Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish Resistance in Roman Palestine

Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish Resistance in Roman Palestine

Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish Resistance in Roman Palestine

Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish Resistance in Roman Palestine

Synopsis

From this engrossing portrait of first-century Palestine, Jesus emerges as the catalyst of nonviolent social revolution that anticipates the renewal of Israel. This fascinating analysis opens up a new perspective of the Roman-dominated Jewish Palestine of Jesus' time, viewing it as an "imperial situation" in which individual acts of violence were responses to institutionalized repression and injustice. Richard A. Horsley reveals the fiercely nationalistic Zealots as largely the fabrication of historians and exposes the erroneous view of Jesus as the sober prophet of nonviolence. In claiming the presence of the kingdom of God, Jesus aimed at catalyzing the renewal of the people of Israel, calling them to loving cooperation amid difficult circumstances of debt and despair and to organized resistance to the violence of an imperial situation.

Excerpt

This book began as an attempt to discern how Jesus might appear if not set over against the (historically unfounded) foil of “the Zealots.” But the subject matter far transcended the conception of the book. And the problems with the way biblical studies had been approaching Jesus, without adequate attention to a concrete social context, simply could not be avoided. Thus the book became as much a concrete and relational political-economic reading of the Jesus traditions as an attempt to deal more adequately with the issue of Jesus and violence. Even so, it is only a beginning in both respects.

Precisely because we are now asking more social-relational questions and achieving an ever more precise sense of the historical social context of Jesus’ ministry and the development of Jesus traditions and movements, I would now, only five years later, want to complicate the picture presented here in a number of key respects. Among them, it is clear that the regional differences between Galilee and Judea/Jerusalem and the class differences between Galilean and Judean subjects and Jerusalem rulers were both far more significant than previously thought. Methodologically, I suspect that the study of Jesus traditions will have to move much further than I already have in the same direction of deriving the historical context in which Jesus is understood from our ancient sources rather than modern interpreters’ supplying a hypothetical context in which they find meaning in Jesus’ sayings that they have purposely isolated from their original literary contexts.

It has been gratifying to hear that the book has been useful in various connections, from university religion and ethics courses and seminary courses on Christology or nonviolence to church studygroups and conferences on urban social violence; from inner-city contexts in Oakland or Glasgow to discussions of Jesus and current . . .

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