Jesus the Meek King

Article excerpt

Jesus the Meek King by Deirdre J. Good Trinity Press International, Harrisburg, 1999. 131 pp. $16.00. ISBN 1-56338-284-9.

GOOD AIMS TO REFRAME our understanding of "meekness"-a dispositional virtue that bears quite different connotations for ancient and modern readers. For modern readers, "meekness" tends to connote submissive or humble behavior, even a willingness to submit tamely to oppression or injury. (Indeed, modern translations of the Bible render the Greek word praus as gentle or humble.) Good demonstrates through linguistic and historical analysis that, in its ancient cultural context, the term praus conveyed a decided strength: that of "disciplined calmness," in contrast to anger. It indicated a disciplined rejection of anger on the part of an educated ruler who shows compassion for subjects. In a world of values in which the virtues of leaders and followers intersected, meekness was also promoted as a communal virtue.

Good investigates Greek texts from the first century BCE to the fourth century CE in which the word praus or a cognate appears in a variety of contexts. Five chapters examine in turn linguistic issues; the topic of brotherly love; the Hellenistic idea of kingship; moral values in Matthew, with particular attention to the model of a meek king; and meekness as a communal virtue. …