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Robert Jewett (1933–2020)

Author of Romans : a commentary

24+ Works 806 Members 2 Reviews

About the Author

Robert Jewett is guest professor of New Testament at the University of Heidelberg and professor of New Testament interpretation emeritus at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He is the author of numerous books, both scholarly and popular, in New Testament studies and American religious and show more cultural history, including Romans (Hermeneia; Fortress, 2008); Mission and Menace: Four Centuries of American Religious Zeal (Fortress, 2008); The Thessalonian Correspondence (Foundations and Facets; Fortress, 1986); Paul the Apostle to America: Cultural Trends and Pauline Scholarship (1994); Saint Paul at the Movies: The Apostles Dialogue with American Culture (1993); and Saint Paul Returns to the Movies: Triumph Over Shame (1998). show less

Includes the name: Robert B. Jewett

Works by Robert Jewett

Romans : a commentary (2007) 133 copies
Romans (1988) 87 copies
A chronology of Paul's life (1979) 37 copies
Celebrating Romans: Template for Pauline Theology (2004) — Honoree — 33 copies
Paul Apostle to America (1994) 30 copies
Semeia 30: Christology and Exegesis: New Approaches (1984) — Editor; Contributor — 20 copies

Associated Works

The Cambridge Companion to St. Paul (2003) — Contributor — 215 copies
Religion and Popular Culture in America (2000) — Contributor — 72 copies
The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology (2007) — Contributor — 68 copies
Paul in the Greco-Roman World: A Handbook (2003) — Contributor — 41 copies
The Bible and the American future (2010) — Contributor — 9 copies
Sunstone - Vol. 7:5, September/October 1982 (1982) — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge



I am reviewing the second revised 1984 edition of this book. The first edition was 1973. A much updated version of Jewett's theory - which develops the superhero motif and also takes into account the 'war on terror' was published in 2002 in conjunction with John Shelton Lawrence with the modified tile of 'Captain America and the Crusade against Evil'. The subtitle 'The Dilemma of Religious Nationalism' remains.

Jewett’s thesis is relatively simply stated. Much American politics and rhetoric has swallowed the myth of being the 'New Israel' that is 'Righteous' and has the selfless duty of civilizing the world. The roots of this are to be found in the Puritan theology of the settlers, which itself is founded in a particular reading of the Old Testament, and especially its Deuteronomic strands.

As this ideology states that the righteous nation will have victory through conquest of evil, then military force becomes not just a sad pragmatic and necessity but a patriotic duty. The image of the superhero perpetuates culturally and in a secularised sense the myth of redemption through violence.

Further, because righteousness guarantees victory, defeat cannot be entertained even in distant conflicts - Jewett initially wrote very shortly after the Vietnam War – as that would be a ‘psychic threat’ to national identity.

The solution, for Jewett, is to reject the ‘idolatrous’ identification of righteousness with the American way, and read more closely the ‘prophetic realism’ of Amos and Isaiah et. al. which shows that sin and evil are not simply extrinsic to the nation.

Jewett’s thesis is quite compelling, and it was quite sobering to come to realise as I read it that it translates quite easily into the conflicts with various terrorist groups and middle eastern regimes of the past decade (as I read Jewett I was not aware of the 2002 update – which retains many of the chapter headings of the 1984 version). The self belief and sense of righteousness of our former Prime Minister would probably fall within the sphere of Jewett’s criticism also.

Where I part company somewhat with Jewett is in his rather un-nuanced reading of the Deuteronomistic author. Jewett himself points out some contradictory aspects of the Deuteronomistic history – he pick particularly on the death of Josiah in battle – which to me suggests that the narrative as we have it has more subtlety than Jewett gives it credit for.

That aside, however, the book raises many important questions which remain very current. While it may be better to read the 2002 collaboration with Lawrence, this edition has the merit of being almost half the length.
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TonyMilner | Dec 4, 2010 |
An interesting take on American popular culture and society, this book takes Joseph Campbell's monomyth as its starting point and tries to construct an American monomyth - an archetypal story that is a backdrop to all the different heroes in America's popular imagination. The authors cover a wide range of material, from comic books to video games and Hollywood blockbusters. And the picture that emerges is in stark contrast with a popular self-image that America has of itself - the American monomyth has nothing to do with democratic ideals of the nation.… (more)
nuwanda | Sep 30, 2008 |


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