Review: The Message and the Kingdom

Review: The Message and the Kingdom

In The Message and the Kingdom, historians Richard Horsley and Neil Silberman "attempt to reconstruct the social history of early Christianity from a wide variety of newly available evidence drawn from recent studies of ancient Roman culture and from archaeological discoveries throughout the Mediterranean world" (chapter 1). Their argument, in summary is:1. The Roman Empire was an oppressive presence for the majority of the population in the first century Mediterranean world, maintaining an elite in a state of luxury and power by imposing heavy financial burdens on an impoverished peasantry. Rome was creating a new political and economic order in which the emperor was depicted as Saviour of the world, local subsistence economies were transformed to extract surpluses for local political elites and Rome, and dissent was crushed with ruthless violence;