Giovanni Bazzana on The Political Theology of Village Scribes in the Sayings Gospel Q

Associate Professor of New Testament Giovanni Bazzana discusses his recent publication [Kingdom of Bureaucracy: The Political Theology of Village Scribes in the Sayings Gospel Q (Peeters, 2015)] with two respondents. The respondents will be Shaye J.D. Cohen, Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University; and Lawrence Wills, Ethelbert Talbot Professor of Biblical Studies at the Episcopal Divinity School.

The talk and responses were delivered on February 16, 2016 at Harvard Divinity School. The talk begins at 6:50.

Book summary:

The Sayings Gospel Q was composed in the central decades of the first century CE by Galilean villagers who had acquired knowledge of Greek mostly through their involvement with the public administration. The present book analyzes the text of Q in order to rediscover the terminological and ideological traces of the activity of these sub-elite scribes in the Sayings Gospel. Given the bureaucratic positions occupied by the members of this group, the peculiar use of the phrase Basileia tou theou carries a specific significance for its theological political implications. On the basis of Giorgio Agamben’s recent revision of the category of political theology, the attitude of Q on divine kingship is understood as an instance of sub-elite negotiation of social and political positions vis-à-vis the expansion of Roman imperial hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean. In this context the author(s) of Q envisage apocalyptic scenarios in which divine kingship replaces human rulers and native sub-elite bureaucrats can share in the exercise of cosmic government.

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