Peace and Security


DKBlog points out that the Apostle Paul made a highly subversive remark in one of his letters against the modus operandi of Roman Imperial power. The context of Paul's remarks were as follows:

Peace and Security' (pax et securitas) was a Roman imperial slogan located on coins and elsewhere that signified Rome's promise to provide peace and security to its citizens. The grand irony of this promise was that it was built on the premise of war. Simultaneous worship of the war god Mars and the peace goddess Pax was part of Rome's split personality. The machine of war was driven by the emperor to spread peace, freedom, and liberty to surrounding nations--sometimes preemptively--to ensure Rome's continued pax et securitas.
I am reminded of what Dominic Crossan has said in his book "God & Empire", noting that Rome believed that it was establishing peace through victory, which is to say through armed force and conquest; this stood in contrast to Jesus's message of peace through justice and non-violence. So where does Paul fit into this? DKblog writes,
In 1 Thessalonians 5.3, the Apostle Paul writes, 'When they say, "There is peace and security", then sudden destruction will come upon them.' Notice the slogan. Paul's message was a political one of warning directed at the audacious claims of Rome's Empire, which had claimed for itself the ability to do things early Christians believed could be done by God alone; namely, usher in an age of peace and security built on justice and equality not the machine of war.
Pretty subversive stuff. No wonder Paul got executed by the Romans.

It is not hard to miss the analogy between ancient Rome's means of establishing "peace" through military power--sometimes used preemptively--and events that are taking place in the modern world.


Mike L. said...

We owe a great debt to Crossan for liberating these subversive texts from imperial domestication.

Mystical Seeker said...


I agree!