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The Eagle and the Dove: Roman Imperial Sonship and the Baptism of Jesus (Mark 1.9-11)*

  • Michael Peppard (a1)

This essay argues that the common understanding of imperial divine sonship among biblical scholars can be reframed by emphasizing the importance of adoption in Roman society and imperial ideology. A case study from the Gospel of Mark—the portrayal of Jesus' baptism—demonstrates some of the pay-off for reading the NT with a newly contextualized perspective on divine sonship. Through engagement with diverse sources from the Hellenistic and Roman eras, the dove will be interpreted as an omen and counter-symbol to the Roman eagle, which was a public portent of divine favor, election, and ascension to power.

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S. J. Friesen , Imperial Cults and the Apocalypse of John (Oxford: Oxford University, 2001)

A. Brent , The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order (Leiden: Brill, 1999)

C. Ando , Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire (Berkeley: University of California, 2000)

W. A. Löhr , ‘Theodotus der Lederarbeiter und Theodotus der Bankier—ein Beitrag zur römischen Theologiegeschichte des zweiten und dritten Jahrhunderts’, ZNW 87 (1996) 101–25

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New Testament Studies
  • ISSN: 0028-6885
  • EISSN: 1469-8145
  • URL: /core/journals/new-testament-studies
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