Nonviolence-A Brief History: The Warsaw Lectures
Koontz, Gayle Gerber, Journal of Church and State
Nonviolence-A Brief History: The Warsaw Lectures. By John Howard Yoder. Edited by Paul Martens, Matthew Porter, and Myles Werntz. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2010. 124pp. $29.95.
This brief posthumously published book offers scholars a window into how John Howard Yoder chose to present a Christian pacifist ethic to an atypical authence- an ecumenical group of "all the non-Roman Churches," as Yoder put it- in Warsaw, Poland, in 1983.
In eleven lectures, reproduced in this book with minimal editing, Yoder focused on both the history and the future of nonviolence. He was well aware that the people he was speaking to had to decide whether they should participate in secular nonviolent actions in relation to Poland's Communist government. In addition, as a minority group of non-Catholic Christians, they needed to understand and relate to their Roman Catholic neighbors whose heritage included a just war ethic. The underlying issue- the import of Jesus for Christian decisions regarding involvement in nonviolent political actions and for how non-Catholics should understand and assess Catholic social ethics concerning the use of violence- remains live questions in many settings today, including our own.
The editors suggest, therefore, that the lectures remain relevant, while recognizing that many of the themes presented in this book are present in Yoder's previously published work. Indeed, two of the Warsaw lectures- "The Science of Conflict" and "From the Wars of Joshua to Jewish Pacifism"- were also published in The War of the Lamb: The Ethics of Nonviolence and Peacemaking (Eerdmans, 2009). This latter collection of short essays includes several other lectures that Yoder delivered at United Theological Seminary in Ohio in May 1983, the same month he spoke in Warsaw. This results in some additional overlap: the basic development of "an understanding of nonviolent liberation" (p. 46) through Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., that Yoder traces in chapters 1-3 of Nonviolence, is also contained in chapter 3 of War of the Lamb. However in Nonviolence more fully than in War of the Lamb, Yoder sets King in the larger context of the American civil rights struggle (this for his Polish authence, which may benefit Americans who have forgotten or never learned these details), and he summarizes in six points more clearly …
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Publication information: Article title: Nonviolence-A Brief History: The Warsaw Lectures. Contributors: Koontz, Gayle Gerber - Author. Journal title: Journal of Church and State. Volume: 52. Issue: 4 Publication date: Autumn 2010. Page number: 730+. © 1999 J.M. Dawson Studies in Church and State. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.