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Commands to kill, to commit ethnic cleansing, to institutionalize segregation, to hate and fear other races and religions—all are in the Bible, and all occur with a far greater frequency than in the Qur’an. But fanaticism is no more hard-wired in Christianity than it is in Islam. In Laying Down the Sword, “one of America’s best scholars of religion” (The Economist) explores how religions grow past their bloody origins, and delivers a fearless examination of the most violent verses of the Bible and an urgent call ...
Commands to kill, to commit ethnic cleansing, to institutionalize segregation, to hate and fear other races and religions—all are in the Bible, and all occur with a far greater frequency than in the Qur’an. But fanaticism is no more hard-wired in Christianity than it is in Islam. In Laying Down the Sword, “one of America’s best scholars of religion” (The Economist) explores how religions grow past their bloody origins, and delivers a fearless examination of the most violent verses of the Bible and an urgent call to read them anew in pursuit of a richer, more genuine faith.
Christians cannot engage with neighbors and critics of other traditions—nor enjoy the deepest, most mature embodiment of their own faith—until they confront the texts of terror in their heritage. Philip Jenkins identifies the “holy amnesia” that, while allowing scriptural religions to grow and adapt, has demanded a nearly wholesale suppression of the Bible’s most aggressive passages, leaving them dangerously dormant for extremists to revive in times of conflict. Jenkins lays bare the whole Bible, without compromise or apology, and equips us with tools for reading even the most unsettling texts, from the slaughter of the Canaanites to the alarming rhetoric of the book of Revelation.
Laying Down the Sword presents a vital framework for understanding both the Bible and the Qur’an, gives Westerners a credible basis for interaction and dialogue with Islam, and delivers a powerful model for how a faith can grow from terror to mercy.
Introduction: Motes and Beams 1
Part 1 Scripture as Problem
1 Everything That Breathes 29
2 Truth and History 49
3 Words of the Sword 73
Part 2 The Inheritance
4 Sons of Joshua 99
5 Warrant for Genocide 123
6 Amalekite Nightmares 143
Part 3 Truth and Reconciliation
7 Judging God 167
8 Coming to Terms 183
9 Historians and Prophets 209
10 Preaching the Unpreachable 227
11 Scripture Alone? 243
Posted November 28, 2011
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.
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Posted December 6, 2014
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.