In Romans 13.1 Paul writes, ‘Let every person be subject to the governing authorities … anyone who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed’. Romans 13.1-7 is the starting point for the essay, for it raises an acute problem: for every text of resistance and liberation, we can also find at least one of accommodation and oppression. My exploration of this problem has three stages: I begin with the questions Romans 13 poses for those readings that interpret the New Testament as an anti-imperial and anti-colonial collection of texts. From there I consider the full run of political ambivalences and contradictions in Paul’s letters. I close by asking what we can do with these contradictions. I suggest a more materialist position in which Paul’s contradictions are signals of deeper socio-economic ones.
Postcolonial Interventions: Essays in Honor of R. S. Sugirtharajah p. 109-122