Recensions et comptes rendus

James D.G. Dunn, Jesus according to the New Testament; foreword by Rowan Williams. Grand Rapids MI, Wm.B. Eerdmans, 2019, 14 × 21,5 cm, xv-211 p., ISBN 978-0-8028-7669-0

  • John S. Adimula

…plus d’informations

  • John S. Adimula
    Post-doctoral researcher, Dominican University College, Ottawa

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Couverture de Démons d’hier et d’aujourd’hui, Volume 76, numéro 1, janvier–avril 2024, p. 1-163, Science et Esprit

The central theme of this book is about the experiences that the different writers of the letters (and books) of the NT have about Jesus, hence the expression: “Jesus according to….” Even the first chapter that has the caption: “Jesus according to Jesus,” is still based on the reports of the evangelists about what Jesus did or said. It is basically about what the first Christians remembered about Jesus and the influence he impacted on their lives both as individuals and as communities. The author of this book, James D.G. Dunn (henceforth: JD), addresses this discussion under three headings: lessons learned from Jesus, distinctive features of Jesus’s ministry and Jesus’s own self-understanding. He enumerates basic elements that Jesus taught and left for his followers, these include the love command expressed in the love of neighbour and enemies; priority of the poor which was evident among the first Christians; welcoming of sinners; inclusion of women in his ministry and the Lord’s supper. In his ministry, Jesus preached the kingdom of God, a prominent feature mentioned more than 50 times in the tradition common to the first three written gospels. Teaching using parables was another distinctive feature of his ministry. This means of teaching was not common in passing on tradition within Judaism, but no fewer than forty-six parables were attributed to Jesus in the shared tradition of the gospels. Jesus was regarded as a parabolist. Other distinctive features noted by JD include exorcism, concentration on Galilee and submission to high priestly authorities. The characteristics that identify Jesus’s self-understanding include his baptismal commission which he attested to in order to fulfill all righteousness; the phrase “I was sent” or “I came”; appellations such as messiah/Christ; Son of Man (the expectation of his death and his vindication); the Son of God (but this terminology is difficult to say that Jesus was reported to have made use of it to refer to himself in the NT, it was rather the term Son of Man that he was reported to have used; however, he was remembered as the Son of God). In chapter two, JD discusses Jesus according to the synoptic gospels. He shows the similarities of the three gospels about the identity of Jesus while noting their distinctive features. The synoptic gospels show that the tradition of Jesus was preserved among the first Christian communities before the writing began. They are presented in different ways but with similar evidence, what JD describes as “the same yet different.” The writings show, firstly, the impact Jesus made on his first disciples and secondly the different ways Jesus’s memories and ministry were transmitted to the future disciples and the emerging churches. The term ‘gospel’ was used by Mark in a technical Christian sense as the story of Jesus’s ministry. The manner of telling the story of Jesus unveils the messianic secret. For the Synoptics, Jesus fulfills the Jewish expectation, focuses on Israel but opens to the gentiles, reaffirms the law, mission to sinners, frequent in prayer, and involvement of women in his ministry. They present Jesus as the Lord. They all present the same Jesus but powerfully impact different people and different situations. JD points out the “I am sayings” in the Gospel of John to be unique among the four gospels. The question is, since the sayings are found in the fourth gospel, are they part of Jesus’s tradition? Was Jesus remembered for saying “I am”? JD opines that those sayings were attributed to Jesus by John following the latter’s interpretations of Jesus and the significance of his ministry and miracles. John’s gospel is more of …