Whose Time? Which Rationality?

Reflections on Empire, 1 Peter, and the “Common Era”


  • Wei-Hsien Wan University of Exeter




1 Peter, imperial cults, decolonial studies, anthropology of time, politics of time


The Roman imperial cults and the early Christians articulated different constructions of time, each offering its version of history built around a particular axis. The Augustan era inaugurated a transformation that reconfigured the imagination of time around the emperor and the ordo of statecraft. As a forerunner of later developments in the Christian tradition, the First Letter of Peter, on the other hand, anchored its vision of time in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Using this contrast as a launching point for reflection on social constructions of time, this paper examines the notion of a “Common Era” that has, in recent decades, gained widespread use in the academic practice. Despite its appearance as a more inclusive way of indicating “shared time”, I argue that it functions, rather insidiously, to mask as universal a construct that is in fact culturally-specific and localized in the European Christian experience.

Author Biography

Wei-Hsien Wan, University of Exeter

Wei Hsien Wan is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter. His thesis, supervised by David Horrell, examines ideological conflict between Roman imperialism and 1 Peter.


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How to Cite

Wan, W.-H. (2016). Whose Time? Which Rationality? Reflections on Empire, 1 Peter, and the “Common Era”. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 7(3), 279–294. https://doi.org/10.1558/post.v7i3.28300



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