Redeeming Violent Verses | Sojourners

Redeeming Violent Verses

Eric A. Seibert offers ways for church leaders to retell biblical stories to imagine a nonviolent outcome.
The image shows the cover of the book redeeming violent verses by Eric Seibert, which is kind of a marbled blue and red, on a light red background.
Westminster John Knox

ONE OF MY EARLIEST memories of church is being in the children’s choir, pumping my fist in the air and yelling as we sang about David’s victory over Goliath. While my vocal pitch was suspect, I didn’t lack for enthusiasm. But the whole performance taught me something dangerous: Righteous violence is exciting. It’s a lesson I’ve spent a large part of my adult life trying to unlearn.

Eric A. Seibert is a key figure in working through the violent passages of the Hebrew Bible. In his newest book, Redeeming Violent Verses: A Guide for Using Troublesome Texts in Church and Ministry, Seibert argues that the church can’t run away from violent Bible verses. Moreover, he writes, we must incorporate them into our religious experiences. But, Seibert cautions, we must always do this in a way that rejects the glorification of violence that is often found within scripture. Seibert offers several ways for church leaders to accomplish this, including refocusing attention on the victims of violence, or retelling the story to imagine a nonviolent outcome. Individual chapters highlight some specific ideas for how this can be done in children’s education, liturgy, and preaching.

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The cover is a collage of a young Black couple on an upside down, blue background. Their clothing is made up of old maps of Athens Georgia
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