The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster

The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster

The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster

The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster


Tradition has painted a portrait of a Savior who stands aloof from governmental concerns and who calls his disciples to an apolitical life. But such a picture of Jesus is far from accurate, according to John Howard Yoder. This watershed work in New Testament ethics leads us to a Savior who was deeply concerned with the agenda of politics and the related issues of power, status, and right relations. By canvassing Luke's Gospel, Yoder argues convincingly that the true impact of Jesus' life and ministry on his disciples' social behavior points to a specific kind of Christian pacifism in which "the cross of Christ is the model of Christian social efficacy". This second edition of The Politics of Jesus provides up-to-date interaction with recent publications that touch on Yoder's timely topic. Following most of the chapters are new "epilogues" summarizing research conducted during the last two decades - research that continues to support the outstanding insights set forth in Yoder's original work.


Each of the chapters of the 1972 book was then a summary of the widely known scholarship of the time. As New Testament scholarship it was popularization, not fresh research. Its preparation back then had required a few years’ attention to the then current scholarly publications, but I never pretended to be a professional New Testament scholar.

Obviously I am farther from being a specialized scholar in that field today than I was a quarter-century ago. Meanwhile, each of the major subfields represented in the book has seen considerable new scholarly work since I wrote. These themes have continued to receive attention during the past twenty years, not because of what I wrote in 1972, but because what I wrote then was representative of the lively research agenda in the field.

It would therefore have been quite inappropriate, in the frame of reference of such a brief text as this, that I should have attempted to rewrite the text proper to catch up with a quarter-century of frontier scholarship on all its topics. After all, the original purpose of the book had not been to offer a compendium of New Testament scholarship for its own sake, but only to select a few representative specimens pertinent to the general thesis of the book.

That “general thesis” belongs in the field not of exegesis but of ethical methodology. It has to do not with the substance of the moral testimony of the New Testament texts for its own sake, but with whether their total witness is “political.”

Nevertheless the reader will be right to wonder whether the kinds of insights summarized in the synthesis of 1972 have been supported . . .

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