John Dominic Crossan


John Dominic Crossan (born February 17, 1934) is an Irish-American New Testament scholar, historian of early Christianity, and former Catholic priest who has produced both scholarly and popular works. His research has focused on the historical Jesus, on the anthropology of the Ancient Mediterranean and New Testament worlds and on the application of postmodern hermeneutical approaches to the Bible. From Wikipedia

I have appended his own statement about his understanding of Jesus and the Roman Empire. Crossan’s thought was my first encounter with Kingdom versus Empire that developed into the second half of what I have recorded on this blog.

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University Congregational UCC  Oct 18, 2009   16:56
Is the God of the Christian Bible Violent?

1 All Saints Pasadena Oct 8, 2010  1:45:01
Radically Faithful: Christianity, Empire, Inequality

2 All Saints Oct 9, 2010  1:32:15 (with Joerg Rieger)

3 All Saints  Oct 10 2010  1:24:59  9 a.m.

1 Faith Reason  Jan 8, 2011  14:52
“The Birth of Christ”

2 Faith Reason  Feb 2, 2011  14:58

3 Faith Reason  Feb 2, 2011  14:58

Faith Reason  Feb 12, 2011    11:19
Jesus – The Last Week

Faith Reason  Feb 27, 2011    14:42
Jesus Scholars Borg and Crossan (Q & A)

Faith ReasonFeb 26, 2011 11:19
Jesus and Caesar”

Faith Reason  Feb 26, 2011    14:24
Jesus & Empire

Faith Reason  Mar 18, 2011   47:13

Faith Reason  Aug 4,, 2011   51:03
“Jesus the Parable of God”

Metropolitan United Church, Ontario Nov 2011 10:48
Sermon: Justice as Love Part 1

Sermon: Justice as Love Part 2  Nov 2011  11:34

1 UCC Central Atlantic  June 8,2012   29:45

2 UCC Central Atlantic  June 8, 2012   28:03

UNI lecture on the historical Jesus Dec 3 2012 1:17:28

Religious Studies  Dec 30, 2012   44:48
“The Birth of Jesus”

Religious Studies  April 20, 2013   14:16
“The World of Jesus”

Religious Studies  April 21, 2013   1:02:27
“The Search for the Historical Paul “

Religious Studies Apr 22, 2013    11:58
“The First Christmas” – Borg and Crossan

All Saints Episcopal Pasadena I  Jul 2013 1:45:01
Radically Faithful: Passionate Xty Confronting Empire & Savage Inequality

All Saints Episcopal Pasadena II  Jul 2013  1:25:00
Radically Faithful: Passionate Xty Confronting Empire & Savage Inequality

All Saints Episcopal Pasadena III Jul 2013 1:32:16
Radically Faithful: Passionate Xty Confronting Empire & Savage Inequality

Thomistic Theist Oct 12 2013  51:59
Jesus Debate Crossan, Wright, Barnstone

ChurchNext Dec 16, 2013   54:16

Religious Studies  Dec 11, 2013   1:04:33
“The Historical Jesus”

1 Religious Studies  April 18, 2014   51:02
“The Power of Parable”

2  “Jesus – The Last Week” April 18, 2014 26:10

3 “Who Was Jesus” April 19, 2014   50:48

Dialogue Historicity of Life of Jesus in Gospels Apr 2014  2:56:23
with Shabir Ally

College of Central Florida  Feb 2015  1:29:06

Search for the Historical Paul  June 2017 1:31:47

UNI Lecture on Historical Jesus June 2017   1:49:58

Jesus the Power of Parable June 2017   1:11:28

New Reflections on Gospel Traditions: John and Thomas
with Elaine Pagels

The Resurrection Debate  June 2017  3:18:48
with Borg vs White & Renihan

Jesus the Last Week  June 2017  37:40
with Marcus Borg

Who Was Jesus Crossan and Wright June 2017  1:11:11

How to Read the Bible and Still be Christian  Aug 2017  1:30:46

The Historical Jesus Sept 2017  44:10

Search for the Historical Paul  Sept 2017  1:44:27

Jesus: the Parable of God   Sept 2017   1:27:02

Jesus the Power of Parable Sept 2017   26:16

Published on Apr 20, 2013  by  John Dominic Crossan

I have always thought of the historical Jesus as a homeland Jew within Judaism within the Roman Empire. I have always thought of the historical Paul as a diaspora Jew within Judaism within the Roman Empire. For me, then, within Judaism within the Roman Empire has always been the absolutely necessary matrix rather than the annoyingly unnecessary background for any discussion of earliest Christianity.

You can see that three-layer matrix, for example, in the sub-titles to the first and last books above. For the historical Jesus, The Life of a Mediterranean Peasant, emphasizes Rome, Judaism, and Jew. For the historical Paul, How Jesus’s Apostle opposed Rome’s Empire with God’s Kingdom, emphasizes Jew, Rome, and Judaism. Whether you start or end with the Roman Empire, the Roman Empire is always there.

First, Jesus opposes the Kingdom of God to the kingdoms of “this world.” What “this world” means will be discussed throughout this book but especially in Chapter 1 whose title, “Empire and the Barbarism of Civilization,” is my own translation for the “this world” of Jesus.

Second, Jesus is condemned to death by Roman Pilate, in Roman Judea, in the eastern reaches of the Roman Empire. But he never mentions Rome as such and he never addresses Pilate by name. He opposes something incarnated in but also far greater than Rome or any other empire.

Third, had Jesus stopped after saying that “my kingdom is not of this world,” as we so often do in quoting him, that “of” would be utterly ambiguous. “Not of this world” could mean: never on earth, but always in heaven; not now in present time, but off in imminent or distant future; not a matter of the exterior world, but of the interior life alone. Jesus spoiled all those possible misinterpretations by continuing with this: “if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered” up to execution. Your soldiers hold me, Pilate, but my companions will not attack you even to save me from death. Your Roman Empire, Pilate, is based on the injustice of violence, but my divine kingdom is based on the justice of non-violence.

Fourth, the crucial difference—and the only one mentioned—between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Rome is Jesus’s non-violence and Pilate’s violence. But, to return to my first point, the violence of Roman imperialism was but an incarnation at that first-century time and in that Mediterranean place of “this world,” that is, of the violent normalcy of civilization itself.

Fifth, the most important interpreter of Jesus in the entire New Testament is Pilate. He clearly recognized the difference between Barabbas and Jesus. Barabbas was a violent revolutionary so, as Mark 15:7 put it, ” Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection.” Pilate arrested him along with those of his followers he could capture. But Jesus was a non-violent revolutionary so Pilate made no attempt to round up his companions. Both Barabbas and Jesus opposed Roman injustice in the Jewish homeland but Pilate knew exactly and correctly how to calibrate their divergent oppositions.

Sixth, Jesus’s response to Pilate did not represent a speaking of truth to power. It was one powerful truth confronting another. It was the powerful truth of non-violent justice confronting the powerful truth of violent injustice.

I emphasize that contrast between Pilate’s Kingdom of Rome as violent repression and Jesus’s Kingdom of God as non-violent resistance because that juxtaposition is the heart of this present book. It is an attempt to rethink God, the Bible, and empire, Jesus, Christianity, and Rome. Jesus could have told Pilate that Rome’s rule was unjust and God’s rule was just. That would have been true but it would have avoided the issue of whether God’s just rule was to be established by human and/or divine violence. So beneath the problem of empire is the problem of justice but beneath the problem of justice is the problem of violence

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