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1.3: A New Reading


As we have just seen, the arithmetical interpretation is unable to account for the words which the Babylonians used to describe their procedures. Strictly speaking, rather than an interpretation it thus represents a control of the correctness of the Babylonian methods based on modern techniques.

A genuine interpretation —a reading of what the Old Babylonian calculators thought and did—must take two things into account: on one hand, the results obtained by the scholars of the 1930s in their “first approximation”; on the other, the levels of the texts which these scholars had to neglect in order to create this first approximation.

In the following chapters we are going to analyze a number of problems in a translation that corresponds to such an interpretation. First some general information will be adequate.

Representation and “variables”

In our algebra we use (x) and (y) as substitutes or names for unknown numbers. We use this algebra as a tool for solving problems that concern other kinds of magnitudes, such as prices, distances, energy densities, etc.; but in all such cases we consider these other quantities as represented by numbers. For us, numbers constitute the fundamental representation.

With the Babylonians, the fundamental representation was geometric. Most of their “algebraic” problems concern rectangles with length, width and area4, or squares with side and area. We shall certainly encounter a problem below (YBC 6967, page 46) that asks about two unknown numbers, but since their product is spoken of as a “surface” it is evident that these numbers are represented by the sides of a rectangle.

An important characteristic of Babylonian geometry allows it to serve as an “algebraic” representation: it always deals with measured quantities. The measure of its segments and areas may be treated as unknown—but even then it exists as a numerical measure, and the problem consists in finding its value.

Units

Every measuring operation presupposes a metrology, a system of measuring units; the numbers that result from it are concrete numbers. That cannot be seen directly in the problem that was quoted above on page 9; mostly, the mathematical texts do not show it since they make use of the place-value system (except, occasionally, when given magnitudes or final results are stated). In this system, all quantities of the same kind were measured in a “standard unit” which, with very few exceptions, was not stated but tacitly understood.

The standard unit for horizontal distance was the nindan, a “rod” of c. 6 m.5 In our problem, the side of the square is thus (frac{1}{2} mathrm{NINDAN}), that is , c. 3 m. For vertical distances (heights and depths), the basic unit was the kùš, a "cubit" of (frac{1}{12} mathrm{NINDAN}) (that is, c. 50 cm).

The standard unit for areas was the sar, equal to 1 (mathrm{NNDAN}^{2}). The standard unit for volumes had the same name: the underlying idea was that a base of 1 (mathrm{NINDAN}^{2}) was provided with a standard thickness of 1 kùš. In agricultural administration, a better suited area unit was used, the bùr. equal to sar, c. (6 frac{1}{2}) ha.

The standard unit for hollow measures (used for products conserved in vases and jars, such as grain and oil) was the sìla, slightly less than one litre. In practical life, larger units were often used: 1 bán (=) 10 sìla, 1 pi = 1‵ sìla, and 1 gur, a "tun" of 5‵ sìla.

Finally, the standard unit for weights was the shekel, c. 8 gram. Larger units were the mina , equal to 1‵ shekel (thus close to a pound)6 and the gú, “a load” equal to shekel, c. 30 kilogram. This last unit is equal to the talent of the Bible (where a talent of silver is to be understood).

Additive Operations

There are two additive operations. One (kamārum/ul.gar/gar.gar), as we have already seen, can be translated “to heap (a) and (b)," the other (waṣābum/da[+.1ex]h) “to join (j) to (S)." "Joining" is a concrete operation which conserves the identity of (S). In order to understand what that means we may think of "my" bank deposit (S); adding the interest (j) (in Babylonian called precisely ṣibtum, “the joined,” a noun derived from the verb waṣābum) does not change its identity as my deposit. If a geometric operation “joins” (j) to (S), (S) invariably remains in place, whereas, if necessary, (j) is moved around.

“Heaping,” to the contrary, may designate the addition of abstract numbers. Nothing therefore prevents from “heaping” (the number measuring) an area and (the number measuring) a length. However, even “heaping” often concerns entities allowing a concrete operation.

The sum resulting from a “joining” operation has no particular name; indeed, the operation creates nothing new. In a heaping process, on the other hand, where the two addends are absorbed into the sum, this sum has a name (nakmartum, derived from kamārum, “to heap”) which we may translate “the heap”; in a text where the two constituents remain distinct, a plural is used (kimrātum, equally derived from kamārum); we may translate it “the things heaped” (AO 8862 #2, translated in Chapter 4, page 60).

Subtractive Operations

There are also two subtractive operations. One (nasāḫum/zi), “from (B) to tear out (a)" is the inverse of "joining"; it is a concrete operation which presupposes (a) to be a constituent part of (B). The other is a comparison, which can be expressed "(A) over (B), (d) goes beyond" (a clumsy phrase, which however maps the structure of the Babylonian locution precisely). Even this is a concrete operation, used to compare magnitudes of which the smaller is not part of the larger. At times, stylistic and similar reasons call for the comparison being made the other way around, as a observation of (B) falling short of (A) (note 4, page 48 discusses an example).

The difference in the first subtraction is called “the remainder” (šapiltum, more literally “the diminished”). In the second, the excess is referred to as the “going-beyond” (watartum/dirig).

There are several synonyms or near-synonyms for “tearing out.” We shall encounter “cutting off” (ḫarāṣum) (AO 8862 #2, page 60) and “make go away” (šutbûm) (VAT 7532, page 65).

“Multiplications”

Four distinct operations have traditionally been interpreted as multiplication.

First, there is the one which appears in the Old Babylonian version of the multiplication table. The Sumerian term (a.rá, derived from the Sumerian verb rá, “to go”) can be translated “steps of.” For example, the table of the multiples of 6 runs:

1 step of 6 is 6

2 steps of 6 are 12

3 steps of 6 are 18

Three of the texts we are to encounter below (TMS VII #2, page 34, TMS IX #3, page 57, and TMS VIII #1, page 78) also use the Akkadian verb for “going” (alākum) to designate the repetition of an operation: the former two repeat a magnitude (s) (n) times, with outcome (n cdot s) (TMS VII #2, line 18; TMS IX #3, line 21); TMS VIII #1 line 1 joins a magnitude (s) (n) times to another magnitude (A), with outcome (A+n cdot s).

The second “multiplication” is defined by the verb “to raise” (našûm/íl/nim). The term appears to have been used first for the calculation of volumes: in order to determine the volume of a prism with a base of (G) sar and a height of (h) kùš, one “raises” the base with its standard thickness of 1 kùš to the real height (h). Later, the term was adopted by analogy for all determinations of a concrete magnitude by multiplication. "Steps of" instead designates the multiplication of an abstract number by another abstract number.

The third “multiplication” (šutakūlum/gu7.gu7), “to make (p) and (q) hold each other"—or simply, because that is almost certainly what the Babylonians thought of, "make (p) and (q) hold (namely, hold a rectangle)”7—is no real multiplication. It always concerns two line segments (p) and (q). Since (p) and (q) as well as the area (A) of the rectangle are all measurable, almost all texts give the numerical value of (A) immediately after prescribing the operation—"make 5 and 5 hold: 25"—without mentioning the numerical multiplication of 5 by 5 explicitly. But there are texts that speak separately about hte numerical multiplication, as "(p) steps of (q)," after prescribing the construction, or which indicate that the process of "making hold" creates "a surface"; both possibilities are exemplified in AO 8862 #2 (page 60). If a rectangle exists already, its area is determined by “raising,” just as the area of a triangle or a trapezium. Henceforth we shall designate the rectangle which is “held” by the segments (p) and (q) by the symbol ((p),(q)), while ((a)) will stand for the square which a segment (a) "holds together with itself" (in both cases, the symbol designates the configuration as well the area it contains, in agreement with the ambiguity inherent in the concept of "surface"). The corresponding numerical multiplications will be written symbolically as (p) (q) and (a) (a).

The last “multiplication” (eṣēpum) is also no proper numerical multiplication. “To repeat” or “to repeat until (n)" (where (n) is an integer small enough to be easily imagined, at most 9) stands for a "physical" doubling or (n)-doubling—for example that doubling of a right triangle with sides (containing the right angle) (a) and (b) which produces a rectangle ((a),(b)).

Division

The problem “what should I raise to (d) in order to get (P)?" is a division problem, with answer (P div d). Obviously, the Old Babylonian calculators knew such problems perfectly well. They encountered them in their "algebra" (we shall see many examples below) but also in practical planning: a worker can dig (N) (mathrm{NINDAN}) irrigation canal in a day; how many workers will be needed for the digging of 30 (mathrm{NINDAN}) in 4 days? In this example the problem even occurs twice, the answer being ((30 div 4) div N). But division was no separate operation for them, only a problem type.

In order to divide 30 by 4, they first used a table (Figure 1.2), in which they could read (but they had probably learned it by heart in school8) that igi (4) is (15^{prime}); afterwards they "raised" (15^{prime}) to (30) (even for that tables existed, learned by heart at school), finding (7^{circ} 30^{prime}).9

Primarily , igi (n) stands for the reciprocal of n as listed in the table or at least as easily found from it, not the number (frac{1}{n}) abstractly. In this way, the Babylonians solved the problem (P div d) via a multiplication (P cdot frac{1}{d}) to the extent that this was possible.

However, this was only possible if (n) appeared in the igi table. Firstly, that required that (n) was a “regular number," that is, that (frac{1}{n}) could be written as a finite "sexagesimal fraction.”10 However, of the infinitely many such numbers only a small selection found place in the table—around 30 in total (often, (1) (12), (1) (15) and (1) (20) are omitted "to the left" since they are already present "to the right").

In practical computation, that was generally enough. It was indeed presupposed that all technical constants—for example, the quantity of dirt a worker could dig out in a day—were simple regular numbers. The solution of “algebraic” problems, on the other hand, often leads to divisions by a non-regular divisor . In such cases, the texts write “what shall I posit to (d) which gives me (A)?", giving immediately the answer "posit (Q), (A) will it give you.”11 That has a very natural explanation: these problems were constructed backwards, from known results. Divisors would therefore always divide, and the teacher who constructed a problem already knew the answer as well as the outcome of divisions leading to it.

Halves

(frac{1}{2}) may be a fraction like any other: (frac{2}{3}), (frac{1}{3}), (frac{1}{4}), etc. This kind of half, if it is the half of something, is found by raising that thing to (30^{prime}). Similarly, its (frac{1}{3}) is found by raising to (20^{prime}), etc. This kind of half we shall meet in AO 8862 #2 (page 60).

But (frac{1}{2}) (in this case necessarily the half of something may also be a "natural" or "necessary" half, that is, a half that could be nothing else. The radius of a circle is thus the "natural" half of the diameter: no other part could have the same role. Similarly, it is by necessity that exact half of the base that must be raised to the height of a triangle in order to give the area—as can be seen on the figure used to prove the formula (Figure 1.3).

This “natural” half had a particular name (bāmtum), which we may translate “moiety.” The operation that produced it was expressed by the verb “to break” (ḫepûm/gaz)—that is, to bisect, to break in two equal parts. This meaning of the word belongs specifically to the mathematical vocabulary; in general usage the word means to crush or break in any way (etc.).

Square and “square root”

The product (a cdot a) played no particular role, neither when resulting from a "raising" nor from an operation of "steps of." A square, in order to be something special, had to be a geometric square.

But the geometric square did have a particular status. One might certainly “make (a) and (a) hold" or "make a together with itself hold"; but one might also "make (a) confront itself" (šutamḫurum, from maḫārum “to accept/receive/approach/welcome”). The square seen as a geometric configuration was a “confrontation” (mitḫartum, from the same verb).12 Numerically, its value was identified with the length of the side. A Babylonian “confrontation” thus is its side while it has an area; inversely, our square (identified with what is contained and not with the frame) is an area and has a side. When the value of a “confrontation” (understood thus as its side) is found, another side which it meets in a corner may be spoken of as its “counterpart”—meḫrum (similarly from maḫārum), used also for instance about the exact copy of a tablet.

In order to say that (s) is the side of a square area (Q), a Sumerian phrase (used already in tables of inverse squares probably going back to Ur III, see imminently) was used: "by (Q), (s) is equal" —the Sumerian verb being íb.si8. Sometimes, the word íb.si8 is used as a noun, in which case it will be translated “the equal” in the following. In the arithmetical interpretation, “the equal” becomes the square root.

Just as there were tables of multiplication and of reciprocals, there were also tables of squares and of “equals.” They used the phrases “(n) steps of (n), (n^{2})" and "by (n^{2}), (n) is equal" (1(n) 60). The resolution of “algebraic” problems, however, often involves finding the “equals” of numbers which are not listed in the tables . The Babylonians did possess a technique for finding approximate square roots of non-square numbers—but these were approximate. The texts instead give the exact value, and once again they can do so because the authors had constructed the problem backward and therefore knew the solution. Several texts, indeed, commit calculational errors, but in the end they give the square root of the number that should have been calculated, not of the number actually resulting! An example of this is mentioned in footnote 8, page 73.


1.3: A New Reading

Monthly Read and Color Books
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Random selections from the downloadable books (grades K-2) section:

Grade 1 Daily Themes


January
A Big Change
The Perfect Soup
Jeopardy Jacob
Healthy Habits for Kids
The Secret Ingredient
Aidan Is Angry at Alan Again
An Elephant's Eye
Bubble Bath Time
Writing a Letter
The Oatmeal Ogre
Somewhere Under There
Skaterrific!
Ours Is Better
A Big Yellow Monster
Miss Sparkles Sparkles
A Bird on My Arm
To Be an Eagle
What makes you happy?
Jasmine's Big Problem
Oatmeal for Breakfast
A Trip Down Under
Pop! Pop! Pop!
Mark Is Too Busy
Skates for Stacie

February
Oops

A Place of Her Own
A Prickly Angel
Pet Rabbits
What a Face!
The Mailman
More Nutella, Please!
The Rainbow Ribbon
A New Coach
Poking a Cake
The Little Red Schoolhouse
Game Over!
Your Name Is What?
Oh, Me! Oh, My!
Papa Russo
James Oglethorpe
Around and Around
Gumdrop Q & A
How Many Birds?
Jell-O Girl
Mardi Gras
I Don't Want To Play
Aim for Fame
That's Weird!
Only Timmy!
Prince Tuesday's Gift
The Great Clam Chowder Fight
Sweet Potato Pie
Read Me
How Chili Got Its Name
A Poem by a Dog Biscuit
Hot! Hot! Hot!
I Wish I Was a Polar Bear
Is She Real?
Gina's Father
Baba's Blini

March
What on Earth?
Pigs
Those Fanciful Tales
What Did You Say?
Thank a GI
Jo and the Yo-Yo
The New Girl
Fighting a Giant
Morningeagle
Marching to Glory
Colcannon
Naming a Hamster
Farmer John
Move On!
Picky Michael
How to Be Awesome
Stop Clowning Around!
I Can, Can You?
A Family with No Lips
Ginger's Visit to the Vet
A New Favorite
One Too Many
At Last, a Corn Dog
I'm Not Sick!
Jamie Gets a Puppy
Bree's Bubble Trick
The Wooden Egg
I Think I Want to Be a Kite
McKayla 1, Weeds 1
Clean Up!
Peg's Pencils

April
Easter Bonnets
Talking Around the World
Very Curious Music
Kara's Kite and the Big Wind
Lisa's Picnic
A Magic Place
"It's Hard Work!"
I'm a Poet and I Know It
Music on a Platter
Grandma's Treasures
The Morzov Tree
Ellis Island Family History Day
Kenny's Collection
Yes, I Can!
The Great Jelly Bean Hunt
Tinkertoys and Tiddly Winks
Three Trees
The House of Ruth
Yuck!
Adrian's Worst Day

May
And It Is Free!
A Day for Mother Goose
Like Everyone Else
My Favorite Teacher
Grumpy Jerry
Just Right
I Love Trains
I Hate Socks!
The Biggest Hamburger You Can Buy
The Runaway Snake
Not Like Yours
Jump Right In!
Chicken Lips and Lizard Hips
Michael's Monkeys
The Family Reunion
Bikes, Boo-boos, and Band-Aids
The Patchwork Doll
The Taffy Pull
Eating Bugs

June
Mom's Rules
I Didn't Know That!
My Best Friend
Grampa and Ben
Let's Go!
A Great Gift
It's A Bird, It's A Plane
Eat Your Vegetables Day
Happy Birthday, Garfield
Cold, Tingly, Creamy, Sweet
Fawn's First Summer
What Do They Build?
The Watermelon Thump

July
When Can We Eat Beans?
A Day to be Free
A Big Mistake
Ouch!
A Calf for Marti
Amelia Earhart: A Woman of Adventure
A New Spot for Spot
Penny's Parade
Shana's Song
When I Grow Up

August
Daria's Job
Hooray for Family Meals
The World's Best Fruit
Two of a Kind
A Special Dog
The King
Okay to be Lazy!
Drinking a Rainbow
The Trouble with Being Left-Handed
In Honor of Feet
Born on a Mountaintop
Grandma Gladys
Angels with Dirty Faces
Carrie v. Haley
The Bugs' Plan
Salt or Herbs?
Instant Energy

September
Bobby and the Buzzy Bees
The Queen and I
Two Happy Mushrooms
Aaron's Ears
Will's Waffles
Call Me Dan
Big Plans
Icky and Sticky
Sal's Salami
Not Even a Blizzard
Grandpa Nils
Cindy's Biscuits
John's Mom
A Nose for America
9-11 Search Dogs
Chocolate People
Not on Our Team!
Balance
Rob Is a Bully
Trail of Tears
Robbie's Paws
Katie and Curly
Guys or Gals?
Hobbit Day
Rau
Talking Hands
Jamie's New Neighbor
Miss B
The Rumor
Monster!
The Best Dog in the World
Mrs. Nelson's Neighbor
The Shamu Show
The Great Can Stomp
The Ants' Picnic
VFW Day
Chimney Sweeps

October
Oliver's Wish
Not Just a Geek
A Card for Jen
World Space Week
My Favorite Teacher
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat
When He Was My Age
Who Was First?
Music! Music! Music!
A Day on the Wild Side
What in the World?
Tick, Tock! Eddie Gets a Clock
A Frog's Eye View
Happy Birthday!
Andy's Top
Oscar the Grouch
What Can I Do?
The Dictionary Mouse
Best Friends
Chockit Cupcakes
I Don't Want to Go!
My New Friend Sandy
Sammy's Big Problem
An Underground Festival
Mr. Grumpy
The Chocolate Museum
Pumpkin Party

November
My Best Friend
Candy for All
The "doptid" Dog
Tis Time to Write to Santa
Kate's Veterans Day Poster
The Books I Like
Nick and the Teddy Bear
"Take a Hike, Mike"
Have a Bad Day!
The Reason Flag
Kim's List
On Pins and Needles
Susie's Sixth Birthday

December
Cookie Cutter Shark
I HaveANT Got Brown Shoes!
A Winter Surprise
Up and Down, Up and Down
The Sweetest House
Hooray for the Underdog
Fawn Meets Winter
Don't Be a Fruitcake!
Cookies for the Neighbors
Nan Makes Up Her Mind

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Paul and Caesar: A New Reading of Romans

We have moved away quite rapidly in recent years from the old split, which was assumed by and built into the fabric of Western biblical studies, between ‘religion’ and ‘politics’. We have come to see that trying to separate the two in the ancient world, not least in the Middle East, is as futile as trying to do so in certain parts of the modern world. There is a quantum leap now being made from the old way of reading the Bible, in which certain political ‘implications’ could be drawn here and there from texts which were (of course) about something else, and the occasional concentration on rather isolated texts — one thinks of the ‘Tribute question’ in the synoptic tradition, and of the notorious first paragraph of Romans 13 — as being the only places in the New Testament at least where real ‘political’ issues came to the fore. (Until recently, Revelation remained outside the implicit canon of many New Testament scholars, and even when it was considered its striking political significance was often limited to reflections on its thirteenth chapter.)

Now, however, we have all been alerted to the fact that the kingdom of God was itself, and remained, a thoroughly political concept that Jesus’ death was a thoroughly political event that the existence and growth of the early church was a matter of community-building, in conflict, often enough, with other communities. There is of course a danger, not always avoided in recent studies, of seeing the New Testament now simply the other way up but still within the Enlightenment paradigm: in other words, of declaring that it’s all ‘politics’ and that to read it as ‘religion’ or ‘theology’ is to domesticate or privatize it. The fact that for some that might still be so doesn’t excuse us from doing our best to reintegrate what the Enlightenment had pulled apart, both in the name of serious ancient historical study and in the name of responsible biblical study for today’s world.

I want in this paper to introduce, by means of a sharply focused piece of exegesis, the question of how to rethink and remap Paul within this new world.[1] I have a proposal to make which I have been developing for the last few years in dialogue with a group of scholars, mostly American, who are working in this area, whose most obvious leader is Richard A. Horsley of the University of Massachusetts, the editor of two volumes of collected essays entitled Paul and Empire and Paul and Politics.[2] To understand where this proposal is coming from and going to, we need to back up for a moment and consider what’s been happening in Pauline studies over the last generation.

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Pauline studies received a shot in the arm which still continues to invigorate — or, depending on your point of view, a deep wound from which it is still trying to recover. In his Paul and Palestinian Judaism, E.P. Sanders offered what one writer called a ‘new perspective on Paul’.[3] Sanders’ main thesis, which I regard as securely established in outline if not in all its details, is that the picture of Judaism assumed in most Protestant readings of Paul is historically inaccurate and theologically misleading: first-century Jews were not proto-Pelagians, and Paul did not attack them as such. Sanders’ thesis was explicitly advanced as a case about the religion of Judaism and of Paul this was always a partial proposal, screening out or downplaying large areas of Pauline theology, so that the responses to Sanders from aggrieved Protestant theologians have sometimes missed the target.[4] Sanders’ proposal had its own agenda at the level of the study of religions it was not the same sort of thing as the Lutheran perspective it controverted, and indeed it was in some ways a plea to see Christianity from a modernist comparative-religion perspective rather than a classic theological one. These questions invite further reflection for which this is not the place.

The subsequent debates as to the validity of the ‘new perspective’ as a whole and in its parts (with such related matters as the interplay between covenant and apocalyptic, and the phrase ‘the faith of/in Jesus Christ’) have continued to engage scholars and to inform different readings of the text.[5] I do not wish to suggest that this phase of work could or should now come to an end. I wish rather to complicate matters by suggesting that there is a whole further dimension to Paul which both old and new perspectives have ignored, and which must be factored in to subsequent discussion.

A Fresh Perspective?

I begin with a fact that I confess I had not appreciated until very recently, which is itself revealing about the directions in which New Testament scholarship has been looking and not looking. In the Mediterranean world where Paul exercised his vocation as the apostle to the Gentiles, the pagans, the fastest growing religion was the Imperial cult, the worship of Caesar.[6]

In Rome itself, as is well known, the Julio-Claudian emperors did not receive explicit divine honours until after their deaths, although being hailed as the son of the newly deified Julius was an important part of Augustus’ profile, and that of his successors, at home as well as abroad. But in the East — and the East here starts, effectively, in Greece, not just in Egypt — the provinces saw no need for restraint. With a long tradition of ruler-cults going back at least to Alexander the Great, local cities and provinces were in many cases only too happy to demonstrate their loyalty to the emperor by establishing a cult in his honour, and in need by vying for the privilege of looking after his shrine.[7]

This feature of the Roman empire has been extensively studied, and the continuing debates — on, for instance, the precise relationship between this cult and that of earlier Eastern rulers — do not affect the basic point I am making. The religious world of the day was of course thoroughly pluralistic, and there was no expectation that this new cult would displace, or itself be threatened by, the traditional Graeco-Roman religions in all their variety. Indeed, frequently the two were combined, as demonstrated by statues of the emperor in the guise of Jupiter or another well-known god.[8] But, whereas traditional books and lecture courses that cover the religious world of late antiquity tend to add the emperor-cult simply as one element within a treatment of the multiple religions, philosophies and theologies of the ancient world, giving students the impression that it was a relatively insignificant addition to more important aspects of pagan thought and life, it is increasingly apparent that to many ordinary people in Greece, Asia Minor, the Middle East and Egypt — with the exception of the last, the focal points of Paul’s missionary work — the Caesar-cult was fast-growing, highly visible, and powerful precisely in its interweaving of political and religious allegiance. As various writers have recently urged, you don’t need such a strong military presence to police an empire if the citizens are worshipping the emperor. Conversely, where Rome had brought peace to the world, giving salvation from chaos, creating a new sense of unity out of previously warring pluralities, there was a certain inevitability about Rome itself, and the emperor as its ruler, being seen as divine. Rome had done — Augustus had done — the sort of thing that only gods can do. Rome had power: the power to sweep aside all opposition the power, in consequence, to create an extraordinary new world order. Rome claimed to have brought justice to the world indeed, the goddess Iustitia was an Augustan innovation, closely associated with the principate.[9] The accession of the emperor, and also his birthday, could therefore be hailed as euaggelion, good news (we should remember of course that most of the empire, and certainly the parts of it where Paul worked, were Greek-speaking). The emperor was the kyrios, the lord of the world, the one who claimed the allegiance and loyalty of subjects throughout his wide empire. When he came in person to pay a state visit to a colony or province, the word for his royal presence was parousia.

With all this in mind, we open the first page of Paul’s letters as they stand in the New Testament, and what do we find?[10] We find Paul, writing a letter to the church in Rome itself, introducing himself as the accredited messenger of the one true God. He brings the gospel, the euaggelion, of the son of God, the Davidic Messiah, whose messiahship and divine sonship are validated by his resurrection, and who, as the Psalms insist, is the Lord, the kyrios, of the whole world. Paul’s task is to bring the world, all the nations, into loyal allegiance —hypakoē pisteos, the obedience of faith — to this universal Lord. He is eager to announce this euaggelion in Rome, without shame, because this message is the power of God which creates salvation for all who are loyal to it, Jew and Greek alike. Why is this? Because in this message (this ‘gospel of the son of God’), the justice of God, the dikaiosynē theou, is unveiled. Those of us who have read Romans, written essays on Romans, lectured on Romans, preached on Romans, written books about Romans over many years, may be excused if we rub our eyes in disbelief. Most commentators on Romans 1:1-17 insist that it forms the thematic introduction to the whole letter. None that I know of (myself included) have suggested that it must have been heard in Rome, and that Paul must have intended it, as a parody of the imperial cult.

If we go for a moment to the other end of Romans, the impression is the same. The thematic exposition concludes with 15:7-13, where the mutual welcome of Jewish Christian and Gentile Christian in the one family of God in Christ, producing united worldwide worship in fulfilment of scriptural prophecy, is the goal of the whole gospel. Paul builds up a careful sequence of scriptural passages to make the point, emphasizing on the way the universality off the rule of Jesus Christ, the kyrios (Ps. 117:1, quoted in v. 11, repeats ‘all’: all the nations, all the peoples). The final quotation is from Isaiah 11:10, one of Isaiah’s great messianic passages, and Paul has chosen a passage which, in its Septuagintal form, looks right back to Romans l:3f: ‘The root of Jesse shall appear, the one who rises up (ho anistamenos) to rule the nations in him shall the nations hope.’ Jesus’ Davidic messiahship, once more, is confirmed by his resurrection, and means that he is the true ruler of the nations. This cannot, I suggest, be other than a direct challenge to the present ruler of the nations, Caesar himself.

Austin Farrer, when lecturing on Romans in Oxford in the early 1950s, used to read Romans 1:8-15 aloud, and run straight on to 15:14 and the following passage. He would then ask his hearers: why did Paul break off and include all that other material? In similar fashion I want to pose the question: if Paul has framed this great letter with an introduction and a theological conclusion which seem so clearly to echo, and thus to challenge, the rule of Caesar with the rule of Jesus Christ, is the rest of the letter in some sense about this as well, and if so, how? And what does this do to all our traditional readings of Paul, in both old and new perspectives?

Before I can address this, some initial comments are in order on where we have come so far.

Initial Comments

First, a note about scholarly treatment of Romans 1:3-4. When I was first working on Romans in the mid-1970s, I was conscious of what I can only call a powerful undertow in scholarship that resisted any attempt to allow Paul to be interested in, let alone to affirm or make central, the Davidic messiahship of Jesus. Romans 1:3-4 was regularly seen as a pre-Pauline formula — not so much, I suggest, for reasons of its structure and phraseology, but because messiahship, especially with an explicit reference to David, was deemed to be extraneous to Paul’s theology.[11] Commentators then regularly hurried on to 1:16-17, which was seen as the real statement of the theme of the letter, and indeed of the gospel’. I thought then, and think still, that this represents part of a de-Judaizing of Paul, an insistence that he cannot have thought in categories like messiahship and I have argued extensively for the opposite point of view elsewhere.[12] I now realize that this tendency also represents part of a depoliticizing of Paul, a desire to move his theology away from confrontation with the powers of the world and into the safer sphere of a faith, a religion, a theology in which the only thing one needs to say about the rulers of the world is that God has ordained them and that they must in principle be obeyed. (I shall return to Rom. 13 in due course.) The roots of this de-Judaizing and depoliticizing of Paul are outside the scope of this paper, but I suspect they would not be hard to find.

My second comment is to note that Romans is by no means unique in having this apparent covert reference to, and subversion of, Caesar.[13] I have written elsewhere of how Philippians 2:5-11 and 3:19-21 can be seen to have explicit reference to the imperial cult and theme, with, once more, the main thrust that Jesus Christ is the true kyrios of the world, so that of course Caesar is not. Indeed, I have argued that the whole of Philippians 3 can and should be read as a covert anti-imperial exhortation: as Paul had abandoned his Jewish privileges to find Christ, so the Philippians should be prepared, at least, not to take advantage of their belonging to a Roman colony, with the same end in view (finding Christ). Philippi was, of course, a Roman colony (not all of the Philippian Christians were Roman citizens, but all will have gained, or might have expected to gain, as a result of being part of the colonial city).[14] It can be shown that some hints in 1 Thessalonians run the same way: when people say ‘peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them unawares (1 Thes. 5:3). And ‘peace and security’, it has been argued, was part of the Roman propaganda of the first-century empire.[15]

Third, while highlighting the imperial context of Paul’s writings, and proposing that at least at some points Paul is consciously parodying and subverting imperial ideology, I do not at all suggest that Paul derived his theology, either in outline or in detail, from the world of Graeco-Roman paganism in general or the imperial cult in particular. We must not confuse derivation with confrontation. Some who have made these connections seem to be using them as a way of rolling back fifty years of work, from W.D. Davies to E.P. Sanders and beyond, of locating Paul within the world of Second Temple Judaism and returning history instead to an earlier history-of-religions project in which Paul derived his central themes from the non-Jewish world of late antiquity.[16] As I hope I have already indicated, but here wish to emphasize, my reading depends precisely on Paul being and remaining a Jewish thinker, addressing the pagan world with the news that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the true God, and that this God has now proved the point by raising from the dead Jesus who is thereby the Jewish Messiah and therefore the Lord of the whole world. This, indeed, is the logic underneath the whole Gentile mission — not that Paul was abandoning Judaism, but claiming to fulfil it. Here not for the last time we find fascinating parallels between Paul and the roughly contemporary Wisdom of Solomon, which addresses the rulers of the world with the news that Israel’s God is the true God who not only gives wisdom to rulers, but who will vindicate his people against pagan oppression.[17]

Fourth, if there is indeed a reference to Caesar and his cult in Romans Philippians and elsewhere, it would be a mistake to universalize this and suppose that Paul is covertly opposing Caesar in all sorts of other places as well. The theme is not so obvious in the Corinthian correspondence, though a case has recently been made for seeing it there too.[18] It is even harder to see this theme in Galatians — though there, too, a recent writer has attempted to do so.[19] Rather, I suggest that Paul’s anti-imperial stance is part of a wider strain in his thinking which has also been marginalized in many systematic treatments of his thought, but which should be acknowledged and rehabilitated: the confrontation between the gospel and the powers of the world, between the gospel and paganism in general. Paul’s gospel remained thoroughly Jewish: his critique of idolatry and immorality, again paralleled in the wisdom tradition, is the standard wide-ranging Jewish critique, sharpened up but not significantly modified through the gospel of Jesus. The fresh perspective I am proposing, that we take seriously Paul’s subversive references to Caesar, is part of the larger point I have made in various places: that we take Paul seriously as the Jewish apostle to the pagan world, and think through his theology and religion not just as the outworking of a Jewish history-of-religion in the abstract, but as confrontation with paganism in its many varieties — the Caesar-cult being one of the most powerful, high-profile, fast-growing and usually ignored in scholarship.[20]

Fifth, and perhaps most important, I am not proposing that we give up looking at Paul as a theologian and read him simply as a covert politician. There is a danger, which Horsley and his colleagues have not always avoided, of ignoring the major theological themes in Paul and simply plundering parts of his writings to find help in addressing the political concerns of the contemporary Western world. To be sure, Paul has not been much used in Christian political thinking, and much work remains to be done in this area. But we would be foolish to suppose that we could substitute a one-dimensional political reading for a one-dimensional theological one. On the contrary: my proposal is that we recognize in Paul, in full integration, what post-Enlightenment Western culture has pulled apart. Our struggles over the integration of faith and history, of church and society, of natural and supernatural, simply did not look like that in the first century. The question is, rather, how we can appropriately describe what appear to us as ‘different dimensions of Paul’s thought’ in ways that will do justice to the exegesis of the text, and that will also, perhaps, give to the early twenty-first century a lesson in joined-up thinking. It is perhaps ironic that theologians and exegetes should find themselves discovering the importance of serious political thought just when politicians themselves seem finally to have abandoned it.

Towards a Multi-Dimensional Fresh Reading of Paul

Once all these issues are raised, it should be clear that we shall not do justice to Paul simply by arranging bits and pieces of his letters according to the doctrinal schemes of regular dogmatic theology — God, humankind, sin, salvation, and so forth — or according to the patterns of religion (getting in, staying in, and the like). Doctrinal belief matters religious theory and practice matter but they matter as part of a larger whole, and I am suggesting that this larger whole must include Paul’s sense of the conflict of the gospel with the principalities and powers in general and with Rome, and Caesar, in particular. How can we describe all of this coherently without allowing one element to gain a false prominence over the others?

I have elsewhere proposed a method of worldview analysis, which I have employed on a large scale in my historical treatment of Jesus.[21] Worldviews, I have suggested, can be understood as a combination of praxis, story, symbol and theory, which give rise to, and are expressed within, a set of aims and motives on the one hand and of specific beliefs, at various levels, on the other. Without entering into a full exploration of this, I will offer a bird’s-eye view of some of these elements, attempting to show how the fresh perspective I am proposing not only finds a place alongside other elements, but changes the shape and balance of the whole. This will lead me back, in my final main section, to some further reflections on the parts of Romans between 1:1-17 and 15:7-13.

The passages I have just mentioned, and the rest of Romans 15, offer quite a full statement of Paul’s aims and motivations, which are backed up by what we know of his actual habitual praxis (in other words, we have good reason to think that what he says to the Romans about his overall goals is not just a rhetorical smokescreen, but really does represent the way he thought). He believed himself to have a unique vocation from the God of Israel, the creator and covenant God, which put him in debt to the whole world, since it was his task to bring to the world the announcement that Jesus was Lord and that God had raised him from the dead. His developed strategy for obedience to this vocation involved the sustained work of proclamation and church development in Greece and Asia Minor, with Jerusalem and Antioch as his back markers now it was time to move to Italy, Spain, and presumably (though he does not mention it) Gaul. His aim was to extend the rule of Jesus, the world’s true Lord, planting cells of people loyal to Jesus, whose loyalty would be evidenced not least by their unity across traditional ethnic and cultural lines. To that end, he had taken a collection from Gentile churches and was on his way to Jerusalem to give it to the Jewish Christians there it was a powerful symbol that Jesus is Lord and that the principalities and powers, who kept the world divided up into separate categories and allegiances, were not.

Paul’s symbolic praxis as outlined in Romans 15 thus points to the controlling narrative out of which he was living, which can of course be checked against the various stories he tells, explicitly and implicitly, throughout his writings. We may trace six interlocking stories, working from the largest scale to the smallest. In each case, the story is about the one true God, revealed in climactic and decisive action in Jesus and the Spirit, challenging and defeating rival gods. It is, in other words, a Christian variation on regular Second-Temple Jewish stories, confronting, as did many such stories, the world of paganism.

The outer story that Paul tells frequently, not least in Romans, is the story of creation and new creation. This is the Jewish story of a good creator God bringing to birth a good creation, and then, when creation has been spoiled by the rebellion of humankind, accomplishing its rescue not by abandoning the old and starting afresh, but as an act of new creation out of the old. The resurrection of Jesus is, for Paul, the prototype of the new creation the Spirit is the agent, already at work. Paul applies to the creation itself the motif of the exodus, of redemption from slavery.

The second story is the covenantal narrative from Abraham, through Moses and the prophets, to the Messiah, and on to the mission of the covenant God to the wider non-Jewish world. Again, this is seen classically in Romans, particularly in 9:6—10:21, but is everywhere presupposed and frequently alluded to. As with the story of creation, the covenant story is of God’s original design spoiled by sin, this time by the rebellion of the covenant people, highlighted and exacerbated by the law. But, once more, God’s solution is not to destroy and start from scratch, but to redeem through the new exodus, which has been accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit.
The third story is that of Jesus himself. Paul notoriously has little to say about the life of Jesus prior to the crucifixion, but there should be no doubt that he regarded Jesus’ public career as messianic the resurrection alone would not have been sufficient to convince him that someone was the Messiah unless it vindicated what had gone before. Every time Paul tells the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection it comes out differently, but the constant note is, as he says in the summary tradition in 1 Corinthians 15, that it took place ‘according to the scriptures’. What he means by this is not just that these events fulfilled a few specific prophecies, but that they brought the long story of Israel to its God-ordained climax and goal, in both its positive aspects (focused especially on the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham) and its negative aspects (focused especially on the ambiguous role of the law). The narrative of Jesus is, for Paul, the supreme revelation of the one true God. In the gospel, God’s justice and love are revealed definitively and decisively. This is again, of course, central to Romans (3:21-26 5:6-10).

In the complex relation of this third narrative to the first two we find the heart of what can loosely be called Paul’s atonement-theology but we also find, in one of the most powerful moves within the fresh perspective I am proposing, Paul’s treatment of the cross as the means of the defeat of the powers. As everyone in the Roman world knew well, the cross already had a clear symbolic meaning it meant that Caesar ruled the world, with cruel death as his ultimate, and regular, weapon.[22] For Paul, throughout his writings, the cross is far more than simply the means whereby individual sins are forgiven, though of course it is that as well. It is the means whereby the powers are defeated and overthrown (1 Cor. 2:6-8 Col. 2:13-15). The resurrection demonstrates that the true God has a power utterly superior to that of Caesar. The cross is thus to be seen, with deep and rich paradox, as the secret power of this true God, the power of self-giving love which (as Jesus said it would) subverts the power of the tyrant (Mk. 10:35-45).

The fourth story Paul tells is the story of the church, the renewed people of God in Christ. In one sense, of course, this is an aspect of the second story: the church is not something other than the multi-ethnic family God promised to Abraham. But Paul also, I think, tells this story as complete in itself, because in the present age of inaugurated eschatology, living between Jesus’ resurrection and his final reappearing, the church goes through its own complete cycle of call, mission, suffering, struggle and vindication. The very existence of the church is an affront to the principalities and powers in general (Eph. 3:10) and to Caesar in particular, because here within his empire is a growing group of people giving allegiance to a different lord — as Luke says, to ‘another king’ (Acts 17:7). The church, through its exodus-shaped life (1 Cor. 10:1-13), is also a revelation of the true God. Paul’s strong pneumatology, which he does not retract in the face of muddle, sin and rebellion in the Corinthian church, ensures that he sees the very existence, let alone the obedient life, of the church as a vital sign to the world of who its rightful God and Lord now are.

The fifth story is that of the individual Christian. (We may note in passing how narrow has been the focus of much study of Paul, limited to stories 3 and 5, with only occasional glances at 1,2 and 4.) The call of each person to hear the gospel, and to respond in believing obedience, is vital to Paul, even though what he means by ‘justification’ is hardly what the majority of Christian theologians have meant by that term since at least Augustine. The story Paul tells about how people become Christians is clear at several points. The gospel is preached — that is, Jesus is announced as the risen Lord of the world — and God’s power is thereby unleashed, through the Spirit, who causes some hearers, no doubt to their surprise, to believe it (see, e.g., 1 Cor. 12:3 1 Thes. 1:4-5:2:13). Their submission to Jesus as Lord is expressed in the new-exodus symbolism of baptism, which by its link to Jesus’ death and resurrection is understood as bringing them ‘into Christ’, that is, into the Messiah’s people (Rom. 6:1-11 1 Cor. 10:1-2 Gal. 3:26-29). They are thereby not only given secure promises of future salvation (Rom. 8:29-30 Phil. 1:6), but also charged with responsibilities and obligations in the present, including that of undergoing the suffering which wul result from thus standing with the true God against the powers (Rom. 8:31-39 Phil. 1:29-30 1 Thes. 3:3). And at every moment in this story they are turning away from the idols of their pagan past to serve a living and true God (1 Thes. 1:9-10) which must have meant, for many of Paul’s hearers as for his successors in the following centuries, turning away from the Caesar-cult and worshipping Jesus instead. Finally, all must appear before the bēma tou theou or tou Christou, the ‘judgement seat’, at which the true Lord, as opposed to Caesar and his delegated officers, would preside, justice would be seen to be done, and those who had already been declared to be God’s people on the basis of faith alone would have that declaration ratified in the final act of their being raised from the dead, and so ‘saved’ from the ultimate powers and ‘justified’, found to be in the right, before the final court.[23]

Controversially but crucially, when Paul uses the language of ‘justification’ he is not referring to this whole process, this ordo salutis. Rather, he is referring to God’s declaration about those who believe the gospel (confessing Jesus as Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead, as in Rom. 10:9 cf. 4:24-25). This faith is the solitary badge which marks out who belongs to God’s renewed, eschatological people any attempt to propose other badges leaves the ‘powers’ still in charge. This divine declaration in the present only makes sense because it is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus in the past, and because it looks forward to the future judgement at which there will be ‘no condemnation’ for these same people because of what the Holy Spirit has done in their lives.[24] Those whom God justified, God has also glorified (Rom. 8:30). This is the basic meaning of justification by faith this is how, in Romans, Galatians and elsewhere, it can be integrated with the fresh perspective I am proposing. The ‘faith’ because of which God justifies (in this sense) is a believing loyalty which upstages that demanded by Caesar the ‘judgement’ which will be issued at the last day, and which is anticipated in present ‘justification’, is by the one God, through the one Lord, as opposed to that meted out within Caesar’s system. The ‘gospel’ through which the Spirit works powerfully to bring people to this believing obedience, this loyalty, and so to justification, is the true gospel as opposed to that of Caesar. The true gospel focuses on the crucifixion of the Messiah as opposed to being backed up by the crucifixion of Caesar’s opponents.
The sixth story I have already told, but I recapitulate to make it clear. It is the story of Paul himself: Paul as, at one level, an agent of new creation at another, the minister of the new covenant at another, a member of Christ’s body at another, the founder of the Gentile church at another, a classic example of both a converted Jew and a converted human being, the unique apostle to the Gentiles. Paul sees his own story of mission and suffering, and his expectation of vindication, as revelations in action of the true God, and as embodiments of the exodus, through both of which the false gods — including now the idolatry of Israel’s own ethnic status and pride — are confronted and rebuked.
Paul’s narrative world thus integrates what theologians and historians of religion have regularly held apart, including indeed aspects which both have marginalized or ignored completely. The hardest question for the fresh perspective to face is: how can this be integrated with the traditional topics of Pauline theology (justification, the law, Christology, and so forth)? I believe that through this means, of worldview analysis and particularly narrative analysis, a way may be found towards a fuller answer, to which I shall presently return. Paul’s stories are all God-stories, confronting and subverting the stories of other gods they all focus on Jesus and the Spirit, and on the new exodus, itself the unveiling of God’s sovereign power over the gods.

The symbols of Paul’s worldview are the outward and visible points at which the characteristic stories and praxis find expression. Preaching the gospel, baptism, the Eucharist, the collection, the coming together of Jew and Gentile in one body — all of these and more must count as symbols, signs within the world that a different God is at work, warnings to the powers that their time is up. That is why each of these arouses fierce opposition. To explore this would take us too far afield, but we must note that just as the Lord’s Supper was seen by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10-11 as the reality of which the pagan temple meals were the parody, so the summons to Jew and Gentile alike to worship Jesus as the ruler of all nations must be seen, from Paul’s point of view, as the reality of which Caesar’s grandiose claims were also the parody. And since that summons was absolutely central to all that Paul was and did, we must also declare that at the symbolic level, as well as at the level of praxis and narrative, his challenge to Caesar was central and decisive. When Polycarp of Smyrna refused the oath a hundred years later, he was being a true follower of Paul.[25]
How would Paul answer the five key world-view questions that comprise the level of theory?

1. Who are we? We are the people of God in Christ, indwelt by the Spirit. We are the renewed Israel, the people of the new covenant. We are those who acknowledge Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead. And this defines us over against those who worship other gods, and other lords.

2. Where are we? We are in God’s good creation — citizens now not of a particular country so much as of the world that God is going to make, where we shall share the rule of the Lord Jesus. We are living, as it were, in a house that is being rebuilt around us, though there is yet to come a final moment of rebuilding on a scale hitherto unimaginable. We are part of the Jewish movement designed by God to spread to the ends of the earth. Our location is defined not by Caesars empire but by God’s creation and covenant.

3. What’s wrong? Though Jesus’ resurrection has ushered in the new creation, we live between that event and the redemption still awaited by ourselves and the rest of the world and, since most of the world still does not acknowledge Jesus as Lord, we are persecuted. We ourselves, too, are not yet perfect, but live in the tension between what we are already, in Christ and by the Spirit, and what we shall be when Jesus appears again and when his work in us is complete. Caesar still rules the world, despite Jesus’ enthronement as its rightful Lord.

4. What’s the solution? The work of the Spirit, in the present and the future, will put into practice, for us and for the whole cosmos, what has been accomplished in Christ. God will put the world to rights, achieving at last what Caesar claimed to have done.

5. What time is it? We live in the overlap of the ages: the age to come has already broken in in Jesus, but the present age still continues. A great crisis is looming shortly, involving fierce suffering and worldwide convulsion, from which the church will emerge stronger and one day, though nobody knows when, Jesus will reappear, when God finally remakes the cosmos. The Roman world is tottering only God’s kingdom will last.
Out of praxis, story, symbol and theory there emerge not only aims and motivations, at which we have already glanced, but also explicit beliefs, or theology. Paul’s theology can best be understood as the radical revision, in the light of Jesus and the Spirit, of the triple Jewish beliefs of monotheism, election and eschatology. Just as each element of the Jewish theology Paul is modifying already stood over against the principalities and powers, so too, in his revision, each element continues to confront the powers of the world.

The Jewish belief in one God was always a polemical doctrine over against pagan idolatry. In some of its greatest expressions this opposition is explicit: the exodus was God’s victory over the gods and pharaoh of Egypt, and the revelation of God’s saving righteousness in Isaiah 40-55 meant the overthrow of Babylon, its rulers and its gods. Jews of the first century, especially hard-line Pharisees, would have had no difficulty in rereading these texts and others like them in relation to the victory of the true God over first-century paganism in general and the Caesar-cult in particular. The Wisdom of Solomon offers an instructive parallel. Paul, drawing upon these sources and rereading them around Jesus Christ and the Spirit, has given them new focus and application, and has thereby launched a movement in which the heirs of Israel’s Scriptures would confront paganism with a new weapon, looking for a new kind of victory. Paul’s high Christology and pneumatology, controversially forming the basis of the later doctrine of the Trinity, were designed as a way of giving Jewish monotheism a new focus and polemical power against the pagan gods, especially Caesar. Recognizing this raises interesting questions about what is really going on in the regular attempts to deny Paul’s high Christology.[26]

The Jewish belief in the election of Israel to be the people of the one true God was always, likewise, a polemical doctrine over against pagan idolatry. The Torah, Israel’s covenant charter, is from one point of view a lengthy elaboration of what it means to have no gods but YHWH alone. Paul’s radical revision of the doctrine of election, focusing on justification by faith apart from works of Torah and on the creation in Christ and by the Spirit of the one body, the worldwide church, is simultaneously a challenge to all the powers, from Babylon to Rome, that tried to create new empires which gave unity, peace and justice to the wider world. For him, the intention of Torah is fulfilled in Christ and by the Spirit those who are defined as God’s people in this renewed way are thereby defined over against the peoples who give allegiance to false gods, emperors included. The reflex of Paul’s revision — the continuing debate and sometimes bitter controversy with unbelieving Judaism, and with right-wing Jewish Christians — must be seen as just that, the reflex of his mission to the world, not as the centre in its own right of his theological understanding and endeavour.
Finally, the Jewish belief in the coming age when God’s righteousness would be unveiled in action, vindicating Israel, defeating pagan wickedness, and putting the whole world to rights, was always likewise a polemical doctrine over against paganism. One only has to think of Daniel to see how this played out. For Paul, the decisive revelation had already taken place in Jesus Christ, and his death and resurrection, through whom the age to come had been inaugurated and the Spirit was now at work to complete what had been begun (through the resurrection) in the world, and (through the preaching of the gospel) in human beings. The Day of the Lord had split into two: the day which happened at Easter, and the day which was yet to come when Jesus reappeared and the cosmos was finally liberated.[27] This radical revision of the Jewish doctrine was, like the rest, designed to enable Paul and his hearers to stand boldly and cheerfully as Christians despite the rage of the powers, including Caesar’s henchmen.

The fresh perspective I am proposing is not, then, an odd extraneous feature which might have crept in by accident, or might be read in by mistake, in Paul’s thinking. Polemic against the powers, and against the blaspheming emperor-cult in particular, is to be expected precisely because of those Jewish traditions to which Paul was heir and which he reshaped around the gospel.[28] How, finally, might this work out in a reading of Romans, with which we began?

New Creation, New Covenant: The Heart of Romans

In conclusion, I want to draw attention to key features of Romans which show, I believe, that the initially surprising fresh reading of its opening and closing are not accidental, but inform the whole — without detracting in any way from all the other things that Romans is about.

The centre of Romans, arguably, is the double climax of chapters 8 and 11. I cannot here go into the complex relation between the different sections of the letter I simply comment that chapters 5-8 are a kind of formal centre, the tightly compressed driving motor for the rest, which energizes the discussions of major issues facing the Roman church in 9-11 and 12-15. Chapters 1-4 prepare the way for 5-8 in one way, and for 9-11 and 12-15 in other ways. There should be no doubt that Romans 8 forms one of the climactic moments of all Paul’s writing. It stands to the letter, and perhaps to his thought as a whole, like the climax of the Jupiter symphony to the preceding movements and, in a measure, to Mozart’s oeuvre as a whole. And the main thrust of Romans 8 —marginalized, ironically, in much Protestant exegesis! — is the renewal of all creation by God’s great act of new exodus. The cosmos itself will be redeemed, set free from slavery, liberated to share the freedom of the glory of God’s children. God’s children in turn have their inheritance, the new covenant equivalent of the promised land, in this entire new world. They will therefore, as Romans 5 stresses, share the reign of Jesus over the whole new world.[29] This, I suggest, cannot be other than subversive when set as the climax of a letter to the small struggling church in Rome, whose emperor claimed to rule the world, whose poets had sung of the new age of peace, freedom and prosperity that had come to birth through Augustus’ defeat of all enemies. Though of course the vision of new creation is far more than a mere political polemic, in its context it must be seen as offering a vision which was bound to make other visions of world empire pale into insignificance as the cheap imitations they really were. God will put the world to rights the dikaiosynē theou is that covenant faithfulness by which God will accomplish the new creation in which justice will triumph.

All is achieved, in Romans 5—8, by the love of God. David Aune has recently suggested, in his commentary on Revelation, that some Roman thinkers saw their city as having a secret name, the name of Rome spelled back-wards, forming the word AMOR, love.[30] If this is so, Romans 5 and 8 could be more subversive again, claiming that true love is found in God’s self-giving in Christ, not in any aspect of Rome’s civic pride or imperial achievements. But even if this is irrelevant, or at best an unproveable possibility, the theme of God’s victory over the powers through his love revealed in Jesus, which forms the substance of the final paragraph of Romans 8, remains not only pastorally powerful but, in a world where crucifixions proclaimed that the power of death was the way to rule the world, politically of enormous importance. Anyone taking Romans 8:31-39 as their motto would be able to stand up to Caesar, knowing that he could only do that which tyrants normally do, while the true God had already revealed a weapon more powerful still, in the love seen on the cross and in the power seen in the resurrection.

Romans 1:18-4:25 is, of course, the classic statement of the revelation of God’s covenant faithfulness, his saving justice, in and through the death of Jesus, against the background of a world in rebellion and of the failures of God’s covenant people. By itself this does not appear to be explicitly subversive, except in the general sense that if this is how the creator God has accomplished his purpose, he has clearly upstaged the ambitions of Caesar. (We might note that in 4:13 Paul speaks almost casually about Abraham’s family ‘inheriting the world’, anticipating the conclusion of 8:18-27.)[31] But since this is one of the passages in which 1:1-17 is spelled out more fully, and a key move on the way to Romans 8, we may say that the saving death of Jesus, for Paul, unveils not just the plan of salvation for individual sinners, but God’s overthrow of all the powers of the world. That, indeed, is why already in 3:21-31 and 4:1-25 a major emphasis is the unity of Jew and Gentile in the covenant family on the basis of the same faith, the same loyalty to God’s action in Jesus.

Romans 9-11 deals, of course, with a very specific issue, to which questions of Caesar and Rome seem at first sight irrelevant. We must not become so keen on coded meanings that we miss the main thrust of the text.[32] However, the long argument that God has in fact done, in Christ and through the Gentile mission, that which he promised all along in the Scriptures is in itself, as we saw, a version of that Jewish election-theology which was designed to show that Israel is the true people of the one creator God. And the story of Abraham’s two sons, and then of Isaac’s two sons, and of tracing the true lineage through the right ones in each case, could not but strike a Roman hearer as remarkably similar to the great founding stories of Rome itself, going back to Romulus and Remus.[33] Paul is telling a much older story like Josephus, he is suggesting that Rome’s stories are upstaged by the far more antique Jewish story of origins. Thus, though his main purpose is to explain to Gentile Christians in Rome that they must not look down on Jewish non-Christians, part of that very argument, weaning them away from any latent pride in being Roman rather than Jewish, is so to tell the Jewish story, albeit then with its radical Christian modification, that the great story of Rome itself is subverted.

A final word is necessary about Romans 13 in particular. Romans 13:1-7 has of course long been regarded as the one point at which Paul nods in the direction of Caesar, and the nod appears quite respectful. This, obviously, I consider radically misleading. There are six points to be made.[34]

First, the fact that Paul needs to stress the need for civil obedience itself tells fairly strongly, if paradoxically, in favour of my overall case. It implies that, without some such restraining counsel, some might have heard his teaching to imply that the church was to become a Christian version of the Jewish ‘fourth philosophy’, owing allegiance to no one except God and therefore under obligation to rebel violently against human rulers, and to refuse to pay taxes. The paragraph can therefore be seen, not as evidence that Paul would not have been saying anything subversive, but that he had been, and now needed to make clear what this did, and particularly what it did not, imply.[35]

Second, to say that the ruler is answerable to God is itself a Jewish point over against pagan ruler-cult. Caesar did not, normally, owe allegiance to anyone except himself, and perhaps, though at a surface level, the traditional Roman gods. Paul declares, with massive Jewish tradition behind him, that Caesar is in fact responsible to the true God, whether or not he knows it. This is an undermining of pagan totalitarianism, not a reinforcement of it.

Third, the power and duty of the ruler qua ruler is emphasized in the context of the prohibition against personal vengeance at the end of the previous chapter (12:19-21). What Paul says at this point belongs on the map of one of the regular theories as to why magistracy matters: without it, everyone will take the law into their own hands. This fits closely with the following points.

Fourth, Paul’s underlying point is that the victory of the true God is not won by the normal means of revolution. Rome could cope with revolutions she could not cope, as history demonstrated, with a community owing imitative allegiance to the crucified and risen Jesus. God did not intend that the church should be the means of causing anarchy, of refusing normal civic responsibilities anarchy simply replaces the tyranny of the officially powerful with the tyranny of the unofficially powerful, the bullies and the rich. The real overthrow of pagan power comes by other means.

Fifth, if in Romans 9-11 Paul is concerned with Christian attitudes to non-Christian Jews, in 12-15 he is concerned with mutual relationships within the church itself. He almost certainly knew of the riots in the late 40s, impulsore Chresto[36] this kind of behaviour, he says, is to be avoided. Though the church does indeed give allegiance to another king, this allegiance must not be seen by the watching powers to result in civic disturbance, in strife between different sections of a community. God is the God of order, not chaos the Christian response to tyranny is not anarchy but the creation of a community worshipping Jesus as Lord.

Sixth, as the succeeding passage makes clear, Paul wants the Roman Christians to live appropriately in the tension between present and future. This does not mean, as Paul’s own example bears out, that one must be politically quiescent or repressed until the final reappearing of Jesus. Preaching and living the gospel must always mean announcing and following Jesus, rather than Caesar, as the true Lord. But the eschatological balance must be kept. The church must live as a sign of the coming complete kingdom of Jesus Christ but since that kingdom is characterized by peace, love and joy it cannot be inaugurated in the present by chaos, hatred and anger. This, I think, is what motivates Paul in Romans 13:1-7.

When we set Paul’s gospel, not least the letter to the Romans, against the context of the widespread and increasing Caesar-cult of his day, with all that it implied, we discover a fresh perspective, a new angle on familiar passages, which informs and to an extent modifies traditional readings.

This is not to suggest in any way — to anticipate the most obvious criticism! — that the major theological or religious subject matter of Romans has been set aside or relativized. On the contrary. The critique of the powers which Paul has in mind depends precisely on a thoroughgoing and well worked out theology, not least a very high Christology and a strong doctrine of justification, and is fortified by the explicitly Christian religion from which and to which Paul writes. To show how this works out — to integrate Paul’s explicit and implicit polemic against paganism in general, the powers in particular, and the Caesar-cult especially, within his wider theology and exegesis — is a long and complicated task. I hope I have shown that it is both necessary and fruitful.


The Bible in a Year

Here is a diverse collection of different reading plans that take you through the Bible in a year.

Read by Genre

It divides up your reading into the main types of Genres (literature) such as Gospels, Law, Narrative (History), Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy, and Epistles!

Read From 4 Separate Places

This plan gives you a good mix of reading an Old Testament book, a wisdom book and two New Testament books for each reading.

It is also structured well enough that you could shorten your reading for each day by focusing only on Old Testament, New Testament or some other variation.

Since you’ll have several “free days” each month, you could set aside Sundays either not to read at all or to catch up on any readings you may have missed in the past week.

Read Two Books at a Time

Readings from two places in Scripture every day: an Old or New Testament book and one of the Old Testament wisdom books.

Read from the Old/New Testaments, Psalms and Proverbs

The One Year Bible daily reading plan consist of passages from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs.

Read from the Old and New Testament

This is a pretty straightforward plan starting from the beginning of the Old and New Testaments and working its way to the end.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Reading Plan

There are two types of readings in this plan: family and secret.

The family readings are meant for going over with your family, in groups or at a Bible study whereas the secret readings are for your own personal devotional time.

The problem with this is that there’s really no difference in the two types. You could just as easily read the secret readings in a group and vice versa. In fact, M’Cheyne even points this out when he describes the plan.

The whole Bible will be read through in an orderly manner in the course of a year. – The Old Testament once, the New Testament and Acts twice.

Read in chronological order

This plan is based upon the historical research of scholars as it compiles readings according to the order that the events actually occurred.

Read in the order each book was written

This plan is founded upon the research completed in regard to the dates each canonical book was authored. The books in the Hebrew and Greek Bibles are not in the same order as in our modern Bibles, and this plan restores that original ordering of the scriptures.

Read from cover to cover

The classic plan. Start at Genesis and end in Revelations.


Acts of the Apostles

The Promise of the Spirit. 1 In the first book, a Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught 2 until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. b 3 He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days * and speaking about the kingdom of God. c 4 While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father * about which you have heard me speak d 5 for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.” e

The Ascension of Jesus. 6 When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going * to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 * He answered them, f “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. 8 * But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, g and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. h 10 While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. i 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” j 12 k Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.

The First Community in Jerusalem. 13 When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. l

The Choice of Judas’s Successor. 15 During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place). He said, 16 “My brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. m 17 He was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry. 18 n He bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. * 19 This became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem, so that the parcel of land was called in their language ‘Akeldama,’ that is, Field of Blood. 20 For it is written in the Book of Psalms:

‘Let his encampment become desolate,

and may no one dwell in it.’

‘May another take his office.’ o

21 Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.” p 23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” 26 * q Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.

* [1:1–26] This introductory material (Acts 1:1–2) connects Acts with the Gospel of Luke, shows that the apostles were instructed by the risen Jesus (Acts 1:3–5), points out that the parousia or second coming in glory of Jesus will occur as certainly as his ascension occurred (Acts 1:6–11), and lists the members of the Twelve, stressing their role as a body of divinely mandated witnesses to his life, teaching, and resurrection (Acts 1:12–26).

* [1:3] Appearing to them during forty days : Luke considered especially sacred the interval in which the appearances and instructions of the risen Jesus occurred and expressed it therefore in terms of the sacred number forty (cf. Dt 8:2). In his gospel, however, Luke connects the ascension of Jesus with the resurrection by describing the ascension on Easter Sunday evening (Lk 24:50–53). What should probably be understood as one event (resurrection, glorification, ascension, sending of the Spirit—the paschal mystery) has been historicized by Luke when he writes of a visible ascension of Jesus after forty days and the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost. For Luke, the ascension marks the end of the appearances of Jesus except for the extraordinary appearance to Paul. With regard to Luke’s understanding of salvation history, the ascension also marks the end of the time of Jesus (Lk 24:50–53) and signals the beginning of the time of the church.

* [1:4] The promise of the Father : the holy Spirit, as is clear from the next verse. This gift of the Spirit was first promised in Jesus’ final instructions to his chosen witnesses in Luke’s gospel (Lk 24:49) and formed part of the continuing instructions of the risen Jesus on the kingdom of God, of which Luke speaks in Acts 1:3.

* [1:6] The question of the disciples implies that in believing Jesus to be the Christ (see note on Lk 2:11) they had expected him to be a political leader who would restore self-rule to Israel during his historical ministry. When this had not taken place, they ask if it is to take place at this time, the period of the church.

* [1:7] This verse echoes the tradition that the precise time of the parousia is not revealed to human beings cf. Mk 13:32 1 Thes 5:1–3.

* [1:8] Just as Jerusalem was the city of destiny in the Gospel of Luke (the place where salvation was accomplished), so here at the beginning of Acts, Jerusalem occupies a central position. It is the starting point for the mission of the Christian disciples to “the ends of the earth,” the place where the apostles were situated and the doctrinal focal point in the early days of the community (Acts 15:2, 6). The ends of the earth : for Luke, this means Rome.

* [1:18] Luke records a popular tradition about the death of Judas that differs from the one in Mt 27:5, according to which Judas hanged himself. Here, although the text is not certain, Judas is depicted as purchasing a piece of property with the betrayal money and being killed on it in a fall.

* [1:26] The need to replace Judas was probably dictated by the symbolism of the number twelve, recalling the twelve tribes of Israel. This symbolism also indicates that for Luke (see Lk 22:30) the Christian church is a reconstituted Israel.


◀ Reading Plans / Old/New Testament

2 “Hear my words, you wise men
listen to me, you men of learning.
3 For the ear tests words
as the tongue tastes food.
4 Let us discern for ourselves what is right
let us learn together what is good.

5 “Job says, ‘I am innocent,
but God denies me justice.
6 Although I am right,
I am considered a liar
although I am guiltless,
his arrow inflicts an incurable wound.’
7 Is there anyone like Job,
who drinks scorn like water?
8 He keeps company with evildoers
he associates with the wicked.
9 For he says, ‘There is no profit
in trying to please God.’

10 “So listen to me, you men of understanding.
Far be it from God to do evil,
from the Almighty to do wrong.
11 He repays everyone for what they have done
he brings on them what their conduct deserves.
12 It is unthinkable that God would do wrong,
that the Almighty would pervert justice.
13 Who appointed him over the earth?
Who put him in charge of the whole world?
14 If it were his intention
and he withdrew his spirit [a] and breath,
15 all humanity would perish together
and mankind would return to the dust.

16 “If you have understanding, hear this
listen to what I say.
17 Can someone who hates justice govern?
Will you condemn the just and mighty One?
18 Is he not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’
and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’
19 who shows no partiality to princes
and does not favor the rich over the poor,
for they are all the work of his hands?
20 They die in an instant, in the middle of the night
the people are shaken and they pass away
the mighty are removed without human hand.

21 “His eyes are on the ways of mortals
he sees their every step.
22 There is no deep shadow, no utter darkness,
where evildoers can hide.
23 God has no need to examine people further,
that they should come before him for judgment.
24 Without inquiry he shatters the mighty
and sets up others in their place.
25 Because he takes note of their deeds,
he overthrows them in the night and they are crushed.
26 He punishes them for their wickedness
where everyone can see them,
27 because they turned from following him
and had no regard for any of his ways.
28 They caused the cry of the poor to come before him,
so that he heard the cry of the needy.
29 But if he remains silent, who can condemn him?
If he hides his face, who can see him?
Yet he is over individual and nation alike,
30 to keep the godless from ruling,
from laying snares for the people.

31 “Suppose someone says to God,
‘I am guilty but will offend no more.
32 Teach me what I cannot see
if I have done wrong, I will not do so again.’
33 Should God then reward you on your terms,
when you refuse to repent?
You must decide, not I
so tell me what you know.

34 “Men of understanding declare,
wise men who hear me say to me,
35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge
his words lack insight.’
36 Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost
for answering like a wicked man!
37 To his sin he adds rebellion
scornfully he claps his hands among us
and multiplies his words against God.”

2 “Do you think this is just?
You say, ‘I am in the right, not God.’
3 Yet you ask him, ‘What profit is it to me, [b]
and what do I gain by not sinning?’

4 “I would like to reply to you
and to your friends with you.
5 Look up at the heavens and see
gaze at the clouds so high above you.
6 If you sin, how does that affect him?
If your sins are many, what does that do to him?
7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him,
or what does he receive from your hand?
8 Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself,
and your righteousness only other people.

9 “People cry out under a load of oppression
they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful.
10 But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
who gives songs in the night,
11 who teaches us more than he teaches [c] the beasts of the earth
and makes us wiser than [d] the birds in the sky?’
12 He does not answer when people cry out
because of the arrogance of the wicked.
13 Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea
the Almighty pays no attention to it.
14 How much less, then, will he listen
when you say that you do not see him,
that your case is before him
and you must wait for him,
15 and further, that his anger never punishes
and he does not take the least notice of wickedness. [e]
16 So Job opens his mouth with empty talk
without knowledge he multiplies words.”

Footnotes:

    Or Spirit Or you Or night, / 11 who teaches us by Or us wise by Symmachus, Theodotion and Vulgate the meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.

Cross references:

The Council at Jerusalem

15 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.

5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon [a] has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:

16 “‘After this I will return
and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild,
and I will restore it,
17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things’ [b] —
18 things known from long ago. [c]

19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”


Products Needed to Teach Level 1

In order to teach Level 1 to a single student, you will need these items:

All About Reading Level 1 Materials

All About Reading Level 1 Materials includes the Teacher’s Manual, one Student Packet (which contains the activity book, flashcards, and stickers), and three readers.

Reading Interactive Kit

The Reading Interactive Kit provides the multisensory components for the All About Reading program. This is a one-time purchase, and you will use the same kit for all four levels of All About Reading . It comes in two versions: Basic and Deluxe. Visit Reading Interactive Kits for complete information.

Physical Letter Tiles or Letter Tiles App

The Reading Interactive Kit contains everything you need, including the physical letter tiles, but there are two additional items to consider. If you plan to teach mainly with the physical letter tiles, you'll need to purchase a 2' x 3' magnetic white board from a store such as Walmart or Staples. For an easy-to-use, portable alternative, our Letter Tiles App is available as a separate purchase.


HB 3 Reading Academies

Per House Bill 3 (HB 3), passed by the 86th Texas Legislature in June of 2019, all kindergarten through third grade teachers and principals must attend a "teacher literacy achievement academy" by the 2022 - 2023 school year. For simplification and to avoid confusion with other grant programs and past literacy achievement academies, the Texas Education Agency is referring to this latest requirement as the HB 3 Reading Academies.

House Bill 3 was updated and per House Bill 1613, which was passed by the 87th Texas Legislature in June 2021, it now states that all kindergarten through third grade teachers and principals must attend a "teacher literacy achievement academy" by the end of the 2023 - 2024 school year.

All K-3 teachers, including special education teachers, and principals are required to complete the HB 3 Reading Academies by 2023. This includes literacy specialists who see K-3 students in small groups and K-3 departmentalized teachers. While there are some formal processes pending, districts (LEAs) can proceed to exempt teachers who hold “all-level certification in art, health education, music, physical education, speech communication and theatre arts, or theatre,” as described in §231.3(a).

See our latest updates and community newsletters.

Authorized Providers grant districts and educators access to the Reading Academies. They include Education Service Centers (ESCs), School Districts, Higher Ed. partners, and Non-Profits.

Each School District decides how to comply with HB3, incl. which Authorized Provider to contract with, and whether to adopt a Comprehensive, Blended, or Local Implementation model.

All Texas K-3 Educators (and Principals) except special area teachers (Art, Music, PE) must complete Reading Academies by 2023-2024. Consult your campus Principal for more guidance.

Cohort Leaders are hired by an Authorized Provider, and administer the Reading Academies Blended (online) course. "Facilitators" similarly administer the Comprehensive (on-site, live) course.

We compiled 50+ questions from our stakeholders and outline our Reading Academies guidelines.


Comedy writer Armando Iannucci has called for an industry-wide defence of the BBC and British programme-makers. "The Thick of It" creator made his remarks in the annual MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

"It's more important than ever that we have more strong, popular channels. that act as beacons, drawing audiences to the best content," he said. Speaking earlier, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale rejected suggestions that he wanted to dismantle the BBC.

Iannucci co-wrote "I'm Alan Partridge", wrote the movie "In the Loop" and created and wrote the hit "HBO" and "Sky Atlantic show Veep". He delivered the 40th annual MacTaggart Lecture, which has previously been given by Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, former BBC director general Greg Dyke, Jeremy Paxman and Rupert Murdoch. Iannucci said: "Faced with a global audience, British television needs its champion supporters."

He continued his praise for British programming by saying the global success of American TV shows had come about because they were emulating British television. "The best US shows are modelling themselves on what used to make British TV so world-beating," he said. "US prime-time schedules are now littered with those quirky formats from the UK - the "Who Do You Think You Are"'s and the variants on "Strictly Come Dancing" - as well as the single-camera non-audience sitcom, which we brought into the mainstream first. We have changed international viewing for the better."

With the renewal of the BBC's royal charter approaching, Iannucci also praised the corporation. He said: "If public service broadcasting - one of the best things we've ever done creatively as a country - if it was a car industry, our ministers would be out championing it overseas, trying to win contracts, boasting of the British jobs that would bring." In July, the government issued a green paper setting out issues that will be explored during negotiations over the future of the BBC, including the broadcaster's size, its funding and governance.

Primarily Mr Whittingdale wanted to appoint a panel of five people, but finally he invited two more people to advise on the channer renewal, namely former Channel 4 boss Dawn Airey and journalism professor Stewart Purvis, a former editor-in-chief of ITN. Iannucci bemoaned the lack of "creatives" involved in the discussions.

"When the media, communications and information industries make up nearly 8% our GDP, larger than the car and oil and gas industries put together, we need to be heard, as those industries are heard. But when I see the panel of experts who've been asked by the culture secretary to take a root and branch look at the BBC, I don't see anyone who is a part of that cast and crew list. I see executives, media owners, industry gurus, all talented people - but not a single person who's made a classic and enduring television show."

Iannucci suggested one way of easing the strain on the licence fee was "by pushing ourselves more commercially abroad".

"Use the BBC's name, one of the most recognised brands in the world," he said. "And use the reputation of British television across all networks, to capitalise financially oversees. Be more aggressive in selling our shows, through advertising, through proper international subscription channels, freeing up BBC Worldwide to be fully commercial, whatever it takes.

"Frankly, don't be icky and modest about making money, let's monetise the bezeesus Mary and Joseph out of our programmes abroad so that money can come back, take some pressure off the licence fee at home and be invested in even more ambitious quality shows, that can only add to our value."

Mr Whittingdale, who was interviewed by ITV News' Alastair Stewart at the festival, said he wanted an open debate about whether the corporation should do everything it has done in the past. He said he had a slight sense that people who rushed to defend the BBC were "trying to have an argument that's never been started".

"Whatever my view is, I don't determine what programmes the BBC should show," he added. "That's the job of the BBC." Mr Whittingdale said any speculation that the Conservative Party had always wanted to change the BBC due to issues such as its editorial line was "absolute nonsense".


Brave New World Summary and Analysis of Chapters 1-3

Brave New World occurs six hundred years in the future. The world has submitted to domination by World Controllers, whose primary goal is to ensure the stability and happiness of society. The underlying principle of the regime is utilitarianism, or maximizing the overall happiness of the society. The novel begins at the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Center, a production factory for human beings. A group of students receives a tour of the facilities by the Director.

The students view various machines and techniques used to promote the production and conditioning of embryos. The scientists take an ovary, remove and fertilize the eggs, force the eggs to bud up to ninety-six times, and subsequently grow the embryos in bottles. Predestinators then decide the future function of each embryo within the society, essentially assigning a future job to each human.

The society contains a five-tiered caste system that ranks Alphas and Betas on top. Only the Alphas and Betas come from single eggs that are not budded and hence have no twins. The Centre conditions all the non-Alpha and Beta embryos for their future status in society by dividing them into Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. Thus, the Alphas represent the intellectually superior group, followed by the Betas, and continuing down to the Epsilons, who have little to no intelligence.

The idea of totalitarian social stability occurs first in this chapter. While few critics have called the governmental regime "totalitarian" in nature, Huxley explicitly describes it as such. Huxley stated in Brave New World Revisited that the only way to create a permanently stable society is for a totalitarian regime to have absolute power. The regime must then ensure that people are happy all the time, be able to control the behavior of each individual, and ensure that independent thinkers are forbidden from disturbing the social fabric.

Huxley creates a society that frowns on individual creativity and that only welcomes those who conform. The social motto "Community, Identity, Stability" frames this social structure. Huxley generates "community" by dividing the population into segments, where the Alphas serve as intellectual superiors and Epsilons function as pure menial labor. Huxley shows how "identity" comes from the Conditioning Centre through the selection of the embryos into each of five groups. "Stability" occurs through the limitations placed on the intelligence of each group.

The fundamental tenet behind the society is utilitarianism, which describes a society that seeks to create the maximum happiness. Limiting the intelligence of each person to fit their future job is one way this society makes them happy. Thus, Alphas receive challenging jobs and Epsilons receive grunt work that would be boring for higher caste members. Social conditioning and stunted development maximizes each person’s happiness. The goal of utilitarianism is to make the society "happier" and thus more efficient. The society described by Huxley is therefore a "utilitarian totalitarianism."

The students continue their tour of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. They watch "Neo-Pavlovian Conditioning," a technique that trains infants. Here, the use of electric shocks and sirens in response to touching roses or books modifies the behavior of Deltas. This discourages behavior that might destabilize society, such as allowing Deltas to read books and acquire knowledge. The students also view a group of sleeping infants who receive moral instruction through hypnopaedic learning as they sleep. Sleeping babies listen to repeated catchphrases, and in this chapter, infant Betas listen to a tape played hundreds of times which indoctrinates them to believe they are superior to Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, but not as clever as Alphas.

Huxley reveals some of the main sources of social stability. Science creates and conditions people to become happy members of society. The comment by the Director, "What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder," reveals the extent that the conditioning can alter behavior.

Pavlovian conditioning comes from Pavlov’s research, which showed that animals could learn to do an action through punishment and reward. Huxley expands this concept to humans, who use it to condition the babies of the lower classes. In his example, Deltas learn to avoid roses and books by giving them electric shocks when they touch those items. Psychologically, this conditioning also lowers these classes to the status of animals.

The use of hypnopaedia strengthens the conditioning and indicates the subversive nature of the state. Huxley is showing the readers that propaganda starts at birth and can occur even when we are unaware of it, as when sleeping. He reinforces the point that people are unaware of how influential the propaganda is by constantly having his characters quote "hypnopaedic phrases."

The goal of the state is to ensure social stability, and the conditioning creates the "community" by segregating each infant into separate classes. This promotes stability by creating a group of workers with state-controlled preferences. Thus, economic stability comes from creating preferences that promote spending. This is touched on more in Chapter 3.

The student tour goes outside where they watch some children playing a game of Centrifugal Bumble-puppy. The game is elaborate and requires complex machinery. They learn that the heavy reliance on machinery increases consumption of material goods and thus boost the economy. Young children are also encouraged to play erotic, sexual games. A boy who refuses to play with a young girl must go to a psychologist.

The Director begins to talk about the past when parents rather than the state raised children. Mustapha Mond, the Controller of Western Europe, interrupts him and tells the students that the "home" consisted of a mother, father, and children and, along with being diseased and smelly, contained overbearing intimacies and emotions.

Freud receives credit for showing that the "appalling dangers of family life" lead to individual instability. The Controller indicates that this in turn leads to social instability. Society has therefore coined the phrase "everyone belongs to everyone else" in an effort to eradicate individualism.

The Controller also gives a history lesson, and describes how the old governments banned the first reformers. After the Nine Years’ War destroyed most of the old world and brought the World Controllers to power, they struggled to defeat embedded culture by initiating a campaign against the past, destroying monuments and books, and banning sexual reproduction. Religion, and in particular Christianity, was reduced to a form of worship of Ford. To emphasize Ford's great contribution, mass production, they cut all the crosses to make a T in honor of the Model T car. Additionally, a new drug called soma was invented which acted like cocaine or heroin but which had no ill side effects. The drug ensured that people would spend their time hallucinating rather than thinking. The government continues to distribute soma to its citizens every week.

Meanwhile, Lenina Crowne, a Beta Plus, discusses her four-month relationship with Alpha Henry Foster with her friend Fanny Crowne, a Beta. Fanny is upset that Lenina is having such a long relationship with only one man. She quotes the phrase "everyone belongs to everyone" and tells Lenina to have sex with other men. Lenina agrees with Fanny and tells her that she likes Bernard Marx, an Alpha Plus, and has decided to join him on a trip to the Savage Reservations. Fanny is skeptical and says that she thinks Marx is a loner and an introvert.

Bernard Mar is a specialist on hypnopaedia. The reader first meets him while he eavesdrops on a conversation between Henry Foster and another worker. Foster and the other man are discussing Lenina and Foster tells the man he should "have" her, implying sexual relations. Marx gets upset when he hears this, indicating that he is in love with Lenina.

Chapter 3 introduces many of the main philosophical issues within the novel. Huxley presents the social necessities for perfect stability within his society. These include the role of consumption, the interplay between sexuality and emotions, the role of history, and the redefinition of religion.

Society views consumption as beneficial. The society believes that more consumption means more production of good, which will increase the number of jobs and keep the society fully employed. Examples of how consumption is increased include hypnopaedic phrases that tell people to throw away old clothes and buy new, indoctrinating Deltas to enjoy country sports so they will use the state transportation system to exit the city, and complex machinery being required for any sort of sport or game.

The interplay between sexuality and emotions is complex. Huxley realized that monogamy, sex, and family ties generate most human emotions. Thus, the society rests on promiscuity and baby factories. The goal is to eradicate emotions by replacing them with pure sexual desire and nothing else. This, combined with the baby factories, destroys family life and monogamous relationships. The state directs most emotions, which is necessary for social control and stability. Interestingly, George Orwell used the opposite technique in 1984. Orwell banned sexual relationships in order to eliminate dangerous emotions that might go against the state. However, since both authors realized that sexual emotions destabilize society, each technique achieves the identical goal of elimination of sexual emotions.

Society views history and religion as dangerous and potentially corrupting. Having a history gives people a sense of time outside of their own lifetimes. This in turn makes people think about progression through time, which is something the society cannot permit without causing social upheaval. Thus Huxley uses the quote from Ford, "History is bunk," to indicate that history is worthless and should not be studied. The Controller describes history in a way that further emphasizes its negative aspects. He also blames Christianity for the inability of past societies to achieve ectogenesis (in this context Huxley means growing babies outside of the human body).

The new "religion" in the society has close ties with consumption. There is not really religion to speak of, but rather a system of ideologies that acknowledges Ford as its leader. Thus, the society replaces the Christian "Our Lord" with "Ford" and uses the T instead of the cross. Consumption is as extremely positive due to the introduction of mass production. Huxley plays with the fact that Henry Ford introduced mass production with the Model T car. Huxley then bases the society’s "religion" around that fact. However, strong elements of Christianity remain. Chapter 3 ends with a scene taken from the New Testament where Jesus tells his disciples to let the children stay with him. Two noisy children harass His Fordship Mustapha Mond. The Director of the Centre orders them to leave, but Mustapha replies as Jesus did, saying, "Suffer little children."


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