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Redeeming Violent Verses

A Guide for Using Troublesome Texts in Church and Ministry

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Westminster John Knox Press
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“One the greatest challenges the church faces today,” writes Jerome F. D. Creach, “is to interpret and explain passages in the Bible that seem to promote or encourage violence” (Violence in Scripture, 1).  In the past fifteen years, a number of books have been published to help people make sense of God’s violent behavior in the Bible. Yet very little has been written about how to use these (and other) violent texts constructively in church. This leaves religious practitioners—pastors, priests, Sunday school teachers, worship ministers, lay leaders, and others—at a real disadvantage. What should they do with stories that sanction genocide or praise individuals for killing others? How can they use these violent texts in sermons, liturgies, Christian educations classes, and elsewhere without promoting the violent ideologies they contain?


In Redeeming Violent Verses, Eric Seibert addresses these questions by focusing on a wide range of practical ways to use violent biblical texts responsibly in the church and beyond. With chapters devoted to using violent verses when preaching sermons, teaching Sunday school, and leading worship, this book is filled with guidelines and specific practices designed to help ministers use violent verses responsibly. Seibert includes numerous examples to illustrate specific ways these verses could be used in ministry settings and pays special attention to dealing with passages that portray God behaving violently. Rather than ignoring these passages or being intimidated by them, Redeeming Violent Verses tackles troublesome texts head-on. It charts a bold path forward, one that opens up new possibilities for ministers by equipping them to use these texts in life-giving and spiritually edifying ways. Religious practitioners of all stripes will find this book immensely helpful, and readers will benefit greatly from the many strategies and suggestions offered here.

Eric A. Seibert is Professor of Old Testament at Messiah College. He is the author of several books, including The Violence of Scripture (2012), Disarming the Church (2018), and Enjoying the Old Testament (2021). Seibert’s research helps people wrestle with problematic portrayals of God in the Old Testament and encourages them to read the Bible in ways that promote peace. He attends Grantham Church and lives in Grantham, Pennsylvania, with his wife and three children.

Redeeming Violent ...
A Guide for Using ...
by Westminster John Knox Press
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