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The Political Aims of Jesus
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The Political Aims of Jesus


Fortress Press 2012

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


Amid competing portrayals of the “cynic Jesus,” the “peasant Jesus,” and the “apocalyptic Jesus,” the “political Jesus” remains a marginal figure. Douglas E. Oakman argues that advances in our social-scientific understanding of the political economy of Roman Galilee, as well as advances in the so-called “Third Quest” for the historical Jesus, warrant a revival—and a critical revision—of H. S. Reimarus’ understanding of Jesus as an instigator of revolutionary change.

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Key Features

  • Focuses on the attitude of Jesus towards first-century power and politics
  • Approaches the historical Jesus within a wider contextual frame than previous discussions
  • Explores what happened to the aims of Jesus after his death and resurrection


  • Strands of the Previous Discussion
  • The Present Moment in Historical Jesus Scholarship
  • Method in the Quest for Jesus’ Political Aims
  • Conceptualizing Roman Imperial Patronage Politics
    • First-Century Politics and the Social Sciences
    • The Shape of Agrarian Power
    • The Politics of Peasantry
  • Power and Imperium
    • The Political Setting of Roman Palestine
    • Political Characteristics of Galilee under Herod Antipas
    • Jesus of Nazareth, Peasant Artisan in Galilee
    • Jesus as Peasant Theologian and Broker of the Kingdom of God
  • The Tables and the Table
    • Patronage Politics and Jesus’ Subversive Praxis
    • Mammon and the Tables
    • Passover and the Table
    • Eating with Tax Collectors and “Sinners”
    • Taxes, Debts, and the Prayer of Jesus
    • Crucifixion as a Lēstēs
  • Worldly Power and Cosmic Powers
    • From Agrarian Galilee to Urban Artisans and Freedmen
    • Jesus’ Aims and the First Level of Interpretation
    • Jesus’ Aims and the Second Level of Interpretation
    • The Depoliticizing of Jesus
    • Jesus Christ, the Broker of Divine Power
  • Revising Reimarus
  • Concluding Postscientific Postscript: The “Fifth Force” and Jesus’ Politics Today

Praise for the Print Edition

Douglas Oakman is a demonstrated leader in the analysis of the economics, politics, and social conflicts of first-century Palestine. In this new work he pushes his political analysis even further, providing us with not only a fresh take on Jesus, but a fundamentally important one if one is to take seriously that Jesus was speaking (and acting) in ways that addressed the deepest concerns of his fellow Galileans and Judeans.

K. C. Hanson, editor in chief, Wipf and Stock

Jesus the tax resister? An advocate of debt release—who allowed debtors to seize goods for subsistence? . . . Oakman challenges to the core the conveniently apolitical Jesus so tirelessly constructed and defended by Western interpreters.

Richard Rohrbaugh, Emeritus Paul S. Wright Professor of Religious Studies, Lewis and Clark College

Product Details

  • Title: The Political Aims of Jesus
  • Author: Douglas E. Oakman
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Pages: 200

About Douglas E. Oakman

Douglas E. Oakman is professor of religion at Pacific Lutheran University and the author of Jesus and the Economic Questions of His Day and, with K. C. Hanson, Palestine in the Time of Jesus.

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