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Vette traces the anti-Semitic image of the ‘ungrateful Jew’ through its usage in early Christian literature to its origin in the imperial rhetoric of the first-century ce. Vette describes how imperial rhetoric employs racial stereotypes to demarcate dominator and dominated, thereby inscribing hierarchy and difference. Then, as now, gratitude can become weaponized in the service of Empire; but as the first-century Jewish author ce Josephus explains, gratitude can also disrupt imperial discourse.
How, from a theological standpoint, should we make sense of gratitude? This rich interdisciplinary volume is the first concertedly to explore theologies of gratitude from both Christian and Muslim perspectives. While the available literature has tended to rhapsodize gratitude to God and others as both a virtue and an obligation, this book by contrast offers something new by detailing ways in which gratitude is complicated by inequality: even to the point of becoming a vice. Gratitude now emerges as something more than a virtue and other than merely transactional. It can be a burden, bringing about indebtedness and an imbalance of power; but it may also be a resonant source of reconciliation and belonging. Topics discussed cover the personal and political dimensions of gratitude, including such issues as justice, multiculturalism, racism, imperialism, grief, memory and hope. The book assembles, from different traditions, some of the leading theologians of our times.
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