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Reading the Gospel

Reading the Gospel

John S. Dunne

Using the method of spiritual reading, lectio divina or “divine reading” as it is called in monasteries, John S. Dunne sets out his interpretation of the evangelists, especially John, in Reading the Gospel.

Reading the Gospels, according to Dunne, means passing over into the relation of Jesus with his God, the God he calls Abba in prayer, and then coming back from that with a changed vision of life and death. If I pass over into the relation of Jesus with God, then Jesus disappears from in front of me and I find myself in relation to what Jesus calls “my God and your God.” When I come back to myself, I see my life in terms of his life and my death in terms of his death and resurrection, and I am able to say with Paul, “I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me.”

“We read to know that we are not alone,” Dunne says, quoting from Shadowlands, and we read the Gospels to know that God is with us. “I believe in God-with-us,” he says, as a personal creed summing up the Gospels. He ends with a kind of lyrical commentary that he calls Songlines of the Gospel, twenty-one short lyrics telling of the basic scenes in the Gospel of John.

Reading the Gospel is an invitation to enter more deeply into the transformative power of the Gospel, emerging from Jesus’ encounter with his God, which is then played out in the lives of Christians. It is also an invitation to accompany Dunne on his own profound spiritual journey as he deftly weaves into the tapestry of his work literature, theology, philosophy and music. This book is a joy to savor, a work of profound spirituality, and an invitation to hear familiar biblical texts in fresh and challenging ways.” —John R. Donahue, S.J., Professor of Biblical Studies, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, California, and author of The Gospel in Parable: Metaphor, Narrative, and Theology in the Synoptic Gospels

ISBN: 978-0-268-01668-5
200 pages
Publication Year: 2000

John S. Dunne (1930–2013) was the John A. O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and the author of over twenty books.

“The density of this book . . . flows from [Dunne’s] poetic grasp of God’s outpouring of love and humankind’s longing to respond. It is a density that attracts, that rewards the reader with an increasing penetration of truth.” — America

“In each new book, [Dunne] adds luster to his expansive Christian faith, polishing it with wisdom from Islam, Buddhism, poets, fairy tale writers, literary figures, and spiritual teachers of all stripes.” — Spirituality and Health Magazine

“John of the Cross wrote that God spoke his Word once and having spoken needed to speak no more. John Dunne teaches us just how capacious that Word is. Not for the intellectually timid, Reading the Gospel is a work of profundity.” — Commonweal

“This volume … is lyrical in style, draws pithy gems of wisdom from philosophers and poets as well as a personal meditation on the Gospels…. This is a book to be read in small doses for reflection and for literary enjoyment.”— New Theology Review

“A leader in the field of spiritual books, Father Dunne here turns his attention to the relation of Jesus to God . . . the Notre Dame theology professor offers a fresh view of the Gospels and the deep lessons his ‘odyssey of reading’ revealed.” — Notre Dame Magazine

“Those familiar with Notre Dame theologian Dunne’s penetrating reflections and artful language will not be disappointed at his latest work.” — The Bible Today

Reading the Gospel, for Dunne, is no mere academic exegetical exercise in historical reconstruction, but an intensely personal affair that uses the sacred text as a springboard for a multitude of ruminations upon the human condition (‘fides quaerens intellectum’). Included are chapters on reading in general, divine reading, parables, paradoxes, turning points, presence, and ‘songlines’ of the gospel. Herein is to be found a wealth of meaning, creative originality, and finely phrased epigrams: to seek the historical Jesus is to seek understanding, not certainty; the excessive search for certainty only leads to greater uncertainty. Readers will quickly recognize Dunne’s accustomed style, that of a steady concatenation of literary quotations from a multitude of disparate sources: Schweitzer; Buber; Barthes; Hammarskjöld; Eliot; et al. This is leisure-time lectio divina at its best: theological expertise united to cross-disciplinary skills and spiritual insight.” — Religious Studies Review

“John Dunne holds the John A. O’Brien Chair in Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He explains how a lectio divina of the gospel can deepen our spiritual life. His book is ‘an invitation to enter more deeply into the transformative power of the Gospel emerging from Jesus’ encounter with his God, which is then played out in the lives of Christians. It is also an invitation to accompany Dunne on his own profound spiritual journey as he deftly weaves into the tapestry of his work literature, theology, philosophy, and music.” — Theology Digest

“A Better Choice: Reading the Gospel, by John S. Dunne, a Catholic theologian who really does understand what it means to listen and discern the voice of God.” — Newsweek

“Reading Dunne is like riding a tourist train through a beautiful park, enjoying the vistas over and over again while the guide points out different features of the same landmarks. To read Dunne is to spend time with a deeply spiritual person with a vast sounding board of spiritual (though not necessarily religious) literature. It is to have him bring up the results of his mining and lay them at your feet.” — The American Benedictine Review

“Readers who desire a taste of lectio divina from a learned practitioner will probably enjoy Dunne’s book.” — Concordia Theological Review

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Reading the Gospel

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 Reading the Gospel
Paper Edition

Using the method of spiritual reading, lectio divina or “divine reading” as it is called in monasteries, John S. Dunne sets out his interpretation of the evangelists, especially John, in Reading the Gospel.

Reading the Gospels, according to Dunne, means passing over into the relation of Jesus with his God, the God he calls Abba in prayer, and then coming back from that with a changed vision of life and death. If I pass over into the relation of Jesus with God, then Jesus disappears from in front of me and I find myself in relation to what Jesus calls “my God and your God.” When I come back to myself, I see my life in terms of his life and my death in terms of his death and resurrection, and I am able to say with Paul, “I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me.”

“We read to know that we are not alone,” Dunne says, quoting from Shadowlands, and we read the Gospels to know that God is with us. “I believe in God-with-us,” he says, as a personal creed summing up the Gospels. He ends with a kind of lyrical commentary that he calls Songlines of the Gospel, twenty-one short lyrics telling of the basic scenes in the Gospel of John.

Reading the Gospel is an invitation to enter more deeply into the transformative power of the Gospel, emerging from Jesus’ encounter with his God, which is then played out in the lives of Christians. It is also an invitation to accompany Dunne on his own profound spiritual journey as he deftly weaves into the tapestry of his work literature, theology, philosophy and music. This book is a joy to savor, a work of profound spirituality, and an invitation to hear familiar biblical texts in fresh and challenging ways.” —John R. Donahue, S.J., Professor of Biblical Studies, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, California, and author of The Gospel in Parable: Metaphor, Narrative, and Theology in the Synoptic Gospels

ISBN: 978-0-268-01668-5

200 pages

“The density of this book . . . flows from [Dunne’s] poetic grasp of God’s outpouring of love and humankind’s longing to respond. It is a density that attracts, that rewards the reader with an increasing penetration of truth.” — America

“In each new book, [Dunne] adds luster to his expansive Christian faith, polishing it with wisdom from Islam, Buddhism, poets, fairy tale writers, literary figures, and spiritual teachers of all stripes.” — Spirituality and Health Magazine

“John of the Cross wrote that God spoke his Word once and having spoken needed to speak no more. John Dunne teaches us just how capacious that Word is. Not for the intellectually timid, Reading the Gospel is a work of profundity.” — Commonweal

“This volume … is lyrical in style, draws pithy gems of wisdom from philosophers and poets as well as a personal meditation on the Gospels…. This is a book to be read in small doses for reflection and for literary enjoyment.”— New Theology Review

“A leader in the field of spiritual books, Father Dunne here turns his attention to the relation of Jesus to God . . . the Notre Dame theology professor offers a fresh view of the Gospels and the deep lessons his ‘odyssey of reading’ revealed.” — Notre Dame Magazine

“Those familiar with Notre Dame theologian Dunne’s penetrating reflections and artful language will not be disappointed at his latest work.” — The Bible Today

Reading the Gospel, for Dunne, is no mere academic exegetical exercise in historical reconstruction, but an intensely personal affair that uses the sacred text as a springboard for a multitude of ruminations upon the human condition (‘fides quaerens intellectum’). Included are chapters on reading in general, divine reading, parables, paradoxes, turning points, presence, and ‘songlines’ of the gospel. Herein is to be found a wealth of meaning, creative originality, and finely phrased epigrams: to seek the historical Jesus is to seek understanding, not certainty; the excessive search for certainty only leads to greater uncertainty. Readers will quickly recognize Dunne’s accustomed style, that of a steady concatenation of literary quotations from a multitude of disparate sources: Schweitzer; Buber; Barthes; Hammarskjöld; Eliot; et al. This is leisure-time lectio divina at its best: theological expertise united to cross-disciplinary skills and spiritual insight.” — Religious Studies Review

“John Dunne holds the John A. O’Brien Chair in Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He explains how a lectio divina of the gospel can deepen our spiritual life. His book is ‘an invitation to enter more deeply into the transformative power of the Gospel emerging from Jesus’ encounter with his God, which is then played out in the lives of Christians. It is also an invitation to accompany Dunne on his own profound spiritual journey as he deftly weaves into the tapestry of his work literature, theology, philosophy, and music.” — Theology Digest

“A Better Choice: Reading the Gospel, by John S. Dunne, a Catholic theologian who really does understand what it means to listen and discern the voice of God.” — Newsweek

“Reading Dunne is like riding a tourist train through a beautiful park, enjoying the vistas over and over again while the guide points out different features of the same landmarks. To read Dunne is to spend time with a deeply spiritual person with a vast sounding board of spiritual (though not necessarily religious) literature. It is to have him bring up the results of his mining and lay them at your feet.” — The American Benedictine Review

“Readers who desire a taste of lectio divina from a learned practitioner will probably enjoy Dunne’s book.” — Concordia Theological Review