PERSPECTIVES ON WAR IN THE BIBLE offers a comprehensive study of varying traditions of war in the Bible. After an introduction that describes the writer's presuppositions and examines the distincitive nature of Israelite warfare in the biblical period, the author examines the traditional categories of holy war, just war, and pacifism to trace the diversity of viewpoints regarding warfare in the Old and New Testaments. While many passages reflect a belief in the cause of holy war, some point to Israel's passivity in favor of letting Yahweh fight on their behalf. Some holy war texts are highly negative and vindictive, while others carry a redemptive overtone. Even the seeds of just war are evident in the Bible. Peace initiative, efforts at nonviolent conflict resolution, and other pacifism motifs in both testaments are highlighted.
There are three major Christian attitudes toward warfare that conveniently may be designated by the terms "holy war", "pacifism", and "just war". These three have a long history of development in the course of Christian history. But the roots of all three are to be found in the biblical narrative, both Old Testament and New Testament. John Wood traces all three through the scriptures and finds ample relevant materials for interpreting and evaluating biblical teachings regarding warfare. Contemporary students of the history of warfare, and of course those struggling with the perennial question of the relevance, morality, or necessity of warfare, will find Wood's study to be very helpful in sorting out what indeed the Bible has to offer. Wood finds throughout scripture the very themes that continue to plague or puzzle today: exclusiveness and vengeance, inclusiveness and redemption, pacifism, holy war, just war, and God as warrior-king.
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