Faith in the Face of Empire

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"Both an accessible introduction to the subject and an eloquent reminder for those more familiar with the subject this book deserves a wide audience."--Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"VERDICT Raheb's voice is important and should be heard by decision makers in our country and abroad; this book would be fruitful reading for congregational groups." --Library Journal

Through Palestinian eyes, a challenging view of how the reality of empire shapes the context of the biblical story and the ongoing experience of Middle East conflict.

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.

"To understand the Israeli/Palestinian conflict requires those on both sides be considered with respect.  Mitri Raheb's book gives an impassioned, thoughtful and well written expression on the hurts and hopes of a Palestinian Christian.  While you may not agree with everything in his appraisal of the issues and history of this conflict, what he has to tell us deserves serious consideration." --Tony Campolo, Professor Emeritus, Eastern University

"Provocative and compelling.  It will make believers and non-believers alike question their deeply held assumptions about the historical Jesus and what being a Christian means." --Salim Tamari, Institute for Palestine Studies

Mitri Raheb is the President of Dar al-Kalima University College in Bethlehem as well as the president of the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. He serves as the Senior Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Palestine. In 2015 he was awarded the Olof Palme Prize, along with Israeli journalist Gideon Levy. He is the author of several books, including I Am a Palestinian Christian and Bethlehem Besieged.

Book Details

Faith in the Face of Empire
The Bible through Palestinian Eyes
Mitri Raheb

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The significant strength of this volume lies in the incisive analysis with which Raheb assesses the role of the Middle East and in the clarity with which he frames a profoundly hope-filled theology that responds to the challenging circumstances faced by the current Palestinian people. The volume is not only 'politically relevant and theologically creative' but also '[genuinely] Palestinian' in its formulation. Here is contextual theology of the first order.
I am grateful for this book, which offers an alternative to the violence, warfare, and exile that has marked the land sometimes called “holy.”
To those interested in the Middle East, especially the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, this book is an eye opener and worth reading. The author, convinced of his faith, invites both Palestinians and Israelis to go beyond their dramatic situation of conflict and start engraving on their hearts the culture of life.
Palestinian Christian and Evangelical Lutheran Raheb offers a striking personal perspective on the tenuous situation in present-day Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.... In an approach missed by many media outlets and politicians, Raheb explores the Palestinian situation through the lens of their own suffering by recovering Scripture in the context in which it originated: among the suffering people in an empire for which they did not ask.
A valuable contribution to a necessary conversation. Two ideas that are sticking with me are that the the Jewish people have also been the victims of empires and that truly the Palestinians and Israelis share a bond of suffering, patience,and endurance.
In this excellent volume, Raheb summarizes for a broad audience both his experience and his research. He speaks as both pastor and historian. The majority of the book is dedicated to the geopolitical setting of Palestine as the central geopolitical setting of the Bible. R.’s detailed description shows his experience in and with this land, and he challenges the lay reader and the biblical expert equally. In a personal recounting, R. describes how his father, from 1905 to 1975, changed his citizenship five times (under the Ottomans, British, Jordanians, and Israeli), never leaving the same piece of land.
"This book is highly recommended and, . . . should be required reading for anyone who wants to hear the authentic voice of Palestinian Christianity. . ."
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