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The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster [Paperback]

By John Howard Yoder (Author)
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Item description for The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster by John Howard Yoder...

A standard in many colleges and seminaries, Yoder makes a strong case for the Anabaptist view of Jesus' radical critique of society as well as for an intense, though pacifistic involvement.

Publishers Description
Tradition has painted a portrait of a Savior aloof from governmental concerns and whose teachings point to an apolitical life for his disciples. How, then, are we to respond today to a world so thoroughly entrenched in national and international affairs? But such a picture of Jesus is far from accurate, argues John Howard Yoder. Using the texts of the New Testament, Yoder critically examines the traditional portrait of Jesus as an apolitical figure and attempts to clarify the true impact of Jesus' life, work, and teachings on his disciples' social behavior. The book first surveys the multiple ways the image of an apolitical Jesus has been propagated, then canvasses the Gospel narrative to reveal how Jesus is rightly portrayed as a thinker and leader immediately concerned with the agenda of politics and the related issues of power, status, and right relations. Selected passages from the epistles corroborate a Savior deeply concerned with social, political, and moral issues. In this thorough revision of his acclaimed 1972 text, Yoder provides updated interaction with publications touching on this subject. Following most of the chapters are new "epilogues" that summarize research conducted during the last two decades -- research that continues to support the insights set forth in Yoder's original work. Currently a standard in many college and seminary ethics courses, The Politics of Jesus is also an excellent resource for the general reader desiring to understand Christ's response to the world of politics and his will for those who would follow him.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   270
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.96" Width: 6.04" Height: 0.73"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 1999
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0802807348  
ISBN13  9780802807342  

Availability  7 units.
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More About John Howard Yoder

John Howard Yoder John Howard Yoder taught at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and was later professor of theology and ethics at the University of Notre Dame. He is known especially for his influential book The Politics of Jesus. Glen Stassen (1936-2014) was Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He received his PhD from Duke University. Mark Thiessen Nation (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of theology at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Matt Hamsher is working toward his PhD in Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

John Howard Yoder was born in 1927 and died in 1997.

John Howard Yoder has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Christian Peace Shelf Series
  2. Classics of the Radical Reformation
  3. John Howard Yoder
  4. John Howard Yoder's Challenge to the Church
  5. Theology in a Postcritical Key
  6. Yoder for Everyone

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > Ideologies
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Church Institutions & Organizations
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Jesus
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible Study > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Politics of Jesus?

Worth revisiting.  Mar 21, 2007
I read this last year, eschewing many newer political life of Jesus books as I prefer being taught by a "Christian" scholar who believes what Jesus said. I found new and potent ways of looking at Jesus' actions and gleaning more from His examples. I have just finished Obery Hendricks' book of the same title which was well worth reading and fits well with Yoder's but suffers, I think, from over simplification in order to appeal to what is being called the "emerging" Christian paradigm. I do not find that in Yoders work and I think it will maintain its place of importance as a resource.
Must read  Jan 10, 2007
I had this book on my shelf for a long time before picking it up to read. After a few false starts (I think the first chapter might be a bit dull), I gave it a second try and I'm glad a did. Along with several other reviews I can say that this was one of those paradigm changing books that deserves to be referenced time and time again. One of a few 'must reads' for every Christian, certainly for pastors, the Politics of Jesus is about the radicalness of following Christ, and the concrete steps that must be taken in order to be faithful to him. Yoder writes from an Anabaptist perspective, and as North American Christianity comes perilously close to re-embracing a Constantinian view of the Church, Yoder's work (along with his disciple Stanley Hauwerwas) gives us an alternate vision of what the body of Christ should be like.
Just as relevant as when it was first published  Jul 10, 2006
Even though this theological gem came out in 1994, the Q of WWJD in the political arena remains a must read as we approach the 2006 midterm elections. What role, if any, should one's faith play in the political arena. Yoder provides considerable food for thought as he explores this sticky scenario.
I must be channeling Yoder  Jan 24, 2006
Not to put too fine a point on it, but to those who muddle through various "Sgt. Christ" "warmaking Christ" and "capitalist Christ" paradigms, I'd argue that maybe your faith is wholly misplaced. THE POLITICS OF JESUS engages this directly.

I don't relate to Christ the way that most who claim to be Christian do, precisely because of the following, which I hold to ostensible Christians on their own terms of belief...

I argue this:

(1) That those who call themselves Christians today have as one of their central pillars of belief that Jesus Christ is God.

(2) That those who call themselves Christians today have the various translations of the Bible as their only source material quoting Christ (a state of matters - differing translations - that does not affect my argument much at all).

(3) That within that source Christ makes clear that Loving God, and loving your neighbor as yourself are the Two Greatest Commandments.

-----(3a) and that establishing "Greatest Commandments" by definition creates a hierarchy of importance and focus, as other Commands are, by definition, NOT as "Great."

(4) That Christ affirms that hierarchy by submitting "on these two Commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

-----(4a) That "the law" is consistently defined as Scripture, and that "the prophets" is consistently defined as the pronouncements of prophecy by various folks in the Bible. "...the prophets" is also sometimes defined as the persons designated prophets themselves throughout the Bible, but in either case Christ made ENGAGING other Scripture and notions of prophecy/any Prophets CONTINGENT upon FIRST executing the Commands to Love.

(5) That Christ leaves no loophole of exclusion from the Commands to love, and in fact makes getting eternal life contingent NOT ON SOME ABSTRACT LEVEL OF FAITH IN THE STORY SURROUNDING HIS EXISTANCE, BUT, RATHER, CONTINGENT UPON THE CONCRETE EXECUTION OF THE GREATEST COMMANDS. Christ also ties our actions, now wholly bound up in lovingkindess behavour, to nonviolent ways of being in the world.

-----(5a) In the discussion just preceding the parable of the Good Samaritan, Christ is asked by a lawyer - the ultimate "loophole finders," right? - this question: "How do I get eternal life?" Christ responds NOT with the Apostle's Creed, or John 3:16 (which we'll get to later), but with this: "What does it say in the law?" The lawyer submits "Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself." Christ says "DO THIS, and ye shall live," which right then and right there makes eternal life contingent upon executing the Greatest Commands, which, as I argue above, definitively SUBORDINATE all other Scripture and all other Prophetic notions (of Rapture, Revelation, Second Coming, etc) TO the execution of those Commands.

-----(5b) The lawyer, again "loophole searching," asks further, "Who is my neighbor?" IOW, what tools might I use to differentiate between those you want me to love as myself, and those I can hate and/or marginalise and/or kill? Christ responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan, at the end of which Christ asks the lawyher, "Who was neighbor to the man?" THe lawyer, understanding the parable, answers, "The one who showed mercy to him." CHrist responds, "Go and do likewise." SO now, we UNDERSTAND that "neighbor" is ANYONE for whom we can exhibit mercy. That's a heavy mandate, but is part and parcel of the Greatest Command from the man Christians call God, the execution of which Christ - God - ties directly to getting eternal life.

-----(5c) To both completely close any loopholes of interpretation, AND to cement the total and complete refutation of the fundamentalist notion of "scriptural equivocation," the assertion that "every word in the Bible is as Commanding and instructive and has as much primacy as every other word (a notion refuted on its face by the very existence of "Greatest Commands," undoubtedly rebuked by HINGING all other law and prophecy UPON such Commands, and further refuted in the following example)," I offer Christ's word in the Sermon on the Mount: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you..." So now, the Greatest Commands are "Love God/Love anyone for whom you can exhibit mercy," and Christ also, in a Sermon where he DIRECTLY ADDRESSES our contrasting notions of "neighbor" and "enemy," demand that we love our enemies. There's noone left to NOT love.

----- (5d) For those looking for the "tough love" loophole out of SEEING "love" as nonviolent (allowing for perverse interpretations of Christ such as "WE show our love for some Iraqis by killing other Iraqis," or "Love sometimes means doing harm in order to do 'good'), I offer, again, Christ at the Sermon on the Mount: ""You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person [AGAIN, refutation of 'scriptural equivocation.' Just because you can find it somewhere else in the 'law,' Christ submits here, doesn't mean that it holds as much weight as what I'm telling you.']. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away." Nonviolence as the way of being in the world. So NOW we have Greatest Commands as "Love God/Love anyone for whom you can exhibit mercy," and Christ also, in a Sermon where he DIRECTLY ADDRESSES our contrasting notions of "neighbor" and "enemy," demanding that we love our enemies, and everyone lese, NONVIOLENTLY.

(6) Given all of the above, might John 3:16, might Christ's very life and death, be seen utterly differently? I think so.

-----(6a) If someone asks you if you believe in MLK, or your father, or me, you don't respond with considerations as to whether or not they have actually manifested as you understand them in the historical or current record or reality, respectively. You are far more likely to address such a question with either clarification or with something along the lines of "You mean, do I believe in what MLK stood for?" Apply this to a Christ who, in the book Christians claim is the Word of God, God himself, in the above conversation with the lawyer, submits that the way to eternal life is through the EXECUTION of the Commands to Love, the broad scope of which we've also established. KNOWING now that Christ is QUOTED as submitting that eternal life comes from "doing Love," - and "doing mercy," and "doing nonviolence" - how about this as a new (old?) take on John 3:16? The chapter and verse submits this: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Now that you KNOW, from the above, that eternal life is also tied to "doing Love," doesn't this verse suffer from a popular misinterpretation? Isn't "believeth in him" NOT "rest replete in some internal belief dialogue about the litany of "facts" surrounding the life and the death," but rather "believe in what he Commanded so completely that "doing Love," the thing that will get you eternal life, is so part and parcel of your existence as to be inseparable?" Believe in what he said, believe what he said to be true, not that he suffered under Pilate and was born of a Virgin? We'll get to the inescapable thinking that emerges even if you refute this and stand fast for the Creed-ist take, the story surrounding the birth and death, later, but I wanted to consider this as well.

-----(6b) if the above as I've asserted it is the case, maybe the Fundamental Tenets of what it means to be a "Christian" are totally misplaced. Maybe it's not about believing in any story about CHrist's life, but, CRUCIALLY, about believing in the Commands to Love the Numinous and love each other that is transformative and related to "eternal life." Maybe 2.1 billion CHristians willign to do what it takes to stand fast for everyone for whom they can exhibit mercy in the Lovign Mode they've been COmmanded to undertake produces a fundamentally different world than the one we have now, where Christ s used as a shield for, given the above, PATENTLY Anti-Christ practices, not dissimilar from "just war" doctrine.

Maybe bering a Christian has to do with being centered on Lovign Action, everyday, and nothing at all to do with a hideaway personal belief dialogue about whether, for examplke, Mary was a Virgin or not. Maybe being a Christian is about being out there, in the midst of unloving, unmerciful, violent acts around the world and saying that I've a DUTY to be here because I love ALL the parties in this conflict, and I stand fast in lvoe for everyone who is suffering, regardless of color, creed, or anything else. Maybe the Christian Peace Teams, the Iraqi Action Quakers, the nuns cutting through fences and laying body and blood on American missiles...maybe they've all got it right, and others claiming CHrist but NOT ACTING have got it totally, ETERNALLY wrong.

-----(6c) Looking now at a Christ who lived lovingly and mercifully and nonviolently toward everyone, taught love and mercy and nonviolence toward everyone, and who died calling for love and mercy, nonviolently, for everyone, might it be that Christ KNEW how HARD - it is far more courageous to stand in nonviolence and love in the midst of a violent hateful situation than it will EVER be to go in guns blazing, which itself takes a kind of courage that only pales in terms of the former - it woudl be to live this life, and set his life and death as example to follow? Might "the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world" do so not just through some symbolic transmutation that we cannot explain, but, rather, through the concrete establishment of a permanently loving, merciful and nonviolent way of being in the world?

(7) What does it mean that no Creed, and no Sermon, places the Greatest Commands to Love with Mercy and Nonviolence, on the pedastal upon which NOT ACTING BUT SIMPLY BELIVEING - and having everything else "interpreted" for you - rests? Who has the power in that scenario? Who is patently IGNORING the clear tie between "doing Love" and eternal life in such a scenario?

(8) What type of world ensues when 2.1 billion Christians feel it encumbent upon themselves to simply move through the world with loving acts, nonviolently, every single day? Why is what Christ gave primacy simply not affirmed as the central tenets from which all else MUST spring, as Christ made clear? Might it be that permanent conceptions of Love, Mercy and Nonviolence RUN COUNTER TO THE NEEDS AND DEMANDS OF THOSE IN POWER (be they the political class, "religious" class or a "nobility")? What HAPPENS when Love, mercy and nonviolence run rampant? How do wars get fought? How does injustice prevail? How can we "capitalise" in that environment? How is it that Christianity today is so perfectly tied to war, violence, and economic "isms" of any kind? Isn't that an additional indicator of its failure as currenty conceived, that we might be institutionally missing a piece of the puzzle? Might that piece be the biggest piece of all?

(9) If Christ is God, and God Commands you to Love, to exhibit Mercy for everyone you come across (does that mean "mentally come across" as well? Everyone about whom you are even AWARE?), to Love evne those you seeas your enemies, and to do all of that in nonviolence, AND if God says that "You can't even TALK about other Scripture or various Prophecies without getting this done; ALL other law and prophets HANG upon doing these Commands," AND ties DOING those Commands to ETERNAL LIFE, how is that NOT perfectly, unmissably central to every Christian faith?

I'd like any of the Fervent to wrestle with the above.

On your own terms, it seems to me, Christ is missing from your conception of Christ.

Were I to see Christ as emerging solely from the Bible as historical record - which I don't - the above would FORCE me to reconcieve of Christ outside the narrow frames offered. I'm interested in what, exactly, happens in your Christ-experience that allows you to make anything else central, and/or how the above is incorrect.

Yoder makes the difference for folks looking directly at the langauge and actions of Christ and cutting against the grain when it comes to grounding the Numinous in their lives...
stunning  Aug 2, 2004
This book has shaped my personal theology like few others. It offers unique insights into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a compelling critique to so many traditional streams of Christianity that consider the life of Jesus to have minimal relevance for our lives today.

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