Christian Non-Violence: A Reading List

[A student of a friend of mine is about to start working on a thesis pertaining to non-violence. He asked if I could give him a reading list to help him with his research and writing. I agreed and thought I would share it here as well.]


Christian Non-Violence: A Reading List*

John Howard Yoder
– The Politics of Jesus
War of the Lamb: The Ethics of Nonviolence and Peacemaking
– Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution
– Nonviolence – A Brief History: The Warsaw Lectures
The Original Revolution: Essays on Christian Pacifism
What Would You Do? (If a violent person threatened to harm a loved one)

Stanley Hauerwas
– The Peaceable Kingdom: A Primer in Christian Ethics
– Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony
– War and the American Difference: Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity 

Walter Wink
Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way
– The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium
– Naming the Powers: The Language of Power in the New Testament
– Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Forces That Determine Human Existence
– Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination

Ron Sider
– The Early Church on Killing: A Comprehensive Sourcebook on War, Abortion, and Capital Punishment
– Nonviolent Action: What Christian Ethics Demands but Most Christians Have Never Really Tried

Christ and Violence

J. Denny Weaver
– The Nonviolent God
– The Nonviolent Atonement

Michael Gorman
– Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross
– Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology
– Reading Revelation Responsibly – Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb into the New Creation

Church History
– Caesar and the Lamb: Early Christian Attitudes on War and Military Service, George Kalantzis

Old Testament Studies
– The Politics of Yahweh: John Howard Yoder, The Old Testament, and the People of God, John C. Nugent

New Testament Studies
– The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics, Richard B. Hays
– Sermon on the Mount, Scot McKnight
– Paul’s Non-Violent Gospel: The Theological Politics of Peace in Paul’s Life and Letters, Jeremy Gabrielson

Theology/Ethics

– Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context, Glen H. Stassen
– Atonement, Justice, and Peace: The Message of the Cross and the Mission of the Church, Darrin W. Snyder Belousek
– Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
– What About Hitler?: Wrestling with Jesus’ Call to Nonviolence in an Evil World, Robert Brimlow
– The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith, Stuart Murray

Popular Level (Non-Academic) Texts
– Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence, Preston Sprinkle
– A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace, Brian Zahnd

Secular Texts
– The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People, Jonathan Schell
– The Just War Myth: The Moral Illusions of War, Andrew Fiala 


* Note, I’ve categorized the list first by authors with more than one recommended text and then by topic. This reflects no particular order of chronology or personal preference.


How about you?
Have you read any of the books above?
Which are your favorites?
Are there any excellent non-violent texts I have left off of the list?

Thomas Aquinas on Euthyphro’s Dilemma

Here’s a question that I increasingly find to be foundational to a person’s overall theology:

Does God command a thing because it is good,
or is it good because God commands it?

[From Plato’s Euthyphro]

The question forces one to prioritize what comes first in God’s nature – his freedom (pure will and power) or his goodness (cruciform [self-sacrifical] love)?

The question becomes practical when it turns to questions of some of the “alleged” genocides commanded or committed by God in the Old Testament. Are we forced to say those mass killings were somehow “good and right” – even though it goes against our deepest moral instincts and seemingly the morality of the God revealed through Jesus Christ? If not – then how do we account for their presence in our inspired Scriptures?

In the Medieval Theological Period, the stance that continues to remain popular today was firmly established by Henry of Ghent, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham. It’s sometimes called voluntarism or nominalism. David Bently Hart describes the rise and logic of voluntarism as such: “They placed an unprecedented emphasis on God’s sovereign will as being the first and highest and primary attribute in God… In such thought, God does not command that which is good, that which is good is good because God commands it. That is, his will is not obedient to his nature as God; his will does not follow from his divine goodness.”

While there are biblical proof-texts for both positions [1] Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens, he does all that he pleases.” 2] Hebrews 6:17-18, “… it is impossible for God to lie…” – I have long thought it was a grave mistake to place God’s unfettered will above his divine goodness. Roger Olsen has also noticed this trend among Evangelicals and sees it as alarming: A Much Neglected Basic Choice in TheologyWhile I have many reasons for thinking that the cruciform nature of the Trinity guides his will and actions, I came across a quote from Thomas Aquinas on the issue that was quite interesting to me:

It is commonly said that God is almighty. Yet it seems difficult to understand the reason for this, on account of the doubt about what is meant when it is said that “God can do ‘everything'” […] If it is said that God is omnipotent because he can do everything possible to his power, the understanding of omnipotence is circular, doing nothing more than saying that God is omnipotent because he can do everything that he can do. […]
To sin is to fall short of a perfect action. Hence to be able to sin is to be able to be deficient in relation to an action, which cannot be reconciled with omnipotence. It is because God is omnipresent that he cannot sin. […]
– Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae 

Aquinas here turns the apparent contradiction of omnipotence and an inability to sin on its head by further defining omnipotence. For Aquinas, omnipotence implies doing everything perfectly – while sin is am imperfect action. Thus – for Aquinas, it is not a denial of God’s omnipotence to say that he cannot sin… it is precisely because God is omnipotent that he cannot sin.

What do you think about Aquinas’ logic?
Where do you fall on the basic issue? Can God do anything (even if it seem or be “evil” for us to do) or is God limited by his loving nature?

Women Biblical Scholars Blog – Check It Out!

So I stumbled across this blog, Women Biblical Scholars, the other day and it looks AMAZING! It is a blog solely dedicated to women in biblical scholarship.

Throughout history women have loved, studied, and taught the scriptures. Unfortunately, many of us have never heard of these biblical scholars and theologians. Often they are left out of history books and classrooms. The goal of this blog is to draw attention to the works of these women and discover what they contribute to our understanding of the biblical text. With greater awareness, this scholarship can shape course curriculum, homilies, public discourse, and academia itself. (from the blog’s About page)

This is like my meager, short-lived (but not necessarily retired!) Frauen Friday series on steroids and I’m super excited about it. I’m probably a little late to the party but if you haven’t seen it yet you should definitely check it out. It is relatively new but there are already tons of interviews and videos and it looks like it is updated pretty frequently so mosey on over and dive on in.

Also, you can follow @Women_Scholars on Twitter for updates. Kudos to this new blog and I look forward to being a regular reader!

Linguistics and the Greek Verb Conference Announcement!

Jessica Parks:

If you like Greek, you need to be there. Check it out!

Originally posted on Old School Script:

Posted by Chris with a “C”

I am very excited to announce “Linguistics and the Greek Verb: Recent Discussions and their Implications for NT Exegetes” — a Greek linguistics conference taking place in Cambridge, England, this July!

Linguistics and the Greek Verb Flier pic

The aim of the conference is to bring together NT scholars, linguists, and Classicists to discuss the Greek verbal system in a way that is clear and that moves the conversation forward while acknowledging and respecting the discussions of the past three decades within Biblical Studies. (If you would like to read the backstory of this conference, see my post “How We Got to Where We’re Going: A Story.”) I am incredibly excited about this conference. Not only will we have some phenomenal speakers from within the Biblical Studies guild, but we will also have the benefit of learning from Classicists, voices often not heard in Biblical Studies.

The conference is an…

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How We Got to Where We’re Going: A Story

Jessica Parks:

For all you Greeksters out there, check out what my former classmate and friend Chris Fresch has been planning…

Originally posted on Old School Script:

Posted by Chris with a “C”

Some may have seen my cryptic tweet the other day:

I hope I did not keep too many in suspense for too long.

… and I hope you do not mind being kept in suspense a little bit longer.

I would like to tell you a story …

In November of 2012, at ETS in Milwaukee, I had dinner with Steve Runge, Randall Buth, Josh Westbury, and Brian Schultz.  During our conversation, Randall mentioned the book The Prominence of Tense, Aspect and Mood by D.N.S. Bhat, a cross-linguistic, typological study of the interaction of tense, aspect, and mood in verbal systems. Randall told us that we had to read it and that it would inform our understanding of Greek.  We did.  It did.  For me, this was the beginning of really thinking about the Greek verbal system linguistically.

A year passed.  During the fall of…

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