Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire

Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, by Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker  ($17.16)

This book has been on my personal radar since it was published over a year ago; however, I did not recommend it to the APC Book Group.  Now one of the authors is going to be in Houston as part of an event sponsored by the Foundation for Christian Theology (Sept 24-25).  — rls

Amazon:  Brock and Parker begin their research perplexed by a riddle: Why are images of the crucified Christ absent from early Christian art? After visiting Mediterranean and European sites sacred to early Christians, Brock and Parker formulate a provocative answer: the dying Christ never appears in early Christian art because early Christians did not believe Christ’s redemptive death had opened a heavenly afterlife for the faithful. Rather, Brock and Parker assert, early Christians looked to Jesus as the exemplar who showed how to defy injustice by creating paradise on Earth in a loving community. In this theory, images of Christ’s passion and death invaded Christian art only when the Church started using a theology of otherworldly salvation to recruit the forces necessary to build a Christian empire. Skeptics may view with suspicion the authors’ willingness to substitute conjectural interpretations of art and heretical gnostic texts for plain readings of the orthodox biblical canon. However, as the response to The Da Vinci Code (2003) established, highly speculative retellings of Christian history attract readers. –Bryce Christensen

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