Coping with Violence in the New Testament


Violence is present in the very heart of religion and its sacred traditions – also of Christianity and the Bible. The problem, however, is not only that violence is ingrained in the mere existence of religions with their sacred traditions. It is equally problematic to realise that the icy grip of violence on the sacred has gone unnoticed and unchallenged for a very long time. The present publication aims to contribute to the recent scholarly debate about the interconnections between violence and monotheistic religions by analysing the role of violence in the New Testament as well as by offering some hermeneutical perspectives on violence as it is articulated in the earliest Christian writings.

Contributors include: Andries G. van Aarde, Paul Decock, Pieter G.R. de Villiers, Ernest van Eck, Jan Willem van Henten, Rob van Houwelingen, Kobus Kok, Tobias Nicklas, Jeremy Punt, Jan G. van der Watt, and Wim Weren.
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Biographical Note

Pieter G.R. de Villiers, D.Th. (1976), University of Stellenbosch, is Professor Extraordinarius of New Testament at the University of the Free State. He has published extensively on apocalyptic literature, mysticism and violence/peace in the New Testament.

Jan Willem van Henten, Ph.D. (1986) in Theology, University of Leiden, is Professor of New Testament at the University of Amsterdam. He has published extensively on ancient martyrdom, apocalypticism and Josephus including Martyrdom and Noble Death (2002, with F. Avemarie).

Review Quotes

"Die internationale Diskussion um 'Gewalt und Religion' wird mit dieser Veröffentlichung bereichert. Der Band zeigt, dass auch die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft sich an dem anstehenden theologisch-kulturwissenschaftlichen Dialog beteiligen kann und muss." ["The international discussion about 'Violence and Religion' is enriched by this publication. This volume shows that also New Testament scholars can participate in the ongoing theological and cultural debate, and that they should."] – Eckart Reinmuth, Rostock, in: Theologische Literaturzeitung 138
"The value of this work lies in its questions. [...] De Villiers, in his concluding contribution, raises perhaps the most profound question: does violence reside 'in the character of God'?" – Jordan Daniel Wood, Saint Louis University, USA, in: International Journal of Public Theology 8 (2014)
"This collection is to be commended for several reasons. First, [...] all the essays exhibit much methodological sophistication and display extensive knowledge of theories on violence and previous works that address violence in the New Testament. [...] Secondly, several essays bring their reflection on biblical texts to bear on the context of violence in contemporary societies. [...] Finally, the essays thoroughly identify and describe the instances, contexts, and functions of violent language in the New Testament." – Jean-François Racine, Santa Clara University, in: Theological Studies 75/1 (2014), 209-220

Table of contents

Jan Willem van Henten (University of Amsterdam, University of Stellenbosch), Pieter G.R. de Villiers (University of the Free State)

Part I

Chapter One: Religion, Bible and Violence
Jan Willem van Henten (University of Amsterdam, University of Stellenbosch)

Chapter Two: Violence in the New Testament and the Roman Empire: Ambivalence, Othering, Agency
Jeremy Punt (University of Stellenbosch)

Part II

Chapter Three: Paul’s Version of “Turning the Other Cheek”. Rethinking Violence and Tolerance
Andries van Aarde (University of Pretoria)

Chapter Four: Violence in the Letter to the Galatians?
Francois Tolmie (University of the Free State)

Chapter Five: A Godfighter Becomes a Fighter for God
Rob van Houwelingen (Theological University Kampen)

Chapter Six: Jesus and Violence: An Ideological-Critical Reading of the Tenants in Mark 12:1-12
Ernest van Eck (University of Pretoria)

Chapter Seven: The Use of Violence in Punishing Adultery in Biblical Texts (Deuteronomy 22:13-29 and John 7:53-8:11)
Wim Weren (Tilburg University)

Chapter Eight: Violence in a Gospel of Love
Jan van der Watt (Radboud University of Nijmegen, University of Pretoria) and Jacobus Kok (University of Pretoria)

Chapter Nine: Images of War and Creation, of Violence and Non-Violence in the Revelation of John
Paul B. Decock (University of KwaZulu-Natal, St. Joseph’s Theological Institute)

Chapter Ten: Exegetical Perspectives on Violence in Revelation 18
Pieter G.R. de Villiers (University of the Free State)

Chapter Eleven: The Eschatological Battle according to the Book of Revelation: Perpectives on Revelation 19:11-21
Tobias Nicklas (University of Regensburg)

Part III

Chapter Twelve: Hermeneutical Perspectives on Violence in the New Testament
Pieter G.R. de Villiers (University of the Free State)

Subject Index


All those interested in Christianity/the Bible and violence, New Testament Studies, Early Christianity, Hermeneutics in the Bible, Biblical Theology, as well as ministers and priests and interested laypeople.