The Fetish for a Subversive Jesus

in Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
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What does it mean to say Jesus was subversive? This article engages in meta-critical analysis of the use of ‘subversion’ in historical Jesus research. It argues that the neoliberal lives of Jesus in particular have increasingly fetishized a cultural mainstreaming of subversion in which certain forms of containable subversion are tolerated within late capitalist society, as part of a broader strategy of economic and ideological compliance. On the one hand, J.D. Crossan’s Jesus spun subversive aphorisms which constituted the radical subversion of the present world order. On the other hand, N.T. Wright has frequently intensified the rhetoric of subversion, claiming a ‘profoundly’, ‘doubly’, ‘thoroughly’, ‘deeply’, and ‘multiply’ subversive Jesus, while simultaneously distancing him from traditional subversive fixtures like militant revolutionary action. Through its discursive mimicking of wider cultural trends, this rhetorical trope has enabled Jesus scholarship to enjoy both popular and academic success in Western, neoliberal society.

The Fetish for a Subversive Jesus

in Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus

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References

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5

N.T. Wright‘Paul’s Gospel and Caesar’s Empire,’ in Paul and Politics: Ekklesia Israel Imperium Interpretationed. Richard A. Horsley (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International 2000) p. 161.

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R. Alan StreettSubversive Meals: An Analysis of the Lord’s Supper under Roman Domination in the First Century (Eugene: Pickwick2013).

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Karl Marx and Friedrich EngelsOn Religion (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House1957) p. 22.

9

John Dominic CrossanThe Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco: Harper1991).

14

Mark FisherCapitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (London: Zero2009) pp. 16–19.

18

Grindon‘Subversion’ p. 867.

19

Hugh Grady‘Containment, Subversion - and Postmodernism,’ Textual Practice 7 no. 1 (1993): pp. 31–49.

20

Stuart Hall ed.Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (London: Sage1997).

21

Homi K. BhabhaThe Location of Culture (London: Routledge1994).

22

Judith ButlerGender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge1990).

23

Antonio GramsciPrison Notebooks (New York: Columbia University Press1992).

24

Terry EagletonThe Illusions of Postmodernism (Malden: Blackwell1996) p. vii.

25

EagletonThe Illusions of Postmodernism p. vii.

27

John Dominic CrossanJesus: A Revolutionary Biography (San Francisco: Harper1994) p. 93.

28

John Dominic CrossanIn Parables: The Challenge of the Historical Jesus (Sonoma: ­Polebridge1973); John Dominic Crossan In Fragments: The Aphorisms of Jesus (San ­Francisco: Harper & Row 1983).

29

CrossanThe Historical Jesus p. 235.

30

CrossanThe Historical Jesus p. 324.

31

CrossanThe Historical Jesus pp. 305 355.

32

Rebekka King‘The Author, the Atheist, and the Academic Study of Religion: Bourdieu and the Reception of Biblical Criticism by Progressive Christians,’ Bulletin for the Study of Religion 41 no. 1 (2012): pp. 14–20.

33

King‘The Author the Atheist and the Academic Study of Religion’ p. 15.

36

MeierA Marginal Jew p. 8.

37

CrossanThe Historical Jesusxi.

38

CrossanThe Historical Jesusxii.

39

MylesHomeless Jesus p. 9.

40

Richard A. Horsley‘Why Bother with Biblical Studies?’ in Reading the Bible in an Age of Crisis ed. Bruce Worthington (Minneapolis: Fortress 2015) p. 335.

41

CrossanThe Historical Jesus p. 421.

42

Jake KinzeyThe Sacred and the Profane: An Investigation of Hipsters (London: Zero2012) p. 3.

43

WrightJesus and the Victory of God p. 564.

44

WrightJesus and the Victory of God p. 44.

45

WrightJesus and the Victory of God p. 235.

46

WrightJesus and the Victory of God pp. 466 594.

47

WrightJesus and the Victory of God p. 441.

48

WrightJesus and the Victory of God pp. 278 369 565.

49

WrightJesus and the Victory of God p. 471.

50

WrightJesus and the Victory of God p. 596.

52

WrightJesus and the Victory of God p. 316.

53

WrightJesus and the Victory of God p. 429.

54

WrightJesus and the Victory of God p. 201.

56

WrightJesus and the Victory of God p. 229.

58

WrightJesus and the Victory of God p. 594.

61

WrightJesus and the Victory of God p. 459.

63

WrightPaul and the Faithfulness of God p. 1590.

64

Clive Marsh‘Quests of the Historical Jesus in New Historicist Perspective,’ Biblical ­Interpretation 5 no. 4 (1997): p. 413.

65

Grindon‘Subversion’ p. 868.

66

EagletonThe Illusions of Postmodernism p. 132.

67

Grindon‘Subversion’ p. 869.

68

CrossleyJesus in an Age of Neoliberalism pp. 85–98. See also: Marsh ‘Quests of the ­Historical Jesus in New Historicist Perspective’ pp. 422–426.

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