an issue for this book. The Pillars collection s arranged as it is in order to create two intertextual relationships that were not at all in view when the letters were first written.

The two books that frame the seven letters, Hebrews and Revelation, are not covered in this book. The reason for the omission of Hebrews is that there is no evidence that the book was ever considered a part of this canonical collection in antiquity (p. 36). Hebrews was more often included in the Pauline corpus of 14 books. In fact, Childs devotes a section to the influence of Hebrews on the Pauline collection in his Reading Paul. Nienhuis and Wall follow Childs by suggesting that Hebrews serves as a canonical balance to the Pauline letters, connecting the theology of Paul its Jewish roots. Like the Pillars collection, Hebrews balances Paul in the shape of the final canon. Likewise, Revelation was always something of a loner in the biblical canon because of genre. Rather than suggest Hebrews and Revelation form some sort of a frame for the Pillars collection, the books are simply left out of the study.

Conclusion. Nienhuis and Wall offer a way of reading the Pillars collection as a unit that teases out a consistent theology for a section of scripture that is often ignored as secondary to the Jesus and the Gospels or the Pauline literature. As an example of a Canonical Reading of the New Testament this book makes a case for an ongoing process of collecting, editing, and arranging the letters in order to create a balance to a heretical misreading of Pauline Theology.

NB: Thanks to Eerdmans for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

Book Review: James Dunn, The Oral Gospel Tradition

Dunn, James. The Oral Gospel Tradition. Grand Rapids, Mich. Eerdmans, 2013. 390 pp. pb; $45.00. Link to Eerdmans.

This new collection of essays published by Dunn from 1977 to 2011 on topic related to oral tradition standing behind the New Testament. Some of these essays were articles in journals, but others were in difficult to find Festschrift or essay collections published in expensive European series. Unless you are blessed to have a major theological research center nearby, most readers are not able to easily find access to this rich material. That these essays focus Dunn’s view of oral tradition is an additional benefit of the collection. While his work over the last 30 years on the topic resulted in the massive Jesus Remembered (Eerdmans, 2003).

Dunn OralIn the introduction to this book, Dunn recalls that an early “shaping influence” in his thinking about how oral traditions develops was Kenneth Bailey’s anecdotal reports of how oral tradition still functions in communities in Egypt and Lebanon. This collection includes a spirited defense of Bailey in a 2009 issue of the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus.

The first part of the collection includes 7 essays from 1977 through 2011 on how gospel writers adapted oral tradition in their gospels. The first three essays in this section lay out a kind of method that Dunn for studying the oral tradition that stands behind the written text of the Gospels. In Dunn’s mind, he is trying to “alter the default setting” of studying the gospels as literature to studying the gospels as reflections of an oral tradition that remember the words and deeds of Jesus. Even studies of Q approach the sayings source as if it were a written document, despite the fact that a model of oral tradition might better explain the formation and content of Q more satisfactorily.

Oral tradition is necessarily different than a literary document, but as Dunn points out in his essay on “Altering the Default Setting,” there were very few people who would have read a document in the first century. Most would have heard the book read to them. Even the letters of Paul were oral performances by a representative of the Apostle. This means that oral tradition is communal in character (p. 54). Rather than a solitary reader silently scanning a text, oral tradition was spoken for the whole community in a public performance. This means that we ought to pay more attention to studies on reception theory (Dunn cites J. M. Foley, for example). Since the community gathered and heard the tradition in a public performance, there were one or more people in the community who were responsible for maintaining the community’s tradition (p. 55). These persons would function as guardians of an apostolic tradition.

If this is an accurate picture of how oral tradition functioned, then Dunn points out that it subverts the idea of an “original” version. While this is not to say that there was no “event” that serves as the origin of an idea or teaching, it does mean that there is no single “pure” form of a saying that is the original. Variations on a saying may be the result of different memories and retellings of a saying rather than a single original that is edited by a theologically motivated Gospel writer. Dunn thinks that it is misleading to present the history of the Jesus tradition as a search for the “original version” of Jesus’ sayings. Any given saying may be remembered and re-performed in a variety of contexts, but there is a stable tradition in the midst of various performances. Oral tradition is therefore characterized by both stability and flexibility (p. 57). Oral tradition can help explain why there is “variation within the same” in the Synoptic Gospels (p. 58).

This section includes two essays on the Gospel of Matthew and two on the Gospel of John. These are something like practical examples of how a method that properly emphasizes oral tradition works out in practice. In “John and the Oral Gospel Tradition,” Dunn examines three stories that are found in the Synoptic Gospels and in John (the healing at Cana, John 4:46-54), the feeding of the 5000 (6:1-21), the anointing at Bethany and Triumphal Entry (12:1-8, 12-19). Of the three, the Healing at Cana displays the most diversity, enough that it is probably the case that John 4:46-54 is not the same event as Matt 8:5-13/Luke 7:1-10. Dunn argues that the stories share the same core even if the location is different. The Feeding of the 5000 and Walking on the water do share the same tradition (p. 149). The Anointing is usually “strongest evidence that John knew Mark” (p. 151), but there is enough diversity in that John to lead Dunn to deduce that both stories are drawn from the same oral tradition rather than John redacting written sources. This is what Dunn means by “altering the default.” Rather than a later writer redacting a written source, the later writers work with an oral form of the gospel and report it with variations of the same story.

The second part is a collection of response to criticisms of Jesus Remembered.  This section deal with some of the more technical aspects of Jesus Remembered, History, Memory and Eyewitness (a response to Bengt Holmberg and Samuel Bryskog) and a dialogue with Birger Gerhardsson and Richard Bauckham. Gerhardsson’s Memory and Manuscript (1961) is one of the earliest monographs written on the concept of oral tradition and pioneers the concepts Dunn developed more fully in Jesus Remembered, although there are significant differences between the two. Both Gerhardsson and Bauckham have critiqued Dunn and Dunn’s response is irenic, attempting to find many points of agreement and clarification. Dunn’s treatment of Theodore Weedon’s critique of Kenneth Baily is less friendly. Dunn is clearly enamored with Baily and finds Weedon’s criticisms of Bailey in a 2009 article to be wanting.

Part three of the collection considers the oral gospel as it relates to the “quest for the historical Jesus.” In “Remember Jesus: How the Quest for the Historical Jesus Lost Its Way” (chapter 12), Dunn first lodges a protest against the false dichotomy – “Jesus of History” vs. “Christ of Faith.”  The Quest for the Historical Jesus was motivated by the desire to find the “real Jesus” that stood behind the layers of dogma created by the church, as if they were rescuing Jesus from the church (p.270). Dunn finds this wrongheaded. The “quest” ought to begin with the assumption that Jesus evoked faith from the very beginning and that faith is “the surest indication of the historical reality and effect of his mission” (p. 271). Jesus did things that were believed and remembered from the moment it happened. Second, Dunn argues that the reliance on literary sources short-circuits the Quest, rather scholars ought to investigate the oral tradition used by the written sources. Third, Dunn protests against looking for a Jesus that is different than his environment. Here he has the criterion of “double dissimilarity” in mind, the idea that Jesus’ words are more likely to be authentic if they are different from both Judaism and later Christianity. This is part of a “dismaying trend” to separate Jesus from Judaism (p.283), something that the “New Perspective on Paul” has battled in Pauline Studies. Rather than a non-Jewish Jesus, the Quest ought to be looking at the Gospels for a Jewish Jesus, since that is exactly what he was! Here he cites E. P. Sanders, N. T. Wright, and James Charlesworth as scholars who are in fact approaching Jesus with this understanding.

Conclusion. There is nothing new in this volume of essays from Dunn, but each article is a contribution worth reading. Eerdmans is to be thanked for drawing together these articles on Oral Tradition from diverse sources into a single convenient volume.  This book makes an excellent companion to Jesus Remembered.

NB: Thanks to Eerdmans for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.