At the heart of the Bible is a moral and ethical call to fight unjust superpowers, whether they are Babylon, Rome, or even America.
From the divine punishment and promise found in Genesis through the revolutionary messages of Jesus and Paul, John Dominic Crossan reveals what the Bible has to say about land and economy, violence and retribution, justice and peace, and, ultimately, redemption. In contrast to the oppressive Roman military occupation of the first century, he examines the meaning of the non-violent Kingdom of God prophesized by Jesus and the equality advocated by Paul to the early Christian churches. Crossan contrasts these messages of peace with the misinterpreted apocalyptic vision from the Book of Revelation, which has been misrepresented by modern right-wing theologians and televangelists to justify U.S. military actions in the Middle East.
In God and Empire Crossan surveys the Bible from Genesis to Apocalypse, or the Book of Revelation, and discovers a hopeful message that cannot be ignored in these turbulent times. The first-century Pax Romana, Crossan points out, was in fact a "peace" won through violent military action. Jesus preached a different kind of peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding, and a kingdom not of Caesar but of God.
The Romans executed Jesus because he preached this Kingdom of God, a kingdom based on peace and justice, over the empire of Rome, which ruled by violence and force. For Jesus and Paul, Crossan explains, peace cannot be won the Roman way, through military victory, but only through justice and fair and equal treatment of all people.
John Dominic Crossan
John Dominic Crossan is Professor Emeritus at DePaul University, Chicago. He is the author of several bestselling books, including The Historical Jesus and Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, and three written with Marcus J. Borg: The Last Week (2006), The First Christmas (2007), and The First Paul (2009).
In this fine study of civilization, culture, and transformation, Crossan asks important questions: have those who resort to violence as a means of change succeeded in their quest for empire? Or has nonviolence been more effective in bringing about lasting change? Crossan's latest work presents a complex subject in a clear and powerful way, and it merits a wide readership.
- Publishers Weekly
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Crossan's argument, there is no disputing that he has raised essential questions provocatively and clearly. This is an important book, for it touches on themes that are, as Augustine said, `ever ancient, ever new': the connection between religion and politics, between spiritual faith and temporal power, between our best and our worst instincts.
- Jon Meacham, author of American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation
Crossan has achieved the status of a pivotal theological scholar of the rank of Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Barth, and Tillich. This book is incisive, original, and fascinating.
- John Shelby Spong, author of Jesus for the Non-Religious
A dual tribute to intelligent faith and responsible citizenship, this book is as illuminating as it is timely.
- James Carroll, author of House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power