Synopsis: Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus represent two of the most influential figures of history because of the expansion of later Christianity. But Christianity's historical development includes a checkered and troubling past of abusive power that also impugns both Jesus and Paul. European colonialism carried the "gospel" to the world, claiming Jesus and Paul as architects of its oppressive empire building. Modern churches in America quote Jesus and Paul to inspire, inform, and justify a host of cultural values that often include the subordination of women and marginalization of others who differ in beliefs, values, and lifestyles. Talbott analyzes how Jesus and Paul responded to the systems of oppressive power in their day, and how each in turn used power to form their respective communities. The conclusions are based on the most recent scholarly approaches to Jesus and Paul and will enable modern readers to judge for themselves how Jesus and Paul envisioned the use of power among their communities. Endorsements: Talbott "displays both a truly extraordinary range of reading across disciplines and the mental dexterity to integrate many of the contesting views that circulate in contemporary scholarship, with special attention to the contributions of many feminist scholars. Then he proposes original solutions to some of the most vexing problems related to understanding Jesus and Paul in the context of ancient Mediterranean religion and culture. His powerful key to unlocking the door to deeper understanding of these ancient documents is his close analysis of how Paul's letters describe and apply power when compared with the evidence in the Jesus tradition." S. Scott Bartchy, from the Foreword "'Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison: Imperial Master-Owner, Anointed Prince, have mercy on us, please spare us ' What happened before the Christian movement adopted the patriarchal culture of Rome? How did the earliest Christians imagine the relationships of state and citizen, master and servant, man and woman, bishop and disciple, rich and poor, relative and foreigner? Ground Zero for answers is the historical study of the communities Jesus and Paul meant to form. A Christian ethic that is authentic hangs on the answers. Rick Talbott's map through the thickets of contemporary Jesus and Paul studies is indispensable." --Patrick Nichelson Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies California State University, Northridge Author Biography: Rick F. Talbott is Associate Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Religions at California State University, Northridge, and the author of Sacred Sacrifice (2006).