oa Scriptura : Journal for Contextual Hermeneutics in Southern Africa - Imperialism, Christian identity and masculinity : post-colonial interpretation of Jesus’ arrest and trial in the gospel of Matthew

Volume 117 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0254-1807
  • E-ISSN: 2305-445X



The influence of the great Roman Empire on almost every facet of life in the first century Mediterranean world can hardly be ignored. It comes as no surprise therefore that the gospels, which took shape within this context, reflect the machinations of the empire which guarded, jealously, any attempt to oppose or subvert the military, economic, political and ideological imperium it enjoyed over its colonies. The presence of the governor, military and the Sanhedrin, in the gospel of Matthew, all connive to expose the pervasiveness of the empire under the dual aspects of materiality and ideology. Applying the optics of post-colonial, imperialist hermeneutics on the Matthean unit of Jesus’ arrest and trial, this article seeks to show how 1) the imperial machinations of the first Mediterranean world shaped the collective memory of the Matthean Christians; 2) how this collective memory interfaces with the manner in which the same imperium – no matter how hybridised it may be – is kept alive in our day; 3) how the potent mix of the pervasiveness of the Roman Empire and masculinity within which it is entrenched, are prolonged in the modern day Christian society.

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