My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Render unto Caesar" is the beginning of a phrase attributed to Jesus in the synoptic gospels, which reads in full, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" [Matthew 22:21] - Wikipedia
This is an academic piece that looks to place this encounter within the greater cultural context of the first century Roman World. While I am not qualified to speak on the merits of the scholarship, I found the analysis presented in a clear and concise manner that allowed a layman to follow and understand it. As such, it greatly expanded my own understanding of what Jesus was really speaking about … although it does strike counter to some fundamentalist interpretations. To make his point, the author draws upon other areas of the Christian Bible as well as contemporary external sources to contrast the violent rule of Caesar/Man and non-violent rule of God that opposed it as a critique of acculturation by early christians; using Luke-Acts, Paul and Revelation to illustrate the struggle between “sanction” theology and “Sabbath” theology. This also opened up a new interpretation for me of another famous Jesus saying … “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
The book was divided into three (3) parts:
Part 1: Culture Rejected and Demonized (Revelation & God’s future punishment)
Part 2: Culture Accepted and Canonized (Luke & Josephus acceptance of the status quo)
Part 3: Culture Confronted and Criticized (non-violent critical opposition as the fourth way)
This is a book that I will need to come back to after thinking more on it. As such, I think it should be a welcome addition to the bookshelf of any reader interested in biblical scholarship and exegesis.
I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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