- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (March 13, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060843233
- ISBN-13: 978-0060843236
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 56 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,179,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
In this fine study of civilization, culture and transformation, Father Crossan asks important questions: have those who resort to violence as a means of change succeeded in their quest for empire? Or has nonviolence been more effective in bringing about lasting change? Crossan, professor emeritus at De Paul University and author of several well-received works including The Historical Jesus, believes that the solution is not in violent intervention but in the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth. But how, and when, will this Kingdom come? In comparing the missions of Jesus and John the Baptist, Crossan states his idea clearly: "Jesus differed precisely from John in emphasizing not the future-presence but the already-presence of God's Kingdom as the Great Divine Cleanup of the world." In other words, Christ saw the Kingdom as a present and active reality. Crossan uses the teachings of Jesus to promote his thesis, and then turns to an unlikely ally—the Apostle Paul—by suggesting that Paul's emphasis on equality and freedom helped carry forward Jesus' program of nonviolent change. Crossan's latest work presents a complex subject in a clear and powerful way, and it merits a wide readership. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* By Crossan's lights, Jesus proposed the nonviolent kingdom of God to supplant Rome. And not just Rome but civilization per se may be the object of Jesus' revolution, for civilization building was Rome's pretext for imperial aggression and economic as well as physical violence against common people. Fighting Rome was folly, so the kingdom of God movement aimed to liberate ordinary people nonviolently. It threatened Rome because Jesus' proclamation of God defied the Roman emperor's institutional divinity, and because Jesus proposed peace through justice against Rome's conceit that it achieved peace through the violence of conquest. Paul sharpened the concept of equality in the kingdom of God by advocating for slaves and cooperating on equal terms with women; here Crossan goes Garry Wills' What Paul Meant (2006) one better by carefully explaining that pro-slavery and anti-women Pauline remarks come from epistles spuriously attributed to him. Later, the Revelation of John promulgated a "pornography of violence" and has malevolently affected Christianity ever since, most recently in rapture theology, whose influence on U.S. neoconservatives' bush-league Rome is the immediate provocation for this book. The opposition of God and empire, of justice and violence, persists. Despite a few rant-lines from the progressives' book of cant, this book makes the best reading for the most readers of any that Crossan has written. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Christianity beacme the official religion of the Roman Empire. That irony has had various consequences. I love exploring this. I love the way Crossan lays it out, piece by piece. That said of course 25 years from now there will arise a challenging other theology. Theology is, after all, a long conversation going back to Peter and Paul. Fun to observe and sometimes take part. God knows.
In providing this interpretation of Jesus in the Jewish tradition, Crossan repeatedly struggles with violence in the Hebrew Bible and in the New Testament book of Revelations. Like others, he sees Revelations as a critique of empires from within the Jewish tradition. He strongly rejects the millenarian interpretation that has become popular in the United States, seeing the end-time violence as a result of civilization's injustices. Christ's only coming, he maintains, has already happened, and Revelations describes the world in which we already live.
Though not fully persuasive, this interpretation is well worth reading. Crossan is certainly correct that many fundamentalists in the U.S. share a lust for violence in the end times that is not at all warranted by the text or by the life of Jesus.
Crossan does not move beyond the biblical texts to consider precivilization societies such as hunter gatherers. Though not based on the institutionalist violence of the state, intersociety relations (wars) were much bloodier per capita among hunter gatherers than modern wars are. As Crossan rightly notes, they were generally more equal than civilization is, though gender inequalities were greater among some hunter-gatherers than in modern civilizations. Any critique of civilization should confront these realities and their implications.
Finally, this book always left me with the impression that Crossan's politics determines his reading of the scriptures and the Christian tradition, instead of letting his studies determine his politics. He is ideological, not eclectic, in his positions, and he often intends to impose his worldview on Jesus rather than doing the reverse. Though I often agree with Crossen, I'm generally suspicious of his reasoning.
Nonetheless, this book provides a provocative and challenging reading of Jesus and the New Testament. If you are open to rethinking your views of the Christian tradition, I recommend reading it.
Him then didn't really know, they got what they wanted in many cases and
then deserted Him at the end. Rome believed the lies of the Pharisees to stay
in power over them.