Killing Enmity: Violence and The New Testament

Book, 2011, 179 pp
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Violence is a persistent, prominent, and troubling feature of human existence. The usual understanding of violence involves physical attack. More broadly, violence can be understood as any kind of intentional harm, whether verbal, physical, or emotional, individual or collective. Pastors, theologians, and Christian leaders of all kinds may be called on to apply the message of the New Testament in situations of violence. But what is that message? The New Testament writers speak often of peace, but what do they have to offer in response to violence? Or does the New Testament, centering as it does on the crucifixion of its central character, perpetuate rather than alleviate the problem of violence?

In this book, Thomas Yoder Neufeld mines classic New Testament texts such as the Sermon on the Mount (or Plain), the cleansing of the temple, the "armour of God," and the Revelation of John. He also addresses more generally the rhetoric of violence: metaphors and thought patterns that may reflect the violence of first-century Roman imperial reality.

Taking his cue from the ironic wording in Ephesians 2:16, which credits Christ with "killing the enmity" in his own body through his death on the cross, Yoder Neufeld asks whether and how the violent death of the nonviolent Jesus points to the ultimate overcoming of all wrongs, and all violence, by the good and saving God in whom he trusted.

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