Jesus and His Enemies
By: Robert R. Beck
"Robert Beck, a leading practitioner of socio-literary analysis, has given us another important reading of our stories of Jesus through the lens of nonviolent conflict resolution. I further recommend this book as a general introduction to the four gospels in their unity and diversity that is relevant to seminary, sanctuary, and streets." --Ched Myers, author, Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark's Story of Jesus
"Robert Beck skillfully and engagingly walks readers through the fruits of a generation's work on reading the Gospels as narratives rather than collections of sayings. The result is a wonderful introduction to discovering how to hear the Jesus stories as they were meant to be heard in their original social worlds." --Wes Howard-Brook, author, "Come Out My People!" God's Call Out of Empire in the Bible and Beyond
"Viewing the gospels as varied ways of nonviolence but also as active response to conflict opens up a creative and interesting way of reading the four in today's violent world." --The Bible Today
" I recommend this book for students and teachers of the New Testament. It is a vibrant study of the gospels as stories with underappreciated dramatic qualities, and as narrative theological resources to address the perennial challenges posed by conflict: a promising alternative to the more familiar 'proof texting' which furnishes traditional debates about Christian attitudes to violence." - Jonathan Birch, Modern Believing
In narrative analysis, the message expressed in each of the four gospels is conveyed not just through Jesuss teachings or particular stories but through the overall narrative itself ”particularly through the introduction and resolution of conflict. Through dramatic narrative the evangelists show Christians how they are to act in situations of conflict without abandoning the demands of love.
As Robert Beck reflects, This is the real test of the command to love one another, which finds its most exacting demand when we are in firm opposition. The Gospels have much to say about this, though the answers are found in a place we seldom look: in the qualities of dramatic narrative itself. Jesus and His Enemies offers a fresh contribution to biblical teaching on violence, ethics, and the Christian pursuit of peace.
Robert R. Beck is a Catholic priest and professor emeritus of religious studies at Loras College in Dubuque, IA.