Violence is a persistent, prominent, and troubling feature of human existence. Usually we think of violence as involving some type of physical attack. But, violence also has a broader that encompasses any intentional harm, whether verbal, physical, or emotional, individual or collective. In every instance of violence, Christians may be called upon to speak about the relevancy of the New Testament to 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? These are the types of hard questions a violent world is asking Christians. How do we respond?In Killing Enmity: Violence and the New Testament, Thomas Yoder Neufeld examines multiple New Testament texts such as the Sermon on the Mount (or Plain), the cleansing of the temple, the "armor of God" passage from Ephesians, 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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