This December, the University of California Press will publish Fighting Words: Religion, Violence, and the Interpretation of Sacred Texts edited by John Renard (Saint Louis University). The publisher’s description follows.
One of the critical issues in inter-religious relations today is the connection, both actual and perceived, between sacred sources and the justification of violent acts as divinely mandated. Fighting Words makes solid text-based scholarship accessible to the general public, beginning with the premise that a balanced approach to religious pluralism in our world must build on a measured, well-informed response to the increasingly publicized and sensationalized association of terrorism and large-scale violence with religion. An Introduction provides background on the major scriptures of seven religious traditions. Eight main chapters then explore aspects of the interpretation of selected facets of scripture in seven traditions: Jewish, Christian (including chapters on Old as well as New Testaments), Islamic, Baha’i, Zoroastrian, Hindu and Sikh. Focus is on sacred texts so often claimed, both historically and more recently, as inspiration for and justification of every kind of violence from individual assassination to mass murder. A balanced approach to this complex topic also means that this is not merely a book about the religious sanctioning of violence, but about diverse ways of reading sacred textual sources.