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Making Sense of Old Testament GenocideChristian Interpretations of Herem Passages$
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Christian Hofreiter

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198810902

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198810902.001.0001

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Summary and Conclusion

Summary and Conclusion

(p.247) 8 Summary and Conclusion
Making Sense of Old Testament Genocide

Christian Hofreiter

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a brief analytical summary of the various interpretative options proposed in the book. The reception of herem texts within the OT and the NT, as well as in the earliest Christian period, was largely uncritical. Pagan writers, too, rarely criticized these texts. Beginning with Marcion, readers whose moral compass was shaped by the accounts of Jesus and the writings of Paul began to raise moral concerns about OT warfare texts. The response of ecclesial authors was largely twofold: either to focus on a figurative reading of these texts in light of the NT or to resort to divine command theory to reframe the ethical assessment of the texts. A third, relatively rare reception of herem texts was one that justified massacres and other real-world violence. This chapter analyses the respective strengths and weaknesses of each approach and briefly presents the hermeneutical options available to readers today.

Keywords:   genocide, herem, hermeneutics, interpretation of the Bible, religion and violence

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