Fighting Words: Religion, Violence, and the Interpretation of Sacred Texts

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John Renard
University of California Press, Dec 31, 2012 - Religion - 262 pages
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One of the critical issues in interreligious relations today is the connection, both actual and perceived, between sacred sources and the justification of violent acts as divinely mandated. Fighting Words makes solid text-based scholarship accessible to the general public, beginning with the premise that a balanced approach to religious pluralism in our world must build on a measured, well-informed response to the increasingly publicized and sensationalized association of terrorism and large-scale violence with religion.

In his introduction, Renard provides background on the major scriptures of seven religious traditions—Jewish, Christian (including both the Old and New Testaments), Islamic, Baha’i, Zoroastrian, Hindu, and Sikh. Eight chapters then explore the interpretation of select facets of these scriptures, focusing on those texts so often claimed, both historically and more recently, as inspiration and justification for every kind of violence, from individual assassination to mass murder. With its nuanced consideration of a complex topic, this book is not merely about the religious sanctioning of violence but also about diverse ways of reading sacred textual sources.
 

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Contents

Texts Contexts and Hermeneutical Concerns
1
2 A Brief History of War in the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish Interpretive Tradition
29
Christian Perspectives on 1 Samuel 15
55
4 Violence in the New Testament and the History of Interpretation
75
Islam The Jews and the Construction of Religious Militancy
101
The Return of Joseph and the Peaceable Imagination
135
7 Justifiable Force and Holy War in Zoroastrianism
158
Notes on Textual Violence and the Bhagavad Gita
177
Theory and Practice of a Righteous War Dharam Yudh in Sikh Texts
200
Glossary of Names and Technical Terms
227
Contributors
235
Index
237
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About the author (2012)

John Renard is Professor of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University. He is the author of many books, most recently Tales of God’s Friends: Islamic Hagiography in Translation (UC Press).

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