- Paperback: 188 pages
- Publisher: FORTRESS PRESS (November 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080063490X
- ISBN-13: 978-0800634902
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #205,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder Paperback – November 1, 2002
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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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In both his earlier work, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence (1987) and Jesus and Empire (2003) Horsley takes a rather dimmer view of the Roman Empire than that presented by Gibbon, referring to the “slavery” of subject peoples while ignoring the many instances of local autonomy granted by the early empire. There is no happy condition of mankind to be found here.
With regards Jesus, his teachings, and the Gospel accounts, Horsley argues that “that the key for modern readers’ understanding of Gospel materials is to become as familiar as possible with the Israelite tradition (as well as the context) out of which the historical audience (implied in the text) heard the text. Only if we as modern readers make the connection between text and metonymically signaled references to Israelite tradition can we construe the text within the range of possibilities in implies.”
Horsley draws comparisons between Rome and the United States as imperial world orders and he is obviously not the first to do so. He points to how the U.S., like Rome, is a republic that built an empire, and draws attention also to the intent of some of the Founding Fathers to base the United States on Rome. The comparisons are endless, and the least powerful is not the role of both as sole superpowers, and he finds resistance to America analogous to resistance against Rome.
If you like comparisons of this sort, Jesus and Empire is the book for you. Obviously, the sub-title says it all: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder. It is certainly a thought-provoking read and you don’t have to agree with it all to see that Horsley makes some very valid points.
Where Christianity and Jesus are concerned, some won’t like a politicized Jesus and some will. The experience of Rome’s empire is certainly relevant today (we consciously make it relevant) and Horsley does well to draw our attention to this discussion, because history is not only a record of what has transpired, but a record of what we have made of what took place, and that narrative, if not the facts themselves, is constantly evolving.
For me, the best part about this book is that 1) end notes are included to help you see his sources 2) his first reading of the text is a political, historical, and cultural reading that is largely de-theologized. I think that should be our first reading of the text. The theological reading gets added later, though Horseley does admit that there was no disctinction between theology and politics in Jesus' day like there is in our own.
The only thing I found a little annoying was that in the end notes Horseley was self-referential an aweful lot. I suppose that is okay in that he cites his own work and his own scholarship, it just felt a tad over the top. I want to see who else out there is doing the same or similar kind of work that he is doing.
All in all, he makes for a good, solid read and is very accessible. His case for Empire is the usual case, which is constantly debated in regards to the Pax Americana, but I think is probably accurate -- America is an Imperial power; whether this is intentional or not is the question. For Horseley it is intentional, though I think that the American public sees it differently while the current Administration may be more intentional in their imperial desires. It's worth the twelve bucks or so that you'll spend and its only about 160 pages or so.