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The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder

The Politics of Jesus (1972)

by John Howard Yoder

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"The teachings and ministry of Jesus, the author of this new study of Christian
social ethics believe, represent a coherent and relevant approach to the
fundamental issues of Christian behavior in the world...he pursues the
application of the stance of Jesus in the life of the Apostolic community,
giving particular attention to the thought of the Apostle Paul." - back cover
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  collectionmcc | Mar 6, 2018 |
If there were 30 stars to give I would. This book made me do an about face, a metanoia, as a Christian, and the freedom to be. ( )
  stcloudlibrary | Jun 10, 2016 |
I will never read the Gospels in the same way after reading this book. I also appreciate how he shows this works into Paul's writings as well. Hopefully, one day I'll get to do a class on this book. ( )
  aevaughn | Oct 30, 2014 |
If you've followed my blog (http://stephenbarkley.com), you'll know that I've summarized and reflected on each of the 12 chapters that make up The Politics of Jesus. Since all the details have been covered, I'll offer a few final thoughts here.

The Politics of Jesus was a landmark book. It was first published in 1972 in a world that didn't take the ethical-social stance of Jesus seriously. In this right-place-at-the-right-time book, Yoder defended his belief that Jesus' teaching has direct ethical implications today. The book was updated with additional material in 1994 to review the theological and sociological landscape since the first printing.

The book is 40 year old, and it shows its age. We miss the revolutionary impact today that it had in the 1970s because the main battle has been won. Yoder's passionate defense of Jesus' ethical-social relevance feels almost quaint in an age where that point has become a given. It's akin to hearing arguments for the importance of wearing seat-belts. The war's over.

Even though the main point's commonplace now, the book is still worth reading for the wide variety of angles Yoder takes to support his thesis. When I read Hauerwas I'm amazed at the seemingly random conversion of stand-alone essays into chapters. Now I know where he got that style from! In one chapter, Yoder's summarizing evidence for political relevance of Jesus throughout the Gospel of Luke. A few chapters later, he's delving into the Stoic antecedents for the Haustafeln. This style might excite or terrify you, depending on how your brain's wired.

I have to admit that Yoder stretches the exegetical evidence at times to strengthen his case. In the end, though, we're left with a groundbreaking study on the political relevance of the Messiah. ( )
  StephenBarkley | May 1, 2012 |
One of the great books. John Howard Yoder considers the ethic of Jesus in terms of his claims about the values of the Kingdom, of poverty, nonviolence, of mutual grace; he scrutinises power and how we use it (or, more often, misuse it); and he places the witness of the gospel in the deep line of prophetic inspiration from the Hebrew Scriptures. It is far more than simply an exegesis of the injunction to love our enemies, but, as such, it is an intelligent and measured plea for peace. It reminds me a lot of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's 'Cost of Discipleship', which, in a similar way, explores the Beatitudes as a basis for profound metanoia and the radical reordering of our lives towards justice. If a few more people actually lived this way, possibly religious commitment would seem plausible to the kind of world we live in. ( )
  readawayjay | Feb 11, 2011 |
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Tradition has painted a portrait of a Savior aloof from governmental concerns and whose teachings point to an apolitical life for his disciples. How, then, are we to respond today to a world so thoroughly entrenched in national and international affairs? But such a picture of Jesus is far from accurate, argues John Howard Yoder. Using the texts of the New Testament, Yoder critically examines the traditional portrait of Jesus as an apolitical figure and attempts to clarify the true impact of Jesus' life, work, and teachings on his disciples' social behavior. The book first surveys the multiple ways the image of an apolitical Jesus has been propagated, then canvasses the Gospel narrative to reveal how Jesus is rightly portrayed as a thinker and leader immediately concerned with the agenda of politics and the related issues of power, status, and right relations. Selected passages from the epistles corroborate a Savior deeply concerned with social, political, and moral issues. In this thorough revision of his acclaimed 1972 text, Yoder provides updated interaction with publications touching on this subject. Following most of the chapters are new "epilogues" that summarize research conducted during the last two decades -- research that continues to support the insights set forth in Yoder's original work. Currently a standard in many college and seminary ethics courses, The Politics of Jesus is also an excellent resource for the general reader desiring to understand Christ's response to the world of politics and his will for those who would follow him.… (more)

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