Philip Jenkins


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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 is also a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion.

Though his original training was in early modern British history, he has since moved to studying a wide range of contemporary topics and issues, especially in the realm of religion.

Jenkins is a well-known commentator on religion, past and present. He ha
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“In any theological struggle, the first thousand years are always the bitterest.”
Philip Jenkins, Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 years

“Looking at a situation like the Israel-Palestine conflict, Americans are likely to react with puzzlement when they see ever more violent and provocative acts that target innocent civilians. We are tempted to ask: do the terrorists not realize that they will enrage the Israelis, and drive them to new acts of repression? The answer of course is that they know this very well, and this is exactly what they want. From our normal point of view, this seems incomprehensible. If we are doing something wrong, we do not want to invite the police to come in and try and stop us, especially if repression will result in the deaths or imprisonment of many of our followers. In a terrorist war, however, repression is often valuable because it escalates the growing war, and forces people to choose between the government and the terrorists. The terror/repression cycle makes it virtually impossible for anyone to remain a moderate. By increasing polarization within a society, terrorism makes the continuation of the existing order impossible.
Once again, let us take the suicide bombing example. After each new incident, Israeli authorities tightened restrictions on Palestinian communities, arrested new suspects, and undertook retaliatory strikes. As the crisis escalated, they occupied or reoccupied Palestinian cities, destroying Palestinian infrastructure. The result, naturally, was massive Palestinian hostility and anger, which made further attacks more likely in the future. The violence made it more difficult for moderate leaders on both sides to negotiate. In the long term, the continuing confrontation makes it more likely that ever more extreme leaders will be chosen on each side, pledged not to negotiate with the enemy. The process of polarization is all the more probably when terrorists deliberately choose targets that they know will cause outrage and revulsion, such as attacks on cherished national symbols, on civilians, and even children.
We can also think of this in individual terms. Imagine an ordinary Palestinian Arab who has little interest in politics and who disapproves of terrorist violence. However, after a suicide bombing, he finds that he is subject to all kinds of official repression, as the police and army hold him for long periods at security checkpoints, search his home for weapons, and perhaps arrest or interrogate him as a possible suspect. That process has the effect of making him see himself in more nationalistic (or Islamic) terms, stirs his hostility to the Israeli regime, and gives him a new sympathy for the militant or terrorist cause.
The Israeli response to terrorism is also valuable for the terrorists in global publicity terms, since the international media attack Israel for its repression of civilians. Hamas military commander Salah Sh’hadeh, quoted earlier, was killed in an Israeli raid on Gaza in 2002, an act which by any normal standards of warfare would represent a major Israeli victory. In this case though, the killing provoked ferocious criticism of Israel by the U.S. and western Europe, and made Israel’s diplomatic situation much more difficult. In short, a terrorist attack itself may or may not attract widespread publicity, but the official response to it very likely will. In saying this, I am not suggesting that governments should not respond to terrorism, or that retaliation is in any sense morally comparable to the original attacks. Many historical examples show that terrorism can be uprooted and defeated, and military action is often an essential part of the official response. But terrorism operates on a logic quite different from that of most conventional politics and law enforcement, and concepts like defeat and victory must be understood quite differently from in a regular war.”
Philip Jenkins, Images of Terror: What We Can and Can't Know about Terrorism

“Ironically, the same church gathering that had denounced Paul of Samosata back in 268 had explicitly condemned the term homoousios, which that earlier council had regarded as one of Paul’s heretical innovations. In 268, the church dismissed the word as heretical nonsense; sixty years later, it was the watchword for unifying orthodoxy.”
Philip Jenkins, Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 years

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