Scripture and Its Interpretation

A Global, Ecumenical Introduction to the Bible


22. The Bible and Politics

Reviewing the Chapter

  1. According to this chapter, what do politics have to do with biblical interpretation?
  2. How has the Bible sometimes been misused for political purposes?
  3. What kinds of perspectives does Scripture offer on monarchy, power, and holiness?
  4. Identify and describe the two interpretive principles this chapter offers for engaging Scripture on the topic of politics.
  5. What are some of the ways we see politics at work in the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament)?
  6. What are some of the ways we see politics at work in the New Testament generally, and particularly in the ministries of John the Baptist and of Jesus attested in the Gospels?
  7. What are some of the ways we see politics at work in the letters of Paul and the book of Revelation?

Engaging a Central Issue

Respond to the following claim Christopher Rowland makes in this chapter (p. 369): “The story of the Lamb who is slain offers a critique of human history and of our delusions, of the violence we use to maintain the status quo and the lies with which we disguise the oppression of the victim.”

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Before reading this chapter, how did you understand the relationship between religion and politics? How has this chapter affected your thinking?
  2. Do you think there is a different understanding of politics in the OT as compared with the NT? Explain your answer.
  3. When Jesus went up to Jerusalem and cleansed the temple, to what extent was there a threat to the established order in what he did?
  4. “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you . . .” (Luke 22:25–26a). Do you think Jesus expected a different kind of politics from his followers?