Does the Bible Justify Violence?

Does the Bible Justify Violence?

Does the Bible Justify Violence?

Does the Bible Justify Violence?

Synopsis

Renowned biblical scholar John J. Collins asks tough questions about the relationship between the portrayals of violence in the Bible and how they have been used throughout history. The Crusaders, Puritans, and abolitionists all used the Bible to justify their use of violence - and this process continues. In light of today's religious and political rhetoric, how shall we interpret these ancient documents? How can we understand the biblical stories, prophecies, and songs in their historical contexts and avoid making self-serving and even violent use of them?

Excerpt

The Bible, of all books, is the most dangerous one, the one that has been endowed with the power to kill,” writes Mieke Bal. Like many striking aphorisms, this statement is not quite true. Some other books, notably the Qur’an, are surely as lethal, and in any case, to coin a phrase, books don’t kill people. But Professor Bal has a point nonetheless. When it became clear that the terrorists of September 11, 2001, saw or imagined their grievances in religious terms, any reader of the Bible should have had a flash of recognition. The Muslim extremists drew their inspiration from the Qur’an rather than the Bible, but both Scriptures draw from the same wellsprings of ancient Near Eastern religion. While it is true that both Bible and Qur’an admit of various readings and emphases, and that terrorist hermeneutics can be seen as a case of the devil citing Scripture for his purpose, it is also true that the devil does not have to . . .

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