Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Laying Down the Sword” as Want to Read:
Laying Down the Sword
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Laying Down the Sword

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  68 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
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) explore ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by HarperOne
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Laying Down the Sword, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Laying Down the Sword

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 201)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jay Hershberger
Apr 07, 2012 Jay Hershberger rated it really liked it
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.

Paul Heidebrecht
Mar 21, 2012 Paul Heidebrecht rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 20, 2012 Darcy rated it liked it
Shelves: theology, islam
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
Dec 17, 2013 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: bible, religions
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
Paul Froehlich
Feb 27, 2015 Paul Froehlich rated it it was amazing
Which text is genuine?
a. “Allah is a God of war: Allah is his name.”
b. “The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.”
The answer is b, which is found in the Old Testament, Exodus 15:3.

Ever since 9/11, it has become an article of faith on the political right that Islam is a violent religion. Conservatives cite violent texts from the Qur’an as proof. Christian evangelist Franklin Graham claims that the Qur’an “preaches violence.” Conservatives contend that “Islam is, quite simply, a religion
M Christopher
Aug 16, 2014 M Christopher rated it really liked it
Another fine book by Philip Jenkins! I've read his speculative work on the Church (The Next Christianity) and two of his Church histories and been very impressed with all three. This new volume is more of a Biblical study: how should one deal with the violent passages in the Bible? Jenkins begins with a survey of some of the most egregiously violent pericopes in the Old Testament and compares the number and type to what popular culture believes is a far more violent book, the Qur'an. He clearly ...more
Apr 03, 2014 Rick rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
I went into ths book hoping for clear cut explanations of why the God of the Old Testament ordered the Jews to kill all the men, women, and children and then move onto their land. (see Deut. 7:1-2, and lots of other verses) The explanations weren't that clear. The only way to understand these genocide texts is to see them as mythology and/or symbolism and allegory. It's easier to understand the Amalekites as a trope for evil within, than to see them as people who are being murdered for their lan ...more
Feb 01, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it
I've just finished watching a production of The Merchant of Venice performed at a Christian university. What will I tell my mom about it when I phone her tonight? Not much, because reading King Lear was one of the most rebellious things she ever discovered me doing as a young teen. Although Shakespeare's raunchiness is doubtless part of the problem, a significant issue that conservative members of my denomination have with Shakespeare is the explicit violence of many of the plays. One minister w ...more
Carter West
Jun 15, 2013 Carter West rated it really liked it
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
Aug 22, 2012 Mehdir rated it it was amazing
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
The American Conservative
'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:
May 08, 2013 Artyom rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 14, 2013 Bob rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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.
Jun 19, 2012 Larry rated it really liked it
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)."
Nick Park
May 18, 2012 Nick Park rated it liked it
Started well, but ultimately failed to deliver. He asked the right questions, but didn't really provide many answers.
Aynab marked it as to-read
Jun 13, 2016
Kelly Doolittle
Kelly Doolittle marked it as to-read
Jun 12, 2016
Alexander marked it as to-read
Jun 11, 2016
Nasir Nurhusen
Nasir Nurhusen marked it as to-read
May 27, 2016
Geoff Glenister
Geoff Glenister marked it as to-read
May 25, 2016
Travis added it
May 23, 2016
Andrew Eick
Andrew Eick marked it as to-read
May 12, 2016
Carmen Lau
Carmen Lau is currently reading it
May 12, 2016
SimplyDelicious marked it as to-read
May 07, 2016
Mike Normoyle
Mike Normoyle rated it really liked it
Apr 22, 2016
Breqqie marked it as to-read
Apr 18, 2016
Kody Striplin
Kody Striplin rated it liked it
Mar 22, 2016
Elisa F.
Elisa F. marked it as to-read
Mar 13, 2016
Jon Nelson
Jon Nelson marked it as to-read
Mar 04, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins
  • Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God
  • The Art of Reading Scripture
  • Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith
  • Four Views on Moving beyond the Bible to Theology
  • How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels
  • God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now
  • Holy Bible: The Green Bible, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • Christianity and the Social Crisis in the 21st Century: The Classic That Woke Up the Church
  • Red Letter Christians: A Christian's Guide to Faith and Politics, a Citizen's Guide to Faith and Politics
  • Chasing Lolita: How Popular Culture Corrupted Nabokov's Little Girl All Over Again
  • Junia Is Not Alone
  • Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians
  • Theology of The Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy
  • Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity
  • Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning
  • Fatal Passage: The Story of John Rae, the Arctic Hero Time Forgot
  • Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination (Powers, #3)
John 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 ...more
More about Philip Jenkins...

Share This Book