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Power, Service, Humility

A New Testament Ethic

Reinhard Feldmeier

Publication Year: 2014

Since ancient times, depictions of the divine have been painted with the colors of divine power. Not surprisingly, power language became a central part of the New Testament’s understanding of God and human relationships. In Power, Service, Humility, biblical scholar Reinhard Feldmeier reads across the New Testament canon—the Gospels, Pauline epistles, and Revelation of John—to distinguish two ways in which power works. Feldmeier’s chief claim is that power based on oppression, the kind Satan offers Christ, is a far different kind of power than the empowerment that God grants Jesus in the resurrection. Further, Feldmeier demonstrates the antithetical link between worldly power and the power present in Christ-like service and humility. As Feldmeier discovers, the differences between sacred and secular power have dramatic implications for how humans handle power within the church and beyond. Power, Service, Humility provokes thoughtful considerations of both human and divine relationships with power and power’s holy place within the Christian faith. 

Published by: Baylor University Press


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pp. ix-x

Acknowledgments are due to my collaborators who have discussed with me the theses presented in this little book and who have read through its final version: private lecturer Dr. Alexa Wilke, Mr. Felix Albrecht, Ms. Heidrun Gunkel, Mr. Manuel Kaden, and Ms. Inga Mrozek...

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Prelude with the Devil

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pp. 1-9

The devil wants Jesus’ divine sonship to be understood as a synonym for superior power. He wants a son without a father, a Son of God without God. For the devil, power per se is divine, power in the sense of an unfettered personal authority. Power of that kind is present everywhere in the...

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1. Power

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pp. 11-34

It is not by chance that the devil begins with the title “Son of God,” when he seeks to turn Jesus away from his path by seducing him to grasp a power that will be his own. The divine is always connected with power; indeed, divinity and power can almost become synonymous. U. von Wilamowitz- Moellendorff sums up the case of the Greek gods as follows...

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2. Service

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pp. 35-60

The New Testament presupposes that the human being always exists in relationships. The human being is integrated into relationships, and they orient him and define him. This dependence is often called service. In this sense, for example, the verb douleuô denotes “an obligation to service and a readiness to service” that constitute the human...

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3. Humility

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pp. 61-93

The noun tapeinophrosunê, usually translated as “humility,” is attested in the literature of classical antiquity for the first time in the New Testament: in Paul, at Philippians 2:3. It is unlikely that the apostle himself coined this word, since it is used at a slightly later date and without any recognizable dependence on Paul, both by the Jewish historian...

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4. Once Again: Power

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pp. 95-96

As we have shown, it is possible to read the entire New Testament as the story of a power struggle between a destructive autonomous power that is called mythologically the devil, anthropologically the flesh, and theologically sin, on the one hand, and the good news of the rule of God, on the other hand, which does good to its counterpart, saves...


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pp. 97-121


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pp. 123-135


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pp. 137-145

E-ISBN-13: 9781481300261
E-ISBN-10: 1481300261
Print-ISBN-13: 9781481300254
Print-ISBN-10: 1481300253

Page Count: 155
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 871224283
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Power, Service, Humility

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Subject Headings

  • Bible. New Testament -- Criticism, interpretation, etc.
  • Power (Christian theology) -- Biblical teaching.
  • Devil -- Biblical teaching.
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