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Political Violence In Judaism, Christianity, And Islam: From Holy War To Modern Terror - Isbn:9781442247567

Category: Political Science

  • Book Title: Political Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: From Holy War to Modern Terror
  • ISBN 13: 9781442247567
  • ISBN 10: 1442247568
  • Author: Jonathan Fine
  • Category: Political Science
  • Category (general): Political Science
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
  • Format & Number of pages: 280 pages, book
  • Synopsis: Fred Bruner and Ilan Rachum, Introduction, in The First World Super Power: Spain, Europe and Latin America [Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Carmel Publishing, 2009 ), 1–33 ... David Thomson, Europe since Napoleon (London: Penguin, 1988), 79– 91.

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Political Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Jonathan Fine: 9781442247550

Political Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. From Holy War to Modern Terror Description

This analysis of the evolution of religious political violence outlines the differences between secular and religious political violence, on ideological, strategic, and tactical levels before comparing the concept of Holy War in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Lastly, it shows how modern radical monotheistic religious groups interpret and manipulate their religious sources and ideas to advocate their political agendas, including the practice of violence. A unique comparative study of religious political violence across Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, this text features many international case studies from the Crusades to the Arab Spring.show more

Product details
  • Format Paperback | 274 pages
  • Dimensions 152.4 x 228.6 x 22.86mm | 408.23g
  • Publication date 26 Mar 2015
  • Imprint Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
  • Publication City/Country Lanham, MD, United States
  • Language English
  • ISBN10 144224755X
  • ISBN13 9781442247550
  • Sales rank 1,038,574
People who bought this also bought Review quote

Jonathan Fine's timely study is the first comparison of holy wars in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. His work is essential to understand and counters the misinterpretation of religious sources and ideas to serve political agendas. -- Rohan Gunaratna, author of "Inside al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror" Dr. Jonathan Fine provides a crucial overview of political violence in a comparative way. Using the tools of a historian and a political scientist, Dr. Fine analyzes the phenomenon of terrorism in various context and the origins of 'holy' violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. A very timely and important book. -- Boaz Ganor, co-founder and executive director, The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), Herzliyya, Israel A brilliant analysis with original ideas that will be of great interest. A work that challenges conventions and commonplaces. A masterpiece. -- Jose J. Sanmartin, University of Alicante, Spain Political Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is a major contribution to our understanding of the relationship between the three major monotheistic religions and violent conflict. Exhibiting a deep knowledge of the subject matter as evidenced in extensive use of primary sources, and combining historical analysis with an interdisciplinary perspective, Jonathan Fine's comprehensive, informative, and balanced study will appeal to casual readers and specialists alike. -- Assaf Moghadam, author of The Globalization of Martyrdom: Al Qaeda, Salafi Jihad, and the Diffusion of Suicide Attacks The strengths of Fine's monumental and ambitious study are its innovative methodological approaches and its impressive first-hand and secondary sources. It deals symmetrically and fairly with the three religions; and its comparative inter-disciplinary nature adds to its analytical value. It is therefore a welcome addition to the existing literature. -- Rami Ginat, Department of Political Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Israel Jonathan Fine has composed a comprehensive effort, in both breadth and depth, to bridge the textual and ideological foundations of Western religions with the modern religiously-motivated terrorism that emerged from those traditions. His erudite analysis crosses academic fields and draws together disparate theoretical lenses to form an ambitious survey of one of the most pressing challenges of our time. -- Ron E. Hassner, U.C. Berkeleyshow more

About Jonathan Fine

Jonathan Fine is a senior researcher at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism and an assistant professor at the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya).show more

Table of contents

General Introduction Part One: The Origins of Political Violence and 'Terror' Introduction to Part One Chapter 1: Ancient and Medieval Concepts 1.1 Terror and Political Violence: How to Address the Topic? 1.2 The Ancient Near East 1.3 The Ancient Hebrews 1.4 The Greco-Roman World 1.5 Medieval Europe 1.6 The Arab World Chapter 2: The Rise of Modern Secular-Agenda Political Violence 2.1 Revolutionizing the Term 'Terrorism' 2.2 Post-French Revolution Terminology 2.3 The Use of the Terms 'Terror' and 'Horror' in Modern Literature 2.4 Post-World War Two Guerrilla and Terrorist Organizations 2.5 Terrorism and the Media 2.6 The "Secular Formative Text" 2.7 Enemy-Definition in Western Culture and its Concept in Secular Terrorist Organizations and Guerrilla Movements 2.8 Secular Middle Eastern Groups 2.9 The Terminology of 'Terror' & 'Terrorism' in a Historical Perspective Chapter 3: The Rise of Modern Religious-Agenda Political Violence 3.1 Religion and Political Violence in Early-Modern Political Thought 3.2 Political Science, International Relations, and Religion: Social Movement - Theory, Resource Mobilization Theory, Primordialism, Constructivism and Instrumentalism 3.3 Comparative Religion 3.4 Current Research on Holy War in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam 3.5 Current Research on Modern Jewish, Christian and Muslim Fundamentalism 3.6 The "Formative Religious Text": between Personality - Cult and Text Cult: a Different Approach 3.7 Enemy-Perception by Radical Religious Groups p. 74 3.8 Secular and Religious Texts on a Comparative Level: "Who is the -Enemey?" Part Two: The Early Origins of Holy War in Monotheism:Judaism, Christianity, and Islam Introduction to Part Two Chapter 4: The Origins of Holy War in Judaism 4.1 Holy War Terminology in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam 4.2 The Hebrew Bible 4.3 Classic Jewish Interpretations: the Mishna 4.4 Classic Jewish Interpretations: the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds 4.5 Medieval Commentators: Rashi, Maimonides and Nahmanides 4.6 The Fate of Amalek and the Question of Total Eradication 4.7 Prohibition against National Revival by Force 4.8 The Midrash Interpretation: The Ill Fate of the Tribe of Ephraim 4.9 Apocryphal Literature: Enemy Definition and War in the War Scroll 4.10 Preliminary Changes in Jewish Interpretation towards the Three Vows: Rabbi Yosef Chaim Chapter 5: The Origins of Holy War in Christianity 5.1 Unique Attributes of Holy War in Christianity 5.2 The Impact of Classic Sources 5.3 The Impact of Jewish Sources 5.4 Concepts of War and Peace in the New Testament 5.5 Government and State in the New Testament 5.6 The Concept of Just War in the Christian Roman Empire: FromConstantine to St. Augustine 5.7 Holy War and the Crusade 5.8 Thomas of Aquinas Chapter 6: The Origins of Holy War in Islam 6.1 The Concept of Warfare in the Quran and the Meaning of Jihad 6.2 Post-Quranic Interpretations of the Term Jihad 6.3 Attitudes to Non-Muslims and the Concept of Dhimmi during Islam's Expansion Part Three: From Holy War to Modern Terror Introduction to Part Three Chapter 7: The Rise of Modern Religious Violence in Judaism 7. 1 The Rise of Modern Nationalism and Anti-Semitism 7. 2 The British Mandate and the Impact of Rabbi Avraham Kook 7. 3 The Anti-Zionist Orthodox Camp 7. 4 The Impact of the Holocaust and Rabbi Moshe Yoel Teitelbaum 7. 5 Religious Violence Following the Establishment of the State of Israel 7. 6 The Impact of the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War 7. 7 Reclaiming the Temple Mount 7. 8 The Six Day War and the Anti-Zionist Orthodox 7. 9 From Crisis to Violence: The Impact of the Camp David Accords, 1979 7.10 Rabbi Meir Kahane and the Kach Movement p.183 7.11 The Jewish Underground (ha Machteret ha Yehudit) and Yehuda Etzion 7.12 From the Oslo Agreements to the Second Intifada: 1993 - 2000 7.13 The Evacuation of Gaza: 2005 7.14 'Torat ha Melech' ('The King's Way') and its Impact 7.15 'Price Tag' - 'Tag Mechir' Chapter 8: The Rise of Modern Religious Violence in Christianity 8.1 Early Modern Origins 8.2 Early Modern Pacifist Trends 8.3 The Discovery of the New World and the Attitude towards the Natives 8.4 Christianity, Enlightenment, War and Peace 8.5 Christian Attitudes towards War and Peace during the 19th Century 8.6 World War One and its Impact 8.7 The Resurgence and Failure of Pacifism: 1919-1939 8.8 World War Two and its Impact 8.9 Christian Attitudes towards War and Peace during the Cold War: The WWC and the 1965 Vatican Council on Modern War 8.10 The Rise of the 'Christian Right' in America 8.11 The Christian Right and the Ideology of Christian Zionism 8.12 Violence in the Name of God and the Christian Identity Groups in the US: From the KKK to the 'Army of God' 8.13 Christian Identity Groups Outside the US and the Massacre in Norway Chapter 9: The Rise of Modern Religious Violence in Islam 9.1 General Background 9.2 Sunni Radicalism: the Rise of the Society of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. 9.3 The Ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood 9.4 Shiite Radicalism: Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution in Iran 9.5 Abduallah Yusuf Azam and the Idea of Global Jihad 9.6 The Use of Violence and Redefining the Status of the Modern Dhimmi 9.7 The 'Afghan Alumni' and the Legacy of Azam 9.8. The Practice of Violence against the Enemy: Past and Present 9.9 The Impact of Radical Islam on the Palestinians 9.10 The Arab Spring 9.11 The Controversy Concerning Political Islam Summary and Conclusions: Bibliographyshow more

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Christianity and violence

Christianity and violence

The relationship of Christianity and violence is the subject of controversy because mainstream Christianity advocates peace. love and compassion, yet it is also viewed as a violent religion. [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] Peace, compassion and forgiveness of wrongs done by others are key elements of Christian teaching. However, Christians have struggled since the days of the Church Fathers with the question of when the use of force is justified. Such debates have led to concepts such as just war theory. Throughout history, certain teachings from the Old Testament. the New Testament and Christian theology have been used to justify the use of force against heretics, sinners and external enemies.

Although Christian teaching has been relied on to justify a Christian use of force, another Christian thought is of opposition to the use of force and violence. Sects that have emphasized pacificism as a central tenet of faith have resulted from the latter thought. Christians have also engaged in violence against those that they classify as heretics and non-believers specifically to enforce orthodoxy of their faith. In Letter to a Christian Nation . critic of religion Sam Harris writes that ". faith inspires violence in at least two ways. First, people often kill other human beings because they believe that the creator of the universe wants them to do it. Second, far greater numbers of people fall into conflict with one another because they define their moral community on the basis of their religious affiliation. " [ 4 ]

Christian theologians point to a strong doctrinal and historical imperative within Christianity against violence, particularly Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. which taught nonviolence and "love of enemies". For example, Weaver asserts that Jesus' pacifism was "preserved in the justifiable war doctrine that declares all war as sin even when declaring it occasionally a necessary evil, and in the prohibition of fighting by monastics and clergy as well as in a persistent tradition of Christian pacifism." [ 5 ]

Contents Definition of violence

Abhijit Nayak writes that:

The word "violence" can be defined to extend far beyond pain and shedding blood. It carries the meaning of physical force, violent language, fury and, more importantly, forcible interference. [ 6 ]

Terence Fretheim writes:

For many people. only physical violence truly qualifies as violence. But, certainly, violence is more than killing people, unless one includes all those words and actions that kill people slowly. The effect of limitation to a “killing fields” perspective is the widespread neglect of many other forms of violence. We must insist that violence also refers to that which is psychologically destructive, that which demeans, damages, or depersonalizes others. In view of these considerations, violence may be defined as follows: any action, verbal or nonverbal, oral or written, physical or psychical, active or passive, public or private, individual or institutional/societal, human or divine, in whatever degree of intensity, that abuses, violates, injures, or kills. Some of the most pervasive and most dangerous forms of violence are those that are often hidden from view (against women and children, especially); just beneath the surface in many of our homes, churches, and communities is abuse enough to freeze the blood. Moreover, many forms of systemic violence often slip past our attention because they are so much a part of the infrastructure of life (e.g. racism, sexism, ageism). [ 7 ]

Heitman and Hagan identify the Inquisition. Crusades. Wars of Religion and antisemitism as being "among the most notorious examples of Christian violence". [ 8 ] To this list, J. Denny Weaver adds, "warrior popes, support for capital punishment, corporal punishment under the guise of 'spare the rod and spoil the child,' justifications of slavery. world-wide colonialism in the name of conversion to Christianity, the systemic violence of women subjected to men." Weaver employs a broader definition of violence that extends the meaning of the word to cover "harm or damage", not just physical violence per se. Thus, under his definition, Christian violence includes "forms of systemic violence such as poverty, racism, and sexism." [ 5 ]

Christianity as a violent religion

I Believe in the Sword and Almighty God (1914) by Boardman Robinson .

Charles Selengut characterizes the phrase "religion and violence" as "jarring", asserting that "religion is thought to be opposed to violence and a force for peace and reconciliation. He acknowledges, however, that "the history and scriptures of the world's religions tell stories of violence and war as they speak of peace and love." [ 9 ]

  • Religions sometimes use war, violence, and terrorism to promote their religious goals
  • Religious leaders contribute to secular wars and terrorism by endorsing or supporting the violence
  • Religious fervor is exploited by secular leaders to support war and terrorism

Byron Bland asserts that one of the most prominent reasons for the "rise of the secular in Western thought" was the reaction against the religious violence of the 16th and 17th centuries. He asserts that "(t)he secular was a way of living with the religious differences that had produced so much horror. Under secularity, political entities have a warrant to make decisions independent from the need to enforce particular versions of religious orthodoxy. Indeed, they may run counter to certain strongly held beliefs if made in the interest of common welfare. Thus, one of the important goals of the secular is to limit violence." [ 12 ]

Miroslav Volf acknowledges that "many contemporaries see religion as a pernicious social ill that needs aggressive treatment rather than a medicine from which cure is expected." However, Volf contests this claim that "(the) Christian faith, as one of the major world religions, predominantly fosters violence." Instead of this negative assessment, Volf argues that Christianity "should be seen as a contributor to more peaceful social environments." [ 13 ]

Many authors highlight the ironical contradiction between Christianity's claims to be centered on "love and peace" while, at the same time, harboring a "violent side". For example, Mark Juergensmeyer argues: "that despite its central tenets of love and peace, Christianity—like most traditions—has always had a violent side. The bloody history of the tradition has provided images as disturbing as those provided by Islam or Sikhism. and violent conflict is vividly portrayed in the Bible. This history and these biblical images have provided the raw material for theologically justifying the violence of contemporary Christian groups. For example, attacks on abortion clinics have been viewed not only as assaults on a practice that Christians regard as immoral, but also as skirmishes in a grand confrontation between forces of evil and good that has social and political implications." [ 14 ] :19-20. sometimes referred to as Spiritual warfare. The statement attributed to Jesus "I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword " has been interpreted by some as a call to arms to Christians. [ 14 ]

Maurice Bloch also argues that Christian faith fosters violence because Christian faith is a religion, and religions are by their very nature violent; moreover, he argues that religion and politics are two sides of the same coin—power. [ 15 ] Similarly, Hector Avalos argues that, because religions claim divine favor for themselves, over and against other groups, this sense of righteousness leads to violence because conflicting claims to superiority, based on unverifiable appeals to God, cannot be adjudicated objectively. [ 2 ]

Regina Schwartz argues that all monotheistic religions, including Christianity, are inherently violent because of an exclusivism that inevitably fosters violence against those that are considered outsiders. [ 16 ] Lawrence Wechsler asserts that Schwartz isn't just arguing that Abrahamic religions have a violent legacy, but that the legacy is actually genocidal in nature. [ 17 ]

In response, Christian apologists such as Miroslav Volf and J. Denny Weaver reject charges that Christianity is a violent religion, arguing that certain aspects of Christianity might be misused to support violence but that a genuine interpretation of its core elements would not sanction human violence but would instead resist it. Among the examples that are commonly used to argue that Christianity is a violent religion, J. Denny Weaver lists "(the) crusades, the multiple blessings of wars, warrior popes, support for capital punishment, corporal punishment under the guise of 'spare the rod and spoil the child,' justifications of slavery, world-wide colonialism in the name of conversion to Christianity, the systemic violence of women subjected to men". Weaver characterizes the counter-argument as focusing on "Jesus, the beginning point of Christian faith. whose Sermon on the Mount taught nonviolence and love of enemies,; who faced his accusers nonviolent death;whose nonviolent teaching inspired the first centuries of pacifist Christian history and was subsequently preserved in the justifiable war doctrine that declares all war as sin even when declaring it occasionally a necessary evil, and in the prohibition of fighting by monastics and clergy as well as in a persistent tradition of Christian pacifism." [ 5 ]

Miroslav Volf has examined the question of whether Christianity fosters violence, and has identified four main arguments that it does: that religion by its nature is violent, which occurs when people try to act as "soldiers of God"; that monotheism entails violence, because a claim of universal truth divides people into "us versus them"; that creation, as in the Book of Genesis. is an act of violence; and that the intervention of a "new creation", as in the Second Coming. generates violence. [ 1 ] Writing about the latter, Volf says: "Beginning at least with Constantine's conversion, the followers of the Crucified have perpetrated gruesome acts of violence under the sign of the cross. Over the centuries, the seasons of Lent and Holy Week were, for the Jews, times of fear and trepidation; Christians have perpetrated some of the worst pogroms as they remembered the crucifixion of Christ, for which they blamed the Jews. Muslims also associate the cross with violence; crusaders' rampages were undertaken under the sign of the cross." [ 18 ] In each case, Volf concluded that the Christian faith was misused in justifying violence. Volf argues that "thin" readings of Christianity might be used mischievously to support the use of violence. He counters, however, by asserting that "thick" readings of Christianity's core elements will not sanction human violence and would, in fact, resist it. [ 1 ]

Volf asserts that Christian churches suffer from a "confusion of loyalties". He asserts that "rather than the character of the Christian faith itself, a better explanation of why Christian churches are either impotent in the face of violent conflicts or actively participate in them derives from the proclivities of its adherents which are at odds with the character of the Christian faith." Volf observes that "(although) explicitly giving ultimate allegiance to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, many Christians in fact seem to have an overriding commitment to their respective cultures and ethnic groups." [ 19 ]

William Cavanaugh asserts that "the idea that religion has a tendency to promote violence is part of the conventional wisdom of Western societies and it underlies many of our institutions and policies, from limits on the public role of churches to efforts to promote liberal democracy in the Middle East." Cavanaugh challenges this conventional wisdom, arguing that there is a "myth of religious violence", basing his argument on the assertion that "attempts to separate religious and secular violence are incoherent." [ 20 ]

John Teehan takes a position that integrates the two opposing sides of this debate. He describes the traditional response in defense of religion as "draw(ing) a distinction between the religion and what is done in the name of that religion or its faithful." Teehan argues that "this approach to religious violence may be understandable but it is ultimately untenable and prevents us from gaining any useful insight into either religion or religious violence." He takes the position that "violence done in the name of religion is not a perversion of religious belief. but flows naturally from the moral logic inherent in many religious systems, particularly monotheistic religions. " However, Teehan acknowledges that "religions are also powerful sources of morality." He asserts that "religious morality and religious violence both spring from the same source, and this is the evolutionary psychology underlying religious ethics." [ 21 ]

Christian scriptures

Main article: Bible and violence

From its earliest days, Christianity has been challenged to reconcile the scriptures known as the "Old Testament " with the scriptures known as the "New Testament ". Ra'anan S. Boustan asserts that "(v)iolence can be found throughout the pages of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament." [ 22 ] Philip Jenkins describes the Bible as overflowing with "texts of terror". [ 23 ]

In response to these charges of violence in their scriptures, many Christian theologians and apologists respond that the "God of the Old Testament" is a violent God whereas the "God of the New Testament" is a peaceful and loving God. Gibson and Matthews characterize this view as a "millenia-old bias", one that "places the origins of Judeo-Christian violence squarely within Judaism". [ 24 ]

Terence Freitheim describes the Old Testament as a "book filled with. the violence of God". He asserts that while the New Testament does not have the same reputation, it too is "filled with violent words and deeds, and Jesus and the God of the New Testament are complicit in this violence. [ 7 ] Gibson and Matthews have a similar perspective. [ 24 ]

Gibson and Matthews make a similar charge, asserting that many studies of violence in the Bible focus on violence in the Old Testament while ignoring or giving little attention to the New Testament. They find even more troubling "those studies that lift up the New Testament as somehow containing the antidote for Old Testament violence." [ 25 ]

This apparent contradiction in the sacred scriptures between a "God of vengeance" and a "God of love" are the basis of a tension between the irenic and eristic tendencies of Christianity that has continued to the present day.

This approach is challenged by those who point out that there are also passages in the New Testament that tolerate, condone and even encourage the use of violence. John Hemer asserts that the two primary approaches that Christian teaching uses to deal with "the problem of violence in the Old Testament" are:

  1. Concentrate more on the many passages where God is depicted as loving – much of Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, Deuteronomy.
  2. Explain how the idea of God as a violent punishing war monger is all part of the historical and cultural conditioning of the author and that we can ignore it in good faith, especially in the light of the New Testament.

In opposition to these two approaches, Hemer argues that to ignore or explain away the violence found in the Old Testament is a mistake. He asserts that "Violence is not peripheral to the Bible it is central, in many ways it is the issue, because of course it is the human problem." He concludes by saying that "The Bible is in fact the story of the slow, painstaking and sometimes faltering escape from the idea of a God who is violent to a God who is love and has absolutely nothing to do with violence." [ 26 ] Ronald Clements expresses a similar view, writing that "to dismiss the biblical language concerning the divine wrath as inappropriate, or even offensive, to the modern religious mind achieves nothing at all by way of resolving the tensions in the reality of human history and human experience. [ 27 ]

The image of a violent God in Hebrew scriptures that condoned and even ordered violence posed a problem for some early Christians who saw this as a direct contradiction to the God of peace and love attested to in the New Testament. Perhaps the most famous example was Marcion who dropped the Hebrew scriptures from his version of the Bible because he found in them a violent God. Marcion saw the God of the Old Testament, the Demiurge and creator of the material universe. as a jealous tribal deity of the Jews, whose law represented legalistic reciprocal justice and who punishes mankind for its sins by suffering and death. Marcion wrote that the God of the Old Testament was an "uncultured, jealous, wild, belligerent, angry and violent God, who has nothing in common with the God of the New Testament. " For Marcion, the God about whom Jesus was an altogether different being, a universal God of compassion and love, who looks upon humanity with benevolence and mercy. Marcion argued that Christianity should be solely based on Christian Love. He went so far as to say that Jesus’ mission was to overthrow Demiurge -- the fickle, cruel, despotic God of the Old Testament—and replace Him with the Supreme God of Love whom Jesus came to reveal. [ 28 ]

Marcion's teaching was repudiated by Tertullian in five treatises titled "Against Marcion" and Marcion was ultimately excommunicated by the Church of Rome. [ 29 ]

The difficulty posed by the apparent contradiction between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament continues to perplex pacifist Christians to this day. Eric Seibert asserts that, "(f)or many Christians, involvement in warfare and killing in the pages of the Old Testament is incontrovertible evidence that such activities have God's blessing. Attitudes like this are terribly troubling to religious pacifists and demonstrate the kind of problems these texts create for them." [ 30 ] Some modern-day pacifists such as Charles Raven have argued that the Church should repudiate the Old Testament as an unchristian book, thus echoing the approach taken by Marcion in the 2nd century. [ 31 ]

Old Testament

The principle of "an eye for an eye" is often referred to using the Latin phrase lex talionis. the law of talion. The meaning of the principle Eye for an Eye is that a person who has injured another person returns the offending action to the originator in compensation. The exact Latin (lex talionis) to English translation of this phrase is actually "The law of retaliation." At the root of this principle is that one of the purposes of the law is to provide equitable retribution for an offended party.

Dr Ian Guthridge cited many instances of genocide in the Old Testament: [ 32 ] :319-320

the Bible also contains the horrific account of what can only be described as a "biblical holocaust". For, in order to keep the chosen people apart from and unaffected by the alien beliefs and practices of indigenous or neighbouring peoples, when God commanded his chosen people to conquer the Promised Land, he placed city after city 'under the ban" -which meant that every man, woman and child was to be slaughtered at the point of the sword.

The extent of extermination is described in the scriptural passage Deut 20:16-18 which orders the Israelites to "not leave alive anything that breathes… completely destroy them …". [ 33 ] thus leading many scholars to characterize the exterminations as genocide. [ 34 ] [ 35 ] [ 36 ] [ 37 ] [ 38 ] [ 39 ] [ 40 ] [ 41 ] [ 42 ] [ 43 ] Niels Peter Lemche asserts that European colonialism in the 19th century was ideologically based on the Old Testament narratives of conquest and extermination. [ 44 ] Arthur Grenke claims that the view or war expressed in Deuteronomy contributed to the destruction of Native Americans and to the destruction of European Jewry. [ 45 ]

New Testament

Christian interpretation of the lex talionis has been heavily influenced by the quotation from Leviticus (19:18 above) in Jesus of Nazareth 's Sermon on the Mount. In the Expounding of the Law (part of the Sermon on the Mount), Jesus urges his followers to turn the other cheek when confronted by violence:

You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:38–39. NRSV)

This saying of Jesus is frequently interpreted as criticism of the Old Testament teaching, and often taken as implying that "an eye for an eye" encourages excessive vengeance rather than an attempt to limit it. It was one of the points of 'fulfilment or destruction' of the Hebrew law which the Church father St. Augustine already discussed in his Contra Faustum, Book XIX. [ 46 ]

Christian teaching

Theologian Robert McAfee Brown identifies a succession of three basic attitudes towards violence and war during the history of Christian thought. The first of these attitudes was the strict pacifism of the earliest Christians; by the 3rd century, this pacifism had evolved to incorporate the concept of a just war which then led to the development of the holy war or crusade. [ 47 ]

Pacifism in early Christianity

See also: Early Christianity and pacifism and Constantine I and Christianity

Many scholars assert that Early Christianity (prior to 313 AD) was a pacifist religion and that, only after it had become the state religion of the Roman Empire. did Christianity begin to rationalize, institutionalize and endorse violence to further the interests of the state and the church. Some scholars believe that "the accession of Constantine terminated the pacifist period in church history." [ 48 ] According to Rene Girard, "Beginning with Constantine, Christianity triumphed at the level of the state and soon began to cloak with its authority persecutions similar to those in which the early Christians were victims." [ 49 ] And in Ulrich Luz's formulation; "After Constantine, the Christians too had a responsibility for war and peace. Already Celsus asked bitterly whether Christians, by aloofness from society, wanted to increase the political power of wild and lawless barbarians. His question constituted a new actuality; from now on, Christians and churches had to choose between the testimony of the gospel, which included renunciation of violence, and responsible participation in political power, which was understood as an act of love toward the world." Augustine 's Epistle to Marcellinus (Ep 138) is the most influential example of the "new type of interpretation." [ 50 ]

In response to the accusations of Richard Dawkins. Alister McGrath suggests that, far from endorsing "out-group hostility", Jesus commanded an ethic of "out-group affirmation". McGrath agrees that it is necessary to critique religion, but says that it possesses internal means of reform and renewal, and argues that, while Christians may certainly be accused of failing to live up to Jesus' standard of acceptance, Christian ethics reject violence. [ 51 ]

In the first few centuries of Christianity, many Christians refused to engage in military combat. In fact, there were a number of famous examples of soldiers who became Christians and refused to engage in combat afterward. They were subsequently executed for their refusal to fight. [ 52 ] The commitment to pacifism and rejection of military service is attributed by Allman and Allman to two principles: "(1) the use of force (violence) was seen as antithetical to Jesus' teachings and service in the Roman military required worship of the emperor as a god which was a form of idolatry." [ 53 ]

Origen asserted: "Christians could never slay their enemies. For the more that kings, rulers, and peoples have persecuted them everywhere, the more Christians have increased in number and grown in strength." [ 54 ] Clement of Alexandria wrote: "Above all, Christians are not allowed to correct with violence." [ 55 ] Tertullian argued forcefully against all forms of violence, considering abortion, warfare and even judicial death penalties to be forms of murder. [ 56 ] [ 57 ] These positions of these three Church Fathers are maintained today by Catholics [ 58 ] and Orthodox Christians. [ 59 ]

Non-violence as a Christian doctrine

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.. a prominent advocate of Christian nonviolence

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