Jesus the Meek King

(Trinity Press International, 1999)

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What sort of king was Jesus? What is the meaning of Jesus’ description of himself in Matthew’s Gospel as the meek king? Jesus the Meek King is an exploration of a specific virtue in Paul, Matthew, the Hellenistic world, and English literature from Tyndale to the present. Modern readers are likely to understand the meek as Jesus’ attempt to commend and exemplify submissive or humble behavior. The meek may even be seen unfavorably as those likely to submit tamely to oppression or injury. Ancient readers of Greek texts, however, understood the term more broadly as a trait of rulers whereby exercise of disciplined compassion overcomes anger. Meekness is also a dispositional virtue in the literature of the first century describing new Jewish and Christian groups and enhancing community life. Most recent books about Jesus focus on history and biography. This book eschews historical questions for culturally specific understandings of humility and meekness. The result is a full and contextual understanding of Jesus the meek king. Deirdre J. Good is Professor of New Testament at General Theological Seminary, New York.


“…creative and enticing…Readers will find here an informative and deeply reflective study of an often-overlooked Christian virtue.”
— The Bible Today, September 1999 (The Bible Today)

“This is a book that will engage and delight scholars and the general reader alike. Based on linguistic and historical scholarship, it presents fresh readings of familiar texts that open up new perspectives on the self-understanding of individuals and communities.”
— Adela Yarbro Collins, Professor of New Testament, University of Chicago (Independent Reviewer Request)

“Jesus the Meek King is a masterpiece of New Testament scholarship and highly recommended reading for both pastoral and lay readers seeking a better and more accurate understanding of this particular aspect of Jesus’ message for his Christian followers.”
— The Midwest Book Review (Midwest Book Review)

“To a world defined by violence and the posturing of rulers, Deirdre Good offers a quiet gift. By her careful examination of interconnecting themes in ancient literature, she has restored an appreciation for a virtue the world now most desperately needs. She helps us see meekness not as the reflex of weakness but as the expression of true strength.”
— Luke Timothy Johnson, Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, Emory University (Luke Timothy Johnson)

“Good’s book offers a fresh reading of familiar texts that questions our assumptions not only about Jesus but about ideas of religious life. It is an excellent example of how scholars can write for a more general audience without giving up subtlety or originality.”
— Kenneth Arnold, reviewing for The Episcopal New Yorker (Deacon Kenneth Arnold Episcopal New Yorker – Diocese of NY)