Paul, Politics, and New Creation: Reconsidering Paul and Empire nuances Paul’s relationship with the Roman Empire. Using rhetorical, sociohistorical, and theological methods, Najeeb T. Haddad reevaluates claims of Paul’s anti-imperialism by situating him in his proper Hellenistic Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts.
Najeeb T. Haddad is assistant professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Notre Dame of Maryland University.
Chapter 1: A Counter-Imperial Paul? The State of the Question
Chapter 2: Figured Speech and Pauline Rhetoric
Chapter 3: Roman Imperialism and Foreign Cults
Chapter 4: Pauline Christ Assemblies considering Greco-Roman Associations
Chapter 5: Between the ΚΟΣΜΟΣ and ΚΑΙΝΗ ΚΤΙΣΙΣ
Najeeb T. Haddad offers a critique of the anti-imperial reading of the apostle Paul that all proponents of this approach will have to take into account. In particular, he is to be commended for bringing new sources and categories to the table. His focus on figured speech in relation to “hidden transcripts” adds a valuable emic perspective and will no doubt be extremely stimulating for future debates.
In this monograph that pursues an argument with close attention to Paul’s letters, Najeeb T. Haddad gives us a nuanced understanding of the relationship Paul sees between the church and the cosmos, which includes the Roman Empire. Haddad offers a carefully argued challenge to the popular portrait of the counter-imperial Paul. Paul, Politics, and New Creation is therefore a must-read for all students of Paul’s letters and those studying first century Christianity.
On the basis of extensive research and careful analysis, Najeeb T. Haddad presents a much-needed assessment of the “Paul and Empire” trend in Pauline studies today. Using rhetorical, sociopolitical, and theological readings of Paul’s letters, he argues for a more nuanced understanding of Paul’s relation to civic authority in the first century. In assessing this relation, Haddad shows the need for increased attention to Paul’s eschatological and soteriological perspectives. The result is a significant contribution to Paul and Empire studies.
Haddad provides a great service to the New Testament Guild by pointing out that the alleged hidden transcripts and coded speech in Paul’s letters supposedly subverting the Roman Empire lack any of the markers for such figured speech that are prescribed by ancient rhetoricians. Haddad demonstrates that rather than engaging in clandestine political subversion to undermine the empire, Paul viewed the imperial authority as divinely ordained but belonging to this present age, which is perishing. Haddad then convincingly shows that Paul viewed the empire not in need of subversion but in need of conversion to the inclusive gospel of Jesus Christ. He thus liberates Paul’s thought and ministry from the confines of a politician to the all-inclusive hopes and dreams of a preacher and theologian inviting and welcoming all, including the empire, into a new creation in Christ. This book is a most significant contribution to Pauline theology and should be read not only by everyone interested in Paul and politics but also by every student and interpreter of Paul.
Haddad presents a satisfying account of how Paul’s theological vision works within the Roman imperial context, and his criticisms of a counterimperial interpretation of Paul, especially that having to do with how figured speech functioned in ancient rhetoric, must be taken seriously…. [A] substantive contribution to this ongoing discussion.
Haddad’s volume makes an important contribution to Pauline studies and would make a fine textbook for a course on Paul, or on politics and the Bible. Any scholar interested in this topic will have to contend with Haddad’s volume, which is erudite, and yet any graduate student would find the book sufficiently engaging and accessible.