You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in through your institution.

People under Power

People under Power: Early Jewish and Christian Responses to the Roman Power Empire

Michael Labahn
Outi Lehtipuu
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 320
Stable URL:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    People under Power
    Book Description:

    This volume presents a batch of incisive new essays on the relationship between Roman imperial power and ideology and Christian and Jewish life and thought within the empire. Employing diverse methodologies that include historical criticism, rhetorical criticism, postcolonial criticism, and social historical studies, the contributors offer fresh perspectives on a question that is crucial for our understanding not only of the late Roman Empire, but also of the growth and change of Christianity and Judaism in the imperial period.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-2199-9
    Subjects: Religion
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. 5-6)
  3. Introduction Christians, Jews, and Roman Power (pp. 7-14)
    Outi Lehtipuu and Michael Labahn

    The Roman Empire forms the historical and cultural frame within which the emergence and rise of Christianity took place. From its beginnings in Galilee to its gradual expansion all over the Mediterranean, the early Christian movement was deeply embedded in the Roman world. The Roman Empire also played a vital role in the development of Judaism after Pompey appeared on the Palestinian “map” in 64/63 b.c.e. From that time, Rome became an economic and moreover a political factor that influenced political, religious, and cultural developments within Judaism. Finally, Roman military power forced Judaism to take new shape after the destruction...

  4. Part I Jewish Communities in the Shadows of the Empire
    • The Kittim and Hints of Hybridity in the Dead Sea Scrolls (pp. 17-32)
      George J. Brooke

      Before discussing once again the Kittim in the Qumran sectarian scrolls, it is necessary to set out the historical and political parameters within which the comments of this essay are set. To my mind, the movement behind the sectarian compositions amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the eleven caves at and near Qumran seems to have had a history that spanned well over two hundred years before the fall of the temple in 70 c.e., perhaps going back to the time shortly after the Maccabean Revolt, though some see traces of aspects of the movement even in the late...

    • The Politics of Exclusion Expulsions of Jews and Others from Rome (pp. 33-78)
      Birgit van der Lans

      The focus of this essay is on the expulsions of Jews from Rome from the point of view of Roman power politics.¹ Early imperial Rome saw several expulsions of Jews from the city. In 19 c.e., the senate passed a decree against the practice of foreign rites, dispatched some 4,000 Jews into military service, and ordered the rest to depart from the city. Some three decades later, Claudius issued an expulsion order for disorderly Jews at the instigation of one Chrestus. There has been much debate over the underlying reasons for, and the consequences of, these expulsions. While earlier studies...

    • Μεμορια Iudati patiri Some Notes to the Study of the Beginnings of Jewish Presence in Roman Pannonia (pp. 79-98)
      Nóra Dávid

      In theLetter to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes “so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ” (Rom. 15:19 NRSV). This fragment of a passage, picked out of its context, is just one example of the fact that even the first Christians counted the territory of Illyricum (Pannonia and Dalmatia) as a place where they could possibly win new people over to their religion. Paul and the first apostles used to go to places where they were listened to with an open heart, and these places – as...

  5. Part II Contextualizing New Testament Texts with the Empire
    • Imperial Politics in Paul Scholarly Phantom or Actual Textual Phenomenon? (pp. 101-128)
      Anders Klostergaard Petersen

      As recent scholars working on the relationship between the New Testament texts and the imperial cult have noticed, the renewed interest in the topic has an important pre-history in scholarship. Almost a century ago, Adolf Deissmann was among the first scholars to emphasize the importance that should be attributed to the imperial cult for a proper contextualizing cultural framework for the interpretation of the New Testament texts in general and the Pauline letters and theApocalypse of Johnin particular. Before I approach the specific topic of this essay, namely to raise the question on the bearing of the imperial...

    • Das Markusevangelium – eine ideologie- und imperiumskritische Schrift? Ein Blick in die Auslegungsgeschichte (pp. 129-158)
      Martin Meiser

      Seit mittlerweile gut zwanzig Jahren, verstärkt aber in der vergangenen Dekade, hat eine ideologie- und imperiumskritische Markuslektüre das Interesse der Exegetinnen und Exegeten an dem ältesten Evangelium in eine neue Richtung gelenkt. Imperiumskritik meint dieser Auslegungsrichtung zufolge die Kritik an der religiösen Selbstverabsolutierung und dem politischen Gebaren des Imperium Romanum; der demgegenüber weitere Begriff der Ideologiekritik schließt auch die Kritik an der Orientierung an der Hochschätzung des Reichtums sowie am System von Ehre und Schande mit ein.

      Als Textelemente, die einer imperiumskritischen Markuslektüre zugänglich sind, gelten bei Gerd Theißen, Martin Ebner und Warren Carter der Begriff εὐαγγέλιον,¹ bei Klaus Wengst...

    • „Ein Beispiel habe ich euch gegeben…“ (Joh 13,15) Die Diakonie Jesu und die Diakonie der Christen in der johanneischen Fußwaschungserzählung als Konterkarierung römischer Alltagskultur (pp. 159-184)
      Klaus Scholtissek

      Das sozial-kulturelle System der römischen Herrschaft, die Definition und die Durchsetzung des römischen Machtanspruches haben erheblichen, oft unterschätzten Einfluss auf jüdische und christliche Minderheiten, ihr Leben und ihre sich weiter entwickelnde Selbstverständigung. An dieser mehrschichtigen Auseinandersetzung und Abgrenzung hat auch das Johannesevangelium¹ erkennbaren Anteil. Dem widerspricht nicht die Wahrnehmung, dass das Johannesevangelium sich zunächst und primär an die eigenen Gemeindeglieder richtet und ihren Glauben stärken will. Gerade zur Verwirklichung dieser Absicht gilt es, die Begründung, innere Plausibilität und Kraft des christlichen Bekenntnisses so vorzutragen, dass die johanneischen Christen in ihrer vorfindlichen und vertrauten kulturellen Umwelt einerseits und derPax Romana...

  6. Part III Imperial Ideology and Other Early Christian Texts
    • The Shepherd of Hermas and the Roman Empire (pp. 187-204)
      Mark R. C. Grundeken

      In the literature on the relation between early Christianity and the Roman Empire, theShepherd of Hermasis often left aside.¹ Moreover, in the literature on theShepherd of Hermas, this theme has not received ample treatment.² Much about theShepherd of Hermasremains puzzling and is highly debated. It is therefore important to sum up the main assumptions that underlie this article. First, it will be assumed that theShepherd of Hermaswas written somewhere between the end of the first and the middle of the second century.³ Second, the work is situated in or near Rome.⁴ Third, the...

    • Noble Death or Death Cult? Pagan Criticism of Early Christian Martyrdom (pp. 205-228)
      Paul Middleton

      Suffering and persecution forms an almost ubiquitous backdrop to most of the documents that make up the New Testament. In the first extant piece of Christian writing, the epistle to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul suggests persecution is an ever-present danger. He claims that his converts “received the word in much affliction (ἐν θλίψει πολλη̑; 1:6)” and received at the hands of their fellow townsfolk the same kind of persecution believers in Judea suffered from the Jews (2:14). This theme continues throughout the New Testament. As Jesus had suffered, so true Christians are called to imitate his example, embracing death...

    • Nero Redivivus as a Subject of Early Christian Arcane Teaching (pp. 229-248)
      Marco Frenschkowski

      Perhaps the most fascinating emperor figure in early Christian sources is the emperor Nero. Even though his reputation in general was ambivalent, he became a central actor, often associated with the Antichrist figure in Christian eschatological teaching. This teaching, however, was not open knowledge but often restricted to an inner circle. This article will discuss some aspects of such arcane teaching relating to Antichrist figures and theNero reduxandNero redivivuslegend. No full documentation can be given here; this can be found in my overview on the figure of the emperor Nero in early Christianity and the ancient...

  7. A Selection of Ancient Sources (pp. 249-258)