When we find that the Jesus of history is really not the imperial, militantly apocalyptic saviour of an elect few but an historical figure whose sayings have been recorded, then, says Robinson, we are left not knowing how to handle what he said. This conclusion emerged as demonstrably true in the preceding chapter’s summary of the history of imperial Christianity. It stands as record of a conspicuous moral failure to handle what we know Jesus said about how we are to relate to those who regard us or whom we regard as enemies:

Love your enemies and pray for those persecuting you, so that you may become children of your Father; for he causes the sun to rise on the bad and the good and rain to fall on the just and unjust. And if you love those who love you, why should you be commended for that? Even the tax collectors do as much, don’t they? And if you greet only your friends, what have you done that is exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, don’t they? To sum up, you are to be as unstinting in your generosity as your heavenly Father’s generosity is unstinting.