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Matthew and Empire: Initial Explorations Paperback – October 1, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-1563383427 ISBN-10: 156338342X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury T&T Clark; 1 edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156338342X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563383427
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,131,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...an insightful and thought-provoking book on Matthew's use of the concept of empire in describing two conflicting powers: Rome and God...Readers of the book will be in Carter's debt as they pore over the pages and continue to seek to plumb the depths of Jesus' life and teaching and its application to the church past and present."—Walter M. Dunnett, St. Mark's Episcopal Church for RBL, March 2003 (Walter M. Dunnett)

Carter offers a different way of reading Matthew. The usual way, of course, has been to see Matthew as a community document that reflects a dispute with a synagogue or local Judaism. Carter accepts this view, but he wants to read Matthew not only as a religious or theological document but as one of social protest, since it offers a different vision of society by questioning Rome's sovereignty. In particular, Matthew's presentation of Jesus calls into qu4estion the blessing of God (or the gods) on Roman rule. Furthermore, participation in God's rule implies Rome's destruction. Carter has ample material draw upon concerning Roman imperial rule, particularly since there has been so much work on this topic in relation to Pauline studies. He has opened the way for Matthean scholars to apply it further. Also, without intending to do so, he has indirectly called into question the dominant way of reading Matthew as a thoroughly Jewish document engaged in sibling rivalry with local Judaism, for Carter is able to show that Matthew must be set in an imperial framework to some degree. The question is to what degree? A rich and suggestive work."—Fred W. Burnett, Anderson University for Religious Studies Review, October 2002 (Fred W. Burnett)

"Carter has written an excellent, eminently readable piece of socialhistory. He presents a range of historical citations and anecdotalinsights to help modern readers of Matthew situate their ancientcounterparts. The author correctly implies that any meanings Matthew'saudience discerned in this Gospel would be heavily influenced by thesocial situation of that audience. Carter envisions that socialsituation as one in which Matthew's Israelite Jesus group, ensconced inthe eastern Roman Empire, was affected by the political religionsupporting and articulating that Empire. Without a modern reader'sadequate awareness of Roman imperial institutions and values in the formthat they took in the province of Syria, the meanings imparted byMatthew are lost. Carter's historically rooted social descriptionsadmirably assist modern readers in recovering those Matthean meanings."—Bruce J. Malina, Professor of Biblical Studies, Creighton University (Bruce J. Malina)

"Warren Carter invites us to reread the Gospel of Matthew in a fresh, different, and exciting way. His engaging explorations lead us to appreciate Matthew anew in relation to the Roman empire in the first century. By demonstrating the rich results of taking seriously the Roman imperial context, Warren Carter stands at the cutting edge of modern Matthean scholarship."—John Paul Heil, Professor of New Testament, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri (John Paul Heil)

"In a world that has largely been shaped by the legacies of colonialism andimperialism, the question of how precisely the founding texts of Christianity relate to empire assumes immense significance. Warren Carter's incisive and accessible investigation of the complex relationship between Matthew's Gospel and the Roman Empire makes a memorable contribution to this important debate."—Stephen D. Moore, Drew University Theological School (Stephen D. Moore)

"Warren Carter invites us to reread the Gospel of Matthew in a fresh, different, and exciting way. His engaging explorations lead us to appreciate Matthew anew in a realtion to the Roman Empire in the first century. By demonstrating the rich results of taking seriously the Roman imperial context, Carter stands at the cutting edge of modern Matthean scholarship." (John Paul Heil)

"Carter has written an excellent, eminently readable piece of social history." (Bruce J. Malina)

"Warren Carter's incisive and accessible investigation of the complex relationship between Matthew's Gospel and the Roman Empire makes a memorable contribution to this important debate." (Stephen D. Moore)

"Writing in an engaging and accessible style, Carter argues—counter to nearly a century of Matthean scholarship—that it is not the relationship between Matthew's community and the post-70 synagogue that forms the dominant social backdrop for Matthew's story of Jesus. Instead, the primary external social reality for this group of early Christians in Antioch is Roman imperialism, and the message of the gospel is that salvation comes not through Roman gods or their imperial agents, but rather through Jesus Christ.""Carter's concluding chapter demonstrates that he is a theologian concerned for the church as well as an exegete. Here Carter discusses implications of Matthew's gospel for the modern practice of Christianity, noting his theological and social challenges to imperialisms then and now, and he does so without being limited to the standard antiestablishment glossary of solidarity, inclusivity, and the like."—Mary Hinkle, Luthern Seminary, St. Paul, MN (Mary Hinkle)

"...an insightful and thought-provoking book on Matthew's use of the concept of empire in describing two conflicting powers: Rome and God...Readers of the book will be in Carter's debt as they pore over the pages and continue to seek to plumb the depths of Jesus' life and teaching and its application to the church past and present."—Walter M. Dunnett, St. Mark's Episcopal Church for RBL, March 2003 (Sanford Lakoff)

Carter offers a different way of reading Matthew. The usual way, of course, has been to see Matthew as a community document that reflects a dispute with a synagogue or local Judaism. Carter accepts this view, but he wants to read Matthew not only as a religious or theological document but as one of social protest, since it offers a different vision of society by questioning Rome's sovereignty. In particular, Matthew's presentation of Jesus calls into qu4estion the blessing of God (or the gods) on Roman rule. Furthermore, participation in God's rule implies Rome's destruction. Carter has ample material draw upon concerning Roman imperial rule, particularly since there has been so much work on this topic in relation to Pauline studies. He has opened the way for Matthean scholars to apply it further. Also, without intending to do so, he has indirectly called into question the dominant way of reading Matthew as a thoroughly Jewish document engaged in sibling rivalry with local Judaism, for Carter is able to show that Matthew must be set in an imperial framework to some degree. The question is to what degree? A rich and suggestive work."—Fred W. Burnett, Anderson University for Religious Studies Review, October 2002 (Sanford Lakoff)

"Carter has written an excellent, eminently readable piece of socialhistory. He presents a range of historical citations and anecdotalinsights to help modern readers of Matthew situate their ancientcounterparts. The author correctly implies that any meanings Matthew'saudience discerned in this Gospel would be heavily influenced by thesocial situation of that audience. Carter envisions that socialsituation as one in which Matthew's Israelite Jesus group, ensconced inthe eastern Roman Empire, was affected by the political religionsupporting and articulating that Empire. Without a modern reader'sadequate awareness of Roman imperial institutions and values in the formthat they took in the province of Syria, the meanings imparted byMatthew are lost. Carter's historically rooted social descriptionsadmirably assist modern readers in recovering those Matthean meanings."—Bruce J. Malina, Professor of Biblical Studies, Creighton University (Sanford Lakoff)

"Warren Carter invites us to reread the Gospel of Matthew in a fresh, different, and exciting way. His engaging explorations lead us to appreciate Matthew anew in relation to the Roman empire in the first century. By demonstrating the rich results of taking seriously the Roman imperial context, Warren Carter stands at the cutting edge of modern Matthean scholarship."—John Paul Heil, Professor of New Testament, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri (Sanford Lakoff)

"In a world that has largely been shaped by the legacies of colonialism andimperialism, the question of how precisely the founding texts of Christianity relate to empire assumes immense significance. Warren Carter's incisive and accessible investigation of the complex relationship between Matthew's Gospel and the Roman Empire makes a memorable contribution to this important debate."—Stephen D. Moore, Drew University Theological School (Sanford Lakoff)

"Warren Carter invites us to reread the Gospel of Matthew in a fresh, different, and exciting way. His engaging explorations lead us to appreciate Matthew anew in a realtion to the Roman Empire in the first century. By demonstrating the rich results of taking seriously the Roman imperial context, Carter stands at the cutting edge of modern Matthean scholarship." (Sanford Lakoff)

"Carter has written an excellent, eminently readable piece of social history." (Sanford Lakoff)

"Warren Carter's incisive and accessible investigation of the complex relationship between Matthew's Gospel and the Roman Empire makes a memorable contribution to this important debate." (Sanford Lakoff)

"Writing in an engaging and accessible style, Carter argues—counter to nearly a century of Matthean scholarship—that it is not the relationship between Matthew's community and the post-70 synagogue that forms the dominant social backdrop for Matthew's story of Jesus. Instead, the primary external social reality for this group of early Christians in Antioch is Roman imperialism, and the message of the gospel is that salvation comes not through Roman gods or their imperial agents, but rather through Jesus Christ.""Carter's concluding chapter demonstrates that he is a theologian concerned for the church as well as an exegete. Here Carter discusses implications of Matthew's gospel for the modern practice of Christianity, noting his theological and social challenges to imperialisms then and now, and he does so without being limited to the standard antiestablishment glossary of solidarity, inclusivity, and the like."—Mary Hinkle, Luthern Seminary, St. Paul, MN (Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

Warren Carter is Professor of New Testament Brite Divinity School Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hoffman on October 5, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This may be the best book presenting the Context approach to the origins and original meaning of the New Testament. Its wording is more straightforward, to-the-point, and sophisticated than the more average Context books such as Horsley and Silberman's The Message and the Kingdom, and Crossan's In Search of Paul.

The first few chapters get to the point by defining Imperial Theology, Pax Romana, and Ruler Cult. Subsequent chapters then readily demonstrate how the New Testament draws upon Old Testament political themes to principally stand as a rebuttal to the Roman Empire system, and only secondarily as an intertwined expression of religious, mystical, and religious-morality content. Thus this book provides the ideal framework, on the canonical side, to identify the difference between New Testament Christianity and Gnostic-mystical Christianity, a comparison project which is today's main challenge as both the cultural context is being reconstructed and as Gnostic mysticism is being reconstructed.

Books presenting the Context-oriented approach are generally a must-have in any library of Christian origins, but to get started the fastest in understanding the original intended audience of New Testament Christianity, start by reading the first few chapters of this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Oh on September 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book opens my eyes wide open. The approach and interpretation give me a challenging experience. Some people may not agree with author's view, but I do and praise his theology.
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