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Jesus and the Powers: Conflict, Covenant, and the Hope for the Poor
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Jesus and the Powers: Conflict, Covenant, and the Hope for the Poor


Fortress Press 2011

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


Refusing a false dichotomy between “politics” and “religion” in Jesus’ world (and our own), Jesus and the Powers rediscovers Jesus’ response to the imperial power of his day. Richard A. Horsley describes the relevance of political realities under great empires for understanding the rise of covenantal theology and apocalyptic vision in Israel’s history. Then he explores aspects of Jesus’ activity in the context of the Roman Empire. Horsley examines Jesus as an exorcist and prophetic figure and the character of his death by crucifixion. He also shows how the community life in the early Pauline assemblies gave form to a new response to imperial powers—and stimulus to contemporary readers to re-imagine their own response to political realities in our own day.

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Key Features

  • Examines the conflict between Jesus and the priestly/political powers in the Gospels
  • Views Jesus as not only a religious figure but as a political figure as well
  • Seeks to understand the worldview, assumptions, and culture of the ancient historical context, rather than to impose modern Western assumptions and worldview


  • Introduction: “You Shall Not Bow down and Serve Them”
  • The Powers of Empire
  • Israel’s Covenant and Prophetic Protest
  • Heavenly Powers and People Power
  • The Power of Hope
  • Jesus and the Struggle for Power
  • The Collective Power of Covenant Community
  • Speaking Truth to Power
  • The Power of the Crucifixion
  • Conclusion: Jesus and the Struggle with the Powers

Praise for the Print Edition

Horsley brings together the theme of the restoration of the people of God with the transformation of the Powers in an illuminating and accessible style. The implications of the teaching and acts of Jesus for our own time blaze a trail in this brilliant and thought–provoking book.

Walter Wink, emeritus professor of biblical interpretation, Auburn Theological Seminary

In Jesus and the Powers, Richard Horsley synthesizes a broad array of insights into the polyvalent character of ‘power’ in ancient cultures and brings this synthesis to bear on a provocative description of the message, activities, and impact of Jesus. Horsley takes seriously not only the context in which Jesus lived, called for renewal, and died but also the sustained narrative presentations of the Gospels as the basis for an account of Jesus’ life and significance. Especially stimulating is Horsley’s account of the crucifixion as the decisive moment of empowerment for the continuation and growth of the early Jesus movements.

Daniel A. Smith, associate professor of New Testament theology, Huron University College

Product Details

  • Title: Jesus and the Powers: Conflict, Covenant, and the Hope for the Poor
  • Author: Richard Horsley
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress
  • Publication Date: 2010
  • Pages: 256

About Richard A. Horsley

Richard A. Horsley is distinguished professor of liberal arts and the study of religion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author of The Message and the Kingdom, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, and Jesus and the Empire.