Wounds Not Healed by Time: The Power of Repentance and Forgiveness

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Overview

How should we respond to injuries done to us and to the hurts that we inflict on others? In this thoughtful book, Wounds Not Healed By Time, Solomon Schimmel guides us through the meanings of justice, forgiveness, repentance, and reconciliation. In doing so, he probes to the core of the human encounter with evil, drawing on religious traditions, psychology, philosophy, and the personal experiences of both perpetrators and of victims.
Christianity, Judaism and Islam call for forgiveness and repentance in our relations with others. Yet, as Schimmel points out, there are significant differences between them as to when and whom to forgive. Is forgiving always more moral than refusing to forgive? Is it ever immoral to forgive? When is repentance a pre-condition for forgiveness, and what does repentance entail? Schimmel explores these questions in diverse contexts, ranging from conflicts in a marriage and personal slights we experience every day to enormous crimes such as the Holocaust. He applies insights on forgiveness and repentance to the Middle East, post-apartheid South Africa, inter-religious relationships, and the criminal justice system.
In Wounds Not Healed By Time, Schimmel also provides practical strategies to help us forgive and repent, preparing the way for healing and reconciliation between individuals and groups. "It is my belief," Schimmel concludes, "that the best balm for the resentment, rage, guilt, and shame engendered by human evil lies in finding the proper balance between justice, repentance, and forgiveness."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A thorough and thoughtful book on a subject that could not be more important in the years ahead."—Jerusalem Post

"The author maintains that 'therapists, clergy, and pastoral counselors need to familiarize themselves with the philosophical, theological, and psychological literature on forgiveness if they intend to incorporate it into their practices constructively.' For professional and layman alike, this thoughtful and accessible volume is a good place to start."—First Things

"A tough, intellectually cogent analysis of repentance and forgiveness—issues that are generally relegated to sermonizing. This is not a sermon. It is a powerful and readable work of scholarship, imbued with the passion of a scholar who understands both evil and forgiveness and the difficult relationship between them."—Alan Dershowitz, author of Shouting Fire: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age

"A nuanced and intellectually rich treatment of repentance and forgiveness.... Wounds Not Healed by Time is a remarkable exposition of the ways we deal—or might deal—with wrongs we commit against each other."—Avodah Newsletter

"Schimmel brings a high level of scholarship, a deeply personal tone and an accessible writing style to complex questions of repentance and forgiveness.... Most admirably, Schimmel adds his own voice in a way that seems to come less from books than from the heart."—Publishers Weekly

"Deftly elucidates topics of revenge, justice, why and when to forgive, how to forgive, repentance, and reconciliation. He deals sensitively with these issues at the personal level and also includes institutional or national perspectives through an examination of America's race relations, the Vatican's recent apologies, Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, and the South African experience with its Truth and Reconciliation Commission.... He criticizes the pressure in our culture to forgive too quickly and provides a respectful questioning of that pressure's Christian roots. This can serve as a self-help book for sophisticated readers or as a starting point for philosophical consideration of the topic."—Library Journal

"In this honest, eloquent book, Solomon Schimmel invites us to view the relation of forgiveness and repentance through multiple religious, secular, personal and social lenses. Christian readers, in particular, should ponder carefully his strong argument that forgiveness without repentance is morally unsupportable."—Donald W. Shriver, President Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary, and author of An Ethic for Enemies: Forgiveness in Politics

"From Jerusalem to the Vatican to Capetown, Schimmel takes us on a scholarly journey through humanity's struggle to understand and cope with evil. He argues, with both passion and insight, that our only hope for a sane future lies in overcoming our natural tendencies toward vengeance and replacing them with a balance of justice, forgiveness, and repentance. Fortunately for the human race, we can, Schimmel insists, learn to forgive. Let's hope he's right."—Robert Epstein, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, Psychology Today, and University Research Professor, California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University

"Drawing on a rich array of sources and writing with one eye on theology and one on more contemporary psychological attitudes, Schimmel's work will go far towards deepening our understanding of the contradictory, ambivalent, difficult, yet ultimately redeeming processes of forgiveness. This remains a knowledge that we, unfortunately, will have to draw on for many years to come."—Adam B. Seligman, author of Modernity's Wager

"Solomon Schimmel brings the Jewish and the Christian teachings about forgiveness and repentance together with the findings of modern psychology in a way that illuminates all three sources of insight. By refusing to sever forgiveness from justice and repentance, Schimmel provides a much-needed corrective to the soft-headed, sentimental thinking that usually pervades the discussion."—Jon D. Levenson, Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies, Harvard University, and author of The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son

Publishers Weekly
Schimmel, a professor of Jewish education and psychology, brings a high level of scholarship, a deeply personal tone and an accessible writing style to complex questions of repentance and forgiveness. Taking his cue from the now classic collection of essays entitled The Sunflower (in which Simon Wiesenthal asks Jewish and Christian scholars for their thoughts on his denial of forgiveness to a young, dying SS officer), Schimmel revisits Wiesenthal's anguished questions by taking seriously perspectives and resources from Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Indeed, in lifting out real differences among the three Abrahamic faiths on the relationships among forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation, Schimmel draws out moral ambiguities with which all three traditions grapple. He brings these religious debates to a diversity of sociopolitical questions: Can a religious or political leader repent (or forgive) on behalf of a group or a nation? If the "sins of the fathers" really are visited upon the next generation, then how should we determine who our "fathers" are? For example, are immigrants responsible for the sins their adopted country committed before they arrived? And can reconciliation begin even among groups that disagree about who should be forgiving whom (e.g., in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict)? Most admirably, Schimmel adds his own voice in a way that seems to come less from books than from the heart. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
As a nation and as individuals, we all struggle with questions of forgiveness and vengeance. Schimmel (Jewish education & psychology, Hebrew Coll.; The Seven Deadly Sins) uses the teachings of Judaism and Christianity and the research of modern psychology to throw light on this struggle. He deftly elucidates topics of revenge, justice, why and when to forgive, how to forgive, repentance, and reconciliation. He deals sensitively with these issues at the personal level and also includes institutional or national perspectives through an examination of America's race relations, the Vatican's recent apologies, Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, and the South African experience with its Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Schimmel's thoughtful exploration of these themes includes the use of biblical and Talmudic texts, as well as current psychological thought. He criticizes the pressure in our culture to forgive too quickly and provides a respectful questioning of that pressure's Christian roots. This can serve as a self-help book for sophisticated readers or as a starting point for philosophical consideration of the topic. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.-Stephen Joseph, Butler Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Pittsburgh Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195176124
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,205,641
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Solomon Schimmel is Professor of Jewish Education and Psychology at Hebrew College, in Newton, Massachusetts. He is the author of The Seven Deadly Sins: Jewish, Christian, and Classical Reflections on Human Psychology.

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Table of Contents

1 Revenge & justice 11
2 The essence of forgiveness 40
3 Why & when to forgive 61
4 How to forgive 89
5 Forgiving oneself & forgiving God 121
6 The essence of repentance 141
7 Repentance & reconciliation 182
Epilogue : the South African experience 220
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