- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Fortress Press; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (February 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080066339X
- ISBN-13: 978-0800663391
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,753,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Greater than Caesar: Christology and Empire in the Fourth Gospel Hardcover – February 1, 2009
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About the Author
Tom Thatcher is Professor of Biblical Studies at Cincinnati Christian University, the author of Why John Wrote a Gospel: Jesus- Memory-History (2006), and co-editor of New Currents through John: A Global Perspective (2006), among other books.
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Greater than Caesar is a book that does contain some interesting insights into the gospel of John. And overall, the book is worth reading if you've never considered the implications of the claim of Jesus' Lordship in light the lordship of Caesar and the rulers of the empire, or if you think John's Gospel is only concerned with spiritual things.
However, the central argument that the author is trying to make is ill-conceived, and it often causes the author to interpret the text in ways that are hard to swallow. It is true that his claim that the Gospel of John is trying to show that Jesus is greater than Caesar is believable (if not self-evident in a gospel which introduces Jesus as the one who was with God and was God). However, his insistence that the act of depicting Jesus as greater than Caesar is the central aim of the John's Gospel asks the reader to interpret John's writing in some very problematic ways.
Two hurdles which Thatcher fails to overcome: 1. The fact that John's Gospel focuses on Jesus' conflict with Israel, rather than Rome. 2. The fact that John's Gospel barely mentions Caesar and seems to portray Pilot (Caesar's representative) in a fairly positive light. Thatcher does make some headway on both of these arguments, and brings out some aspects of the text that are not often addressed; yet he falls short of convincing the reader that John's central concern is to show Jesus' superiority over Caesar. That reading simply requires us to ignore too many other aspects of the text.
The challenging part of John which this book takes up is that John says more of who Jesus isn't than exactly who he is. Jesus is always greater than all the people/kingdoms around him.
If this intrigues you, you'll love the book.
Thatcher's argument that 12.31-32 ('the ruler of this world will be cast out') could mean Caesar/Rome seems stretched (pp.121-22). The conflict between light and darkness with the 'world' representing that darkness surely must mean the kingdom of Satan. The Roman empire is a part of that 'world' and its darkness as is unbeliving Israel, but surely Jesus' crucifixion brings a spiritual victory and judgment over a spiritual foe who would be Satan, the one even over Caesar and being the true 'ruler' of this world.