Jesus is Lord, Ceasar is Not: Evaluating Empire in the New Testament

Jesus is Lord, Ceasar is NotSummary: Jesus is Lord does not necessarily mean that early Christians were also saying Caesar is not.

Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not sounded like a great book that I desperately wanted to read.  In the end I found it was a good book that I probably could have read a review of instead.  That is not to say it isn’t worth reading.  Just to say it was not worth reading for me.

You see I have previously thought that thinking about Christianity in terms of Empire or Anti-Empire could be useful, but either way often put more emphasis on the writer’s political views than on the actual biblical evidence.

So Andy Crouch in his introduction (and again Scot McKnight in his opening chapter) basically said there is some value in thinking about the reality of the New Testament being written in the midst of an empire.  But to see empire behind every sentence is to take the concept beyond the evidence in scripture.  And more me, that was as much as I needed.  David Nystorm’s chapter on the Roman imperial cult gave some useful background on the concept of Jesus being Lord (and using similar language to claiming Caesar as Lord and King), but he was also very careful to say that just because early Christian were saying Jesus is Lord, did not mean that they were by implication saying Caesar is not our political ruler.

But there was a lot more.  The next several chapters look at the evidence of the influence of empire on the writing of the gospels, Romans, the rest of Paul and then Revelations.  These were good essays.  They were helpful if you really want to tease out the political implications of the gospels and the rest of the New Testament.  But frankly, I was not interested enough to really enjoy the book.  Again, I am not saying it is a bad book.  I think it was well written and helpful balance because Empire studies have gone a bit too far.

If you want to read a good review by someone that was far more interested in the subject than I was you should read this one.

Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition

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Intervarsity Press provided me a copy of the PDF for purposes of review.

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