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God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 13, 2007
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- Item Weight : 14.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.93 x 9 inches
- ASIN : B0013L2EJ0
- Publisher : HarperOne; 1st edition (March 13, 2007)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #5,685,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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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.
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.
Ironically, non-violence is at the core of many moral codifications, Christianity being one of them. Crossan explores the challenge and asks the question. We get to answer it or not.
The First Axial Age, circa 500 BCE, saw the concurrent formation of Socratic philosophy, Judaism (leading to Christianity), Buddhism and Confucianism. This period has been briefly examined by Karl Jaspers in The Way to Wisdom and extensively by Karen Armstrong in The Great Transformation.
Crossan's question as to how we can move from the violence of empire to the non-violence of god may be today's critical question. This is what Bob Funk called The Second Axial Age which is an improvement over the first because it includes everyone, even women and slaves, who were left out the last time.
I have read God and Empire twice with different insights both times. I am about to read it again.