My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Review: Render Unto Caesar: The Struggle Over Christ and Culture in the New Testament

Render Unto Caesar: The Struggle Over Christ and Culture in the New Testament Render Unto Caesar: The Struggle Over Christ and Culture in the New Testament by John Dominic Crossan
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.

#RenderUntoCaesar #NetGalley.

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.