More Information
ISBN: 9781783687671
Imprint: HippoBooks
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 16
Publication Date: 31/03/2020
Pages: 298
Language: English

Against Principalities and Powers

Spiritual Beings in Relation to Communal Identity and the Moral Discourse of Ephesians


In this comprehensive exploration of Ephesians, Daniel K. Darko establishes the context of early Christians in Asia Minor, specifically in relation to their belief in spiritual beings and the role these beings play in human affairs. Drawing parallels with contemporary contexts across the globe, especially in Africa, Professor Darko critiques the limited lens of Western interpretation, encouraging the church to embrace a broader array of worldviews in its pursuit of deep biblical understanding and sound application. Ultimately, Darko demonstrates that salvation in Ephesians is about deliverance from sin and the end of control by evil powers so we can flourish under the reign of God.

Author Bios

Daniel K. Darko

Daniel K. Darko has a PhD in New Testament Studies from King’s College, London, and is Professor of New Testament at Gordon College, Wenham, MA, USA. A native of Ghana, he has served in executive and pastoral roles in Ghana, Croatia, England, and the United States. He is also the Executive Director of Africa Potential and author of No Longer Living as the Gentiles (T&T Clark), among other publications.


The question of whether evil spirits exist and are involved in our daily lives has been firmly decided in the Western educational tradition. The answer is unequivocally “no”! Such a belief system is relegated to an outmoded and primitive worldview that has no place in the modern world. But in this important volume, Daniel Darko has effectively challenged this assumption by demonstrating the convergence of the African worldview with the biblical worldview, especially as reflected in the New Testament letter to the Ephesians. Every Christian should read this book and allow it to shatter their deeply embedded assumptions.

Clinton E. Arnold, PhD
Talbot School of Theology, Pasadena, California, USA

Dan Darko offers an insightful and careful study that reflects on the intersection between the worlds of spirits in Ephesians and African cosmology. It is impossible to encounter African expressions of Christianity in any shape or form without finding in it an engagement with the Holy Spirit, spirits, and principalities and powers. This is an important study that will serve as a major resource in the field of biblical and African Christian spirituality for years to come.

J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, PhD
Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon, Ghana

Daniel Darko fills a gaping hole in the investigation of the role of spiritual beings in Ephesians, a topic that has suffered an abysmal neglect. Drawing parallels without equating the practices and norms of the Jewish, Greco-Roman and New Testament worlds, he shows the benefits of a new way of looking at Scripture from one’s social location, and with non-Western eyes in particular. Darko has provided an alternative and complementary reading of Ephesians that merits the engagement of students and scholars going forward.

J. Ayodeji Adewuya, PhD
Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Cleveland, Tennessee, USA

This careful interdisciplinary work provides insights on Ephesians, its message of unity, Greco-Roman and ancient Jewish cosmology and demonology, and traditional African cosmology, theology and spirits. As such, it also models a self-aware, respectful intercultural reading too often lacking among Western interpreters.

Craig S. Keener, PhD
Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky, USA

In clearly academic yet jargon-free writing, Darko draws the reader into the background world of early Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity offering fresh insights into the spirit cosmology that informs their hearing and living the Scriptures. Under his analysis the parallels between the wisdom sayings of their sages and philosophers, and the injunctions in the Epistles, with Ephesians being the prime example, situates the often misunderstood and contested injunctions in household living within their context in a way that invites attention to re-read these texts with generosity.

Rev Esther E. Acolatse, PhD
Knox College, University of Toronto, Canada

Against Principalities and Powers is a fascinating and engaging work on communal identity and moral discourse in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Darko’s focus on Africa provides an in-depth understanding of African people’s spiritual cosmology, worldview, culture and society as it relates to the broad themes in the book. Using a comparative lens, Darko exegetically explores and articulates a deep knowledge of Pauline writings, making this a significant text for African theology, African religions and World Christianity scholars.

Jacob K. Olupona, PhD
Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Abbreviations
  3. Introduction
  4. Towards Greco-Roman Spirit Cosmology
  5. Spiritual Beings in Judaism and Early Christianity
  6. Spirit Cosmology of Ephesians 1–3
  7. Spiritual Beings in the Moral Discourse of Ephesians 4–6
  8. Parallels and Particulars with African Spirit Cosmology
  9. Conclusions
  10. Appendix 1
  11. Appendix 2
  12. Bibliography
  13. Index of Names
  14. Index of Subjects

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