The Social Gospel of Jesus: The Kingdom of God in Mediterranean Perspective

The Social Gospel of Jesus: The Kingdom of God in Mediterranean Perspective

The Social Gospel of Jesus: The Kingdom of God in Mediterranean Perspective

The Social Gospel of Jesus: The Kingdom of God in Mediterranean Perspective

Excerpt

The chapters that follow represent expanded versions of the Rauschenbusch Lectures for 1999 delivered at the Colgate-Rochester Divinity School. Walter Rauschenbusch was much interested in the social gospel. The word “social” had much the same meaning as Europeans shared when they spoke of the “social question.” Pope Leo XIII, for example, in his great encyclical Providentissimus Deus, addressed the “social question” at length. At the time, “social” was a code word for the poor and for the poverty they endured due to the great transformation known as the Industrial Revolution (see Malina and Rohrbaugh 1992: 1-13). People were displaced, dispossessed, off-centered, and forced into inhumane ways of living. Rauschenbusch was devoted to marshaling the forces of American Christianity in the service of the social gospel with a view to ameliorating the lot of the poor. In this context I thought it fitting to consider Jesus’ social gospel. First-century problems, however, were quite different from early twentieth-century problems. Jesus’ social gospel—his message and proclamation from God for Israel’s off-centered populations—was not rooted in any Industrial Revolution. Rather, it germinated in the larger matrix of the political order centered on the Roman emperors and their elite networks. With a view to understanding the significance of Jesus’ political gospel in his time and his place as well as to elucidating the aftermath of his proclamation and activity, I offer the follow chapters.

With this publication, I wish to thank the President of Colgate Rochester, James H. Evans Jr., and the Vice President for Academic Life and Dean of Faculty, William R. Herzog II, along with the faculty, alumni, and local clergy who made the occasion a truly memorable one.

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