Jesus and the Politics of Roman Palestine
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of South Carolina Press
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1. Getting the Whole Story
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Persistent tension seems to be inherent in study of the historical Jesus, a tension between the Gospel sources’ portrayal of Jesus and the pictures of Jesus presented by scholarly interpreters. Three conflicts with the Gospels are particularly prominent in the main lines of interpretation by American scholars in the recent “growth industry” of Jesus books...
2. Jesus and the Politics of Roman Palestine
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The obvious starting point is again what seems most certain about the historical Jesus: he was crucified by order of the Roman governor at the time, Pontius Pilate. Since crucifixion was the gruesome form of execution that the Romans used on political agitators in the provinces, it appears that Jesus was at least thought to be an insurgent leader against the Roman imperial order, in Pilate’s terms a rebel...
3. Jesus and Imperial Violence
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The politics of Roman Palestine was set up and maintained by imperial violence. In Galilee during the century before the mission of Jesus, the people suffered repeated conquest, with the slaughter of people and the destruction of villages leaving collective trauma in their wake. When the Galilean and Judean people persistently resisted Roman rule and periodically revolted, Roman armies reconquered them...
4. Illness and Possession, Healing and Exorcism
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The way interpreters of Jesus and the Gospels deal with Jesus’s healings and exorcisms has not changed much since Rudolf Bultmann’s influential presentation in the 1920s. Treating the Gospels as mere containers or collections of discrete sayings and stories, they sort the materials by categories such as individual sayings and various kinds of stories. While they classify Jesus traditions ostensibly by...
5. Renewal of Covenantal Community
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In ancient history the battle of Actium, off the western shore of the Greek peninsula in 31 B.C.E., became a watershed event. Octavian, representing the rational moderate political-cultural forces of the West, defeated Marc Antony, who represented the dark tyrannical forces of the East, according to the prevailing imperial propaganda. The Roman patricians and the elite of the cities of Greece and Asia...
6. Conflict with the Scribes and Pharisees
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Interpretation of the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees continues to be influenced by the standard older theological scheme of Christian origins. At the center of the parochial old religion of Judaism was the Law. As the precursors of the rabbis, the Pharisees were the authoritative teachers of the Law who emphasized scrupulous adherence to the minutiae of ritual observances and purity codes...
7. The Crucifixion as Breakthrough
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At the end we come back around to what seems most certain about the historical Jesus: he was crucified by order of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Recent interpretations of Jesus, particularly those focused on his sayings, have difficulty explaining the crucifixion, especially relating it to Jesus’s teaching. Given the prevailing depoliticization, many interpreters ignore or deemphasize or reject as...
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Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2013