Second Thoughts on Dunn's "Unity and Diversity"
"the unity between the historical Jesus and the exalted Christ, that is to say, the conviction that the wandering charismatic preacher from nazareth had ministered, died and been raised from the dead to bring God and man finally together, the recognition that the divine power through which they now worshipped and were encountered and accepted by God was one and the same person, Jesus, the man, the Christ, the Son of God, the Lord, the life-giving spirit." (p. 437)
Dunn summarizes this foundation as Easter and Pentescost. The former being the conviction that God had raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead and the latter being the moment when the Spirit was poured out on the early believers. In regards to the former, Easter, I could not help but smile when I read Dunn saying,
"In short, if anything can claim to run through the NT writings like a golden thread is the conviction that God raised Jesus from the dead." (p. 439, emphasis his)
And in regards to the latter, Pentecost, Dunn says:
"Experience of the Spirit of God, belief that what they were experiencing was God's eschatologically new out pouring of the Spirit is part of the most basic stratum of Christian faith attested by the NT writers." (p. 441, emphasis his)
These were the sort of "checks" I was looking for. Why they come in an appendix and why this appendix was not in the first edition is beyond me. This is much better than Dunn's assertion that the person of Jesus is that solitary thread of unity holding together the diverse perspectives of the NT witnesses.
Moreover in the appendix, Dunn also highlights the fundamental tension within the NT that I've been preoccupied with lately, namely, the problem of the Jew and Christian relationship. Dunn makes a great point when he asserts that:
"The greatest schism in salvation-history is not between Catholic and Protestant or between East and West, but between Judaism and Christianity." (p. 444, emphasis his)
In conclusion, this appendix was the most satisfying of the book for me. And to think, I almost didn't even read it! Why this is an appendix and not the actual conclusion to the book is baffling. At any rate, though there are still some things that I have difficulty accepting in Dunn's book, my attitude is now much more positive and favorable given Dunn's more explicit statements concerning what grounds the unity in the NT among its diversity.
Next blog I am going to (finally) reply to a certain reader's questions concerning some of the implications from my Et Resurrexit series of posts. I apologize to this reader for taking so long to get back to this, but the Jew/Christian issue was on my mind and I felt the need to blog on this first. But next time I promise to have a reply to your questions. For my other readers here are the questions at which I will attempt to answer in the next few posts:
1) Do you think that the empty tomb and any type of subsequent appearances would have been adequate to result in the use of “resurrection.” (i.e. did the appearances also have to have the impression of physicality?) And if you think they had to have the impression of physicality, do you think that this would not be sufficient to account for the use of ‘resurrection’ without the empty tomb? (Not that both could not have occurred for double confirmation).
2) How big of a role do you think Jesus’ more apocalyptic teachings and actions had on the disciples and their subsequent use of “resurrection” for the post-crucifixion appearances?
3) Do you think the disciples’ use of resurrection was similar or the same as Paul’s use of the concept “first fruits of the resurrection”? With this phrase it seems to me that Paul is expanding the concept of resurrection from the view of normative second Temple Judaism. And it’s my impression that he felt comfortable doing this because of the soon to come general resurrection. Doesn’t “first fruits” have a temporal connotation? Wouldn’t he have been less comfortable using this phrase if he knew no general resurrection would occur for the next two millennia?
4) The term resurrection has several connotations for 2nd Temple Judaism. I tend to agree with you and others who say one connotation was something happening to the actual bodies of individuals. How much was the temporal aspect connected and a part of the concept of the general resurrection for 2nd Temple Judaism (i.e. that the resurrection would occur at The End, or right before God’s rule, etc.)?