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God and Empire: A Challenging Look at Jesus and Power

John Dominic Crossan's God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now


God and Empire: A Challenging Look at Jesus and Power

John Dominic Crossan's God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now is a thought-provoking exploration of Jesus' teachings in the context of Roman imperial power. Crossan, a renowned scholar of early Christianity, argues that Jesus' message was a radical critique of the Roman system, emphasizing social justice, peace, and God's reign over earthly empires.

"The Pax Romana ... was 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 book's strength lies in its clear analysis of the tensions between Jesus' message and the Roman world. Crossan draws parallels between the Roman emphasis on violence, hierarchy, and domination, and Jesus' focus on equality, non-violence, and God's love for the marginalized. This comparative approach sheds new light on familiar passages, prompting readers to consider Jesus as a social revolutionary.


Crossan doesn't shy away from challenging traditional interpretations. He argues that some biblical passages, like the Book of Revelation, have been misinterpreted to justify violence in the name of God. This critical approach can be unsettling for readers accustomed to a more passive view of Jesus.

"It would be terribly wrong to think that Jesus was not speaking against Rome and that somehow Pilate got the whole thing wrong and made a mistake and just happened to kill him by mistake."

Crossan also skillfully draws parallels between the socio-political landscape of the 1st-century Roman Empire and the complexities of the 21st-century United States. Through his expert analysis of biblical texts and astute observations of contemporary events, Crossan illuminates the radical messages of Jesus and Paul, offering profound insights into the pursuit of peace in our modern world.


With a deep understanding of biblical scholarship, Crossan delves into the tensions between political power and divine justice as portrayed in the Bible. Through the lens of Jesus and Paul's teachings, he explores crucial themes such as land ownership, economic justice, violence and its consequences, and the pursuit of true peace. By unpacking the concept of the "kingdom of God" proclaimed by Jesus and the principles of equality advocated by Paul, Crossan unveils a vision of a society grounded in compassion, equity, and harmony.

"God and Empire is actually your story, in your time and space."

In contrast to the genuine messages of peace conveyed by Jesus and Paul, Crossan critically examines the misinterpretation of apocalyptic imagery, particularly from the book of Revelation. He highlights how certain factions, including right-wing theologians and televangelists, have distorted these prophetic visions to justify militaristic endeavors, particularly in the Middle East.


“This book makes the best reading for the most readers of any that Crossan has written.” -- Booklist (starred review)


“This fine study of civilization, culture and transformation presents a complex subject in a clear and powerful way.” -- Publishers Weekly


Through his compelling analysis, Crossan challenges readers to reconsider their understanding of biblical teachings and their implications for contemporary issues. He invites us to reflect on the transformative potential of embracing a vision of peace rooted in justice, compassion, and reconciliation. Ultimately, Crossan's work serves as a powerful call to action, urging us to heed the radical messages of Jesus and Paul as we strive to create a world characterized by genuine peace and redemption.


“A wonderfully written and organized treatise... Thoroughly enjoyable and incredibly informative.” -- Library Journal


However, the book also has limitations. Crossan's reliance on historical and textual analysis can feel dense at times, making it a challenging read for those unfamiliar with biblical scholarship. Additionally, some critics argue that Crossan downplays the apocalyptic aspects of Jesus' message and the Jewish context of his teachings.

“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

Overall, God and Empire is a valuable contribution for those seeking a fresh perspective on Jesus. While its arguments may be debated, the book compels readers to confront the political dimensions of Jesus' message and its relevance in a world that still grapples with issues of power, justice, and peace.

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About the Author

John D. Crossan is generally acknowledged to be the premier historical Jesus scholar in the world. His books include The Historical Jesus, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, and Who Killed Jesus? He recently appeared in the PBS special "From Jesus to Christ."

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Additional Reading

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God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now - Dr. John Dominic Crossan



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Product details (from Amazon.in)

Product details

Price Rs 886/- paperback

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ 0060858311

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperOne (26 February 2008)

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English

  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages

  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 9780060858315

  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0060858315

  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 210 g

  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 13.49 x 1.55 x 20.32 cm

  • Customer Reviews: 4.4 - 4.4 out of 5 stars - 103 ratings

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