Jesus, Paul and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians

Written by James D.G. Dunn Reviewed By D. A. Carson

This book is largely a reprint of nine essays written by Dunn during the ‘80s. Eight of them are here published exactly as they first appeared, but in each case Dunn has appended a note to expand a point, interact with subsequent discussion, respond to criticism or the like. The eight essays are: (1) ‘Mark 2:1–3:6: A Bridge between Jesus and Paul on the Question of the Law’; (2) ‘Jesus and Ritual Purity. A study of the tradition history of Mark 7:15’; (3) ‘Pharisees, Sinners, and Jesus’; (4) ‘ “A Light to the Gentiles”: the Significance of the Damascus Road Christophany for Paul’; (5) ‘The Relationship between Paul and Jerusalem according to Galatians 1 and 2’; (6) ‘The Incident at Antioch (Gal. 2:11–18)’; (7) ‘The New Perspective on Paul’; (8) ‘Works of the Law and the Curse of the Law (Galatians 3:10–14)’. The ninth essay, ‘The Theology of Galatians’, is a revised version of a paper that earlier appeared in SBL 1988 Seminar Papers.

Three of the essays first appeared in Festschriften, the rest in journals. Dunn has been one of a handful of important participants in the debate largely sparked off by the work of E.P. Sanders, and to have his relevant contributions together is a great boon. There is much suggestive material in these pages—whether or not one agrees, for instance, that the incident at Antioch was quite as important a turning-point in Paul’s mind as Dunn suggests, or whether the first-century debate with Judaizers was primarily over the ‘nationalistic badges’ (circumcision, food laws, Sabbath keeping): can, say, Romans 3:20 in its context be accommodated within such a scheme?

D. A. Carson

D. A. Carson is emeritus professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and cofounder and theologian-at-large of The Gospel Coalition.