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In narrative analysis, the message expressed in each of the four gospels is conveyed not just through Jesus’ 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.