Studium Theologicum Salesianum
Salesian Pontifical University : Faculty of Theology - Jerusalem Campus

Dealing with the Challenge of Violence in Religious Texts


24 February 2016, STS –Jerusalem
By: Jarek Budny, SDB

Wednesday, 24th of February was for the STS community a day of another lecture on Judaism. This time, our guest speaker was French born, Jewish scholar Daniel Frederic Gandus, involved in dialogue with Christianity. He made his presentation on the topic: ''Dealing with the challenge of violence in the religious text: How to change deadly texts in readings promoting life?''.

Taking as a base some passages of the Old and New Testament, he presented the fact that in Scripture, there are sometimes some hidden things that can change our understanding that was derived from the literal meaning. A part of the talk focused on the way one should treat one’s enemies in the light of the words of the Bible.

Mr Gandus explained the rabbinic way in which the ancient practice of “eye for an eye” is interpreted. The judiciary decides a compensation for the violence suffered. This compensation is little less than what would be considered equivalent to the loss suffered by the victim, in order to tell the violent person that he/she will never be able to repay the harm caused.

In interpreting violence and violent responses to atrocities, Mr Gandus tried to distinguish between violence that is barbaric and anti-civilization from other types of violence. He raised the question as to whether or not we should turn the cheek to violence that is anti-civilization. In this context, he interpreted the 666 of Apocalypse, based on the Hebrew alphabets, as an unidentifiable perpetrator of violence that has to be dealt with.

Although we could not get the answers to all the questions that arose in our minds, we can say that it is always interesting and thought provoking to listen to someone who looks at the same things from a different perspective.

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