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In Shakespeare’s plays, Rome as a setting invites new kinds of questions: in a narrative universe separate from the claims and the demands of Christian theology, how do characters interact with right and wrong, with duty and pleasure and life and suicide?  In the New Testament Rome is no single setting but creates different sorts of scenes in different sorts of books, and because all politics is dramatic, different orders of power and duty and justice promise and threaten to emerge whenever Rome is on the page, as the name of a place or as an apocalyptic symbol of power abused.  John Dominic Crossan’s new book Render Unto Caesar examines two ways in which Rome sets the scene for two different New Testament texts before posing questions about what Rome and empire and civilization itself might signify for us latter-day readers.  Christian Humanist Profiles is glad to have him back on the show.

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