Thursday, October 05, 2006

Violence in the Bible

An interview at Zenit with Fr. Rinaldo Fabris, president of the Italian Biblical Association.
Attempting to summarize the contribution of the week's 13 lectures, followed with great interest by the 160 participants -- professors of sacred Scripture in theological faculties and institutes of religious sciences -- it can be said that violence in all its senses -- physical, social and moral -- is present in the biblical history recorded in the books of the Old and New Testament.

It is a question of violence between men, beginning with Cain's crime, condemned as sin, but also of violence done in the name of God and of a violent image of God.

The Bible speaks of the God of the armies and of the anger of God, who punishes the wicked inexorably with a judgment of condemnation. On the other hand, as the Second Vatican Council constitution "Dei Verbum," No. 12, states, in sacred Scripture God speaks to men in a human way.

Given that violence is part of humanity's historical experience, it is not surprising that it is found in the Bible, which is a mirror. In the debate of the Biblical Week, an attempt was made to understand the roots of violence according to the Bible, and if it is possible to deactivate it.

In this connection, the problem was addressed of the role of the law and of criminal law, which often do not succeed in containing violence, but become factors of new violence.

Against this background, the paradoxical event of Jesus' death on a cross is situated, through which God enters into the human history of violence and takes charge of it.

This image of God is already present in some prophetic and sapiential texts of the Old Testament. Only with Jesus' resurrection does God rehabilitate the just man without causing further violence.
Or, as Shakespeare put it, "The Devil can quote Scripture to his own ends."

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