Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not– Part Eleven

If ever there was going to be a text in the NT where one could talk about an anti-imperial rhetoric and coded language, Revelation is that text. And for the record, I think there is a critique of abusive rulers, and empire in this book. There is also a critique of rulers who insist on idolatry in this book. We may want to ask then, why the sea change from what we find in our earliest NT documents (Paul's letters), and even for the most part what we find in the Gospels and Acts, to what we find … [Read more...]

Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not– Part Ten

Where exactly did the imperial cult come from? What were its ideological origins? The prevailing view, as Lynn Cohick points out, is that it grew out of the Greek ruler cult and perhaps more importantly in a Roman context from the private or household worship of the genius (spirit/life force) of the Roman paterfamilias, one's chief male ancestor. The extension of this to the Emperor was rather natural since from Augustus on, the Emperor presented himself as the father of the fatherland, the … [Read more...]

Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not– Part Nine

The longest and most substantial essay in this volume is that of Michael Bird who analyzes Romans in terms of anti-imperial rhetoric. Point of view in such an analysis matters. For example, it's one thing for a monotheist to say Jesus is the Son of God, which might well imply no one else truly is. But to a polytheist who overheard such a comment, it would hardly be heard as a directly negative comment on the living Emperor since: 1) they believed in multiple deities; 2) they believed multiple … [Read more...]

Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not— Part Eight

In this book, Acts is dealt with separately from Luke's Gospel, though it may be doubted this was a good idea, since the vast majority of scholars think the same person wrote both books, and it would have been good if the case for anti-imperial rhetoric in the former volume was compared to the case in the latter volume. Certainly it is true, as D.J. Strait points out, that there were various cities visited by Paul and other early Christians, where there were inscriptions like this one found in … [Read more...]

Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not– Part Seven

Anyone at all familiar with the Gospel of John knows that it begins with the logos hymn, and that that hymn in a significant way sets the agenda for what follows, especially Christologically. Knowing where the Son came from, and where he is going is the key to knowing who Jesus is. The characters in the narrative, apart from Jesus, do not know he is God the Son prior to the resurrection, and so they make all sorts of false judgments about him, or at least inadequate ones. The crescendo of … [Read more...]

Do Matthew 24 or 1 Thess. 4 refer to the Rapture? is one slip in this video, namely it's not Jesus but Paul who is speaking in 1 Thess. 4. Otherwise, see what you think. BW3 … [Read more...]

Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not—Part Six

The NT was mostly written by early Jews. One possible or likely exception to this rule is Luke, who, nonetheless, shows such a knowledge of the LXX that it is possible he was a God-fearer, and so on the margins of the Jewish community before he became a follower of Jesus. Most NT scholars, including this one, believe that the Gospels were written in the last third of the first century, and that would include Luke's Gospel, and Acts as well. In other words, these documents were written after the … [Read more...]

Reading and Understanding the Bible– A Guide for the Perplexed

Every student of the Bible at some point has ended up scratching his or her head over some passage, and saying--- What?????? Usually, this problem is created by one of two factors: 1) the failure to understand what kind of literature one is reading, hence bringing various mistaken notions and expectations to the text, and 2) the failure to understand the considerable cultural differences between the Biblical cultures and our own modern ones. In this new guide for interpreting the Bible we … [Read more...]

Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not: Part Five

AN INTERVIEW WITH SCOT MCKNIGHTBen: It appears that the purpose of this book was to offer a certain tempering of the recent rhetoric about the anti-imperial rhetoric found in the NT? Yes? Yes, in part, but only because both Joe and I thought the entire issue was getting out of hand. We didn’t, however, actually know all that much about what the individual authors in the volume thought about all the issues. We wanted an even-handed analysis of the evidence being used for a … [Read more...]