When the earliest Christ-followers were baptized they participated in a politically subversive act. Rejecting the Empire's claim that it had a divine right to rule the world, they pledged their allegiance to a kingdom other than Rome and a king other than Caesar (Acts 17:7). Many books explore baptism from doctrinal or theological perspectives, and focus on issues such as the correct mode of baptism, the proper candidate for baptism, who has the authority to baptize, and whether or not baptism is a symbol or means of grace. By contrast, Caesar and the Sacrament investigates the political nature of baptism. Very few contemporary Christians consider baptism's original purpose or political significance. Only by studying baptism in its historical context, can we discover its impact on first-century believers and the adverse reaction it engendered among Roman and Jewish officials. Since baptism was initially a rite of non-violent resistance, what should its function be today? ""In this wide-ranging discussion across New Testament texts, Alan Streett locates baptism in the context of and in relation to Roman power. He argues that baptism was a believer's sacramentum, a pledge of allegiance that sets up complex interactions with allegiance to Caesar and the imperial system. This is a significant and much-needed contribution to understandings of baptism."" --Warren Carter, Professor, Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University ""Centuries of comfortable Christendom have tended to domesticate baptism to a benign religious ritual entirely at home within the empire. But Caesar and the Sacrament awakens us to the true radical nature of Christian baptism. Alan Streett's latest book is an important and timely work that calls Christians to live out their baptismal identity in fidelity to Christ and resistance to empire."" --Brian Zahnd, Pastor, Word of Life Church, St. Joseph, Missouri ""Alan Streett's fascinating Caesar and the Sacrament places the meaning and practice of baptism in early Christianity into a full and nuanced context . . . Streett's carefully researched and well written book joins a number of other studies that have appeared in recent years rightly underscoring the importance of knowing well the Roman world in which Jesus and his movement emerged."" --Craig A. Evans, Professor of Christian Origins, Houston Baptist University ""In this bold, comprehensive, and compelling study, Alan Streett makes a convincing case that the earliest Christians understood baptism as their pledge of allegiance to Christ and his kingdom, which involved renouncing all other allegiances . . . when most view baptism as nothing more than an innocuous 'religious' sacrament, it would be hard to overstate the importance of digesting this remarkable work."" --Gregory A. Boyd, Senior Pastor, Woodland Hills Church, St. Paul, Minnesota ""Streett does nothing less than show that the understanding of baptism in Constantinian Christianity that privatized and spiritualized baptism was a gross misinterpretation that we, at the end of Christendom, may now unlearn. One may hope that Streett's study will awaken the church to the wide and deep accents of baptism that is both a gift from God and mandate to an emancipated transformed public life."" --Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary R. Alan Streett is Senior Research Professor of Biblical Theology at Criswell College, Dallas, Texas. He is author of Subversive Meals (Pickwick, 2013).
R. Alan Streett is Senior Research Professor of Biblical Theology at Criswell College, Dallas, Texas. He is author of Subversive Meals (Pickwick, 2013).
Walter Brueggemann is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary and the author of numerous books including, from Fortress Press, The Prophetic Imagination; Theology of the Old Testament; and The Creative Word.