Politics of Jesus Simplified

John Howard Yoder’s Politics of Jesus is such an important book – but it’s also so inaccessible to the average reader. I really believe in making good theology accessible to people who haven’t studied theology. With that in mind, I simplified Yoder’s book in 2003, revising it in 2005.

And now, at last, in June 2008, the PDF version of the simplification has arrived on this blog. Just click on the link below to download it:


18 thoughts on “Politics of Jesus Simplified

  1. Nathan,
    I’ve heard good things about your 2003 summary of John Howard Yoder’s “Politics of Jesus” (which badly needed a better editing job, in my humble opinion). However, I cannot reach your summary through geocities.com. Would it be possible for you to post it again, on this web page?

  2. I started working at a Mennonite church last month, and I found your summary of “Politics of Jesus” to be a great orientation for the job. I’m working with the congregation as they expand their ministry in the community, and your summary helped me absorb Yoder’s ideas in ways I hadn’t previously.

    I’m also doing some study about the spiritual transformation of institutions (http://spiritofinstitutions.blogspot.com), and your summary was also very helpful for that.


  3. Thanks for your thought-provoking posts. I help with the above site. I’d love to hear your ideas on the newest story, “Quinn the Eskimo.” It is a fun Christmas tale with imagery of the life and return of Jesus. Rejoicing, Tom Wheeler

  4. Thank you! read this years ago. Im a lutheran minister in sweden and live in a small anapabtist influenced intentional community. I’ve tried to convince people to read Politics of Jesus but its to big of a project for most. So now im translating your simplified version to swedish, hopes thats okej.

  5. Would you consider republishing your pdf without columns? The columns make it impossible to use a screen reader and thus I am struggling to read by sight.

  6. Re: The Politics of Jesus, a simplified summary of John H. Yoder’s classic book by Nathan Hobby with James Patton

    Hello Nathan –

    About four weeks ago I started reading The Politics of Jesus, but stopped about half-way through, as I could not understand what Yoder was saying.

    I thought perhaps I could find a summary or explanation on the Internet, and was pleasantly surprised when I found your summary.

    I just finished reading it today.

    But I am still confused about what Yoder was trying to say (no fault of yours).

    And one thing that is very troubling to me is the statement by Yoder on page 24 of your summary, to wit:

    “Jesus’ rejection of the sword was politically relevant, the religious and political authorities had to kill him in the name of their form of political responsibility. His alternative was so much a threat that Pilate could afford to exchange Jesus for an ordinary violent revolutionary, Barabbas. Jesus’ way is more relevant to the question of how society moves than the struggle to get elected or seize power.”

    It seems to me that Yoder is coming to this conclusion apart from the biblical text, since the Bible clearly and only describes Pilate as finding no fault in Jesus and shows Pilate actively wanting to release Jesus. And far from a political action on Pilate’s part, Pilate is shown releasing Barabbas as an annual appeasement to the Jewish people.

    Is there anything Yoder wrote, or any materials that you are aware of, that would present a study of the biblical text that would support Yoder’s view on this point?


  7. Chris, a good point, which I don’t have a comeback for, off the top of my head. It’s been so long since I engaged with PofJ – seven years now!
    Not sure of where to look for support for his idea here, either.
    In PofJ, Yoder throws out a lot of ideas, re-readings of texts where Christianity is meant to be the most politically irrelevant. I don’t think he hits the mark all the time, but the overall effect is convincing for me.

  8. When I tried to get to your “The Body of Christ” GEOCITIES site, this message came up:

    “Sorry, the GeoCities web site you were trying to reach is no longer available.”

    Any alternatives?

    – Nick from Manila

  9. should I read the book first than your summary? or should I read your summary alongside my reading of Yoder’s book?

  10. Interesting Nathan! I’d love to meet up here in Perth over a Bible to share a cuppa and explore passages in English and Hebrew with you – We have Hebrew classes on here in Perth (and via skype) which, for some, bring yet another dimension to discussion and discovery… L’Shalom, Rabbi S. Nosan-Lantzke

  11. Thank you for your work. While I’ve read The Politics of Jesus before, I found your summary handy for reference and I used it today.

  12. Hi there! I hope you don’t mind, but I wanted to share a recent blog post my husband and I wrote about Christians and politics:

    “…. Although Christians are told to pray for those in authority (1 Tim 2:1-2), there are no instructions anywhere in the Bible to seek political authority for ourselves or participate in political campaigns or decisions.

    As Christians, we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ in order to live in unity (1 Corinthians 1:10). However, those who are involved in politics often find themselves divided on opposing sides, debating and arguing with each other.

    Whole article:

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