Posts Tagged ‘Dunn’


Read Full Post »

N.T. Wright and the ‘New Perspective of Paul’ is the topic of discussion at the White Horse Inn

Thanks to Micheal Bird for the link. he also offers some discussion of the mp3. Here are some notes I wrote while listening to it.

1-3 Mins: Highlights the strengths of N.T. Wright

3-5 mins: Criticism: 1) for Wright faith is the same as faithfulness 2) Fails to distinguish the covenant of Law with the covenant of grace 3) reduces the works of the law in Paul to the ceremonies which distinguish Jews from Gentiles 4) await a future justification based on ‘whole of life lived’ 5) Gospel is Jesus Christ is Lord not Caesar, gentiles no longer need to be circumcised.

Micheal Horten asks: Is what must i do to be saved a foreign import into the gospel? What is the Gospel?

5 mins onwards: Gives some positive insights ‘probably the second best living theological writer’. His work on the Resurrection is outstanding, he can right for the pew and the academy.  Wright is ‘dangerous’, on one side he is on the side of the angels. The problem comes with Paul. He caricatures the whole of protestantism as pietism. Wright fails to offer a nuanced understanding of Calvin/Luther. Wright misunderstands Luther, Judaism, and Medieval Christianity.

Krister Stendahl, Dunn and Sanders are discussed. He ‘rewrites the whole Pauline corpus’. There is reductionism, an overreaction to Bultmann, the law is bad, low doctrine of church, me and my personal relationship with Jesus. When you work with Sanders, Dunn and a bit of Wright, they fail to understand the Cross, they don’t know what to do with it.

Wright redefines righteousness language, it has nothing to do with imputation. Wright mocks a reformation caricature. For Wright it is not about how individuals get saved. Its more about Jesus being shown to be Lord. To say Jesus is Lord is that really good news, If so Why? Its only good news if you are part of the people he has delivered from bondage. The good news need to understood in reformation categories.

16:30 onwards: Includes critical comments from Packer. Robert Gundry argues against imputation so ‘bring Pietists/Catholics together.’  They(Dunn, Wright)  are reading their own theology into it. This is (Wright) Pelagianism. Differences recognised between Dunn, Wright. Wright needs to stop saying that the reformation position is ‘the law is bad’.  Dunn, Sanders and Wright are Arminian in their theological system. They do not stress it is all by grace alone. 22:30 Min. I think they are talking about Wright rather than Dunn. 23 mins McClaren is brought into the picture. ‘At the end of the day this is really the radical enthusiasm of the anabaptists’.

The NPP has stalled in its tracks. 24 min: John Piper’s critique of Wright is mentioned. Also Kim and Francis Watson. When the dust settles the excesses of Wright/Dunn will be forgotten. The influence of this teaching has gone beyond the academy.

They recognise that the bible is often not read as an unfolding story. 28 mins: This shows they understand the narrative dimension of Paul/Jesus. They are closer to Wright than they realise.

31 mins. Wright is dangerous. He denounces the language of ‘perosnal saviour’ but rejects personal salvation is included.

32 mins. Works of the law is discussed. Justification for Wright is ‘who is a CHristian’ not ‘How do I become a Christian’. Dunn makes ‘works of the law’ fit with his thesis, it is the joker in the pack. Romans 2 ‘doers of the law’ there will be a judgement according to the works. It is part of an argument that ends in 3:20 ‘no-one will be justified according to the law’. They say they have tried to be fair and balanced.

Read Full Post »


In this post I want to offer some reflections on the ‘kingdom of God’. For those familiar with the pages upon pages of discussion in works on the historical Jesus (I think of Wright, Meier, Dunn) this will not offer any new insights. However, I do hope that some of my readers will be unfamiliar with some of the material. By way of autobiography I was brought up in a independent evangelical church (FIEC), with Calvinistic tendencies, which sought to faithfully teach the scriptures. If my memory serves me correctly, and sometimes it doesn’t, I can’t remember any sustained reflection on the meaning of the kingdom. As a generalisation it is fair to say that the emphasis was often placed on Pauline theology and the gospels were rarely seriously studied. SO it is possible to be bible believing and yet remain at a distance from Jesus’ central teaching of the kingdom of God. I am thankful for my theological upbringing but a corrective is needed in this regard.


So I have said that Jesus teaching of the kingdom was central to his preaching. A quick search on my bible software reveals that the kingdom of God appears numerous times in the synoptic gospels although Matthew prefers the phrase ‘kingdom of heaven’. I use the first 5 occurrences in Mark as an example.

Mark 1:15 (ESV)
15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Mark 4:11 (ESV)
11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables,

Mark 4:26 (ESV)
26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.

Mark 4:30 (ESV)
30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?

Mark 9:1 (ESV)
1 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”



Yet what does the kingdom of God mean. In popular usage it may be suggested that the ‘kingdom of God’ is to be equated with the ‘church’ or of a future life in ‘heaven’. I want to remove these two views from the hermeneutical table as, important as they are, they do not take seriously the concept of kingdom for those living at the time of Jesus. Jesus offered a new way of percieving the kingdom but he was developing ideas of the kingdom which were already present to his audience.


So what is the background to the phrase ‘kingdom of God’? In the following I am summarising the work of James Dunn Jesus Remembered Ch 12.


  • 2nd Temple Jews, those living around the time of Jesus, would have been familiar with the idea that YHWH is the king over all the earth.

  • Jews would have seen YHWH as only being acknowledged as king by Israel.

  • The hope of Israel was that at some point in history YHWH would be recognised as King in all the world.


Yet we can be more specfic about what this hope would like.

When God becomes king, as with N.T. Wright, the Israel would be restored, the exile would be over.

When God becomes king there will be abundant prosperity (Deut 30:5,9)

  1. When God becomes king suffering shall be removed. (Is 29:18)

  2. When God becomes king, in metaphorical language, there will be a great feast

  3. When God becomes king the covenant will be removed

  4. When God becomes king his spirit will rest on his people

  5. When God becomes king the temple will be rebuilt

  6. When God becomes king YHWH will return to Zion

  7. When God becomes king Israel will be vindicated

  8. When God becomes king the gentiles will seek YHWH

  9. When God becomes king the whole earth will be an inheritance to the covenant people (Is 60:21)

  10. When God becomes king a time a climatic time of tribulation will have taken place

  11. When God becomes king there will be cosmic disturbances (Is 65:17)- a new creation

  12. When God becomes king Satan will be defeated

  13. When God becomes king there will be resurrection


This is, in Dunn’s words, the context of expectation into which Jesus preached and lived his message of the kingdom. The kingdom of God had to do with, drawing on Wright, monotheism, covenant and eschatology. The true God, YHWH, would act on his covenant promises to usher within history that which he had promised he would.


As we glance over the thirteen points above we can see that some of these have been fulfilled in Jesus and the life of the Church, but the fullness is yet to come.


I close this ramble of a posting with an illustration I have stolen from Mike Goheen.

My wife makes a great curry. I want you to imagine that while she is cooking it I go into the kitchen and start sampling the food. Have I had my curry’? In one sense Yes! I have tasted it. In another and greater sense NO! I have simply had a foretaste of the full dinner which awaits me. This is like the kingdom, the now and not yet. The fulfilment and hope.


Read Full Post »