empiremustaboutJesus Is Lord, Caesar Is NotDavid NystromJudith A. DiehlJoel WillitsDean PinterChristopher W. SkinnerDrew StraitMichael F. BirdLynn CohickAllan R. BevereDwight Sheets
Prolific author and New Testament professor McKnight (The King Jesus Gospel), and Modica, biblical studies teacher at Eastern University, edit a collection of chapters for an educated audience that introduce and evaluate the recent scholarly interest in empire criticism. This viewpoint asserts that early Christianity was deeply influenced by and fundamentally opposed to the Roman imperial system. As empire critics read it, an anti-imperial tone pervades the New Testament. After a sketch of the imperial culture of Rome and introduction to empire criticism, the authors evaluate how empire criticism scholars have approached eight books from the New Testament, including the gospels, Acts, some letters of Paul, and Revelation. Most conclude that, while the Roman context informs the writings, empire criticism overstates the importance of anti-Roman rhetoric. Because the work largely consists in questioning the claims of other scholars, those wanting clearer examples of empire criticism at work will need to look elsewhere. This work does, however, offer a glimpse into current scholarly debate and suggest empire criticism has more to do with American concerns about current empires.