The Biblical Truth about America's Death Penalty

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UPNE, 2004 - Religion - 433 pages
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While secular support for capital punishment in America seems to be waning, religious conservatives, particularly in the "Bible belt," remain staunch advocates of the death penalty, citing biblical law and practice to defend government-sanctioned killing. Dale S. Recinella compares biblical teaching about the death penalty, including such passages as "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life," with the nation's current system of capital punishment, and offers persuasive arguments for a faith-based moratorium on -- and eventual abolition of -- executions.

Framing his careful and incisive analysis as a legal brief to those who believe the Bible mandates the ultimate punishment, the author addresses two critical areas of inquiry: what do the scriptures tell us about who is deserving of death and who has the authority to kill, and what do they tell us about the required standards for execution and the plight of victims' families. Recinella's examination of the Hebrew Torah, or Christian Pentateuch, and the Talmud reveals that the biblical death penalty was not a simple system of swift retribution, but a complex and practical set of laws that guided capital courts established under the Sanhedrin. His scrutiny of these texts, the Christian doctrine of atonement, and Romans 13 in the Pauline Epistles, draws parallels between the traditional biblical arguments used in favor of capital punishment and those used as the basis for pro-slavery positions in the nineteenth century. Demonstrating that both approaches are unsubstantiated in biblical terms, Recinella debunks the accepted religious reasoning for support of the death penalty and shows instead that the Bible's strict conditions for sanctioning execution are at odds with the arbitrary ways in which capital punishment is administered in the United States. He provides convincing evidence that a sentence of death in today's criminal justice system in fact fails to meet both the Bible's exacting procedural requirements and its strict limitations on judicial authority.

By providing actual scriptural language and foundation to counter the position that biblical truth justifies a pro-death penalty stance, this thoughtful, solidly researched, and well-reasoned work will give pause to religious fundamentalists and challenge them to rethink their strongly held views on capital punishment.
  

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The Biblical Truth About America's Death Penalty

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Recinella, a lawyer rather than a professional scholar of the Judeo-Christian scriptures, tackles the topic of the abolition of the death penalty based on his reading of the Bible. His intention is to ... Read full review

Review: The Biblical Truth About America's Death Penalty

User Review  - Jim Savage - Goodreads

this is a must read. If you are a Christian read this book. Do not take for granted that you know what you think you know is right... Read full review

Contents

Trends in the American Death Penalty
3
Torah and Talmud
17
Beyond Platitudes
28
Who Deserves Death?
58
The Sanhedrin
82
Extrabiblical Courts and Romans 13
92
Biblical Deterrence
103
Summary of Part One
111
Innocence versus Closure
160
For Whom Is It a Detriment?
306
Summary of Part Two
324
Short form of an Abolition Resolution
345
Notes
361
Bibliography
393
Cases Cited
409
Index
423

PROCEDURES AND THE PLIGHT OF THE FAMILIES OF THE VICTIMS?
117
Evidence Permitted
141

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About the author (2004)

Dale S. Recinella is an attorney who serves as a state-certified spiritual counselor and Catholic lay chaplain for Florida's prison system, ministering to death row inmates and prisoners in long-term solitary confinement. He is also a columnist, public speaker, and frequent panelist on worldwide Vatican Radio. He lives in Macclenny, Florida.

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