In this book, Christopher Bryan reexamines the attitude of the early Church toward imperial Rome. Choosing a middle road, he says that Jesus and the early Christians did indeed have a critique of the Roman superpower - a critique that was broadly in line with the entire biblical and prophetic tradition. One cannot worship the biblical God, the God of Israel, he says, and not be concerned about justice, including international justice, here and now. On the other hand, Bryan does not think that the biblical tradition challenges human power structures by attempting to dismantle them or replace them with other power structures. Instead, he says, it consistently confronts such structures with the truth about their origin and purpose. Their origin is that God permits them. Their purpose is to serve God's glory by promoting God's peace and God's justice. As Bryanu puts it, "the prophetic tradition subverts 'the powers that be' by persistently demanding that they do their job."

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