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Jesus, Justice and the Reign of God: A Ministry of Liberation [Paperback]

By William R. Herzog (Author)
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Item description for Jesus, Justice and the Reign of God: A Ministry of Liberation by William R. Herzog...

By building on his view of Jesus first developed in Parables as Subversive Speech, William Herzog argues that Jesus is intensely interested in the social, political, and economic well-being of humanity.

Publishers Description

By building on his view of Jesus first developed in "Parables as Subversive Speech," William Herzog II argues that Jesus is intensely interested in the social, political, and economic well-being of humanity. He examines the conflict stories, exorcisms/healings, and the passion narrative to develop his thesis and, in the final chapter, he interprets the resurrection in light of this viewpoint.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   316
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.08" Width: 6.2" Height: 0.84"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 1999
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  0664256767  
ISBN13  9780664256760  

Availability  141 units.
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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Biographies > Biography
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology

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Reviews - What do customers think about Jesus, Justice and the Reign of God: A Ministry of Liberation?

One of the best historical Jesus reviews available  Oct 10, 2003
Herzog's work combines the best of the scholarship of traditional eschatological images of Jesus and more contemporary research related to the environment of Galilee, first century Judaism, and the circumstances of Roman occupation that is represented by Crossan and co. Many traditional view of Jesus neglect the latter environment with an exclusive focus on the text of the Gospels and neglect the distinct Jewish character of Palestine. Herzog has accomplished an impressive job in addressing both.

Herzog presents Jesus as a very Jewish prophet deeply rooted in the Old Testament tradition of justice and righteousness. Seeing himself as a viceroy of God Himself, Jesus envisioned a renewal of the ancient covenantal relationship that had all but disappeared under aristocratic rule, foreign occupation, and the inexorable advance of a monetizing agrarian economy. The innovation of private property rights, heavy taxation, and urbanization had the result of breaking God's original covenant with His people. The people of Palestine, particularly the rural Galilee of Jesus' home were losing their land to powerful elites under the burden of this exploitation and were being reduced to destitution. It is to these people that Jesus announced: "Blessed are you destitute, for yours is the kingdom of God".

The Old Testament presents us with a God whose concern is with his people and the prevailing rule of justice and semi-egalitarianism. Extensive provisions are made to care for the poor, to regularly forgive debts, and ensure that all are provided for. The earth did not belong to the people, it belonged to God, and it would bear fruit for the people of Israel provided they kept their covenant with Him. This covenant eroded in time and was replaced with an emphasis on the temple sacrifices, temple tributes, and a focus not on the debt codes that were the heart of the covenant but with the purity codes. To be impure was not to be sinful; everyone was impure at some time. Menstruating women were impure, as were men who had had a nocturnal emission. The leading rulers of the time in Judea had done two things that had violated the covenant: the imposition of the exploitation of temple taxation as a means to provide wealth to Jerusalem, the Romans, and the ruling elites who collaborated with them, and the exchange of the debt codes as the rule of righteousness with the purity codes. This is what Jesus opposed. The temple was not an end, it was a means to an end and the moment it became exploitative and ceased serving the needs of the people it had become illegitimate. The imposition of the purity codes above the debt codes had removed the righteousness and blessing of God away from the people who were poor and had no ability to live up to the Pharisaic purity standards. This is the reason Jesus enacted a symbolic destruction of the temple, as it had become a "den of thieves", and why Jesus is presented as constantly in debate with the rulers of the people regarding purity versus debt. Jesus did not oppose the Torah, he opposed the elitist conception of it; he did not abrogate the Sabbath, he reminded the people that the Sabbath was created for the benefit of the people, not the other way around.

Jesus' God was a God of renewal and compassion, who re-established the people in God's covenant and freed them from the bonds of their imperial and religious leaders. His exorcisms and healings were a symbolic breaking of these bonds, demonstrating God's power and teaching them that the debt codes and forgiveness was what the heart of God was concerned with, not purity. This put Jesus on a collision course with the leaders of the people and the Romans. It was a direct criticism of the status quo and a vision of a new kingdom in which God would rule. This teaching, his symbolic act in the temple, his opposition to the payment of tribute to Caesar, and his predictions of a coming kingdom led to his crucifixion. Yes, Jesus opposed the payment to Caesar; as another reviewer has noted, the commentary on this passage is superb. Jesus did not see himself as a king, but his teachings of the kingdom and his eschatological vision led to the charge that he did.

This sounds like a "social gospel" of Jesus, in the liberal Protestant tradition. To those who would criticize such an approach, I refer them to the Old Testament and the consistent and constant reference to the covenant, prosperity, and the eternal promise of the fruitfulness of the land for the people of God, not a property-owning minority.

This is without a doubt one of the best historical Jesus books you can buy.

Finally  May 7, 2003
I have studied Yahshua (Jesus) from an Ebionite viewpoint for over 20 years. That view requires looking beyond later secretions applied to the Christian Writings involving idolatry and Mystery Cult theology, yet seeing Yahshua as a real Jew with something worthwhile to say. I have taught that Yahwistic economy and its being compromised by Yahshua's contemporaries toward a Western view of economy (hedonism, exploitation basically), was the key behind understanding Evyonut (Ebionitism) and Yahshua.

This is the book I wish I had the abilities to have written on the subject. There are a number of books that now (finally) promote this view (Excavating Jesus, for example). This book is so far the best and most comprehensive in the details. It does for Ebionites (not directly, of course) and Yahshua what Hyam Maccoby does for exposing Paul of Tarsus in _The Mythmaker_.

For anyone who has been damaged by fundamentalism and the inconsistencies of Christian doctrine and mythology, this book shows that Yahshua had more important statements to make.

jesus, justice and the reign of god  Aug 3, 2000
well researched book,i found it more beliveable than most books on the historical jesus. religion and politics in jesus time was insepartible. his death itself is a testimony to the fact that he was viewed as a political threat by his opponets(roman and jew). a good book buy it.
One of the best historical Jesus books.  Nov 27, 1999
Building on his 1994 publication, "Parables as Subversive Speech", William Herzog gives us one of the best comprehensive treatments of the historical Jesus. The author has worked closely with a group of scholars known as the Context Group, who for the past two decades have been using social science models to help understand the bible. Because the Context Group has been interested in a genuine usable context -- rather than wild and sensationalist claims -- its scholars have not received publicity and notoriety like many of those on the Jesus Seminar. And this book is a sorely needed remedy to the Seminar's domestication of Jesus as a laid-back cynic-sage who tossed around playful aphorisms and parables, unmindful of politics and having little to do with Judaism. Herzog paints Jesus as a fiercely political prophet who threw himself head-first into economic and religious turmoil.

As such, the Galilean was a prophet of justice rooted in Jewish tradition, devoted to the covenant standards of ancient Israel. He used the Torah to disclose the will of God, and to warn those who abused it as an instrument of oppression. He didn't so much oppose the Torah as he did certain interpretations of it, taking its debt codes as the starting point rather than the purity codes. (Debt codes having to do with the exodus out of slavery and bondage, and the gift of the promised land as a blessing from which all were to benefit; purity codes, meanwhile, segregating clean from unclean and reinforcing boundaries.) Priests and Pharisees viewed debt codes in terms of purity codes, poverty being the result of uncleanliness and sin. But peasants couldn't afford to be diligent about purity and pay the tithes and sacrifices required for temple offerings -- taxed to death as they were already by the Romans and/or Herodians. So Jesus viewed purity codes in terms of debt codes, poverty being the result of aristocratic greed, which had over the centuries transformed the promised land into an advanced agrarian society from which a tiny upper class reaped benefits at the expense of everyone else. Purity codes only widened that gulf between the rich and poor.

Herzog provides essential and exhaustive background to the world of Jesus, in particular the worsening conditions in Galilee (building on works of Sean Freyne, S.B. Honig, and Richard Horsley). Through exorcisms, healings, teachings, and parables, Jesus taught the peasantry to see their distressing situation not as God's will, but as the consequence of the violation of God's covenant. He opposed the payment of tribute to Caesar (no better commentary exists for the infamous "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's") and indicted the Jewish priesthood for its collaboration with Roman and Herodian rulers. During his last days in Jerusalem, he enacted a symbolic destruction of the temple in a fit of prophetic rage, denouncing the priestly establishment for having become a den of thieves and robbers who squeezed the Jewish people to the limit, leaving them malnourished, unclean, and in perpetual debt. Finally, in contrast to the minimalist positions of those like John Dominic Crossan, Herzog views the passion narratives as largely historical and provides an excellent analysis of those narratives.

This is one of the most accomplished works on the historical Jesus. It's weak on the point of eschatology, since it denies Jesus his apocalyptic due (Schweitzer's legacy seems to stick in everyone's craw). But for the most part, Herzog biffs the nail on the head. His Jesus is devoid of sentimentality and a true product of honor-shame: a macho guy who burned his rivals by refusing to answer questions directly, escalating conflict with counterquestions, counteraccusations, rhetoric, scriptural one-upsmanship, and insults. Buy this book and treasure it.

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