Philip Jenkins delivers a fearless examination of the dark and violent verses of the Bible-and a call for us to read them anew in pursuit of a richer, more honest faith. From ""one of America's best scholars of religion"" (The Economist), this daring exploration of the Scripture's most difficult passages forces us to confront and accept the violence that was as integral to the formulation of Christianity's message as it was for many other of the world's religions, and shows us how a full understanding of the Scripture will allow us to finally move towards a more peaceful, spiritual world. Readers of Bart Ehrman's God's Problem, John Selby Spong's The Sins of Scripture, and Jenkins's own The Jesus Wars, as well as every Christian eager to square the recurrent violence of the Scripture with Christianity's enduring message of peace, will find these difficult questions explored in full in Laying Down the Sword.
That the Bible contains texts commanding the wholesale slaughter of people is at the heart of this most recent book by the high-profile author of Jesus Wars and The Next Christendom. Jenkins, who holds a joint appointment at Penn State University and Baylor University, is a Christian who tackles the challenge of how believers might take seriously the Bible's most explicitly violent texts without committing the atrocious acts they seem to promote. To get there, he discusses the history of the most problematic, genocidal texts, especially those in Deuteronomy and Joshua, as well as their history of use. This is the book's main strength. His comparison of the Bible with the Qur'an on the issue of violence seems more apologetic (everybody's got ugly texts) than instructive, though it may serve to correct modern assumptions that Islam is uniquely violent. Suggestions for how believers should acknowledge and discuss such texts include a review of methods of interpretation as well as parameters limiting the options. He finds no silver bullet, but Jenkins's frank admission is itself disarming. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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October 25, 2011
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