Baker Academic

Sunday, June 30, 2013

James Dunn Day Conference at King’s College—Chris Keith

On June 21, King’s College, London hosted a day conference featuring presentations by James D. G. Dunn.  Readers of this blog will recognize Professor Emeritus Dunn as one of the preeminent New Testament scholars of our day.  He has made invaluable contributions to Pauline and Jesus studies.  He is often also included in the “memory” trend because of his huge and hugely-important Jesus Remembered (though he never really engages memory theory in that book).  Our own Dr. Le Donne has the honor of being Prof. Dunn’s final PhD student at Durham University.

I appreciated the kind invitation of the New Testament folks at King’s College to come along and it was well worth the time.  Prof. Dunn gave two papers:  “The Earliest Interpreters of Jesus Tradition: John and Thomas”; “A New Perspective on the New Perspective on Paul.”  In the first lecture, he argues that the Gospels of John and Thomas represent different types of developments upon Synoptic (oral) Jesus tradition; John represents a development from within while Thomas represents a development from without.  In other words, John expands upon what is already present in Synoptic (oral) tradition while Thomas simply adds stuff on top of it that he got elsewhere.  He noted interestingly what he called “the paradox of John and Thomas”; namely, that John is in the canon, Thomas is not, but that Thomas is often much closer with the Synoptics than John. 

The second paper argued that the New Perspective is not really all that new at all and is, essentially, precisely how Paul understood matters.

I hope that when my retirement comes, I can be half as productive and insightful and Prof. Dunn.  He’s currently a visiting Professor at King’s College, London, so I hope the NT PhD students there are taking advantage of his presence.  If not, my goodness, buy the man a cup of coffee!

12 comments:

  1. Is it just me or has the era of great biblical scholars who travel around and draw big audiences hugely on the wane? Who in the next generation is on a trajectory like Dunn or NT Wright? Is the public losing interest? Have we entered the age of bronze?

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    1. I'd bring my screaming teenagers to see this guy:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Schenck

      -anthony

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    2. I can't come up with any names.

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    3. Well, Bart Ehrman is "only" 57.

      The "next generation" of scholars needs to develop a sense of showmanship. Vote with colored beads. Follow the lead of Elaine Pagels and champion a second-century heresy (my vote is for Marcionism). Work on your catch phrases. Third Quest. New Perspective. Marginal Jew. For example, Chris could have titled his book "Why Jesus Can't Read".

      Or you might become famously apostate. That works too.

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    4. How about Dr. Keith and Le Donne?

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    5. Chris's goatee makes him a better villain than I.

      -anthony

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    6. I'm laughing out loud at both of the previous two posts. Unfortunately, the goatee is no more. And I think we both know that the sinister scholar market is really your territory, Anthony.

      As to Larry's suggestion, I think he's right. Ehrman probably is the biggest scholarly draw for the general public right now. My goodness, the day Anthony posted on him, the hits on this blog skyrocketed.

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  2. I have read ...Did the first Christians worship Jesus ? , authored by Dunn , then i read Larry Hurtado on the same topic .Both are top class New Testament scholars , both argue in in the opposite direction . Why is it like that ? , and who is right on the issue ?

    Ken

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    1. What do you think Ken?

      -anthony

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    2. Hurtado and Buckham both argue for a early high Christology , they say Paul ADAPTED the shema .

      According to me they are wrong , what are your views Anthony and Kieth ?

      Ken

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    3. Dear Ken,

      I would do anything for love... but I won't do that.

      -anthony

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