#14 - The Irony of Power: The Politics of God within Matthew's Narrative
This volume engages the Gospel of Matthew in full awareness of its inherently political character. Weaver situates Matthew's version of the "good news of the kingdom" squarely within the "real world" of first-century Palestine and its occupying power, the Roman Empire.
The essays here focus prominently and collectively on the issues of power and violence that not only pervade the historically occupied Jewish community of first-century Palestine, but also are clearly visible throughout Matthew's narrative account. A "lower-level" reading of the Matthean text offers a bleak portrait of the overwhelming power and violence exerted by the Roman occupying authorities and their upper-echelon Jewish collaborators against the wider Jewish community of first-century Palestine. But an "upper-level"/"God's-eye" reading of Matthew's narrative consistently reveals the fundamental irony at the heart of the New Testament as a whole, of the Jesus story broadly conceived, and of Matthew's narrative account in specific.
This irony overturns all humanly recognized definitions of "power" and demonstrates the astonishing "politics of God," which defeats evident power through apparent powerlessness and overcomes violence through nonviolent initiatives.
"This is committed scholarship of high quality. Shaped by her Mennonite identity and experiences in the Middle East, Dorothy Jean Weaver reads Matthew's Gospel as a complex text of politics and ironic power. Perspectives from above, from below, and 'God's eye' produce rich analyses of considerable insight." --Warren Carter, Brite Divinity School at TCU Fort Worth
"For over thirty years, Dorothy Jean Weaver has been prominent among a handful of scholars who read the Gospel of Matthew as a socially and politically engaged story about Jesus. Matthew's narrative is first and foremost a story about power--who has it, what they do with it, and what happens as a result. Weaver was perhaps the first to recognize the extent to which this story turns on irony, revealing the ultimate futility of coercive power and the triumph of vulnerable powerlessness. The present volume collects and synthesizes her work in this area in a manner that will make it accessible to a broader and more general audience. It is a book that could transform Matthean studies and/or Matthean students. Anyone who teaches or preaches on Matthew will want to become acquainted with this humble but powerful volume." --Mark Allan Powell, Professor of New Testament, Trinity Lutheran Seminary Columbus, Ohio
"Weaver's Irony of Power richly exegetes Matthew's Gospel, in dialogue with the contemporary Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The 'Irony' perspective, 'the view from above' vis a vis 'the view from below,' shines new light on resistance/nonresistance to evil and suffering violence for Jesus' kingdom path through cross and resurrection." --Willard Swartley, author of Covenant of Peace and John