Early Christians Adapting to the Roman Empire: Mutual Recognition Niko Huttunen challenges the interpretation of early Christian texts as anti-imperial documents. He presents examples of the positive relationship between early Christians and the Roman society. With the concept of “recognition” Huttunen describes a situation in which the parties can come to terms with each other without full agreement. Huttunen provides examples of non-Christian philosophers recognizing early Christians. He claims that recognition was a response to Christians who presented themselves as philosophers. Huttunen reads Romans 13 as a part of the ancient tradition of the law of the stronger. His pioneering study on early Christian soldiers uncovers the practical dimension of recognizing the empire.
How Luke uses and interprets Scripture continues to captivate many. In his new work
The Prophets Agree, a title inspired by James’ words at the Jerusalem Council, Aaron W. White turns over one rock that has remained unturned. Interpretation of the four quotations of the Minor Prophets in Acts frequently isolates each citation from the other. However, this full-length study of the place of the Minor Prophets in Acts asks what difference it makes to regard these four quotations as a singular contribution to Acts from a unified source.
By an in-depth study of each quotation, an innovative method of intertextuality, and an eye to the overall agenda of Acts, White proves the importance of reading the Twelve Prophets in unity when it is quoted in Acts, and the integral role it plays in the redemptive-historical plot line of Acts.
Metaphor and the Portrayal of the Cause(s) of Sin and Evil in the Gospel of Matthew traces the range and significance of metaphors used in Matthew for the origin and sin and evil and their congruence with key texts of the Second Temple milieu.
While traditional theology has often sought to pinpoint a single cause of sin and evil, Matthew’s use of a spectrum of metaphors undermines theologically reductionist approaches and opens up a rich range of ways for conceiving of and talking about the cause of sin and evil. Ultimately, the use of metaphor (necessary to discussions of sin) destabilizes foundationalist theologies of sin, and any theology of sin must grapple with the inherently tensive nature of metaphorical language.
Research on Luke-Acts and the Gospels has largely overlooked the major distinction within ancient historiography between accounts written about events contemporary with the author (e.g., by Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Polybius) and accounts written about non-contemporary events (e.g., by Diodorus, Dionysius, Plutarch, Arrian). As ancient authors writing about contemporary events represented their sources primarily in terms of autopsy and eyewitness testimony, so Luke’s preface corresponds with this practice. I argue that a proper understanding of ancient historical method, epistemology, and the use of ἐπιχειρέω (Luke 1.1; Acts 9.29; 19.13) confirm that Luke represented as the sources for his account not the ‘many’ prior accounts but rather the ‘eyewitnesses’ and ‘servants of the word’.
In Jesus and the Disinherited Thurman recognized that the all-important historical context of Jesus was among a people subjugated, similar to that of segregated and colonized peoples. He discerned the cost in human degradation for people subjected by overwhelming power as they struggled with fear, deception, and hate. In the Gospels he discerned Jesus’ uniquely creative response: His assurance that people are ‘children of God’ establishes a ground of personal dignity that leads to a new courage in the face of violence. Key was Jesus’ command to ‘love your enemies’, which Thurman understood broadly, as enabling the disinherited to forgive people who subjugated them. He finds in Jesus a transformative teaching and embodiment of non-violent direct action, which decisively influenced leaders of the civil rights movement. This essay will compare established scholarly interpretations of Jesus’ sayings with Thurman’s insights and explore how subsequent studies can build on them.
This essay examines Howard Thurman’s interpretation of the historical Jesus and the religion of Jesus in his 1949 book Jesus and the Disinherited (jatd). Thurman interprets Jesus within his first century CE socio-historical context and from the perspective of disinherited African Americans. He articulates the significance of the religion of Jesus, versus religion about Jesus, for the disinherited and how it can ensure their survival. Since jatd addresses race/racism and class/classism but not the intersection of race, gender, and class, I place jatd in conversation with black feminist Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider, womanist theologian Delores Williams’ Sisters in the Wilderness, and Angela Sim’s Lynched, who focus on the survival of black women (Lorde and Williams) and the resilience of black people living in a culture of fear.
This essay contextualizes Thurman’s “Jesus” within academia and the larger Western milieu of the 1940–1950s. Thurman offered a usable construction in order to encourage people to eliminate their “fear” of the other, discourage their use of “deception” as a strategy of survival, and replace their “hate” with love for the other, as a means of maintaining their own human dignity for the purpose of thriving in an American society that preferred their ghettoized isolation and dehumanized existence.
This short introduction to the life of Howard Thurman contextualizes his most celebrated book, Jesus and the Disinherited, with attention to the conditions of his childhood, social placement, career, and religious life.