Imperial Language in Ephesians? Need help!

I am doing some research on how the Roman empire might be critiqued (or not) in Ephesians versus one of the undisputed letters (such as Galatians).  Does anyone know of a book length treatment of the political language in Ephesians with special interest in the question of resistence (subversion) or accommodation?  I know the Paul and Empire and Paul and Politics essays, but I am looking for something more thorough.  Any suggestions?


7 thoughts on “Imperial Language in Ephesians? Need help!

  1. From what I remember Cynthia Briggs Kittredge has an article in Hidden transcripts and the arts of resistance By Richard A. Horsley that touches on Ephesians. Not sure hoe relevant or if it will work for ya!

    I think Tim Gombis is working on a “Colosians Remixed,” for Ephesians, but that won’t help you now…

  2. Nijay do you read German there is an article by Andrew Lincoln `Pax Christi, Pax Romana` from the Journal of Theological Studies 46 n.1(April 1995). I hope it`s relevant. If you find anything on one of the undisputed Letters i would be interested as I am doing a Research Module on whether Paul was anti-Imperialist or not using Thessalonika and Galatia as my areas of study.

  3. I think Dr. Fred Long at Asbury Theological Seminary is working on a commentary on Ephesians in which the Imperial critique plays an important role. Not sure when it will be out. He might have some article length material as well. You can find his contact info on the Asbury website

  4. Nijay–

    I know you asked about Ephesians, which I’m currently blanking on, but since you mentioned GalatiansI just wanted to be sure you’ve seen Justin K. Hardin,
    Galatians and the Imperial Cult: A Critical Analysis of the First-Century Social Context of Paul’s Letter ( for review by Nanos). Maybe email Sylvia Keesmaat about this question.

    And thanks for the link to and words about my blogs on theological interpretation.

  5. The short answer is no.

    But, see C.E. Arnold’s SNTS monograph (Ephesians: Power and Magic) for Paul’s subversion of Graeco-Roman (esp. Ephesian and Artemision) folk belief, although I think he’s been criticized for ignoring the political dimensions of popular ‘religion’.

    Also, James Harrison’s WUNT II volume on grace addresses the political dimensions of benefaction in Ephesians. Additionally, he points to the work of H.L. Hendrix, who he claims has convincingly demonstrated how the opening benediction, and in fact the entire letter, fits the genre of honorific decree. It might be worth checking out: ‘On the Form and Ethos of Ephesians’, Union Seminary Quarterly Review, 42 (1988) 3-15.

  6. Nijay,

    I have written an essay for a volume being published by S. Porter and Andrew Pitts, and I am half way through a commentary for a new commentary series (Rhetoric of Religious Antiquities) edited by Vernon Robbins and Duane Watson. This has become a labor of love for the past three years. The Brill essay is based upon an ETS paper I presented, and I could send you a revised version of that. There are little treatments here and there, but I am correlating my findings with imperial propaganda and ideology as found on coinage, inscriptions, literary works which can show (I would argue) that Paul penned this AD 58-62 as a grand politeia deliberately “trumping” the Roman (and Jewish) imperialistic thought. If you email me, I can send the paper I presented to you.

    Fred Long

  7. If you haven’t already, check out Hearing the Old Testament in the New Testament, edited by Porter. It’s chapter by Sylvia C. Keesmaat, “In the Face of the Empire: Paul’s Use of Scripture in the Shorter Epistles,” has some good discussion about imperial language in Ephesians.

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