Jesus, James D.G. Dunn, James Barr and Christianity

James D.G. Dunn is regarded worldwide as one of today's foremost biblical scholars, and in a real sense one of my intellectual heroes.

When I was an apologetics instructor I used his book The Evidence for Jesus in that class. It’s very small but mighty. It put to shame other available books at that time. I loved it so much I bought up several copies to hand out. I’m selling my last spare copy on Amazon now. Another book of his, The Living Word, changed my thinking. After reading it I could no longer affirm inerrancy, I began thinking Jesus was a liberal and was introduced into the problem of Pseudonymity and canonical criticism like never before. I bought several copies of this book to hand out as well. I have two left. I see it’s now made it to a second edition recently (2009) and I heartily recommend it too.

Another of my intellectual heroes was James Barr who wrote a devastating critique of fundamentalism which to this day is probably unsurpassed, called Beyond Fundamentalism. I bought up several copies of this book to pass out too, and I’m selling my last two copies on Amazon. This book literally shatters fundamentalism I think.

But they do not go far enough. Read for yourselves what James D. G. Dunn admitted in what will prove to be Dunn’s magnum opus series of books, beginning with volume one, Jesus Remembered:
Jesus' own experience of anointing and ministry empowered by the same Spirit/power of God may in itself have convinced him that God's longed-for (final) manifestation of his royal rule was already in evidence and that its full manifestation could therefore not be long delayed... The point is that such treatments have found it impossible to deny that Jesus had expressed expectation for the imminent happening of events which did not happen. Jesus' kingdom preaching cannot be disentangled from imminent expectation, with or without 'apocalyptic' features. Which also means that Jesus had entertained hopes which were not fulfilled. There were 'final' elements in his expectation which were not realized. Putting it bluntly, Jesus was proved wrong by the course of events” (p. 479).
What I don’t get is how these critically honest scholars could come to these correct conclusions and still profess to be followers of Christ (i.e. Christians). I think anyone with intellectual honesty should jump ship like I have.

15 comments: