Subversive sequels in the Bible: How Biblical Stories Mine and Undermine Each Other, Judy Klitsner 2019. B
In Subversive Sequels in the Bible, master Bible teacher Judy Klitsner takes us on a thrilling voyage of discovery through familiar biblical narratives. Deeply faithful to the texts, but daring in her interpretive approach, she draws stunning parallels between biblical passages to reveal previously overlooked layers of meaning. With a unique combination of scholarship, creativity and passion, Klitsner illustrates the dynamic nature of biblical attitudes toward timeless issues of self, gender and universalism. The result is a collection of provocative, original readings that will transform your understanding of the Bible. Winner of The National Jewish Book Award.
Bible and Theology from the Underside, Vuyani Vellem 2019
‘Empire’ has become an apt label to name the present horizon of global life and is associated with logic and practices which threaten human life in myriad ways. These reflections not only expose the true nature of empire, but suggest an alternative vision of flourishing wrought by God’s kingdom. In a creative and imaginative manner the contributions highlight new liberative possibilities for life through non-conventional Bible reading. The authors display a sensitive moral antenna for the oppressive manifestations of empire, and courageously intimate a new paradigm for Christian mission and public witness today.
Scripture and Resistance Jione Havea. S
Resistance against unjust (wicked) cultures and imperial powers is at the heart of scripture. In many cases, the resistance is waged against external systems or the misappropriation of scriptural texts and traditions. In some cases, however, scripture resists oppressive cultures and powers that it also requires, certifies and protects. At other times, and in different settings, the minders of scripture speak against the abusive cultures and power systems that they inherited and whose benefits they milk.
Scripture and Resistance contains reflections by authors from East, West, South, and North — on resistance and the Christian scriptures regarding a rainbow of concerns: the colonial legacies of the Bible; the people (especially native and indigenous people) who were subjugated and minoritized for the sake of the Bible; the courage for resistance among ordinary and normal people, and the opportunities that arise from their realities and struggles; the imperializing tendencies that lurk behind so-called traditional biblical scholarship; the strategies of and energies in post- and de-colonial criticisms; the Bible as a profitable product, and a site of struggle; and the multiple views or perspectives in the Bible about empire and resistance. In other words, the contributors, as a collective, affirm that the Bible contains (pun intended) resistance.
Reading Mark’s Christology Under Caesar: Jesus the Messiah and Roman Imperial Ideology Adam Winn 2018. S
The Gospel of Mark has been studied from multiple angles using many methods. But often there remains a sense that something is wanting, that the full picture of Mark’s Gospel lacks some background circuitry that would light up the whole.
Adam Winn finds a clue in the cataclysmic destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70. For Jews and Christians it was an apocalyptic moment. The gods of Rome seemed to have conquered the God of the Jews.
Could it be that Mark wrote his Gospel in response to Roman imperial propaganda surrounding this event? Could a messiah crucified by Rome really be God’s Son appointed to rule the world?
Winn considers how Mark might have been read by Christians in Rome in the aftermath of the fall of Jerusalem. He introduces us to the propaganda of the Flavian emperors and excavates the Markan text for themes that address the Roman imperial setting. We discover an intriguing first-century response to the question “Christ or Caesar?”
Subversive Wisdom: Sociopolitical Dimensions of John’s Gospel, Bert Newton 2012. S
Subversive Wisdom makes the case that in the Gospel of John, Jesus walks and talks like Lady Wisdom of the Hebrew Scriptures. In John, Jesus is Wisdom incarnate, speaking and demonstrating the subversive wisdom of the way of the cross; he is a sort of trickster, confusing and frustrating his enemies, acting in ways counter to convention, and driving out the “ruler of this world” through the upside-down logic that comes “from above” Subversive Wisdom explores literary themes in the Gospel of John such as Jesus as Torah, the “heavenly” perspective of the narrator and Jesus, political terminology used throughout the Gospel, and the New Exodus.
Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice, Sylvia Keesmaat 2019. B
Globalization. Homelessness. Ecological and economic crisis. Conflicts over sexuality. Violence. These crisis-level issues may seem unique to our times, but Paul’s Letter to the Romans has something to say to all of them.
Following their successful Colossians Remixed,Sylvia Keesmaat and Brian Walsh unpack the meaning of Romans for its original context and for today. The authors demonstrate how Romans disarms the political, economic, and cultural power of the Roman Empire and how this ancient letter offers hope in today’s crisis-laden world.
Romans Disarmed helps readers enter the world of ancient Rome and see how Paul’s most radical letter transforms the lives of the marginalized then and now. Intentionally avoiding abstract debates about Paul’s theology, Keesmaat and Walsh move back and forth between the present and the past as they explore themes of home, economic justice, creation care, the violence of the state, sexuality, and Indigenous reconciliation. They show how Romans engages with the lived reality of those who suffer from injustice, both in the first century and in the midst of our own imperial realities.
Resisting Empire: the Book of Revelation as Resistance, C Wess Daniels 2019. B
Revelation speaks to the reality that we are caught in the fray of cosmic conflict. We are guilty. We’ve already been contaminated. But it’s not too late for us to exit empire and enter the kingdom. We are yet both victim and victimizer. We have healing work to do, and we must take responsibility for the ways in which we have benefited from and been complicit with the religion of empire.
This is the truth of Revelation. God wants to liberate us in body, heart, soul, and mind. We need rescue, and the way we read Revelation determines how we define ourselves and our communities in relation to empire and in resistance to it. Reading Revelation as Western Christians have over the past 150 years, as a book predicting the end of the world, leads us away from the book’s original intention. Let’s start over:
- Revelation reveals how scapegoating functions within empire to define its own boundaries and contours as being over and against wicked others.
- Revelation critiques wealth and shows that even in the first century there was prophetic critique against an economic system that was based on abundance for some, while exploiting the rest.
- Revelation demonstrates the importance of liturgy as something that forms people into the likeness of either empire or the lamb.
- Revelation reveals an alternative social order which becomes the center of resistance rooted in a vision of what the book describes as “the multitude.”
May your hearts and imaginations be revived, made more resilient and ever more focused on the needs of the world that surrounds us. Let us stop at nothing to make space for others and amplify the voices of those who the powers and principalities wish to silence. And in the end, may you find that you have already, always, been on the inside of the multitude, surrounding the lamb of God.
The Religion of the Earliest Churches: Creating a Symbolic World, Gerd Theissen 1999. S
In these distinguished Oxford lectures, Theissen picks up where he left off in The Historical Jesus (1998). Employing the notion of religion as a “cultural sign language which promises a gain in life by corresponding to an ultimate reality,” he plots the emergence of Christianity as a religion, with elements of myth, ritual, ethics, and an emergent symbolic system. He expands upon the historical, social, and theological analysis of his earlier works to cover such issues as the relationship of Jesus to the earliest churches, power, possessions, interpretations of Jesus’ death, and the separation of the church and synagogue.
Theissen’s most complete and systematic treatment of early Christianity to date
Traces the gradual emergence of the most important beliefs about Jesus
Encompasses beliefs, ethics, ritual, and the origin of the New Testament canon in one synthesis
The Patient Ferment of the Early Church: The Improbable Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire, Alan Kreider 2016. S
How and why did the early church grow in the first four hundred years despite disincentives, harassment, and occasional persecution? In this unique historical study, veteran scholar Alan Kreider delivers the fruit of a lifetime of study as he tells the amazing story of the spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Challenging traditional understandings, Kreider contends the church grew because the virtue of patience was of central importance in the life and witness of the early Christians. They wrote about patience, not evangelism, and reflected on prayer, catechesis, and worship, yet the church grew–not by specific strategies but by patient ferment.
The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World, Bart Ehrman 2018. S
How did a religion whose first believers were twenty or so illiterate day laborers in a remote part of the empire became the official religion of Rome, converting some thirty million people in just four centuries? In The Triumph of Christianity, early Christian historian Bart D. Ehrman weaves the rigorously-researched answer to this question “into a vivid, nuanced, and enormously readable narrative” (Elaine Pagels, National Book Award-winning author of The Gnostic Gospels), showing how a handful of charismatic characters used a brilliant social strategy and an irresistible message to win over hearts and minds one at a time.
This “humane, thoughtful and intelligent” book (The New York Times Book Review) upends the way we think about the single most important cultural transformation our world has ever seen—one that revolutionized art, music, literature, philosophy, ethics, economics, and law.
From Jupiter to Christ: On the History of Religion in Roman Imperial Period Jorg Rupke 2014. S
The history of Roman imperial religion is of fundamental importance to the history of religion in Europe. Emerging from a decade of research, From Jupiter to Christ demonstrates that the decisive change within the Roman imperial period was not a growing number of religions or changes in their ranking and success, but a modification of the idea of ‘religion’ and a change in the social place of religious practices and beliefs. Religion is shown to be
transformed from a medium serving the individual necessities – dealing with human contingencies like sickness, insecurity, and death – and a medium serving the public formation of political identity, into an encompassing system of ways of life, group identities, and political legitimation.
Instead of offering an encyclopaedic presentation of religious beliefs, symbols, and practices throughout the period, the volume thematically presents the media that manifested and diffused religion (institutions, texts, and law), and analyses representative cases. It asks how religion changed in processes of diffusion and immigration, how fast (or how slow) practices and institutions were appropriated and modified, and reveals how these changes made Roman religion ‘exportable’, creating those
forms of intellectualisation and enscripturation which made religion an autonomous area, different from other social fields.
Beginning from Jerusalem: Christianity in the Making, Jame Dunn 2020. S
The second volume in the magisterial Christianity in the Making trilogy, Beginning from Jerusalem covers the early formation of the Christian faith from 30 to 70 CE. After outlining the quest for the historical church (parallel to the quest for the historical Jesus) and reviewing the sources, James Dunn follows the course of the movement stemming from Jesus “beginning from Jerusalem.”
Dunn opens with a close analysis of what can be said of the earliest Jerusalem community, the Hellenists, the mission of Peter, and the emergence of Paul. Then he focuses solely on Paul―the chronology of his life and mission, his understanding of his call as apostle, and the character of the churches that he founded. The third part traces the final days and literary legacies of the three principal figures of first-generation Christianity: Paul, Peter, and James, the brother of Jesus. Each section includes detailed interaction with the vast wealth of secondary literature on the many subjects covered.
Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation, Cynthia Moe Lobeda 2013. B
The increasingly pressing and depressing situation of Planet Earth poses urgent ethical questions for Christians. But, as Cynthia Moe-Lobeda argues, the future of the earth is not simply a matter of protecting species and habitats but of rethinking the very meaning of Christian ethics. The earth crisis cannot be understood apart from the larger human crisis—economic equity, social values, and human purpose are bound up with the planet’s survival. In a sense, she says, the whole earth is a moral community.
Decolonizing Christianity: Becoming Badass Believers, Miguel de la Torre 2021. B
“How curiously different is this white God from the one preached by Jesus who understood faithfulness by how we treat the hungry and thirsty, the naked and alien, the incarcerated and infirm. This white God of empire may be appropriate for global conquerors who benefit from all that has been stolen and through the labor of all those defined as inferior; but such a deity can never be the God of the conquered.”
Echoing James Cone’s 1970 assertion that white Christianity is a satanic heresy, Miguel De La Torre argues that whiteness has desecrated the message of Jesus. In a scathing indictment, he describes how white American Christians have aligned themselves with the oppressors who subjugate the “least of these”—those who have been systemically marginalized because of their race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status—and, in overwhelming numbers, elected and supported an antichrist as president who has brought the bigotry ingrained in American society out into the open.
With this follow-up to his earlier Burying White Privilege, De La Torre prophetically outlines how we need to decolonize Christianity and reclaim its revolutionary, badass message. Timid white liberalism is not the answer for De La Torre—only another form of complicity. Working from the parable of the sheep and the goats in the Gospel of Matthew, he calls for unapologetic solidarity with the sheep and an unequivocal rejection of the false, idolatrous Christianity of whiteness.
Faith in the Age of Empire, Y T Vinayaraj. 2020. B
What kind of God, church, Christ, human, sacrament and mission are we looking for? What kind of religion, politics and theology do we uphold? These are some of the fundamental questions that determine, design and reshape our faith, our spirituality and, of course, ourselves today.
In the Old Testament, faith facilitates the people of God to envision a radical life of freedom and justice in the context of slavery and exploitation. In the New Testament, the Jesus movement adds new meaning to the faith practices of God’s people. It envisions a radical civil society of justice and freedom and encounters the Roman system of subordination. Reclaiming the validity of Christian practices is the need of the hour in this age of globalising empire too in order to confront various forms of domination and fragmentation and to envision a world of hope and justice.
The book tries to initiate discussions on the imperial desires and designs deployed in Christian doctrines in the early period of the church to this day. It tries to discuss the need to reshape Christian theologies and doctrines in a postcolonial sensibility.
The specific empire in Vinayaraj’s sight is a religious one—Christianity, which spread over India along with the colonial expansion of the British Empire. With the mana of postcolonial spirituality, Vinayaraj shows that the Christian faith could be released from the colonial legacies of Christianity.
In order to get to the good news, it is important to develop an understanding of the bad news. This is what Vinayaraj does in this volume, guiding us from the oppressions of the Roman Empire, with which early Christians had to contend, to the medieval empires, European empires of colonial modernity, and the more current embodiments of empire in our own globalising age.
Jesus Insurgency: The Church Revolution from the Edge, Escobedo-Frank & Rasmus 2012. S
Crunching more data may be helpful but will not revolutionize, let alone save, a declining church. We need creative thinking done by people who are not afraid to face the institutional church.
Indeed, the change we long for is already happening. It is happening on the margins in ministries to the least, the last, and the lost. Written by two creative pastors with different but successful ministries, this breathtaking book will show you how the church can live out its mission and ignite a movement.
If we pay attention, we can let this Jesus Insurgency create new life.
From Patmos to the Barrio: Subverting Imperial Myths, David Sanchez 2008. S
Sanchez’s subject is the power of imperial myths – and the subversive power unleashed when resistance movements take over those myths for their own purposes. Moving from John of Patmos’s inversion of Roman imperial mythology in Revelation 12 to the indigenous appropriation of Spanish symbolism and mythology, drawn from Revelation 12, in 17th-century Mexico, Sanchez then explores the continuing power of the Virgin of Guadalupe (La GuadalupeÃ) to inspire movements for a better society in our own day.
From Patmos to the Barrio reveals new insights into the biblical Apocalypse of John, and the enduring power of its legacy down to the present day, as well as translations of two important 17th-century documents concerning La GuadalupeÃ±a: Luis Laso de la Vego’s Huei tlamahuiÃ§oltica and Miguel SÃ¡nchez’s Imagen de la Virgen Maria. Also included are images of La GuadalupeÃ±a in the murals of East Los Angeles. B
Liturgy in Postcolonial Perspectives: Only One Is Holy, C Carvalhaes 2015. S
This book brings Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholars from different fields of knowledge and many places across the globe to introduce/expand the dialogue between the field of liturgy and postcolonial/decolonial thinking. Connecting main themes in both fields, this book shows what is at stake in this dialectical scholarship.
Kingdom Come: Why We Must Give Up Our Obsession with Fixing the Church–and What We Should Do Instead, Reggie McNeal 2015 S
There’s a reason Jesus taught us to pray “Thy Kingdom come . . .” and not “Thy church come.” The church clearly plays an important role in God’s plans. It was established by Christ, and he is its Head. But have we put too much emphasis on the church? Have we confused a means of participating in God’s Kingdom with the Kingdom itself?
In Kingdom Come, church ministry consultant Reggie McNeal reveals why it’s crucial to realign the church’s mission with God’s ultimate Kingdom agenda. You’ll discover how you can get in on―and help lead―the Kingdom movement currently underway.
Join the mission to help the Kingdom break into our hearts . . . and break out into the world.
Seeing- Remembering- Connecting: Subversive Practices of Being Church, Karen L Bloomquist 2016. B
This book draws from Bloomquist’s many years and formative experiences as a pastor, theologian, activist, seminary professor, and speaker in a number of settings–both within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and ecumenically and globally. Drawing insights from many sources, Seeing-Remembering-Connecting proposes a new “church in society” framework, so that faith communities can engage and transform the urgent systemic injustices confronting us today.
This new framework, seeing-remembering-connecting, evokes ordinary practices that can engage those from diverse faith traditions and from no faith tradition, and points to the heart of what churches have long been about: God is becoming manifest in and through what these verbs imply–as transcendently immanent. Seeing-remembering-connecting is nurtured over the long term in faith communities, as they put together what is fragmentary or forgotten, point to what is true, and empower communities to see, remember, and act in organized actions with others–across boundaries of religion, geography, and self-interest.
Unarmed Empire: In Search of Beloved Community, Palmer & McKnight 2017. S
Shunned. Condemned. Controlled.
Describing church, believers and nonbelievers deploy stinging terms to define an imperial, culturally privileged, and powerful American force. Church has become synonymous with shame, exclusion, and hostility. This is not the church of Jesus.
American Christians are victims of a deliberate and shortsighted scheme designed to identify and defeat religious, cultural, and sexual Others. From the language of “makers and takers,” to “if you’re not for us, you’re against us,” to the continual suggestion that we are soldiers in a constant series of wars–the war on women, the war on the family, the war on Christians, the war on Christmas, the war on terror, and much more–Christians are near the heart of enmity.
The New Testament, however, seeks to create an alternative community–a community devoid of fear, wherein God’s love and acceptance are mediated to all people through the grace of Jesus.
In Unarmed Empire, Sean Palmer reclaims the New Testament’s vision of the church as an alternative community of welcome, harmony, and peace. Unarmed Empire is for everyone who’s been misled about church. It’s for everyone who feels blacklisted by believers, everyone who has been hurt. It’s for everyone longing for a purer experience of church.
Subversive Jesus: An Adventure in Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness in a Broken World, Greenfield 2016. B
Subversive Jesus is the story of one family’s experiment in putting the most counter-cultural teachings of Christ into practice. When Jesus says invite the poor for a meal, Craig and his family welcome homeless friends, local crack addicts, and women from the street corner over for dinner. When Jesus proclaims freedom for the captive, they organize Pirates of Justice flash mobs to protest cruise ship exploitation. When Jesus teaches love for enemies, they make homemade cookies and lemonade for the local drug dealers, and none of them show up! This adventure takes Craig’s family from the slums of Cambodia to inner city Canada and back again.
You might think that Jesus’ most subversive teachings should be systematically laid out in a theological textbook. With plenty of dull footnotes. But Jesus knows well that we are people of story and grit. We need to see theological ideas in messy human form so they can spark something real in our imagination. We need to see other people screw up so we can laugh or weep and then imagine that we might dare to risk failure too.
Allow their journey to inspire your own. Allow Jesus to subvert what you think you already know. And you’ll find that this book becomes an invitation to say yes to this subversive Jesus and do something courageous with your life – for the sake of justice, mercy, and faithfulness in a broken world.
Subversive Christianity: Imaging God in a Dangerous Time, Brian Walsh & Tom Wright 2015. B
Where is Western culture going?
What should Christians think about it?
Those who already ask these questions often come up with confused answers. Those who do not are, arguably, living in a fool’s paradise (or a fool’s hell.)
In this second edition of Subversive Christianity, Brian Walsh returns to the themes of cultural discernment that he unpacked more than twenty years ago. In a new Postscript, Walsh revisits Francis Fukuyama, Bruce Cockburn, and the prophet Jeremiah and asks, Where are we now? In light of 9/11 and the world economic crisis of 2008, how do we discern the times, and what does that discernment tell us about the calling of the church?
A Woman’s Place: House Churches in Earliest Christianity, MacDonald & Tulloch 2005 S
This focused look at women in the household context discusses the importance of issues of space and visibility in shaping the lives of early Christian women. Several aspects of women’s everyday existence are investigated, including the lives of wives, widows, women with children, female slaves, women as patrons, household leaders, and teachers. In addition, several key themes emerge: hospitality, dining practices, and the extent of female segregaPOLITICS
Kingdom Politics: In Search of a New Political Imagination for Today’s Church, Norris and Speers 2015. B
American Christians, weary of decades of entrenched partisan feuding, are increasingly distancing themselves from politics. Some, however, continue to turn toward the state and public policy to find solutions to the world’s problems. The problem is that both responses allow a narrow vision of politics to determine the church’s mission and ministries, which often ends up separating its commitment to personal faith from the pursuit of social justice–the King from the kingdom. Christians too easily forget that the church is inherently political, a community defined by its allegiance to a King, its citizenship in a new world, and its call to work alongside others in pursuit of a new way of life. The church needs a political vision that is more than blind acceptance or mere rejection of past models. It needs a positive vision that takes its cues about politics not from the nation-state but from another political reality: the kingdom of God.
This book tells the stories of the visits of two researchers to five diverse congregations across the United States. From the megachurch energy of Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in California, to a young Emergent community in Minneapolis, to the politically active home of Martin Luther King in Atlanta, these stories illuminate the vastly different ways congregations understand and approach politics–and offer a glimpse of a new political imagination for today’s church
Reading Scripture as a Political Act: Essays on the Theopolitical Interpretation of the Bible, Tapie & McClain 2015. B
Although scholars increasingly understand Scripture to contain political dimensions and implications, the interpretation of Scripture is often marginalized in most scholarly discussions of political theology. Reading Scripture as a Political Act takes a step toward remedying this situation by exploring some of the ways the church has read Scripture politically. In particular, this volume examines the political character of premodern and modern theologians’ readings of Scripture with attention to how their readings relate to or address political challenges in their particular social and historical settings. The essays attempt to illuminate the ways that the theological interpretation of Scripture shaped the theopolitical imaginations of Augustine, Basil of Caesarea, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Bartolome de las Casas, John Wesley, Karl Barth, Henri de Lubac, and John Howard Yoder, among others. Several essays in the volume also take constructive steps and suggest how these models of reading Scripture can inform the contemporary task of reading Scripture in political contexts. The volume covers the earliest Christian centuries to the late modern era, and considers carefully the close coordination between Scripture, theology, and social and political concerns. As a whole, the collection provides a robust survey of Christian theopolitical interpretation of the Bible.
Paul and the Politics of Diaspora, Ronald Charles 2014. S
It is a commonplace today that Paul was a Jew of the Hellenistic Diaspora, but how does that observation help us to understand his thinking, his self-identification, and his practice? Ronald Charles applies the insights of contemporary diaspora studies to address much-debated questions about Paul’s identity as a diaspora Jew, his complicated relationship with a highly symbolized “homeland,” the motives of his daily work, and the ambivalence of his rhetoric. Charles argues for understanding a number of important aspects of Paul’s identity and work, including the ways his interactions with others were conditioned, by his diaspora space, his self-understanding, and his experience “among the nations.” Diaspora space is a key concept that allows Charles to show how Paul’s travels and the collection project in particular can be read as a transcultural narrative. Understanding the dynamics of diaspora also allows Charles to bring new light to the conflict at Antioch (Galatians 1–2), Paul’s relationships with the Gentiles in Galatia, and the fraught relationship with leaders in Jerusalem.
Worldmaking After Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination, Adom Getachew 2019. S
Decolonization revolutionized the international order during the twentieth century. Yet standard histories that present the end of colonialism as an inevitable transition from a world of empires to one of nations―a world in which self-determination was synonymous with nation-building―obscure just how radical this change was. Drawing on the political thought of anticolonial intellectuals and statesmen such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, W.E.B Du Bois, George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Eric Williams, Michael Manley, and Julius Nyerere, this important new account of decolonization reveals the full extent of their unprecedented ambition to remake not only nations but the world.
Adom Getachew shows that African, African American, and Caribbean anticolonial nationalists were not solely or even primarily nation-builders. Responding to the experience of racialized sovereign inequality, dramatized by interwar Ethiopia and Liberia, Black Atlantic thinkers and politicians challenged international racial hierarchy and articulated alternative visions of worldmaking. Seeking to create an egalitarian postimperial world, they attempted to transcend legal, political, and economic hierarchies by securing a right to self-determination within the newly founded United Nations, constituting regional federations in Africa and the Caribbean, and creating the New International Economic Order.
Using archival sources from Barbados, Trinidad, Ghana, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, Worldmaking after Empire recasts the history of decolonization, reconsiders the failure of anticolonial nationalism, and offers a new perspective on debates about today’s international order
Plundering Eden: A Subversive Christian Theology of Creation and Ecology, Wagenfuhr 2020. S
Christian ecotheology runs the risk of making God himself a resource for human exploitation as a means to species survival. The world of climate change, soil depletion, and mass species extinction reveals a frightening conclusion—humans act as cosmic parasites. The problem is not with the world—talk of climate change blames the symptoms displayed by the victim—but with human epistemology. Humans are systematically incapable of rightly perceiving reality, and so must socially construct reality. The end of this epistemological problem is necessary ecological devastation by the development of civilization. In Plundering Eden, Wagenfuhr traces ecological problems to their root cause in the broken imagination, and argues that reconciliation with God the Creator through Jesus Christ is the only means to ecological healing through a renewed, kenotic imagination expressed in the creation of an alternate environment that reveals the kingdom of God—the ekklesia.
Pauline Politics: An Examination of Various Perspectives, Daniel Oudshoorn2020. B
The Pauline Epistles have been claimed as a useful ally by parties across the political spectrum. Neoconservatives claim that Paul and his coworkers were law-abiding, authority-honoring, devoutly religious people oriented around their respect for hard work, private property, and family values. Liberals claim that the Pauline faction was devoted to the celebration of diversity, internally transcending social markers of status, and the embrace of peace. Radicals claim that Paul was a leader within an anti-imperial revolutionary movement sweeping across the eastern portion of the Roman Empire. However, it is rare for these (and still other!) parties to engage in dialogue with each other because each party tends to operate with presuppositions that make open engagement difficult. Pauline Politics examines the main positions taken in relation to Paul and politics and then engages in a thorough examination of the underlying arguments used to argue that this-or-that position is more or less plausible. Underlying arguments tend to relate to two things: first, positions on the socioeconomic status of Paul, his coworkers, and other early Jesus loyalists; and second, positions on Pauline eschatology. This volume will comprehensively explore these matters.
Pauline Eschatology: The Apocalyptic Rupture of Eternal Imperialism, Daniel Oudshoorn 2020. B
When seeking to understand what Paul and his coworkers were trying to accomplish, it is no longer possible to ignore Graeco-Roman cultural, economic, political, and religious beliefs and practices. Nor can one ignore the ways in which colonized and vanquished peoples adopted, developed, subverted, and resisted these things. Therefore, in order to properly contextualize the Pauline faction, the traditional background material related to Paul and politics must be developed in the following ways: Pauline eschatology must be examined in light of apocalyptic resistance movements; Pauline eschatology must be understood in light of the realized eschatology of Roman imperialism; and the ideo-theology of Rome (its four cornerstones of the household unit, cultural constructs of honor and shame, practices of patronage, and traditional Roman religiosity now all reworked within the rapidly spreading imperial cult[s]) must be explored in detail. This is the task of Pauline Eschatology, the second volume of Paul and the Uprising of the Dead. In it, we will witness how Pauline apocalypticism ruptures the eternal now of empire, and this, then, paves our way for the detailed study of Paulinism that follows in volume 3, Pauline Solidarity.
Pauline Solidarity: Assembling the Gospel of Treasonous Life, Daniel Oudshoorn 2020. B
Building on the themes established in the first two volumes of Paul and the Uprising of the Dead, Pauline Solidarity explores: (a) how the Pauline faction transforms relationships within the household unit in the new transnational family of God; (b) how dominant cultural conceptions of honor are rejected in the embrace of shame in the company of the crucified; (c) how vertical practices of patronage are replaced with a horizontal sibling-based political economy of grace; and (d) how the gospel of the Caesars is overcome by the lawlessness of the good news that is being assembled in an uprising of life among the left for dead. Along the way, many of the traditional themes associated with Paulinism (grace, justice, love, loyalty, sin, flesh, death, Jesus, spirit, life) are reexamined and understood as core components of a movement that was spreading among vanquished, colonized, oppressed, dispossessed, and enslaved peoples who were finding new (and treasonous) ways of organizing themselves in order to be life-giving and life-affirming, and in order to counter all the death-dealing structures of Roman imperialism.
Empire, Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri 2001. S
Imperialism as we knew it may be no more, but Empire is alive and well. It is, as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri demonstrate in this bold work, the new political order of globalization. It is easy to recognize the contemporary economic, cultural, and legal transformations taking place across the globe but difficult to understand them. Hardt and Negri contend that they should be seen in line with our historical understanding of Empire as a universal order that accepts no boundaries or limits. Their book shows how this emerging Empire is fundamentally different from the imperialism of European dominance and capitalist expansion in previous eras. Rather, today’s Empire draws on elements of U.S. constitutionalism, with its tradition of hybrid identities and expanding frontiers. Empire identifies a radical shift in concepts that form the philosophical basis of modern politics, concepts such as sovereignty, nation, and people. Hardt and Negri link this philosophical transformation to cultural and economic changes in postmodern society―to new forms of racism, new conceptions of identity and difference, new networks of communication and control, and new paths of migration. They also show how the power of transnational corporations and the increasing predominance of postindustrial forms of labor and production help to define the new imperial global order. More than analysis, Empire is also an unabashedly utopian work of political philosophy, a new Communist Manifesto. Looking beyond the regimes of exploitation and control that characterize today’s world order, it seeks an alternative political paradigm―the basis for a truly democratic global society.
Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri 2005 S
In their international bestseller Empire, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri presented a grand unified vision of a world in which the old forms of imperialism are no longer effective. But what of Empire in an age of “American empire”? Has fear become our permanent condition and democracy an impossible dream? Such pessimism is profoundly mistaken, the authors argue. Empire, by interconnecting more areas of life, is actually creating the possibility for a new kind of democracy, allowing different groups to form a multitude, with the power to forge a democratic alternative to the present world order.Exhilarating in its optimism and depth of insight, Multitude consolidates Hardt and Negri’s stature as two of the most important political philosophers at work in the world today.
Assembly (Heretical Thought), Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri 2017. 0
In recent years “leaderless” social movements have proliferated around the globe, from North Africa and the Middle East to Europe, the Americas, and East Asia. Some of these movements have led to impressive gains: the toppling of authoritarian leaders, the furthering of progressive policy, and checks on repressive state forces. They have also been, at times, derided by journalists and political analysts as disorganized and ineffectual, or suppressed by disoriented and perplexed police forces and governments who fail to effectively engage them. Activists, too, struggle to harness the potential of these horizontal movements. Why have the movements, which address the needs and desires of so many, not been able to achieve lasting change and create a new, more democratic and just society? Some people assume that if only social movements could find new leaders they would return to their earlier glory. Where, they ask, are the new Martin Luther Kings, Rudi Dutschkes, and Stephen Bikos?
With the rise of right-wing political parties in many countries, the question of how to organize democratically and effectively has become increasingly urgent. Although today’s leaderless political organizations are not sufficient, a return to traditional, centralized forms of political leadership is neither desirable nor possible. Instead, as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri argue, familiar roles must be reversed: leaders should be responsible for short-term, tactical action, but it is the multitude that must drive strategy. In other words, if these new social movements are to achieve meaningful revolution, they must invent effective modes of assembly and decision-making structures that rely on the broadest democratic base. Drawing on ideas developed through their well-known Empire trilogy, Hardt and Negri have produced, in Assembly, a timely proposal for how current large-scale horizontal movements can develop the capacities for political strategy and decision-making to effect lasting and democratic change. We have not yet seen what is possible when the multitude assembles.
The Postcolonial Church: Bible, Theology, and Mission, Wafula and Mombo 2016. B
The Postcolonial Church: Bible, Theology and Mission is an interdisciplinary project that uses a postcolonial reading lens to critique coloniality and misuse of power in the Kenyan Church as well as society. The authors discuss how power can be misused, causing untold violence against innocent victims. In the spirit of activism and social justice, the book calls for ending of violence against the so called Other in all its forms—including but not limited to political violence, religious violence, gender violence, and economic violence. Consequently, this book can be a resource for church leaders and social justice activists. It is also useful to scholars and students in the fields of Bible and Theology, political science, gender studies, racial/ethnic conflict management, and peace studies, among others.
ECONOMICS AND DEMOGRAPHICS OF EARLY CHURCH
Reading Romans in Pompeii: Paul’s Letter at Ground Level, Peter Oakes2010. B
Peter Oakes relies on demographic information and data from excavations in nearby Pompeii to paint a compelling portrait of daily life in a typical insula, or apartment complex, like the ones in which Paul s audience in Rome likely lived. Imaginatively fleshing out profiles of the circumstances of actual residents of Pompeii, Oakes then uses these profiles to invite the reader into a new way to hear Paul’s letter to the Romans as the apostle s contemporaries might have heard it. The result of this ground-breaking study is a fuller, richer appreciation of Paul’s most important letter.
Empire, Economics and the New Testament, Peter Oakes 2020. S
Peter Oakes has long been recognized for his illuminating use of Greco-Roman material culture and social-scientific criticism to interpret the New Testament. This volume combines his best work in a single volume and introduces a substantial new essay that challenges current scholarly approaches to paradoxical teachings of the New Testament.
Of special interest to Oakes throughout this book is the concrete impact of economic realities and Roman imperialism on first-century Christian communities meeting in house churches. To address this, Oakes considers an array of textual and archaeological resources from first-century non-elite life, including extensive archaeological evidence available from Pompeii. Readers will find here a deep trove of wisdom for understanding the New Testament in the context of the Greco-Roman world.
Sacred Ritual, Profane Space: The Roman House as Early Christian Meeting Place, Jenn Cianca 2018. S
The first three centuries of Christianity are increasingly seen in modern scholarship as sites of complexity. Sacred Ritual, Profane Space examines the Christian meeting places of the time and overturns long-held notions about the earliest Christians as utopian rather than place-bound people. By mapping what is known from early Christian texts onto the archaeological data for Roman domestic spaces, Jenn Cianca provides a new lens for examining the relationship between early Christianity and sites of worship. She proposes that not only were Roman homes sacred sites in their own right but they were also considered sacred by the Christian communities that used them. In many cases, meeting space would have included the presence of the Roman domestic cult shrines. Despite the fact that the domestic cult was polytheistic, Cianca asserts that its practices likely continued in places used for worship by Christians. She also argues that continued practice of the domestic cult in Roman domestic spaces did not preclude Christians from using houses as churches or from understanding their rituals or their meeting places as sacred. Raising a host of questions about identity, ritual affiliation, and domestic practice, Sacred Ritual, Profane Space demonstrates how sacred space was constructed through ritual enactment in early Christian communities.
Engaging Economics: New Testament Scenarios and Early Christian Reception, Bruce Longenecker 2009. S
Engaging Economics exposes economic dimensions of the theology of the early Jesus movement, as reflected both in the texts of the New Testament and in the reception of those texts within the patristic era. Under these two considerations, the contributors demonstrate that an economic dimension was an integral component of this early movement and indicate how, in later centuries, that economic dimension was either further developed or ignored altogether.
The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy Of American Empire, Gindin and Panitch 2012. S
The all-encompassing embrace of world capitalism at the beginning of the twenty-first century was generally attributed to the superiority of competitive markets. Globalization had appeared to be the natural outcome of this unstoppable process. But today, with global markets roiling and increasingly reliant on state intervention to stay afloat, it has become clear that markets and states aren’t straightforwardly opposing forces.
In this groundbreaking work, Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin demonstrate the intimate relationship between modern capitalism and the American state. The Making of Global Capitalism identifies the centrality of the social conflicts that occur within states rather than between them. These emerging fault lines hold out the possibility of new political movements that might transcend global markets.
Economy, Difference, Empire: Social Ethics for Social Justice, Garry Dorrien 2010. S
Church and Ethical Responsibility in the Midst of world Economy, Paul S Chung 2013. S
Magisterial in scope and scrupulous in its investigation and attribution of sources, Church and Ethical Responsibility in the Midst of World Economy will take its place as an important document that contributes much in terms of prophetic praxis – itchallenges those who are comfortably complacent and unwilling to be disturbed.
Property for People, Not for Profit: Alternatives to the Global Tyranny of Capital, Ulrich Duchrow 2013. S
The issue of private property and the rights it confers remain almost undiscussed in critiques of globalization and free market economics. Yet property lies at the heart of an economic system geared to profit maximization. The authors describe the historically specific and self-consciously explicit manner in which it emerged. They trace this history from earliest historical times and show how, in the hands of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke in particular, the notion of private property took on its absolutist nature and most extreme form – a form which neoliberal economics is now imposing on humanity worldwide through the pressures of globalization. They argue that avoiding the destruction of people’s ways of living and of Nature requires reshaping our notions of private property. They look at practical ways for social and ecumenical movements to press for alternatives.
The Crisis and the Kingdom: Economics, Scripture, and the Global Financial Crisis. Davis and Tidball 2012 S
The ongoing global financial crisis was not simply the fault of the financial sector. Bankers, households, and governments had all entered a spiral of greed, selfishness, and impatience in pursuit of their respective aims of higher remuneration, greater consumption, and enhanced popularity. The outcome, besides costly bank bailouts, has been rising private and public debt and stagnant economies. Economics, the ruling paradigm in today’s society, can explain their motivation of self-interest but not the underlying irrationality of their behavior. Taking a view from Scripture, Philip Davis critiques the overall aims of individuals, as assumed by economics–wealth, consumption, and power–in contrast to Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God, the love for God and neighbor, and responsible stewardship of resources. In doing so, he aims to equip Christians to better understand the crisis from a kingdom perspective, to provide the church with a distinctive voice in these troubled times, and to press for radical Christian solutions to address the underlying difficulties. This little book aims to redress the gap in Christians’ understanding that led the theologian Jürgen Moltmann to remark trenchantly, “The neglect of economics is a wound in the side of the church.”
Paul and Economics: a Handbook, Thomas Blanton 2017 S
The social context of Paul’s mission and congregations has been the study of intense investigation for decades, but only in recent years have questions of economic realities and the relationship between rich and poor come to the forefront. In Paul and Economics, leading scholars address a variety of topics in contemporary discussion, including an overview of the Roman economy; the economic profile of Paul and of his communities, and stratification within them; architectural considerations regarding where they met; food and drink; idol meat and the Lord’s Supper; material conditions of urban poverty; patronage; slavery; travel; gender and status; the collection for Jerusalem; and the role of Marxist theory and the question of political economy in Paul scholarship.
Debt Updated and Expanded: The First 5,000 Years, David Graeber 2014. S
Now in audio, the updated and expanded edition: David Graeber’s “fresh…fascinating…thought-provoking…and exceedingly timely” (Financial Times) history of debt.
Here, anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom: He shows that before there was money, there was debt. For more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods – that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.
Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt”, “sin”, and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it.
Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830, J H Elliott 2020. S
This epic history compares the empires built by Spain and Britain in the Americas, from Columbus’s arrival in the New World to the end of Spanish colonial rule in the early nineteenth century. J. H. Elliott, one of the most distinguished and versatile historians working today, offers us history on a grand scale, contrasting the worlds built by Britain and by Spain on the ruins of the civilizations they encountered and destroyed in North and South America.
Elliott identifies and explains both the similarities and differences in the two empires’ processes of colonization, the character of their colonial societies, their distinctive styles of imperial government, and the independence movements mounted against them. Based on wide reading in the history of the two great Atlantic civilizations, the book sets the Spanish and British colonial empires in the context of their own times and offers us insights into aspects of this dual history that still influence the Americas.
God and the Excluded: Visions and Blindspots in Contemporary Theology, Joerg Reiger 2000. S
Theology is fracturing along tension lines once hidden by the great modern consensus that reigned from Schleiermacher’s day till our own. Now, all of it is in dispute: its starting point, its self-awareness, its claim to truth, its method and interaction with other disciplines and institutions in church, academy and society.
Rieger offers an enlightening way to understand the chief strands or options in theology today and a valuable proposal for resituating theology around the crucial issue of inclusion. He sees four competing vectors at work in Christian today’s theology: Theology of Identity (liberal theology, represented by Schleiermacher and founded in the self), Theology of Difference (dialectical theology, represented by Barth and founded in the Wholly Other), Theology and the Postmodern (postcritical theology, represented by Lindbeck and founded on the text), and Theology and the Underside (liberation theologies, represented by North American feminist theology).
Further, Rieger goes on to propose that each of these is in some way exclusionary and elitist; the mass of humanity and the globe’s most pressing problems do not invade this cathedral, and in some ways the market itself has replaced God. Religious thought can remain viable only when it is grounded in an openness that reaches beyond the global market and postmodern squabbles, critiques its own complicity in the situation, and resituates itself in express commitment to those left out of today’s “gated community.”
Why Study the Past: The Quest for the Historical Church, Rowan Williams 2018. S
The well-worn saying about being condemned to repeat the history we do not know applies to church history as much as to any other area of history. But how can we discern what lessons we need to learn from the many centuries of church history?
In this small but thoughtful volume, respected theologian and churchman Rowan Williams opens up a theological approach to history, an approach that is both nonpartisan and relevant to the church’s present needs. As he reflects on how we consider the past in general, Williams suggests that church history remains important not so much for winning arguments as for clarifying who we are as time-bound human beings. Williams particularly addresses North American readers in his new preface to this perennially timely invitation to remember who we are.
Soul in Society: The Making and Renewal of Social Christianity, Gary Dorrien 1995. S
Gary Dorrien’s major work addresses the roots of and remedy to the current crisis in American Christian social ethics.
Focusing on the story of American liberal Protestantism, the book examines in fascinating depth the three major movements in this century – the Social Gospel, Christian Realism, and Liberation Theology – in a way that also brings African American, feminist, environmentalist, Catholic, and other voices into the increasingly multicultural quest.
Dorrien then carefully assesses the crisis of social Christian thought in a culture that is increasingly secular, materialistic, and dominated by capitalism. He shows how the progressive Christian vision of social and economic democracy can be redeemed in the face of its apparent defeat. He argues strongly for a social Christianity faithful to the spiritual reality and kingdom-oriented ethic of the way of Christ.
Dorrien’s engaging narrative, knowledgeable and fair analysis, and thoughtful proposal bring desperately needed clarity and commitment to the Christian social conscience.