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The Politics of Jesus Paperback – June 9, 1994

4.3 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Christianity TodayTop 10 Books of the 20th Century (2000)

Stanley Hauwerwas in Christian Century
"I am convinced that when Christians look back on this century of theology in America, The Politics of Jesus will be seen as a new beginning."

Dennis P. McCann
"When it was first published, The Politics of Jesus effected a coup de grace against neo-orthodox biblical theologies that had managed to depoliticize the ethical significance of Jesus' message. This second edition is no less provocative in contesting the reevaluations of New Testament ethics emerging from recent scholarship on the historical Jesus. Yoder presses beyond the question of whether Jesus was political to ask what sort of politics is the mark of Christian discipleship."

Max L. Stackhouse
"Although most Catholics, Calvinists, and Christian realists will remain skeptical of Yoder's view of Jesus and of politics, we are always challenged by him. This new edition includes acute responses to many critics. It will keep the discussion vibrant as Christians today decide how to engage our emerging cosmopolitan, global civilization."

From the Back Cover

Tradition has painted a portrait of a Savior who stands aloof from governmental concerns and who calls his disciples to an apolitical life. But such a picture of Jesus is far from accurate, according to John Howard Yoder. This watershed work in New Testament ethics leads us to a Savior who was deeply concerned with the agenda of politics and the related issues of power, status, and right relations. By canvassing Luke's Gospel, Yoder argues convincingly that the true impact of Jesus' life and ministry on his disciples' social behavior points to a specific kind of Christian pacifism in which "the cross of Christ is the model of Christian social efficacy". This second edition of The Politics of Jesus provides up-to-date interaction with recent publications that touch on Yoder's timely topic. Following most of the chapters are new "epilogues" summarizing research conducted during the last two decades - research that continues to support the outstanding insights set forth in Yoder's original work.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans; 2nd ed. edition (June 9, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802807348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802807342
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Hugo Schwyzer on December 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
If I had only one work of twentieth-century theology to read, this would be it (with apologies to everyone from Barth to Brueggemann to Bonhoeffer). In the aftermath of September 11, pacifism has been reviled in the public secular discourse like never before. Most Christian leaders from across the theological spectrum have endorsed one form or another of the "Just War Theory" of Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin.
No one makes the case for the radical, total non-violence of the Christian message better than John Howard Yoder. Though he wrote many books after this one, this is by far the best place to start. Yoder's familiarity with Scripture is magisterial, and the gentle yet firm way he responds to his Catholic and Reformed critics is convincing and exciting. Most timely of all, he devotes an entire chapter to deconstructing traditional Christian interpretations of Romans 13:1-7, the passages most often cited by just war theorists to defend the use of violence by the state. Anyone who believes it is possible for a Christian to bear arms and follow Christ must respond to Yoder's analysis.
Though Yoder was a Mennonite (and though I am an Episcopalian by affiliation, I am an anabaptist in my heart), his work is catholic, orthodox, and accessible to all Christians. Yoder's death in 1997 marked the passing of the man whom I believe may well be regarded as the most important theologian of our time. As even good Christians "rally round the flag" and join in the cries for "just war" and "retributive justice", Yoder's work has never been more important as a vital theological corrective.
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Format: Paperback
In an age where the Western Christian church is stuggling for a relevant witness to our rapidly changing culture, John Howard Yoder makes a solid and challenging claim that Jesus is not only relevant, but normative for social Christian ethics. Yoder convincingly illustrates that Jesus was in fact confrontive socially and politically to the powers that be in that age. Throughout the text he demonstrates that the Gospel of Lukes bears witness not to just a divine Jesus, who redeemed humanity, but also a human Jesus who incarnated the nature of God through the way of the cross. By focusing his study on the cross of Christ, he develops a challenging ethic that examplifies the love of neighbor and witness that the faithful church and disciple is called to be. I recommend this text to anyone interested in a new, fresh and challenging look to the Jesus as known in 1st century Jewish culture. This book is a must read that should be on the shelf of anyone interested in honest, Christian scholarship.
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Format: Paperback
I am borrowing a term from my youth and the Viet Nam conflct when people were labeled Hawks or Doves by their reaction to war.
Yoder makes a case that Jesus was VERY political. He was not uninterested in world events around him. He was involved, but not in the way that much of the religious right is today. More likely, he made the footsteps that Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Theresa later walked in. This is a book on politics, power, and pacifism. At least that is the way that Yoder sees it.
Many Christians do not agree with Yoder, but he is not easily dismissed. This book is well written and each chapter of this revised edition contains an epilogue that helps to update it with new information since the days of the first edition.
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Format: Paperback
The Politics of Jesus is John Howard Yoder's treatise on Jesus' political inclinations, based on and in response to twentieth century biblical scholarship. Yoder was a Mennonite biblical scholar, theologian, and professor of theology. The 1994 version of this book is a revision and expansion of his original version, published in 1972.

Yoder points out early that this book is an ethical methodology, not an exegesis. Indeed, he spends the majority of the work building on and responding to the thought of innumerable other twentieth century scholars. His primary target is twentieth century Christian systematic theology that argues for various reasons that Jesus is not a valid source of personal ethics. Yoder does a thorough job of demonstrating that Jesus was indeed politically-minded, and one of the consequences of this is the discovery that Jesus has intended us to follow his pacifist lifestyle.

Contrary to what at least one reviewer has complained, Yoder does address the Old Testament as it relates to a modern Christian pacifism, albeit briefly. Yoder's treatment of Romans 13, however, is thorough.

Most of the criticism of this book seems to be from people who are inherently opposed to Christian pacifism as many arguments are from that ground rather than on anything Yoder has done incorrectly. That is, people tend to reject his arguments based on their personal beliefs and traditions. Many arguments say "Yoder didn't address such and such"; but a book can only be so long.

The book does contain a lot of the vocabulary and jargon of Christian scholarship, and people unfamiliar with such may have a little trouble with it.

The Politics of Jesus is the finest book on Christianity I have read in a long time. Yoder does an excellent job highlighting parallels and themes running through Jesus' life, and of making the case for Christian pacifism. I recommend this book to everyone.

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