In the public sphere, it is often assumed that acts of violence carried out by Muslims are inspired by their religious commitment and encouraged by the Qur’an. Some people express similar concerns about the scriptures and actions of Christians and Jews. Might they be right? What role do scriptural texts play in motivating and justifying violence in these three traditions?
Scripture and Violence explores the complex relationship between scriptural texts and real-world acts of violence. A variety of issues are addressed, including the prevalent modern tendency to express more concern about other people’s texts and violence than one’s own, to treat interpretation and application of scriptural passages as self-evident, and to assume that the actions of religious people are directly motivated by what they read in scriptures. Contributions come from a diverse group of scholars of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity with varying perspectives on the issues.
Highlighting the complex relationship between texts and human actions, this is an essential read for students and academics studying religion and violence, Abrahamic religions, or scriptural interpretation. Scripture and Violence will also be of interest to researchers working on religion and politics, sociology and anthropology of religion, socio-political approaches to scriptural texts, and issues surrounding religion, secularity, and the public sphere. This volume could also form a basis for discussions in churches, synagogues, mosques, interfaith settings, and government agencies.
The editors of Scripture and Violence have also set up a website including lesson plans/discussion guides for the different chapters in the book, available here: https://www.scriptureandviolence.org/scripture-and-violence-book-and-chapter-discussion-guides
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: scripture and violence – is there a bomb in this text? 2. Reading and debating the Qur’an with ISIS 3. "And God said": do biblical commands to conquer land make people more violent, or less? 4. Invoking the Qurʾan in a Muslim debate over suicide attacks 5. Texts and violence in modern Israel: interpreting Pinchas 6. Why saying "only some Muslims are violent" is no better than saying "all Muslims are violent" 7. Left behind? The New Testament and American evangelical Christian support for war 8. "There never was and never will be": violence and interpretive erasure in the Jewish tradition 9. Reading scripture reverentially but not univocally: why words in themselves are not dangerous 10. Wrestling with scripture and avoiding violence in the university classroom
Julia Snyder is Research Associate in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, UK.
Daniel H. Weiss is Polonsky-Coexist Senior Lecturer in Jewish Studies in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, UK.