Jesus, Debt and the Lord’s Prayer: First-Century Debt and Jesus’ Intentions

By Douglas E. Oakman

A study of how debt and the forgiveness of debt is a central concern in the life and teachings of Jesus, particularly enshrined in the Lord’s Prayer.

ISBN: 9780227175293


Deeply rooted in the story of Jesus of Nazareth is a concern for people mired in debt. Debt was a central control mechanism for the administration of the Roman Empire. Client states such as those of the Herods in Palestine were entrusted with maintenance of the established order, the Pax Romana, and their patronage entailed legions of the indebted. Debt kept peasants at their ploughs and contributed to the suffering bodies and tortured minds that Jesus healed. His parables and the Lord’s Prayer feature the forgiveness of money debts. In the end, his praxis to liberate people from perennial debt led to a Roman cross, but his memory was kept alive at the table around which he communed with tax collectors and debtors alike.

Additional information

Dimensions 216 × 140 mm
Pages 164

 |   | 

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Douglas E. Oakman has been with the faculty of Pacific Lutheran University since 1988. Prior to that he taught at Santa Clara University, the University of San Francisco, and San Francisco Theological Seminary. Oakman has published numerous articles applying the social sciences to biblical studies. He is the author of the award-winning Palestine in the Time of Jesus (2nd edition, 2008), Jesus and the Peasants (2008), and The Political Aims of Jesus (2012), among other titles. Oakman is an ordained minister on the roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


Foreword by K.C. Hanson

1. Introduction: Two Kingdoms, One Table – Jesus in Political Perspective
2. Jesus and Agrarian Debt
3. The Lord’s Prayer in Social Perspective
4. Jesus the Tax Resister
5. Conclusion: Need or Greed as the Proper End of Economics?

Index of Ancient Documents


Endorsements and Reviews

While the Lord’s Prayer is foundational for Christian belief and identity, no other scholar has done more in recent decades than Douglas E. Oakman to explore its original meaning in the context of Jesus’ life and ministry. With Oakman’s incisive and wideranging understanding of the first-century Palestinian world, that meaning comes to life in this volume as the inspiring and hope-filled expression of someone deeply and compassionately invested in the plight of the poor. Oakman brings the Lord’s Prayer to life for our world.
Philip F. Esler, University of Gloucestershire

Oakman has produced a book which demands your attention and is one to challenge your views.
Cavan Wood, in The Reader, Vol 114, No 4