I have just completed the writing of a review of James D. G. (“Jimmy”) Dunn’s massive book Beginning from Jerusalem, volume 2 of his trilogy “Christianity in The Making.” The 1300+ pages deal with the critical years 30-70. It is the sequel to Jesus Remembered (2003) and is primarily a history of those decades based on Acts and the letters of Paul. Of the many things Dunn, one of the chief architects of “the new perspective,” says about Paul, here are a few that may surprise some readers familiar with critical questions surrounding Acts and Paul:
1. Paul was likely a Roman citizen despite never mentioning it himself.
2. The Damascus road experience was a conversion, not just a call (contra Krister Stendahl).
3. The conversion was the most important source of Paul’s theology (following Seyoon Kim, a critic of the new perspective).
4. Justification is emphatically “vertical” as well as “horizontal” (a response to critics).
5. Luke rightly has Paul beginning each urban mission at the local synagogue.
6. Paul almost certainly does not believe in two ways of salvation (contra Gager et al).