Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible through Palestinian Eyes
Jesus was a Middle Easterner. If he were to travel through Western countries today he would be 'randomly' pulled aside and scrutinized. For Mitri Raheb, a Palestinain 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, British, and the state of Isreal. Each empire 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.
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