Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can't Ignore the Bible's Violent Verses
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) explor...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by HarperOne
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As author Philip Jenkins indicates in the prologue to this brilliant masterpiece, Laying Down the Sword is a book on “how we understand and remember texts.” Jenkins challenges the prevalence of Western hegemony over specific and targeted interpretations of and approaches towards Islam and Christianity’s primary religious texts, the Quran and the Bible, respectively. Professor Jenkins rightly notes that in the Western view, ‘the Quran and Islam’ and ‘Christianity and the Bible’ are in stark contr...more
This was one of the most challenging reads I've encountered--not intellectually but emotionally and spiritually. In typical Jenkins style he presents the evidence of what Biblical and Qu'ranic texts say and how they have been used for violence in both religions. I think it would be a misreading of Jenkins to think he is glossing over violence in the Qu'ran. He recongizes it is there. His message, however, seems to focus more on Christians to recognize how troubling our sacred text can be. And as...more
This is a challenging read for those who take a traditional view of inspiration and the authority of Holy Scripture. Jenkins, a prominent figure in modern comparative religious studies, writes both as a scholar and as a Christian. Laying Down the Sword is a head on look at "herem" warfare, as found in Deuteronomy and Joshua, where Yahweh, the god of the Israelites, commands the Hebrew tribes to utterly destroy the Canaanite tribes via genocide, and take possession of their lands and spoils.
This was one of the hardest books I've had to read but when I got to the end, I was glad I had. Jenkins whose scholarly credentials and his integrity as a Christian make him someone I must read, takes on the violent, bloody texts of the Old and New Testament as well as the Qur'an. He makes a case that the Qur'anic texts are actually less supportive of genocide and brutal treatment of unbelievers than the Biblical text. He explores all the ways Christians have tried over the centuries to evade an...more
An excellent read. It is not just about how we remember but it is about how we forget. Jenkins talks about the propensity for religions to edit out the bloodiest and most disturbing texts included in their scriptures. There is a tendency to view Islam as a religion that incites its followers to violence, yet as Jenkins points out Muslims were latecomers to terrorism. He talks about the importance of paying attention to the uncomfortable passages in all religions. There is some evidence that we a...more
Jenkins has long been one of my favorite authors, from his work on global Christianity today to his books examining parts of church history. Here he tackles the Bible and its violent verses. Jenkins compares the Bible, and the religions of Judaism and Christianity, to the Koran of Islam. Many would say that the Koran promotes violence. Jenkins' argument is that the Bible is just as violent, more violent actually, then the Koran. Throughout history Christians (and at times Jews) have used the Bib...more
Philip Jenkins, professor of religious studies at Penn State and Baylor Universities, here tackles a thorny two-fold issue - on the one hand, the attachment of the Bible to narratives and themes of violence, particularly that of holy war; and on the other, the silence of church and synagogue regarding this morally repugnant material marring their sacred text. I brought to this book my own unease over Christians' and Jews' historic lack of accountability for violence in the Bible, a sense of a ve...more
'Philip Jenkins’s challenging new book Laying Down the Sword shows that the Bible contains incitements not just to violence but also to genocide. He argues that Christians and Jews should struggle to make sense of these violent texts as a central element of their tradition, rather than hurry past them or ignore them altogether.'
Read the full review, "Christian Jihad," on our website:
Read the full review, "Christian Jihad," on our website:
One of the most important books on Biblical justification of violence that has been published in the past decade. No-nonsense indictment of modernized, triumphant, self-righteous, charity-less version of Christianity. A version of Christianity that lacks humility, spiritual or otherwise. A magnificent way forward. If I am generous on platitudes, there usually is a reason.
Wide-ranging discussion of the herem passages in the Old Testament. Jenkins offers a variety of theories to explain and contextualize the violent passages in the Old Testament without engaging in the Marcionite heresy of excluding them. They speak about the consciousness of the Israelites after the exile and a return to fierce monotheism. Well-written and engaging.
The Suras from the Islamic tradition that support violence are matched by books of the Old Testament (Joshua, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Numbers) that do the same. Having made that awful similarity clear, Jenkins writes interestingly about how to not "invalidate the text as part of a savage antiquity (232)."
Philip Jenkins was born in Wales in 1952. He was educated at Clare College, in the University of Cambridge, where he took a prestigious “Double First” degree—that is, Double First Class Honors. In 1978, he obtained his doctorate in history, also from Cambridge. Since 1980, he has taught at Penn State University, and currently holds the rank of Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of the Humanities. He is a...moreMore about Philip Jenkins...