Re: Ch. 11 - The Apostle of Love
The question whether or not Jesus himself actually spread a message of universal love becomes rather tedious IMHO. We can never know for sure how much Jesus preached universal love and so it seems rather pointless to spend too much time speculating about it. However, in the next chapter about Paul, we finally see where Wright is going with this line of thought. This chapter becomes somewhat tedious as well, casting Paul as a sort of Roman version of a frequent flyer businessman, spreading the word of Jesus. The main thrust of all this is to suggest that the idea of universal love came not from individuals like Jesus and Paul, but from conditions "on the ground" as Wright likes to put it. The Romans had built a vast network of roads, opening up new vistas for commerce and mingling of cultures, and the message of universal love would have found a new non-zero-sum niche in an ever-widening moral circle. Like Philo before him, Paul may have seen the wisdom of assuming a live-and-let-live attitude in order to deny the enemies of Christianity a rationale for persecuting them.
"Paul was part of a religious minority that was widely reseted and that, if it didn't demonstrate restraint amid provocation, could be persecuted to the point of extinction. In that sense his situation was quite like Philo, another adherent of a suspect faith in the Roman Empire of the first century. . . . Certainly Paul seems to have known that an onslaught of kindness can frustrate the enemy by denying him what he most wants: a rationale for hatred, a pretext for attack." (285)