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Jesus and Utopia: Looking for the Kingdom of God in the Roman World
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Jesus and Utopia: Looking for the Kingdom of God in the Roman World


Fortress Press 2006

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


Scholarship on the historical Jesus and, now, on the “Jesus movement” generally divides into separate camps around two sticky questions: was Jesus an apocalyptic prophet and was the movement around him political, that is, nationalistic or revolutionary?

Mary Ann Beavis moves the study of the historical Jesus in a dramatic new direction as she highlights the context of ancient utopian thought and utopian communities, drawing particularly on the Essene community and Philo’s discussion of the Therapeutae, and argues that only ancient utopian thought accounts for the lack of explicit political echoes in Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God. The resulting portrait of Jesus, and of the basileia movement in which he participated, demonstrates that Jesus and his circle shared in the utopian impulses of their age.

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Key Features

  • Compares and contrasts the kingdom of God in the teaching of Jesus and the of ancient utopian literature
  • Examines the myth of Eden and its biblical and early Jewish developments
  • Explores ancient utopian thought and utopian communities


  • Introduction: Ancient Utopias, Jesus, and the Kingdom of God
  • Ancient, Classical, and Hellenistic Utopias
  • Biblical Utopias: From Eden to the Kingdom of God
  • Ideal Communities in Early Judaism: Essenes, Therapeutai, Havurah
  • Jesus and the Kingdom of God in Biblical Scholarship
  • Jesus’ Preaching of the Kingdom of God in Utopian Context
  • Conclusion: From Basileia to Ekklēsia

Praise for the Print Edition

Mary Ann Beavis locates Jesus’ teaching about the basileia of God in a richly drawn landscape of ancient utopian movements—illuminating indeed!

Stephen J. Patterson, professor of New Testament, Eden Theological Seminary

Product Details

  • Title: Jesus and Utopia: Looking for the Kingdom of God in the Roman World
  • Author: Mary Ann Beavis
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Pages: 184

About Mary Ann Beavis

Mary Ann Beavis is an associate professor of religious studies at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, and author of several books and articles in the fields of New Testament studies and urban studies. She was founding editor of The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture and The Canadian Journal of Urban Research.