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God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now [Hardcover]

By John Dominic Crossan (Author)
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Item description for God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now by John Dominic Crossan...

A bestselling author and prominent New Testament scholar reveals themes in Scripture about the dangers of empire and power that are especially relevant today, when the U.S. is the world's lone super power.

Publishers Description

At the heart of the Bible is a moral and ethical call to fight unjust superpowers, whether they are Babylon, Rome, or even America.

From the divine punishment and promise found in Genesis through the revolutionary messages of Jesus and Paul, John Dominic Crossan reveals what the Bible has to say about land and economy, violence and retribution, justice and peace, and, ultimately, redemption. In contrast to the oppressive Roman military occupation of the first century, he examines the meaning of the non-violent Kingdom of God prophesized by Jesus and the equality advocated by Paul to the early Christian churches. Crossan contrasts these messages of peace with the misinterpreted apocalyptic vision from the Book of Revelation, which has been misrepresented by modern right-wing theologians and televangelists to justify U.S. military actions in the Middle East.

In God and Empire Crossan surveys the Bible from Genesis to Apocalypse, or the Book of Revelation, and discovers a hopeful message that cannot be ignored in these turbulent times. The first-century Pax Romana, Crossan points out, was in fact a "peace" won through violent military action. Jesus preached a different kind of peace--a peace that surpasses all understanding--and a kingdom not of Caesar but of God.

The Romans executed Jesus because he preached this Kingdom of God, a kingdom based on peace and justice, over the empire of Rome, which ruled by violence and force. For Jesus and Paul, Crossan explains, peace cannot be won the Roman way, through military victory, but only through justice and fair and equal treatment of all people.

From Publishers Weekly
Crossan (religious studies, emeritus, DePaul Univ., Chicago; The Historical Jesus) showcases his scholarly ability and paramount research skills in this wonderfully written and organized treatise. Whether the discussion focuses on Jesus's ministry and teaching about the "kingdom of God" or on the Apostle Paul's philosophy of equality in the early church, controversy is a common theme. What is perhaps most controversial, however, is Crossan's eschatology. In one section, he writes, "The second coming of Christ is what will happen when we Christians finally accept that the first coming was the only coming and start to cooperate with its divine presence." This amillennial, anti-tribulation, anti-rapture eschatological view is not shared by many Bible scholars and will no doubt provoke disagreement and debate. But such debate is healthy, if for no other reason than to encourage intellectual and apologetic surety among such scholars. Thoroughly enjoyable and incredibly informative; recommended for larger university and specialized libraries.-Wesley Mills, Empire State Coll., SUNY at Rochester Copyright 2007 Library Journal.

Awards and Recognitions
God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now by John Dominic Crossan has received the following awards and recognitions -

  • Book of the Year - 2008 Winner - Top 10 category

Citations And Professional Reviews
God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now by John Dominic Crossan has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Publishers Weekly - 12/11/2006
  • Kirkus Reviews - 12/15/2006 page 1252
  • Library Journal - 02/15/2007 page 126
  • Booklist - 02/15/2007 page 17

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Item Specifications...

Studio: HarperOne
Pages   257
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6.25" Height: 9"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2007
Publisher   Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN  0060843233  
ISBN13  9780060843236  

Availability  0 units.

More About John Dominic Crossan

John Dominic Crossan John Dominic Crossan is the author of The Historical Jesus (T&T Clark, 1991). He chairs the Historical Jesus section of the Society of Biblical Literature. Luke Timothy Johnson is Woodruff Professor of New Testament at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. The author of a number of best-selling books, he is also editor of the Anchor Study Bible. Werner H. Kelber is Turner Professor of Biblical Studies at Rice University.

John Dominic Crossan currently resides in Clermont, in the state of Florida.

John Dominic Crossan has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Biblical Scholarship in North America
  2. Eagle Books

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Military > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( C ) > Crossan, John, Dominic
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Jesus > Historical Jesus
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Prophecies
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Prophecy
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Church & State
9Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > General Studies > Predictive Prophesy

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Reviews - What do customers think about God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now?

GOD AND EMPIRE was years in the making.  Mar 27, 2007
Crossan's new book GOD AND EMPIRE cannot be properly reviewed as a standalone beacon. There is a historical momentum in Crossan's vision of God and "this world."

Rodney Stark, a professor of sociology and comparative religion, in 1996 published a history THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY:How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the World in a Few Centuries. How? By nonviolence! "But perhaps all else, Christianity brought a new concept of humanity to a world saturated with capricious crulty and viscarious love of death."

I believe Rodney Stark's book set fire under biblical scholars to investigate the historical living conditions that Jesus emerged from as well as the Jesus Movement.

In October 1999, Crossan took part in a Jesus Seminar lecture series (I was there in the audience) about "A Future for Christian Faith?" His full text was published in the book THE ONCE AND FUTURE JESUS. He explained: "What I am trying to imagine is what Christianity must do clearly and honestly to distinquish itself from fantasy." "In 1999 I never imagined...the speed with which faith-based thinking would morph into fantasy-based dreaming...."

In 2001 Crossan and Reed issued their first collaborative book EXCAVATING JESUS: The key Discoveries for understanding Jesus in His World. This book combined analysis of text conjoined with archaeological discoveries. "Jesus and his Kingdom were a threat to Roman law and order, and his Jewish God was a threat to the Roman God." This summation vibrates through the whole book.

In 2004 Crossan and Reed issued their second collaborative book IN SEARCH OF PAUL: How Jesus's Apostle opposed Rome's Empire with God's Kingdom. Again this book combine text conjoined with archaeological discoveries. "...Paul's radical horizontal Christian equality clashed forcibly with Roman society's normal vertical hierarchy." What was the clash? "In Christ...inside Christianity, a Christian Jew was not superior to a pagan, free Christian to an enslaved Christian, or male Christian to a female Christian. Paul took it for granted, therefore, that, within Christianity, women just as well as men could receive the same gifts, offer the same services and perform the same activities." All this "withinness-horizontal-equality" clashed with Rome's violent vision for peace.

In 2007 Crossan solo's his conclusions in GOD AND EMPIRE:Jesus against Rome,then and now. This percolated in 1999, 2001 and 2004. This book uses the past to confront the present and future of the American Empire and American Christianity. There is a two track solution to the normalcy of violence in human nature lived out in American Empire and American Religion. The fantasy of fundmentalism (the final solution toward human violence)is in God's Second Coming. It is all about the angry God slaughtering human beings with the exception for the God fearers.The members of this theology try to enable the Second Coming by supporting violence, here and now, that will force God to move on with the final violent solution, for peace. The second track of the final solution is nonviolence. God is waiting for the First Coming of Jesus to take hold within Christian humanity. Peace through love.

"I look here at Christianity fundamentalism in America and its ideological lust for imminent human slaughter and cosmic catastrophe. I look here, in other words, at its apocalyptic vision of a violent God and, above all else, at the biblical roots it claims for that vision of a terrible future consummation."

"John the Baptist expected God's advent, but Antipas's cavalry came instead. Maybe, thought Jesus, that was not how God acted because that is not how God is. Jesus own proclamation therefore insisted that the Kingdom of God was not imminenet but present.... But to claim an already present kingdom demands some evidence, and the only such that Jesus could offer is this: it is not that we are waiting for God, but that God is waiting for us....The Divine Cleanup is an-interactive process....To see the presence of the Kingdom of God, said Jesus, see how we live, and then live likewise."

This long journey from Rodney Start 1996 to 2007 tells the unfolding story of nonviolence leads to peace, and peace never comes from violence.

To feel the human Jesus and Paul up against violence of Empire and Religion to its fullest extent is by reading and grasping the unfolding good news in Rodney Stark, Crossan and Reed, and Crossan's solo finality GOD AND EMPIRE. "The good that the violent normalcy of human civilization is not the inevitable destiny of human nature. Christian faith and human evolution agree on that point...since "we" invented civilization some six thousand years ago, "we" can un-invent it, "we" can create its alternative.

Crossan is inpirational. Crossan challenges us to create like Jesus and Paul a nonviolence world. God is waiting for us to introduce his peace in America and American Christianity through nonviolence, love. GOD AND EMPIRE is actually your story, in your time and space. Read it and go back and read its foundational works and begin to build God's Kingdom.

George Pieczonka, author of ANN OF GREEN PASTURES: The Makings of Your Married American Catholic Pastor.
A book for Left Behind fans!  Mar 23, 2007
The distinguished Irish-born but now naturalized American biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan is growing deeper as he grows older. This book is filled with deep reflection and thought. Even though it is written in an accessible and reader-friendly way, it deserves to be read slowly and meditatively. The chapters in this book really are meditations not only on biblical texts but also on our contemporary world situation.

To characterize our contemporary world situation, Crossan draws on Chalmers Johnson's 2004 book _The Sorrows of Empire_. Johnson points out that the United States is not an empire of colonies but a global empire of military bases around the world. Conveniently enough for Crossan's purposes, Johnson compares our contemporary American Empire with the ancient Roman Empire. Of course Jesus of Nazareth was born in the ancient Roman Empire, and Christianity emerged in the ancient Roman Empire after Jesus was crucified under the authority of the Roman Empire. As a New Testament specialist, Crossan is at home in discussing the ancient Roman Empire.

As both Johnson and Crossan know, the Roman Empire emerged decisively under Augustus Caesar (Octavian, 27 BCE - 14 CE). During the reign of Augustus, Jesus of Nazareth was born -- around 4 BCE -- and was crucified under the local authority of the Roman Empire, Pontius Pilate, probably as a crowd-control measure at the time of Passover in Jerusalem. Crossan points out that in the first century Augustus was referred to as "Divine," "Son of God," "God," "God from God," "Lord," "Redeemer," "Liberator," and "Savior of the world" (page 28). In the spirit of one-upmanship, the followers of Jesus would also refer to him with these various terms after his crucifixion.

The crucifixion of Jesus is but one example of what Crossan refers to as the normalcy of violence. But according to Crossan, Jesus preached a message of non-violence. As Crossan notes, the Christian Bible contains competing views of the God -- as violent and as non-violent. Crossan urges Christians today to embrace the non-violent message of Jesus, which Crossan sees as consistent with certain other non-violent passages in the Christian Bible.

For the fans of the Left Behind series, Crossan's conclusions about the supposed Second Coming will probably be startling: "The Second Coming of Christ is not an event that we should expect to happen violently. The Second Coming of Christ is not an event that we should expect to happen literally. The Second Coming of Christ is what will happen when we Christians finally accept that the First Coming was the Only Coming and start to cooperate with its divine presence" (page 231).

This book should be read by all people who call themselves Christians, especially those who also happen to be Americans.-- Thomas J. Farrell, author of Walter Ong's Contributions to Cultural Studies: The Phenomenology of the Word and I-Thou Communication (Media Ecology)
Not historically sound...  Mar 19, 2007
The perspective of John Crossan is just another attempt to interpret history to suit an agenda. This agenda has been posited by other authors today that relay facts that are either only excerpts, thus revealing only a vague half-story that they then build their mistaken interpretation on, or they blatantly make illogical statements.

In particular, Crossan states that empires, like Rome or even America, are guided by the premise of "victory and peace", namely that they aggressively engage war, achieve victory and then acquire peace. This he says is like Augustus' Pax Romana, which he sees as a false type of peace because it was achieved through bloody war. He even goes so far as to insinuate barbarism in their motives. Meanwhile, he states that the Christian movement was guided by the premise of "justice and peace", namely that non-violent and just methods were utilized to achieve peace.

This all sounds so clean and perfect on paper BUT the crux of his deeply flawed perspective is that it took place not on paper but in the real world. Crossan, and others like him, posit an ideological philosophy of peace that sits securely on parchment but has never worked in practice, as the real world is imbued with many variables, such as nepotism, greed, and even alien, non-assimilating factions that never make this beautiful ideal reach fruition. This ideal he speaks of sounds wonderful, and I personally would love it if such a mindset could pervade the entire world, but anyone who knows history knows that it never did and never will. All one needs to do is look how Jihadist radical Muslims think, and how their innate and intense hatred of the Christian and Jewish infidels makes this dream of peaceful harmony a complete and total impossibility.

Crossan also wrongly criticizes ancient people and civilizations that fought to survive. As he points out, Augustus knew he could not penetrate Germany, and as such, he even offered the sound advice for his successors to not attempt such a risky maneuver. Augustus was smart enough to know that strength and longevity of a nation only have a chance if that nation is sizable and strong enough to ward off attacks, because the REAL barbarians of the ancient world just so happened to be the Germans, who lived in mud huts and lived like animals. This Crossan is too blind to see, for it was Rome that bequeathed to Western Civilization its strong foundation for survival. This foundation was for a real world that is perpetually inundated with real barbarians. The Founding Fathers of America were wise enough to follow that precedent, and hence that is why America is the world leader it is today. Likewise, ancient leaders, like Augustus, cannot and must not be judged by modern standards. Even religious prophets such as Moses condoned slavery, so who is Crossan or anyone else today to criticize these ancient people that lived in a much different world? Their lack of understanding this basic principle makes them unsuited for writing about history.

Likewise, his attacks on Roman civilization for aggressively fighting for conquest can easily be countered with the bloody Crusades or the Inquisition, which as the famous historian William Durant pointed out, killed more fellow Christians than all the Roman persecutions against Christians combined. So, please, never forget that.

The bottom line is that Crossan's benevolent view is deeply flawed, as it attempts to eradicate the evil of mankind, which has reared its ugly face in both the secular and Christian realms. Even the Bible states that not all people are deserving of salvation, henceforth, evil is a reality that will be with mankind forever. Therefore, his pious attitude towards Christianity and his vile criticisms towards Rome or even the New Rome (America) are idyllic in nature and profoundly erroneous when applied to nature.

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