1/24/06

Biblical Religion and Violence

A timely topic for a conference:
"Religion and Violence:
The Biblical Heritage" at Boston University.
FEBRUARY 19-20, 2006

One paper looks particularly interesting:
Ithamar Gruenwald, Tel Aviv University
Forms of Ritualizing Religious Violence: Past and Present

I look forward to reading Guenwald's paper. I myself do predict that one somewhat neglected area will get burgeoning attention in academic research in religious studies in the coming years. We will see scholars show more concern over the legitimacy of any suggestions of violence within prayer, because of the events of recent years and the role of religion in contemporary cultures of violence.

Burning of the Heretics (Auto-da-f�)

In this area we Jews, for instance, traditionally say the Birkat HaMinim (the blessing regarding the sectarians or heretics) in the Amidah and we ask G-d to destroy those who slander Jews and those who act as informers against Jews.

Surely, we do not advocate for direct violence in our prayers. We just ask God to perform it on our behalf. Still as more attention provokes theologians to turn their attention to this aspect of liturgy, we may see them seek after a morally superior position. As Beruryah the wife of Rabbi Meir instructed � perhaps they will suggest that we ought to pray not that God do violence on our behalf against our enemies, but that he cause the heretics to repent of their sins.

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