Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can't Ignore the Bible's Violent Versesby Philip Jenkins
Philip Jenkins delivers a fearless examination of the darkand violent verses of the Bible—and a call for us to read them anew in pursuitof a richer, more honest faith. From “one of America’s best scholars ofreligion” (The Economist), this daring exploration of the Scripture’smost difficult passages forces us to confront and accept the violence that wasas integral to the formulation of Christianity’s message as it was for manyother of the world’s religions, and shows us how a full understanding of theScripture will allow us to finally move towards a more peaceful, spiritualworld. Readers of Bart Ehrman’s God’s Problem,John Selby Spong’s The Sins of Scripture, andJenkins’s own The Jesus Wars, as well as every Christian eager to squarethe recurrent violence of the Scripture with Christianity’s enduring message ofpeace, will find these difficult questions explored in full in Laying Downthe Sword.
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Meet the Author
Philip Jenkins, the author of The Lost History of Christianity, Jesus Wars, and The Next Christendom, is the Distinguished Professor of History and member of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He has published articles and op-ed pieces in The Wall Street Journal, New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe and has been a guest on top national radio shows across the country.
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First of let me begin by saying I truly enjoy Professor Jenkins's books and feel he is fair and brilliant. However I feel his premise in this book is flawed. I feel that he has fallen for the same errors that secular critics of Christianity make when it comes to "Biblical" violence. In fact there some instances in which I feel Professor Jenkins had had his own selective amnesia. Now I admit I haven't finished the book but I felt compelled to share. If I change my mind later I will retract. I wont bore anyone with a point by point refutation. But a couple of examples are instructive. On page 11 he mentions the violent connotations of Psalm 137. Yet neglects the entire body of the Psalm, to a reader it seems the Jews were quietly sitting near a river contemplating smashing Babylonian babies' skulls against rocks. No mention is made of the fact that the Psalm is a lament of the brutal treatment the Jews suffered after their conquest by Babylon. Similarly in his treatment of Sufi Islam (Page 22) as a peaceful branch of Islam that treated Jihad as merely allegory. He fails to mention that Tamerlane, the Mongol conqueror was probably a Sufi, and fails to mention how Sufis are a strong presence in Chechnya. I hesitate to say is well researched since there is a quite extensive bibliography. However the research tends to be from anti-Christian sources. I was surprised to see such little reference to the Bible itself. Now all that being said, the book is still fascinating, and worth reading. Please dont be put off by my mostly negative comments. I still love Professor Jenkins' books and would buy another one.
We should thank Mr Jenkins for an in depth, clear, and immense work that will benefit our unserstanding about religion and it can equal to violence and how divisive it is.