Philip Jenkins delivers a fearless examination of the darkand violent verses of the Bible—and a call for us to read them anew in pursuitof a richer, more honest faith. From “one of America’s best scholars ofreligion” (The Economist), this daring exploration of the Scripture’smost difficult passages forces us to confront and accept the violence that wasas integral to the formulation of Christianity’s message as it was for manyother of the world’s religions, and shows us how a full understanding of theScripture will allow us to finally move towards a more peaceful, spiritualworld. Readers of Bart Ehrman’s God’s Problem,John Selby Spong’s The Sins of Scripture, andJenkins’s own The Jesus Wars, as well as every Christian eager to squarethe recurrent violence of the Scripture with Christianity’s enduring message ofpeace, will find these difficult questions explored in full in Laying Downthe Sword.
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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) explores how religions grow past their bloody origins, and delivers a fearless examination of the most violent verses of the Bible and an urgent call to read them anew in pursuit of a richer, more genuine faith.
Christians cannot engage with neighbors and critics of other traditions—nor enjoy the deepest, most mature embodiment of their own faith—until they confront the texts of terror in their heritage. Philip Jenkins identifies the “holy amnesia” that, while allowing scriptural religions to grow and adapt, has demanded a nearly wholesale suppression of the Bible’s most aggressive passages, leaving them dangerously dormant for extremists to revive in times of conflict. Jenkins lays bare the whole Bible, without compromise or apology, and equips us with tools for reading even the most unsettling texts, from the slaughter of the Canaanites to the alarming rhetoric of the book of Revelation.
Laying Down the Sword presents a vital framework for understanding both the Bible and the Qur’an, gives Westerners a credible basis for interaction and dialogue with Islam, and delivers a powerful model for how a faith can grow from terror to mercy.About the Author:
Philip Jenkins, the author of The Lost History of Christianity, Jesus Wars, and The Next Christendom, is the Distinguished Professor of History and member of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He has published articles and op-ed pieces in The Wall Street Journal, New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe and has been a guest on top national radio shows across the country.
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