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Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder [Paperback]

By Richard A. Horsley (Author)
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Item description for Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder by Richard A. Horsley...

Building on his earlier studies of Jesus, Galilee, and the social upheavals in Roman Palestine, Horsley focuses his attention on how Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom of God relates to Roman and Herodian power politics. In addition he examines how modern ideologies relate to Jesus' proclamation

Publishers Description
Building on his earlier studies of Jesus, Galilee, and the social upheavals in Roman Palestine, Horsley focuses his attention on how Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom of God relates to Roman and Herodian power politics. In addition he examines how modern ideologies relate to Jesus' proclamation.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   144
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.4" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2002
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN  080063490X  
ISBN13  9780800634902  

Availability  144 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 20, 2017 03:48.
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More About Richard A. Horsley

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Richard A. Horsley is Professor of Classics and Religion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA, and is author of Galilee: History, Politics, and People (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 1995).

Richard A. Horsley currently resides in the state of Massachusetts.

Richard A. Horsley has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Abingdon New Testament Commentaries

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > New Testament Studies > Jesus Studies

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Reviews - What do customers think about Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder?

Very good as usual for Horseley  Apr 25, 2008
Richard Horseley has put out some very solid work in most areas of his scholarship -- he doesn't get the big name and the tv spots like Crossan or Borg (and he's not really in their category in terms of "ultra-liberal" scholarship) but his work is pretty solid.

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.
Less Religion More Politics  Jun 11, 2006
Richard A. Horsley, Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder. 2003.
Like much of the contemporary Jesus scholarship, Richard A. Horsley's "Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder" is written to be provocative. Building on his earlier studies on Jesus, the region of Galilee, and the cultural clashes with Roman authority, Horsley focuses on how Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom of God relates to power politics between societies. What will most likely make the reader cringe, is Horsley's next move to draw social, political, and cultural parallels between authoritarian Rome and the United States of America. Horsley compares the rebellion of Jesus and the Israelites against the Roman Empire with present day cultural exportation leading to the global uprisings against capitalism, democracy and the United States which is often initiated by individuals from the Middle East.
Richard A. Horsley is the Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and the Study of Religion at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. He is the author of numerous books including: "The Message and the Kingdom" (Fortress Press, 2002); "Jesus and the Spiral of Violence" (Fortress Press, 1992); and "Archaeology, History, and Society in Galilee" (1996). He is also the editor of a similarly titled, "Paul and Empire"; Horsley's introductory material in that 1997 anthology offered a synthesis of academic Pauline studies which depicted Paul as an anti-imperialist, in opposition to the all pervasive influence of the Roman empire.
Controversy is not new to this author, nor are the radical concepts found in "Jesus and Empire", indeed much of his work suggests a secularization of biblical material. Richard Horsley authored "Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs" in 1999, which was widely applauded by academic scholars, in which he diminished the religious elements of Jewish life while highlighting the sociopolitical factors. Thereby suggesting that Israelites were a gypsy-like band of peasants who had established an utopian society in hills of Palestine. Jesus was depicted as typical of the many "prophets and messiahs" working toward political and societal change.
According to Horsley, he began writing the latest book following some of the terrorist attacks on the United States to help Americans figure out why many people in the Middle East have a propensity to perceive the United States as a threat. He observes that in modern times the biblical elements of the American identity have waned. Then Americans experienced the rude awakening of a new world disorder. After September 11th there was a surge of patriotism marked by American flags and "God bless America." Time has passed and now Horsley thinks it is necessary we ask, "Why?" America, Horsley argues, caused the death of infants and children through its sanctions against Iraq. America violates the holy ground of Islam by establishing military bases in Saudi Arabia. America trains leaders from Latin America who return home to massacre their own people. Horsley's most recent work answers the question, "Why do they hate us so?" "Jesus and Empir"e contains six short yet unsettling chapters: Roman Imperialism: The New World Disorder; Resistance and Rebellion in Judea and Galilee; Jesus in the Politics of Roman Palestine; The Kingdom of God as Condemnation of Roman Imperialism; Jesus' Alternative Social Order: Community and Cooperation; and finally his epilog, The Empire Strikes Back. Regrettably the work does not have a topical index.
While his parallels seemed to be stretched, and the connections he makes may be disconcerting, there is solid value in this little book. Horsley reminds us of the need for accurate historical analysis since the fullest picture of Jesus demands understanding his original context. "Jesus and Empire" forces the reader to think by bringing to the forefront our unseen cultural assumptions. As a Catholic, I appreciate Horsley's urging Americans to set aside their individual perspective of Lone Ranger Christianity to see Jesus as a member of a community. The Christian faith grew through communities, and thus the actions of members must be understood not as an individual achievement but rather as a corporate message and purpose. Furthermore, Horsley observes that Americans think of Jesus solely as a religious figure frequently failing to take into account the political nature of his message to free the oppressed. Horsley reminds us that the Kingdom of God preached by Jesus is not only a spiritual or future place, but rather a present call to his followers to make a difference here on earth.
An academic review of Horsley's "Jesus and Empire"  Aug 4, 2005
Richard Horsley's Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003) addresses Jesus' political and economic context in Galilee and Judea under Roman rule. He examines the historical precedents for prophetic condemnation of unjust imperial rule and the Mosaic covenantal basis for social and economic justice. Then he demonstrates how Jesus' life and sayings as portrayed in Q and Mark continued the prophetic critique and call for a new social order.
Horsley begins by pointing out problems in U.S. religious attitudes. Since the Puritans, the U.S. has seen itself as a new Israel in a new promised land; however, it has acted more like Rome in its arrogant expansion and ethnocentrism. Typical U.S. views of the Bible are skewed in four ways: they separate the political from the religious; they reflect the individualism in U.S. culture; they analyze Jesus' statements as isolated sayings; and they use scholarly concepts like "apocalyptic" while denying the judgmental dimension of Jesus' discourse. Horsley continues to challenge these depoliticized views of Jesus in subsequent chapters.
In chapter one, Horsley demonstrates how the Roman Empire destroyed, subjugated, and terrorized other lands and peoples in its expansion to become the only superpower in the Mediterranean world. The Pax Romana was harsh and chaotic for the subjugated peoples. Romans practiced enslavement, genocide, torture such as crucifixion to deter rebellion, and agricultural taxes that put peasants deeper into debt. The emperor cult was superimposed on local religions-religion and politics were intertwined.
In chapter two, the author traces the Jewish tradition of rebellion against foreign domination, from the exodus through prophetic condemnation of abusive kings and priests to the Maccabean revolt. The apocalyptic writings in Daniel and 1 Enoch, Sicarii counterterrorism, popular protests such as the standards incident with Pilate and the peasant strike, and appearances of popular messiahs are later examples.
In chapter three, Horsley critiques modern Western "historical Jesus" approaches. The post-Enlightenment, intellectual bias rejected the supernatural parts of the Gospels, leaving some isolated sayings of Jesus as the only authentic elements. Horsley argues that we must view Jesus' cultural context, including class and regional divisions (e.g. Galilee vs. Judea), and we should not dissect the story of Mark or series of speeches in Q, thereby losing the integrity of the message.
Chapters four and five are Horsley's weakest link, in my opinion. In chapter four, Horsley asserts that Jesus, in continuity with past prophets and liberators, asserted his people's independence from Roman rule, through his emphasis on the reign of God in his words (in Q) and in his actions (in Mark). In chapter five, Horsley states that Jesus promotes replacing unjust imperial rule with a just, covenantal community that lives out the reign of God. I agree that Jesus' ministry did have a subversive political component, but that was not its totality or primary purpose. Horsley's interpretation of exorcisms as primarily political actions against the rulers (pp.100-02), for example, seems far-fetched. Likewise, his statements that "Jesus is healing the illnesses brought on by Roman imperialism" (109) and Jesus' forgiveness of sins was for "freeing up the life energies that had previously been introjected in self-blame" (110) distort these events.
In the epilogue, he compares the Roman empire in which Jesus and his contemporaries lived with the current U.S. empire in terms of rise to power, military and economic subjugation of other peoples, and the rebellions that such imperial policies inspired in its victims. I agreed with most of his points here, but if this is his conclusion, he spends too little space (only the second half of the epilogue) establishing it. He doesn't take the time to adequately explore the many differences between Roman and U.S. imperialism. For instance, the U.S. killed its native Americans or confined them in reservations; it didn't use them as local ruling representatives as the Romans did in Galilee. Another example is that opponents of U.S. imperialism are allowed to criticize U.S. leaders and policies, unlike ancient Rome. Overall, Horsley gives valuable alternatives to traditional views on Jesus, Rome, and politics, but his ending arguments could be much stronger.
Excellent read  Apr 14, 2005
I'm going to agree with both reviews above (or below) mine. It is unsettling, it certainly has made me wonder how a major religion could spring from Jesus, when he's put into the context of his time. On the other hand, one needs to put Jesus into context in order to understand the Gospels. I am glad I read this book and will continue to read more of Prof. Horsley's books.
As for the Imperial Rome/U.S. analogy, makes perfect sense to me. I've long thought that America is the new Imperial Rome. History always repeats itself...esp. when you have someone like George Bush in office.
Thought provoking  Nov 2, 2004
Horsley makes a very good case for understanding Jesus in the context of people under the thumb of a brutal Roman empire. His main thrust, in my opinion, is that the dichotomy that those of us in 20th and 21st century Western culture percieve between the "secular/political" and the "religious" would be completely foreign to the people of ancient Palestine. For example The Temple, so often referred to in the Hebrew and Christian Bible, was not simply a place for religious services as we tend to view it today, but also the center of economic and political life for the community. Jesus' contemporaries would have heard a very political message in his words, relating to the occupying Roman empire.

The last part of the book compares the Roman Empire with the American Empire in a way that should make us middle-class Christians in the West very uncomfortable. The people Jesus associated with were more similiar to Nicaraguan's in the 1980s, Iranians under the Shah, etc. suffering under the Pax Americana than to us. We are the "Romans" benefiting from the spoils of the Empire.

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