cover image Republican Jesus: How the Right has Rewritten the Gospels

Republican Jesus: How the Right has Rewritten the Gospels

Tony Keddie. Univ. of California, $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-520-35623-8

Keddie (Class and Power in Roman Palestine), professor of religious studies at University of British Columbia, argues in this witty, insightful volume that Republican Jesus (“a tool designed and wielded for political gain” rather than a faithful reflection of the historical Jesus of Nazareth) has gotten “out of control.” Keddie shreds portrayals of Jesus put forth by Bill O’Reilly, Franklin Graham, and other conservative pundits and pastors through careful readings of the Bible. The machinations of influential conservative thinkers (such as O’Reilly inserting a “gospel of limited government” into his history of Jesus) will enthrall readers, and anyone who enjoys clever satire (“After legally immigrating to Egypt... Republican Jesus and his parents pulled themselves up by their sandal-straps”) will spend much of the book chuckling along with Keddie. While the Republican Jesus is seen as a “Christian rebel against taxes and Judaism,” Keddie argues that Jesus was “a tax-compliant Jew who was no rebel.” But sometimes the wide diversity of scholarly opinion on the scriptural passages in question goes unexpressed, and many conservative Christians will remain unswayed by Keddie’s interpretations. Nonetheless, this is a thorough, convincing study that’s perfect for anyone flummoxed by misuses of the teachings of Jesus. (Oct.)