I am very excited to announce the release of Warren Carter's John and Empire: Initial Explorations! This comprehensive and thorough volume on the interrelation of the Johannine community and the SPQR is a wonderful and novel contribution to the field. I had the opportunity to hear Professor Carter give a sneak preview of his book at SWCRS earlier this year and I was unduly impressed with his cohesive rethinking on the matter. It's certainly an impressive follow-up to his earlier book with us, Matthew and Empire: Initial Explorations.
For our international readers, John and Empire will be the subject of a panel at the International Society of Biblical Literature conference in Auckland, New Zealand next month. The book will be available in the UK in July.
Professor Carter has graciously offered some words for our Author's Circle:
In this book, John and Empire: Initial Explorations, I explore John's Gospel as a work of imperial negotiation in the context of Ephesus, capital of the Roman province of Asia. I do not claim John was written in or necessarily for Ephesian Jesus-believers, but, if the traditions linking the Gospel and the city have any historical veracity, the Gospel was at least read/heard there. Hence I investigate likely interactions or intertextualities - as Julia Kristeva identifies them - between the Gospel and the imperial realities that pervaded the city.
This approach to John is a significant departure from the two standard approaches that dominate much contemporary discussion of the Gospel. Conventionally the Gospel is understood either in very individualistic and spiritualized terms for contemporary believers in Jesus, or is understood as a product of a bitter sectarian dispute with and separation from a synagogue community in the 80s-90s of the first century CE. I argue that both approaches are severely flawed, the first ignoring communal and material dimensions of the gospel, the second using a model that is difficult to sustain, particularly in its positing of a synagogue community as isolated from its larger societal context.