Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Seyoon Kim's Forthcoming Book

Seyoon Kim's latest book, Christ and Caesar: The Gospel and the Roman Empire in the Writings of Paul and Luke is due for release in September which is apparently a critique of the "fresh perspective" or anti-imperial (= anti-American?) interpretation of Paul.

My own view on this is: (1) Yes, alot of the counter-imperial stuff on Paul is blown out of all proportion and Paul is turned into a socially progressive anti-reagan and anti-bush UMC minister in Connecticut (no offence to UMC ministers, it's just a caricature). (2) But at the end of the day you only have to read Acts 17.7, 1 Thess. 5.3, and do a short word study of 'gospel', 'Lord', 'grace', and 'parousia' in the Greco-Roman sources to see that Paul's gospel is theopolitical, which is hardly surprising as Israel's prophetic hopes had always been theopolitical too.

HT: In Light of the Gospel


Denny Burk said...


Counter-imperial interpreters have at least two things (and sometimes three things) in common.

1. They demonstrate through parallels that Paul's gospel is theopolitical.
2. They argue that Paul's gospel therefore opposes the Roman Empire.
3. They argue that Paul's gospel therefore opposes all empires, especially the current American one.

Not all counterimperial readers of Paul push the third point. Some are simply focused more historically. But the Paul and Politics Group at SBL and N. T. Wright do indeed push the third point. In that sense, those who push the third point might be characterized as "Anti-American."


Alex said...

Hi Mike,

As a "layman", how could I go about doing a word study on those terms in the ancient, nonbiblical sources. I've always heard that gospel for example had to do with the proclamation of a new emperor, mainly from N.T. Wright, and the idea sounds appealing. But he never provides primary source references when he makes this claim.

Another one he frequently cites is the whole, "meeting the Lord in the air" thing, where he says that people of God (presumably, us) escort him back to earth to reign in the new kingdom. He says this is an allusion or at least borrowed from what would happen when kings/emperors would come to town in the old days. But I've tried and tried and only found once reference to this in ancient times, and it was actually after the N.T. was written. I found it in John Chrysostom via Margaret M. Mitchell's book on Chrysostom's mimicking of Paul.

Any help on any or all of these terms would be greatly appreciated.

Michael F. Bird said...

For word studies try, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Deissman's Light from the Ancient Near East is good too. For a good intro to the subject read Michael Gorman's charts in Apostle of the Crucified Lord. More in depth is the articles in JSNT by J.K. Harrison. I'd also recommend S. Price's book on Rituals and Power about the imperial cult.