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An Encomium for Jesus: Luke, Rhetoric, and the Story of Jesus

Published: May 2020
£50.00
Luke's narrative about Jesus followed the conventions for ancient biography. Trained in rhetoric, Luke employed the genre of the encomium, which regularly used to showcase biographical aspects of a person's life worthy of honour. An Encomium for Jesus argues that Luke mastered the genre, its conventional topics, and specific instructions for composing one. The usual topics of an encomium served as Luke's template to organize and narrate the life of Jesus. The first topic,'origins', displayed Jesus' worth in terms of his geographical origins (Bethlehem) and generational origins (son of David, heir to his throne). His genealogy confirms a very noble ancestry. Angels and prophets speak to the importance of his birth, all conventional items. Second, Jesus was raised as an observant Israelite: circumcised, dedicated, and an annual participant at Passover; he customarily attended synagogue. Although precocious, he lacked training in a familial virtue, which he learned subsequently by obedience to his parents. An encomium focused on a person's actions, generally described in terms of the canonical virtues, wisdom, courage, justice and self-control. Luke adeptly portrayed Jesus' actions according to these virtues, correctly presuming that his audience would label this or that action as virtuous, a safe assumption. Jesus was wise in understanding people, courageous in facing death, just in his teaching, and moderate in controlling emotional reactions. An encomium should also speak of a person's death, a conventional feature in funeral oratory. Luke employed the tradition of the 'noble death' to highlight aspects of Jesus' death, especially its voluntary and beneficial aspects. Most importantly, he narrated the many posthumous honours awarded Jesus, as cited in Acts: he did not see death; God vindicated and enthroned him; and he became the Author of salvation. Thus Luke composed a conventional Encomium for Jesus.
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An Encomium for Jesus: Luke, Rhetoric, and the Story of Jesus

£50.00
Luke's narrative about Jesus followed the conventions for ancient biography. Trained in rhetoric, Luke employed the genre of the encomium, which regularly used to showcase biographical aspects of a person's life worthy of honour. An Encomium for Jesus argues that Luke mastered the genre, its conventional topics, and specific instructions for composing one. The usual topics of an encomium served as Luke's template to organize and narrate the life of Jesus. The first topic,'origins', displayed Jesus' worth in terms of his geographical origins (Bethlehem) and generational origins (son of David, heir to his throne). His genealogy confirms a very noble ancestry. Angels and prophets speak to the importance of his birth, all conventional items. Second, Jesus was raised as an observant Israelite: circumcised, dedicated, and an annual participant at Passover; he customarily attended synagogue. Although precocious, he lacked training in a familial virtue, which he learned subsequently by obedience to his parents. An encomium focused on a person's actions, generally described in terms of the canonical virtues, wisdom, courage, justice and self-control. Luke adeptly portrayed Jesus' actions according to these virtues, correctly presuming that his audience would label this or that action as virtuous, a safe assumption. Jesus was wise in understanding people, courageous in facing death, just in his teaching, and moderate in controlling emotional reactions. An encomium should also speak of a person's death, a conventional feature in funeral oratory. Luke employed the tradition of the 'noble death' to highlight aspects of Jesus' death, especially its voluntary and beneficial aspects. Most importantly, he narrated the many posthumous honours awarded Jesus, as cited in Acts: he did not see death; God vindicated and enthroned him; and he became the Author of salvation. Thus Luke composed a conventional Encomium for Jesus.
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The Homeless Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew

Published: Jun 2014
£60.00
If homelessness typically entails a loss of social power and agency, then why do New Testament scholars so often envisage Jesus' itinerancy as a chosen lifestyle devoid of hardship? In this provocative new reading of the Gospel of Matthew, Robert J. Myles explores the disjuncture between Jesus and homelessness by exposing the political biases of modern Western readers. Drawing on the ideological politics of homelessness in contemporary society, Myles develops an interpretative lens informed by the Marxist critique of neoliberalism and, in particular, by the critical theory of Slavoj Žižek. Homelessness, from this perspective, is viewed not as an individual choice but rather as the by-product of wider economic, political and social forces. Myles argues that Jesus' homelessness has become largely romanticized in recent biblical scholarship. Is the flight to Egypt, for instance, important primarily for its recasting of Jesus as the new Moses, or should the basic narrative of forced displacement take centre stage? The remedy, Myles contends, is to read directly against the grain of contemporary scholarship by interpreting Jesus' homelessness through his wider economic, political and social context, as it is encoded in the biblical text. To demonstrate how ideology is complicit in shaping the interpretation of a homeless Jesus, a selection of texts from the Gospel of Matthew is re-read to amplify the destitution, desperation and constraints on agency that are integral to a critical understanding of homelessness. What emerges is a refreshed appreciation for the deviancy of Matthew's Jesus, in which his status as a displaced and expendable outsider is identified as contributing to the conflict and violence of the narrative, leading ultimately to his execution on the cross.
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The Homeless Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew

£60.00
If homelessness typically entails a loss of social power and agency, then why do New Testament scholars so often envisage Jesus' itinerancy as a chosen lifestyle devoid of hardship? In this provocative new reading of the Gospel of Matthew, Robert J. Myles explores the disjuncture between Jesus and homelessness by exposing the political biases of modern Western readers. Drawing on the ideological politics of homelessness in contemporary society, Myles develops an interpretative lens informed by the Marxist critique of neoliberalism and, in particular, by the critical theory of Slavoj Žižek. Homelessness, from this perspective, is viewed not as an individual choice but rather as the by-product of wider economic, political and social forces. Myles argues that Jesus' homelessness has become largely romanticized in recent biblical scholarship. Is the flight to Egypt, for instance, important primarily for its recasting of Jesus as the new Moses, or should the basic narrative of forced displacement take centre stage? The remedy, Myles contends, is to read directly against the grain of contemporary scholarship by interpreting Jesus' homelessness through his wider economic, political and social context, as it is encoded in the biblical text. To demonstrate how ideology is complicit in shaping the interpretation of a homeless Jesus, a selection of texts from the Gospel of Matthew is re-read to amplify the destitution, desperation and constraints on agency that are integral to a critical understanding of homelessness. What emerges is a refreshed appreciation for the deviancy of Matthew's Jesus, in which his status as a displaced and expendable outsider is identified as contributing to the conflict and violence of the narrative, leading ultimately to his execution on the cross.
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Jesus and the People of God: Reconfiguring Ethnic Identity

Published: May 2013
£19.50£50.00
How did the Jesus movement —a messianic sectarian version of Palestinian Judaism —transcend its Judaean origins and ultimately establish itself in the Roman East as the multi-ethnic socio-religious experiment we know as early Christianity? In this major work, Hellerman, drawing upon his background as a social historian, proposes that a clue to the success of the Christian movement lay in Jesus' own conception of the people of God, and in how he reconfigured its identity from that of ethnos to that of family. Pointing first to Jesus' critique of sabbath-keeping, the Jerusalem temple, and Jewish dietary laws —practices central to the preservation of Judaean social identity —he argues that Jesus' intention was to destabilize the idea of God's people as a localized ethnos. In its place he conceived the social identity of the people of God as a surrogate family or kinship group, a social entity based not on common ancestry but on a shared commitment to his kingdom programme. Jesus of Nazareth thus functioned as a kind of ethnic entrepreneur, breaking down the boundaries of ethnic Judaism and providing an ideological foundation and symbolic framework for the wider expansion of the Jesus movement.
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Jesus and the People of God: Reconfiguring Ethnic Identity

£19.50£50.00
How did the Jesus movement —a messianic sectarian version of Palestinian Judaism —transcend its Judaean origins and ultimately establish itself in the Roman East as the multi-ethnic socio-religious experiment we know as early Christianity? In this major work, Hellerman, drawing upon his background as a social historian, proposes that a clue to the success of the Christian movement lay in Jesus' own conception of the people of God, and in how he reconfigured its identity from that of ethnos to that of family. Pointing first to Jesus' critique of sabbath-keeping, the Jerusalem temple, and Jewish dietary laws —practices central to the preservation of Judaean social identity —he argues that Jesus' intention was to destabilize the idea of God's people as a localized ethnos. In its place he conceived the social identity of the people of God as a surrogate family or kinship group, a social entity based not on common ancestry but on a shared commitment to his kingdom programme. Jesus of Nazareth thus functioned as a kind of ethnic entrepreneur, breaking down the boundaries of ethnic Judaism and providing an ideological foundation and symbolic framework for the wider expansion of the Jesus movement.
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Son of Man: An African Jesus Film

Published: Apr 2013
£50.00
The remarkable, award-winning film, Son of Man (2005), directed by the South African Mark Dornford-May, sets the Jesus story in a contemporary, fictional southern African Judea. While news broadcasts display the political struggles and troubles of this postcolonial country, moments of magical realism point to supernatural battles between Satan and Jesus as well. Jesus' Judean struggle with Satan begins with a haunting reprise of Matthew's 'slaughter of the innocents' and moves forward in a Steve Biko-like non-violent, community-building ministry, captured in graffiti and in the video footage that Judas takes to incriminate Jesus. Satan and the powers seemingly triumph when Jesus 'disappears', but then Mary creates a community that challenges such injustice by displaying her son's dead body upon a hillside cross. The film ends with shots of Jesus among the angels and everyday life in Khayelitsha (the primary shooting location), auguring hope of a new humanity (Genesis 1.26). This book's essays situate Son of Man in its African context, exploring the film's incorporation of local customs, music, rituals, and events as it constructs an imperial and postcolonial 'world'. The film is to be seen as an expression of postcolonial agency, as a call to constructive political action, as an interpretation of the Gospels, and as a reconfiguration of the Jesus film tradition. Finally, the essays call attention to their interested, ideological interpretations by using Son of Man to raise contemporary ethical, hermeneutical, and theological questions. As the film itself concisely asks on behalf of the children featured in it and their politically active mothers, 'Whose world is this'?
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Son of Man: An African Jesus Film

£50.00
The remarkable, award-winning film, Son of Man (2005), directed by the South African Mark Dornford-May, sets the Jesus story in a contemporary, fictional southern African Judea. While news broadcasts display the political struggles and troubles of this postcolonial country, moments of magical realism point to supernatural battles between Satan and Jesus as well. Jesus' Judean struggle with Satan begins with a haunting reprise of Matthew's 'slaughter of the innocents' and moves forward in a Steve Biko-like non-violent, community-building ministry, captured in graffiti and in the video footage that Judas takes to incriminate Jesus. Satan and the powers seemingly triumph when Jesus 'disappears', but then Mary creates a community that challenges such injustice by displaying her son's dead body upon a hillside cross. The film ends with shots of Jesus among the angels and everyday life in Khayelitsha (the primary shooting location), auguring hope of a new humanity (Genesis 1.26). This book's essays situate Son of Man in its African context, exploring the film's incorporation of local customs, music, rituals, and events as it constructs an imperial and postcolonial 'world'. The film is to be seen as an expression of postcolonial agency, as a call to constructive political action, as an interpretation of the Gospels, and as a reconfiguration of the Jesus film tradition. Finally, the essays call attention to their interested, ideological interpretations by using Son of Man to raise contemporary ethical, hermeneutical, and theological questions. As the film itself concisely asks on behalf of the children featured in it and their politically active mothers, 'Whose world is this'?
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Abject Bodies in the Gospel of Mark

Published: July 2012
£22.50£50.00
Basing himself on Judith Butler’s notion of gender, abjectness, vulnerability, and the precariousness of the human body, Manuel Villalobos offers a compelling study of a number of characters in Mark’s passion narrative whom he finds to be transgressing boundaries and disrupting their assigned gender roles. He then applies the same methodology to Jesus, queering the Markan passion narrative, and concludes that because it was subject to all kinds of physical abuses Jesus’ body is the way by which God becomes identified and fully implicated in the life of those who live at the margins of society. The whole book, exegetically rich and imaginative, is grounded on a hermeneutic which Villalobos terms Del otro lado / from the other side, because it celebrates the kind of ambiguity produced by gender, racial, cultural, and ethnic otherness, interweaving (often harrowing) tales of village life in Mexico with interpretations of specific Markan episodes. In so doing he hopes to initiate a dialogue between the Northern and the Southern hemispheres, a dialogue that crosses the boundaries that separate and exclude people because of economic and legal statuses and, specially, sexual orientation. The end product is a fresh and totally destabilizing reading that accomplishes the difficult task of bringing to the fore those voices neglected by the history of the interpretation of the text.
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Abject Bodies in the Gospel of Mark

£22.50£50.00
Basing himself on Judith Butler’s notion of gender, abjectness, vulnerability, and the precariousness of the human body, Manuel Villalobos offers a compelling study of a number of characters in Mark’s passion narrative whom he finds to be transgressing boundaries and disrupting their assigned gender roles. He then applies the same methodology to Jesus, queering the Markan passion narrative, and concludes that because it was subject to all kinds of physical abuses Jesus’ body is the way by which God becomes identified and fully implicated in the life of those who live at the margins of society. The whole book, exegetically rich and imaginative, is grounded on a hermeneutic which Villalobos terms Del otro lado / from the other side, because it celebrates the kind of ambiguity produced by gender, racial, cultural, and ethnic otherness, interweaving (often harrowing) tales of village life in Mexico with interpretations of specific Markan episodes. In so doing he hopes to initiate a dialogue between the Northern and the Southern hemispheres, a dialogue that crosses the boundaries that separate and exclude people because of economic and legal statuses and, specially, sexual orientation. The end product is a fresh and totally destabilizing reading that accomplishes the difficult task of bringing to the fore those voices neglected by the history of the interpretation of the text.
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