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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence
Avalos, Hector

Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus, 2005 pp. 444. $28.00


Description: In this intriguing, original study of religious violence, Prof. Hector Avalos offers a new theory for the role of religion in violent conflicts. Starting with the premise that most violence is the result of real or perceived scarce resources, Avalos persuasively argues that religion creates new scarcities on the basis of unverifiable or illusory criteria. Through a careful analysis of the fundamental texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Dr. Avalos explains how four "scarce" resources have figured repeatedly in creating religious violence: sacred space (churches, temples, holy cities); the creation of holy scriptures (exclusive revelations); group privilege (chosen people, the predestined select few); and salvation (only some are saved). Thus, Avalos shows, religious violence is often the most unnecessary violence of all since the scarce resources over which religious conflicts ensue are not actually scarce or need not be scarce.

Subjects: Methods, Theological Approaches, Biblical Theology

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Review by J. Harold Ellens
Published 11/16/2008
Citation: J. Harold Ellens, review of Hector Avalos, Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2008).


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