"Pay to Caesar the Things of Caesar": Contesting Judeo-Christian Secularism and Neo-colonial Legitimation

By Daniel Miller.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: November 29, 2016 $US5.00

Jesus’s injunction to “Pay to Caesar the things of Caesar, and the things of God to God” serves as a legitimating trope in contemporary Judeo-Christian secularism. In this role, it justifies US neo-imperialism, as illustrated in the thought of such contemporary thinkers as Bernard Lewis, Samuel Huntington, and Jean Bethke Elshtain. This role is contested by proposing an anti-imperial reading of Jesus’s statement, situating it as an expression of anti-Roman sentiment in first-century Palestine. This understanding of Jesus’s injunction is developed by drawing upon James C. Scott’s concepts of the “hidden” and “public” transcripts deployed by populations whose lives are lived under imperial and colonial subjugation. This article concludes by suggesting that such a counter-reading disrupts the neo-imperial logic of Judeo-Christian secularism.

Keywords: Secularism, Politics, New Testament

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 7, Issue 1, March 2017, pp.53-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: November 29, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 379.455KB)).

Dr. Daniel Miller

Associate Professor, Department of Humanities, Landmark College, Putney, Vermont, USA