Violence in the New Testament and the Roman Empire: Ambivalence, othering, agency [Geweld in die Nuwe Testament en die Romeinse Ryk: Ambivalensie, andersheid, agentskap]

Punt J. (2008)


The various ways in and degrees to which the New Testament is associated with peace, or the end or absence of violence, have often been argued or at least assumed. In contrast more recently, some studies have also argued that the New Testament documents endured and tolerated, but at times also incited and sanctioned violence - positions accompanied by various theories that have been offered to explain the prevalence of Biblical violence. The ambivalence of the New Testament texts regarding violence, particularly their virtually concurrent rejection and condoning of violence, mirrors the ambivalence of the New Testament's imperial setting. And, the agency regarding violence is situated variously by and through the documents addressing various socio-historical contexts in the agonistic first century CE, with the one common factor being the ubiquitous presence of the Roman Empire. It is argued that greater consideration for the impact of the imperial setting on the New Testament positions regarding violence provides an important starting point for and valuable insight in understanding the mixed messages (and accompanying tensions) of the New Testament concerning violence.

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