Violence and Peacemaking in the Bible

This talk is based primarily on John Dominic Crossan’s recent book How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian: Struggling with Divine Violence from Genesis through Revelation. Crossan, a prominent Biblical scholar known for his work on the nature of the historical Jesus, argues that the most genuinely inspired portions of the Bible affirm a radical vision of distributive justice (justice based not on threats of retribution but on relative equality among all people) and peace. The Bible also records the subversion of this vision in threats of divine violence and in acceptance of unjust, hierarchical social relations. Crossan persuasively argues that we are called to embrace the vision of peace and justice that was central to the ministry of the historical Jesus. Dr. Mebane’s talk will discuss the scholarly methodology that informs Crossan’s argument that the Bible includes a pattern “in which God’s radical divine vision of justice and liberation is regularly muted or turned back into the normalcy of civilization’s injustice and oppression.”

Dr. Jerry Mebane is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Originally a specialist in Renaissance literature and culture, for the past twenty years he has also pursued interdisciplinary studies in religion and warfare, especially the conflicts among pagan heroic ideals and Christian ideas concerning pacifism and principles of justice in warfare. He is currently expanding his research on progressive Christianity, especially in relation to movements that promote social justice. Dr. Mebane holds a bachelor’s degree from Presbyterian College and a Ph.D. from Emory University.