Class Struggle in the New Testament

Initially funded by a competitive Faculty of Arts Research Development Fund grant from the University of Auckland, this project advances the discussion of class analysis in relation to the social and economic worlds of Jesus, Paul, and their first followers. It principally draws on the explanatory power of Marxist theory to critically re-interpret and re-evaluate the primary sources of earliest Christianity.

The project culminated in the publication of an edited volume Class Struggle in the New Testament, as well as a number of academic and popular articles.

A reinvigoration of historical materialism within the study of the New Testament & Christian origins


Class Struggle in the New Testament

Edited volume published by Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2019

Paperback edition released in July 2021!

Class Struggle in the New Testament engages the political and economic realities of the first century to unmask the mediation of class through several New Testament texts and traditions. Essays span a range of subfields, presenting class struggle as the motor force of history by responding to recent debates, historical data, and new evidence on the political-economic world of Jesus, Paul, and the Gospels. Chapters address collective struggles in the Gospels; the Roman military and class; the usefulness of categories like peasant, retainer, and middling groups for understanding the world of Jesus; the class basis behind the origin of archangels; the Gospels as products of elite culture; the implication of capitalist ideology upon biblical interpretation; and the New Testament’s use of slavery metaphors, populist features, and gifting practices. This book will become a definitive reference point for future discussion. 

Read the introduction to the volume here.


This book contains a strong, challenging and innovative collection of essays that probe class struggle in both New Testament texts and ancient socio-economic contexts.... Ultimately, this book also asks us to reflect on dominant ideologies and agendas in today’s academic contexts.

Joan E. Taylor, Kings College London


Academic publications


Opiate of Christ; or, John's Gospel and the Spectre of Class


Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts & Contemporary Worlds.

Fishing for Entrepreneurs in the Sea of Galilee?


My chapter from Class Struggle in the New Testament re-printed online at The Bible & Interpretation.


On the Implausibility of Identifying the Disciple in John 18:15-16 as a Galilean Fisherman


Novum Testamentum (co-authored with Michael Kok)

The Poor


The T&T Clark Jesus Library


Popular publications


How Historical Materialism Explains the Origins of Christianity

May 2020

Culture Matters