Imperial power

Can an empire commit itself to justice?

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree . . .” With those words the writer of Luke’s Gospel acknowledged the political backdrop of Jesus’ life. The Roman Empire was the world’s unrivaled superpower. Its influence extended throughout the Mediterranean, and it had developed the capacity to enforce its will in such remote outposts as Judea. The imperial power figured into Jesus’ birth even as it presided at his death.


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