This book, 'Victory over Violence', deals with "political theology" - as it developed within Palestinian Judaism between 334 B.C. and the time of Christ, and as it is being advocated now by radical theologians and groups within the Christian community. The book is, therefore, not simply an academic discussion of a bygone era. It is an attempt to bridge the gap between New Testament theology and contemporary Christian social ethics. Hengel clearly intends to speak to the contemporary situation, which forces Christians to debate the possible use of violence in revolution. He is appalled that those who advocate a "theology of revolution" pay so little attention to the political situation of Jesus and primitive Christianity. According to Hengel's interpretation, the position of Jesus and the early Christians on the question of violence was radically different from that of the Zealots: Jesus was the model of nonviolence who demanded of his followers that they renounce violence and love their enemies. Further, since the situation today is similar to the situation in Jesus' time, Hengel argues that the Christian response should be similar too.
'Was Jesus a Revolutionist?'
Jesus has often been portrayed as a forerunner of modern revolutionary movements. Martin Hengel believes that this judgment must be scrutinized carefully to determine if revolutionists are reading their own views back into Jesus. The author considers the political background at the time of Jesus, especially the Zealot movement, then looks at key passages in the Gospels that seem to support the revolutionist label. This study shows that Jesus' ethical system was revolutionary, but his political actions were not. Students of politics and religion will want to read Hengel's comments on Jewish movements, depth psychology, and today's theology of revolution.
Martin Hengel, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism for the University of Tuebingen, Germany. He is the author of many books including 'Acts and the History of Earliest Christianity', 'Between Jesus and Paul, Judaism and Hellenism', 'Studies in the Gospel of Mark' and 'The Hellenization of Judea in the First Century After Christ'. Dr. Hengel's most recent books include 'Paul Between Damascus and Antioch' (together with Anna Maria Schwemer) and 'The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ'.