Confronting Religious Violence
Author: Jonathan Sacks
Publisher: Schocken Books Incorporated
In this groundbreaking work of biblical analysis and interpretation, one of the most admired religious leaders of our time shows that religiously inspired violence has as its source misreadings of the texts of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Koran. When religion becomes a zero-sum conceit--i.e., my religion is the only "right" path to God, therefore your religion is by definition "wrong"--Violence between peoples of different beliefs is the only natural outcome, argues Rabbi Sacks. But by looking anew at seminal biblical texts in the Book of Genesis--in which we find the foundational stories of all three Abrahamic faiths--Rabbi Sacks offers an entirely different understanding of God's multiple relationships: with Jacob, patriarch of Judaism; with Ishmael, patriarch of Islam; and with Esau, whose blessing is understood to confirm God's relationship with monotheists from other faiths and overarching relationship with all of humanity. By analyzing the texts that recount how Abraham's immediate descendants resolved their various sibling rivalries, Rabbi Sacks teaches us a powerful lesson in the existence of multiple pathways to God. "We are not all the same," he declares. "There is no one faith that encompasses the plenary truth of human wisdom ... The belief that one faith--ours--holds the key to salvation deserves to be challenged, not just because it has led to so much persecution and bloodshed in the name of God, but because it attempts to confine God to one religion, one way, one image of mankind. God cannot be so confined and remain the God of transcendence, the God-without-an-image who systematically defies our attempts to capture Him in categories of human understanding ... Making space for that which is other than myself is not a doctrine of religious relativism. It is, rather, the humility that says there are things I will not, cannot, understand and that I must leave to God." Rabbi Sacks's bold statement of our need to look with new eyes at specific scriptural passages from within each of the Abrahamic monotheisms--passages that, when interpreted literally, can lead to hatred, violence, and war--is an eloquent, clarion call for people of goodwill from all faiths to join together to end the misunderstandings that threaten to destroy us all.--Publisher description.