Dunn, James D.G. The Christ and the Spirit, V. 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998).
Message of the Book:
This is the second volume of two books by James D.G. Dunn on the intersection of Christology and Pneumatology. This one focuses primarily on the latter subject. It is a compilation of Dunn’s essays from as early as 1970 to as late as 1994. The book is divided into five sections of twenty-three essays: General Essays, John the Baptist, Jesus and the Spirit, The Spirit in Acts, and The Spirit and Ecclesiology.
In General Essays we read Dunn’s thoughts on topics ranging from the Pneumatology of the New Testament to the Pentecostal understanding of Spirit-Baptism. It may be surprising to those who know Dunn primarily from his contribution to the New Perspective(s) on Paul to find a young scholar who was quite obsessed with Pneumatology, even to the point of sounding Pentecostal at many points, though some of these essays are an effort to distance himself from classical Pentecostal exegesis and theology. In The Spirit and Ecclesiology section this becomes most evident as Dunn advocates a very low Ecclesiology, and the importance of the charismata, yet does not fully endorse Pentecostalism.
The middle of the book contains most of Dunn’s exegesis in the sections on John the Baptist, Jesus and the Spirit, and The Spirit in Acts, though it would be misleading to say that he moves away from theological concerns. For those interested in the memory of John the Baptist there are some helpful essays. While the book’s title would seem to indicate that the book as a whole discusses the relationship between Christology and Pneumatology directly it is more accurate to say the section of Jesus and the Spirit is where most of that discussion can be located. The Spirit in Acts dips a bit back into a dialogue with Pentecostalism as Dunn seeks both touch points with and differentiation from this expanding movement.
While several of the essays are quite in-depth many others are written as talks given by Dunn. In other words, there are far fewer footnotes that a reader might expect and Dunn often skims the surface rather than diving into the deep end. There are other books by Dunn ranging from his Christianity in the Making series to his Baptism in the Spirit and Jesus and the Spirit that may be more helpful for someone doing research. For those looking for more of a sampler of Dunn’s thoughts on this subject this book will be helpful.
Reblogged this on Sunday School on Steroids-The Seminary Experience.
I have to disclose my lack of direct knowledge of Dunn to begin, tho I’ve encountered his name often, and the influences of his work, and some quotes or excerpts. Given that, it’s helpful to read this review and his work on Spirit does sound interesting. If I understand you rightly, maybe more openly in this book than others of his, Dunn consciously factors in his personal observations and/or experiences. I say “consciously” or maybe “purposely” is as good or better, because I believe our experiences or lack of them in various instances play into everyone’s interpretive work. It cannot be otherwise, although keeping it within reasonable boundaries and/or with qualifiers is important.
If he is at least sometimes discussing phenomena of spirit/Spirit that are not necessarily tied to Christian theology or even to things in the Hebrew Scriptures, then I’m the more interested. What would you say about this? Also, does he comment here or very much elsewhere about whether the Jerusalem believers may have been a pretty “charismatic” bunch, beyond just the claims of apostolic miracles and the tongues-of-fire and tongues-speaking Pentecost experience (taken by many as a special initiatory experience, not a repeated or repeatable one)? I imagine in discussing Paul so much he may well have compared the charismata in Paul, Paul’s own experiences and practices, etc., with what is both stated and implied about the Jerusalem “church”.
If you are wanting to read about Pneumatology detached from the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures then Dunn is not someone you’ll want to read. He remains a scholar of early Christianity/Judaism and a practicing Christian. He doesn’t do comparative religions like, for example, Harvey Cox’s Fire from Heaven which ties Pentecostalism into a broader anthropological approach.
I don’t recall reading anything about the early Jerusalem Church. He deals mostly with the Gospels, Acts, and Paul.
O.k., thanks Brian.
I should clarify that I don’t think an anthropological approach is off-limits for a committed Christian, but most Christians will give Scripture’s Pneumatology some sort of authoritative, superior place in their thinking while letting other views enhance or shape their presupposed view. Theoretically, a Christian might be more pluralistic, but I’m sure you understand what I’m trying to convey in what I say about Dunn. In gist, like most Christians, his theologizing is guided by Scripture to a higher degree than other sources of thought.
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