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Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder Paperback – November 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: FORTRESS PRESS (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080063490X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800634902
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

A major advance in Jesus studies and a critique of oppression.

About the Author

Richard A. Horsley is Professor of Classics and Religion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author and co-author of numerous books, including: The Message and the Kingdom (Fortress Press, 2002); Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs (1985); Jesus and the Spiral of Violence (Fortress Press, 1992); Galilee (1995); Archaeology, History, and Society in Galilee (1996); 1 Corinthians (1998); and Whoever Hears You Hears Me (1999). He is also the editor of Paul and Empire (1997) and Paul and Politics (2000).

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94 of 104 people found the following review helpful By The Rev. Dr. Daniel J. G. G. Block on December 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
In the first 128 pages of this disturbing little book, Professor Horsley builds a credible case for understanding Jesus and the proto-Christian movement as a communal renewal of families and traditional villages in opposition to the Roman Empire and its client local rulers. Professor Horsley argues, successfully, that Jesus can only be understood in his original context. He further argues that Jesus can be best interpreted in corporate, rather than individual, terms.
None of this is new.
In the last twenty pages of this book, however, Professor Horsley draws disquieting social, economic, political, military and religious parallels between imperial Rome and an imperial United States of America. With irksome clarity and courage, he points out that ancient Palestinians resisted Western imperialism by every means possible, including terrorism, and that some of their Middle Eastern descendents appear to be doing nothing more than following that example.
After September 11, 2001, this is not the book to read if you wish to be comforted, or rest cozily in your Western preconceptions. However, if you wish to be challenged intellectually and spiritually, this is a good book to read. If you wish to be disturbed and forced to think, read this book.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Biff Rocha on June 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
Richard A. Horsley, Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder. 2003.

Like much of the contemporary Jesus scholarship, Richard A. Horsley's "Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder" is written to be provocative. Building on his earlier studies on Jesus, the region of Galilee, and the cultural clashes with Roman authority, Horsley focuses on how Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom of God relates to power politics between societies. What will most likely make the reader cringe, is Horsley's next move to draw social, political, and cultural parallels between authoritarian Rome and the United States of America. Horsley compares the rebellion of Jesus and the Israelites against the Roman Empire with present day cultural exportation leading to the global uprisings against capitalism, democracy and the United States which is often initiated by individuals from the Middle East.

Richard A. Horsley is the Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and the Study of Religion at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. He is the author of numerous books including: "The Message and the Kingdom" (Fortress Press, 2002); "Jesus and the Spiral of Violence" (Fortress Press, 1992); and "Archaeology, History, and Society in Galilee" (1996). He is also the editor of a similarly titled, "Paul and Empire"; Horsley's introductory material in that 1997 anthology offered a synthesis of academic Pauline studies which depicted Paul as an anti-imperialist, in opposition to the all pervasive influence of the Roman empire.

Controversy is not new to this author, nor are the radical concepts found in "Jesus and Empire", indeed much of his work suggests a secularization of biblical material.
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58 of 70 people found the following review helpful By William Alexander on January 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
Horsley's work strongly defends his thesis that Jesus was a prophet leading a community of social and economic renewal of Israel. He carefully considers the economic and social environment of the day in Palestine and compares it to the Mosaic tradition and law that had been cultivated over centuries by the prophets. His primary argument is that the historical tradition was a legacy of God working for the poor and the oppressed, the "orphan and the widow", opposing the exploitative empirical construct of the ancient world. In the tradition of Moses who freed the Hebrew people from the enslaving Egyptians, and of Elijah who called for a restoration and renewal of the Israelites to their covenantal God, Jesus assumed the role of a new herald of renewal for the people. Another example not mentioned is the book of Daniel, which predicted the destruction of the Seleucid kingdom of Antiochus IV Ephiphanes in the 2nd century BCE, and its replacement with the kingdom of God, one of justice and peace. Horsley depends to a very great extent on the tradition of the prophets to justify his interpretation.
Horsley is most successful when he abolishes the myth that Jesus or his fellow Jews had any notion of separation of religion from state. Such an idea would have been incomprehensible nonsense at the time, as alien as the theocratic government of Iran is to modern day Americans. There was no such separation: renewal of the covenant meant the renewal of political life as well as economic and social life. Horsley uses the gospel of Mark and Q (by way of Luke) as evidence for his argument. Juxtaposing these documents with the Israelite covenantal tradition, he lays out his evidence from both the actions and speeches of Jesus as understood by his original audience.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Gary R. Cox on August 4, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Richard Horsley's Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003) addresses Jesus' political and economic context in Galilee and Judea under Roman rule. He examines the historical precedents for prophetic condemnation of unjust imperial rule and the Mosaic covenantal basis for social and economic justice. Then he demonstrates how Jesus' life and sayings as portrayed in Q and Mark continued the prophetic critique and call for a new social order.

Horsley begins by pointing out problems in U.S. religious attitudes. Since the Puritans, the U.S. has seen itself as a new Israel in a new promised land; however, it has acted more like Rome in its arrogant expansion and ethnocentrism. Typical U.S. views of the Bible are skewed in four ways: they separate the political from the religious; they reflect the individualism in U.S. culture; they analyze Jesus' statements as isolated sayings; and they use scholarly concepts like "apocalyptic" while denying the judgmental dimension of Jesus' discourse. Horsley continues to challenge these depoliticized views of Jesus in subsequent chapters.

In chapter one, Horsley demonstrates how the Roman Empire destroyed, subjugated, and terrorized other lands and peoples in its expansion to become the only superpower in the Mediterranean world. The Pax Romana was harsh and chaotic for the subjugated peoples. Romans practiced enslavement, genocide, torture such as crucifixion to deter rebellion, and agricultural taxes that put peasants deeper into debt. The emperor cult was superimposed on local religions-religion and politics were intertwined.
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