Jesus was a Middle Easterner. If he were to travel through Western countries today he would be “randomly” pulled aside and scrutinised. For Mitri Raheb, a Palestinian Christian living under Israeli occupation, the Middle Eastern context of the biblical story is crucial to its understanding and its relevance to his people today. A Palestinian reading of the Bible begins with an awareness of the role of empire—a constant feature of Palestine for thousands of years, from the Babylonians and Egyptians, to the Romans, Ottomans, the British, and the state of Israel. Each empire, up to the present, imposed its own system of control, undergirded by an imperial theology. For “the people of the land,” those who endure from one empire to the next, the question, “Where is God?” carries practical and theological urgency. For Raheb, faith in God is the hope that there is something greater than empire. Jesus embodied that hope, and so Raheb spells out Jesus’ political program in relation to the Roman Empire of his time, its relevance for his community, and the biblical values relevant for the Middle East, past and present. He ends, hopefully, by representing a future vision for the Middle East.
“Both an accessible introduction to the subject and an eloquent reminder for those more familiar with the subject this book deserves
a wide audience.”
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Mitri Raheb is the President of Dar al-Kalima University College in Bethlehem as well as president of the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. He serves as the Senior Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Palestine. He is the author of several books, including I am a Palestinian Christian and Bethlehem Besieged.
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