James Dunn (theologian)

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James Dunn
James Douglas Grant Dunn

(1939-10-21)21 October 1939
Birmingham, England
Died26 June 2020(2020-06-26) (aged 80)
Other namesJimmy Dunn
Known forNew Perspective on Paul
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisThe Baptism in the Holy Spirit[1] (1968)
Doctoral advisorC. F. D. Moule[2]
InfluencesE. P. Sanders[3]
Academic work
DisciplineBiblical studies
Sub-disciplineNew Testament studies
InstitutionsUniversity of Durham
Doctoral students
Notable worksThe New Perspective on Paul (2007)

James Douglas Grant Dunn FBA (21 October 1939 – 26 June 2020),[7] also known as Jimmy Dunn, was a British New Testament scholar, who was for many years the Lightfoot Professor of Divinity in the Department of Theology at the University of Durham. He is best known for his work on the New Perspective on Paul, which is also the title of a book he published in 2007.

He worked broadly within the Methodist tradition and was a member of the Church of Scotland and the Methodist Church of Great Britain during his life.


Dunn was born on 21 October 1939[8] in Birmingham, England.

He had the following degrees:

Dunn was licensed as a minister of the Church of Scotland in 1964.[9] He was chaplain to overseas students at Edinburgh University in 1968–70.[9]

In 1970, Dunn became a lecturer in divinity at the University of Nottingham,[9] and was promoted to reader in 1979.[9] Whilst at Nottingham, he served as a Methodist local preacher.[9]

He became Professor of Divinity at Durham University in 1982,[9] and in 1990 became Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham.[10][11] He retired in 2003,[10] and was succeeded as Lightfoot Professor of Divinity by John M. G. Barclay.[12]

For 2002, Dunn was the President of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, an international body for New Testament study. Only three other British scholars had been made President of the body in the preceding 25 years. In 2006 he became a Fellow of the British Academy.[13]

In 2005 a Festschrift was published dedicated to Dunn, comprising articles by 27 New Testament scholars, examining early Christian communities and their beliefs about the Holy Spirit in Christianity.[14] In 2009 another Festschrift was dedicated to Dunn for his 70th birthday, consisting of two forewords by N. T. Wright and Richard B. Hays and 17 articles all written by his former students who went on to have successful careers in either academic and ministerial fields around the world.[15]

Dunn was especially associated with the New Perspective on Paul, along with N. T. Wright and E. P. Sanders.[16]

Dunn took up Sanders' project of redefining Palestinian Judaism in order to correct the Christian view of Judaism as a religion of works-righteousness. In his Parting of the Ways, Dunn highlighted four pillars of first-century Judaism as monotheism, election and land, Torah and Temple. One of the most important differences to Sanders is that Dunn perceives a fundamental coherence and consistency to Paul's thought. He furthermore criticizes Sanders' understanding of the term justification, arguing that Sanders' understanding suffers from an "individualizing exegesis".


Dunn wrote or edited numerous books and papers, including:


  • Dunn, James D. G. (1970). Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Studies in Biblical Theology Second Series. Vol. 15. London: SCM Press.
  • ——— (1975). Jesus and the Spirit. London: SCM Press.
  • ——— (1985). The Evidence for Jesus. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press. ISBN 978-0-664-24698-3.
  • ——— (1980). Christology in the making: a New Testament inquiry into the origins of the doctrine of the incarnation. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press. ISBN 0-664-24356-8.
  • ———, ed. (1986). The Kingdom of God and North East England. London: SCM Press. ISBN 0334008379.
  • ——— (1988). Romans 1-8, 9-16. Waco, TX: Word Books. ISBN 0-8499-0252-5.
  • ——— (1990). Jesus, Paul, and the Law: studies in Mark and Galatians. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 0-664-25095-5.
  • ——— (1990). Unity and diversity in the New Testament: an inquiry into the character of earliest Christianity. London: SCM Press. ISBN 0-334-02436-6.
  • ——— (1991). The Partings of the Ways between Christianity and Judaism and their Significance for the Character of Christianity. London: SCM Press. ISBN 0-334-02508-7.
  • ——— (1993). The Epistle to Galatians. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers. ISBN 1-56563-036-X.
  • ——— (1993). Paul for Today. The Ethel M. Wood Lecture, 10 March 1993. London: University of London. ISBN 9780718711061. OCLC 877271473.
  • ———; Suggate, Alan M. (1994). The justice of God: a fresh look at the old doctrine of justification by faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-0797-6.
  • ——— (1996). The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon: a commentary on the Greek text. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-2441-2.
  • ——— (1996). The Acts of the Apostles. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International. ISBN 9781563381928. OCLC 36519627.
  • ——— (1998). The Theology of Paul the Apostle. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-3844-8.
  • ———, ed. (2003). The Cambridge companion to St. Paul. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-78694-0.
  • ———; Rogerson, John W., eds. (2003). Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-3711-5.
  • ——— (2003). Christianity in the Making: Vol. 1, Jesus Remembered. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-3931-2.
  • ——— (2005). A New Perspective On Jesus: What The Quest For The Historical Jesus Missed. Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. ISBN 0-8010-2710-1.
  • ——— (2007). The New Perspective On Paul. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-4562-7.
  • ——— (2008). Christianity in the Making: Vol. 2, Beginning from Jerusalem. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-3932-9.
  • ——— (2009). The Living Word (second ed.). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. ISBN 978-0-8006-6355-1.
  • ——— (2010). Did the first Christians worship Jesus?. London - Louisville, KY: Society for promoting Christian knowledge. ISBN 978-0-281-05928-7.
  • ——— (2011). Jesus, Paul, and the Gospels. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-6645-5.
  • ——— (2013). The Oral Gospel Tradition. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-6782-7.
  • ——— (2015). Christianity in the Making: Vol. 3, Neither Jew nor Greek: A Contested Identity. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-3933-6.
  • ——— (2019). Jesus according to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-7669-0.


  • ——— (1974). "Paul's Understanding of the Death of Jesus". In Banks, Robert J. (ed.). Reconciliation and Hope. New Testament Essays on Atonement and Eschatology Presented to L.L. Morris on his 60th Birthday. Carlisle, UK: The Paternoster Press. pp. 125–141.
  • ——— (1977). "Demythologising - The Problem of Myth in the New Testament". In Marshall, I. Howard (ed.). New Testament Interpretation: Essays on Principles and Methods. Carlisle, UK: The Paternoster Press. pp. 285–307. ISBN 0853644241.

Journal articles[edit]

  • ——— (July 1979). "'They believed Philip preaching' (Acts 8:12): a Reply". Irish Biblical Studies. 1 (3): 177–183.
  • ——— (January 1981). "Demythologizing the Ascension - A Reply to Professor Gooding". Irish Biblical Studies. 3 (1): 15–27.


  1. ^ Dunn, James Douglas Grant (1968). The Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-Examination of the New Testament Teaching on the Gift of the Spirit in the Light of Pentacostalism Today (PhD thesis). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ Oropeza, B. J.; Robertson, C. K.; Mohrmann, Douglas C. (2009). "Editors' Preface". In Oropeza, B. J.; Robertson, C. K.; Mohrmann, Douglas C. (eds.). Jesus and Paul: Global Perspectives in Honour of James D. G. Dunn for His 70th Birthday. London: T&T Clark. p. xxi. ISBN 978-0-567-62953-1.
  3. ^ Marshall, I. Howard; Travis, Stephen; Paul, Ian (2002). Exploring the New Testament: A Guide to the Letters & Revelation (2nd ed.). Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-8308-6940-4.
  4. ^ McGrath, James F. (3 August 2014). "James D. G. Dunn on Gaza". Religion Prof. Patheos. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b McKnight, Scot (1995). The NIV Application Commentary: Galatians. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan (published 2014). ISBN 978-0-310-57144-5.
  6. ^ Alaniz, Manny (2013). Deficiencies in the Justification of the Ungodly: A Look at N. T. Wright's View of the Doctrine of Imputed Righteousness. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-62189-778-1.
  7. ^ Rest in Peace, Jimmy
  8. ^ DUNN, Prof. James Douglas Grant, Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, 2014; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Appointments", University of Durham Gazette, vol. 27, no. Epiphany Term 1983, p. 3
  10. ^ a b "Professor James Dunn FBA", The British Academy, retrieved 11 December 2019
  11. ^ Metts, Michael; Wiesner, Robert (9 February 2016), "A Brief Literary Biography of James D. G. Dunn", Jesus and Paul and the New Testament
  12. ^ "Professor John Barclay, Lightfoot Professor of Divinity in the Department of Theology and Religion", Durham University, retrieved 11 December 2019
  13. ^ "Professor James Dunn, Lightfoot Professor of Divinity Emeritus, University of Durham", British Academy, archived from the original on 22 July 2012
  14. ^ Graham N. Stanton, Bruce W. Longenecker & Stephen Barton (editors) (2004). The Holy Spirit and Christian origins: essays in honor of James D. G. Dunn. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. ISBN 0-8028-2822-1. {{cite book}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  15. ^ Oropeza, B. J.; Robertson, C. K.; Mohrmann, Douglas C., eds. (2009). Jesus and Paul: Global Perspectives in Honour of James D. G. Dunn for His 70th Birthday. London: T&T Clark. ISBN 978-0-567-62953-1.
  16. ^ Scot McKnight and B. J. Oropeza, eds., Perspectives on Paul: Five Views. Grand Rapdis: Baker Academic, 2020, pp. 1-23. Richard N. Longenecker, Introducing Romans: Critical Issues in Paul's Most Famous Letter, p. 327, at Google Books. Eerdmans, 2011. ISBN 978-0802866196

External links[edit]

Professional and academic associations
Preceded by President of the Studiorum
Novi Testamenti Societas

Succeeded by