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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

"Jesus Is Lord, Caesar Is Not" edited by Scot McKnight and Joseph Modica. A Review

Jesus Is Lord, Caesar Is Not: Evaluating Empire in New Testament StudiesJesus Is Lord, Caesar Is Not: Evaluating Empire in New Testament Studies by Scot McKnight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Scot McKnight and Joseph Modica have pulled together New Testament Scholars to examine a trend flowing through New Testament studies these days: (1) Empire criticism and (2) postcolonial critique. The first chapter surveys Roman imperial ideology and the development of the imperial cult. Nystrom shows that early on, the imperial cult was loose and not as "in-your-face" as has sometimes been presented, because it was often a footnote of the normal religious fabric in the Empire. The following chapters, written respectively by Diehl, Willitts, Pinter, Skinner, Strait, Bird, Cohick, Bevere and Sheets, take on specific New Testament writings showing how empire criticism and postcolonial critique view the Scriptures. They each then show the holes and cracks in these two streams of hermeneutics.

To summarize the end result of these short articles, McKnight and Modica observe in the concluding chapter, "We believe that the New Testament writers do indeed address the concerns highlighted by empire criticism. But we also strongly suggest that this is not their primary modus operandi" (212). That summary statement pretty well encapsulates the thinking of the whole book, and each individual chapter.

Though "Jesus Is Lord, Caesar Is Not" is a fairly technical manual, it is accessible to most any attentive reader. It is a corrective volume that will help to broaden and deepen New Testament studies, without going over the waterfall of empire criticism and postcolonial critique. If you don't have a copy, you ought to pick one up, it'll be worth the cost and the time it takes to read it.


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