J.D.G. Dunn on why we must not limit ourselves to Paul’s epistles to understand Paul’s theology:

“It is simply not realistic to attempt to confine ourselves to the theology of Paul’s individual letters.  At best this would give us the theology of Paul’s controversies rather than the theology of Paul. More important, however, the letters themselves, by their very character as one side of the dialogue and by the very frequency of allusions in them, leave us no choice but to inquire after the fuller theology on which the particular letters draw, the fuller theology and context which surely informs the light and shade, the emphasis and lack of emphasis of the individual passages in the letters, and this enables us to build up a picture with both depth of focus and width of angle. Such a dialogue within a dialogue—that is, the dialogue between text and historical context within the larger hermeneutical dialogue—is not easy to carry through with success, but the skill to engage in that dialogue is part of what the professional expertise of the NT specialist is all about.” [1]


[1]  James D.G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle, 17.