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21. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Philip L. Tite Expressive Violence: An Introduction to Pain, Politics, and the Monstrous Other
22. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Nathan S. French An American TakfĪr?: Violence and Law at War
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Throughout the ongoing U.S.-declared war against terrorism, and the various jihadi-salafi responses to the same, relatively few researchers have considered both parties’ usage of the law as a technique of exclusion for authorizing violence against those who may not otherwise be killed. By comparing the underlying logic of takfīr applied by jihadi-salafi authors such as Abū Muḥammad al-Maqdisī (b. 1959) to the legal calculus used by the Obama administration to legitimate its targeted killings of U.S. citizens Anwar al-ʿAwlaqī and Samīr Khān seemingly without trial, this article identifies and analyzes how the juridical logic of the administration and jihadi-salafis possesses similar reliance upon declarations of an imminent threat and violations of norms of humanity and belief, respectively. Such a realization, it concludes, allows for the possibility of exploring a co-implicative logic of violence to both and, second, the possibility for a critique of declared states of emergency upon which such exclusionary techniques depend.
23. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Margo Kitts On Pain, Politics, and the Monstrous Other
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Responding to the papers herein, this essay ponders religious perspectives on pain and the memorialization of trauma; the opaque dynamics of self-immolation and the aesthetics of trauma art; grand narratives in wars on terror; and the existential disfiguring of the character of Job, a disfiguring which might be analyzed through lenses associated with ritual or poetics. The last theme broaches the point of the entire volume, which is the plethora of theoretical lenses that can help us to make sense of the behavior and imaginative expressions of religion and violence.
24. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Brian R. Doak Monster Violence in the Book of Job
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In this paper, I explore the book of Job in terms of the symbolic and ideological warfare waged between God and the human protagonist, Job. Specifically, I argue that the invocation of various kinds of creatures under the “monster” rubric (such as Leviathan, Rahab, Yamm, the Twisting Serpent, and Behemoth) can be illuminated through a consideration of contemporary work—in the history of religions, literary theory, and film studies—that categorizes the monstrous in terms of ecological disorientation, metaphors of the torn human body, and the boundaries of the “home.” Moreover, I draw on the work of Marie Hélène Huet in her book Monstrous Imagination to argue that some of God’s showcase animals in Job 38–41 (most prominently Behemoth and Leviathan, but also others) should be discussed as monsters with reference to their ambiguous species representation and their “false resemblance” to other known creatures. When considered within the context of Job’s pervasive themes of geological and animal violence, Joban monsters take their place among the menagerie of creatures adduced by Job’s speaking characters as rhetorical gestures of disorientation, community redemption, and the meaning of small community experience within empire.
25. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Marie A. Pagliarini Spiritual Tattooing: Pain, Materialization, and Transformation
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This essay utilizes information gathered through in-depth interviews with people living in the San Francisco Bay Area to shed light on the phenomenon of spiritual tattooing—the practice of giving spiritual meaning to tattoos and to the process of tattooing. The essay analyzes the role of the body, voluntary pain, and marking the body in the context of religious experience and expression, and highlights the connections between spiritual tattooing and practices of self-violence. Spiritual tattoos work through an inside-out/outside-in mechanism. The process of tattooing draws abstract or overwhelming interior elements (thoughts, emotions, memories) out and materializes them through the infliction of pain. At the same time, things of desire outside the self (spiritual ideals, healing symbols, conceptions of a new self) are conveyed into the body through the process of painful inscription. Through the pain of tattooing and the marks left in the skin, abstractions are made concrete and real, shaping identity, memory, and spirituality.
26. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 3
Reuven Firestone Jewish Radical Ultra-Orthodoxy Confronts Modernity, Zionism and Women’s Equality. Motti Inbari
27. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 3
Margo Kitts Introduction: Violence and Biblical Imagination
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For at least a century biblical scholars have explored prescriptions and descriptions of holy wars, punishing plagues, infanticides, treaty violations and lethal loyalty tests, not to mention the emotional torments reflected in prophetic rants and in some of the tradition’s most exquisite and excruciating biographies. Arguably, it is the Bible’s varied treatments of violence, in all of its forms, which make the text a classical repository of sobering human experiences, at least as recognized in the West. The articles herein ponder some violent themes related to biblical literature. They ponder the shared legacy of ancient Near Eastern literary motifs showing jubilant dining at the death of a foe; the reception history of Psalm 137’s last verses, which urge violence against children; contrasting family dynamics in narratives of martyrdom between Jews and Christians; depictions of children as victims and as cruel aggressors in the Christian didactic poems of Prudentius; and the biblical legacy of forceful parental authority and corporeal punishment embraced by some evangelical Christians. The four articles on childhood and violence derive from the 2015 AAR and SBL conference session on biblical violence and childhood, and are introduced and contextualized by Ra’anan Boustan and Kimberly Stratton, who moderated the session.
28. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 3
Scott B. Noegel Corpses, Cannibals, and Commensality: A Literary and Artistic Shaming Convention in the Ancient Near East
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In this contribution, I examine several ancient Near Eastern literary texts and artistic variations on the “banquet motif” in which one finds people dining while others die. I argue that these depictions constitute a hitherto unrecognized artistic device rooted in social protocol that represents an inversion of the custom of abstinence during mourning. It thus functions to underscore the contempt of those dining for the dying by depicting their deaths as unworthy of lament. In addition, the motif characterizes the dying party as symbolically and/or physically abased, because of his or her hubris, and thus deserving of a shameful death. Inversely, it portrays the dining party as symbolically and often physically elevated, and reveling in a divine reversal of circumstance.
29. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 3
Paul Middleton “Suffer Little Children": Child Sacrifice, Martyrdom, and Identity Formation in Judaism and Christianity
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This essay examines the contrasting ways in which the sacrifice of children is portrayed in Jewish and Christian martyrologies. In these narratives of extreme persecution and suffering, death was often seen to be the way in which religious integrity and identity was preserved. It is argued that Jewish martyr narratives—for example, the First Crusade, Masada, and the Maccabees—reflect a developed notion of collective martyrdom, such that the deaths of children, even at the hands of their parents, are a necessary component in Jewish identity formation. By contrast, early Christianity martyr texts reflect an ambivalence towards children, to the extent that they are viewed as a potential hindrance to the successful martyrdom of their Christian mothers. Children have to be abandoned for women to retain their Christian identity.
30. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 3
Joel M. LeMon Violence against Children and Girls in the Reception History of Psalm 137
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The reception history of Psalm 137 is marked by numerous attempts to mollify or expunge its descriptions of violence, specifically, its last line: “Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock” (verse 9, NRSV). This essay explores the various ways that interpreters have perceived the psalm’s violent imagery to be problematic and what they have done to change the psalm. Many interpreters have “spiritualized” the psalm, altering its rhetorical effect by suggesting that the “little ones” are little sins rather than little children. Still other interpretations have modified the structure of the psalm through a process of selective omission. Frequently, these versions do not include the last verse of the psalm. Yet, these versions often highlight and implicitly authorize violence against girls specifically, since a girl, “Daughter Babylon” or “a/the daughter of Babylon,” is the subject of the preceding verse. Throughout the analysis, special attention is paid to the reception of the psalm in Christian hymnody and other music, including art songs, anthems, and symphonic treatments.
31. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 3
Ra‘anan Boustan, Kimberly Stratton Children and Violence in Jewish and Christian Traditions
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This introduction to the special section of the 4.3 issue on violence in the biblical imagination presents a brief overview of scholarship on the theme of children and violence in Jewish and Christian traditions before summarizing the four articles which follow. These four papers were originally presented at the annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta, November 2015. Scholarly literature on children and violence falls into two main clusters: child sacrifice and corporal punishment. Using Sarah Iles Johnston’s response to the panel as a starting point, this introduction proposes that children “are good to think with.” Stories about children and violence carry weighty symbolic cargo: they demarcate the limits of civilization and define certain groups of people as Other; they signal social disruption and extraordinary crisis. Examples include: child sacrifice, parental cannibalism, child martyrdom, and corporal punishment. We conclude that scriptural accounts of divinely sanctioned violence always retain for their interpretative communities the potential to inspire and to legitimate newly emergent forms of violent speech and action.
32. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 3
Diane Shane Fruchtman Instructive Violence: Educated Children as Victims and Aggressors in Late Ancient Latin Martyr Poetry
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This paper explores two parallel instances of child-centered violence in the martyrological poetry of Prudentius (fl. 405), one in which a child is the victim of violence and one in which children are the aggressors. In both cases, Prudentius presumes and manufactures his readers’ sympathy, building on their horror at seeing children involved in violence. But he uses that sympathy to opposite ends: in one case to align the reader with the youthful victim and his cause, and in the other to inspire revulsion and destabilize the Christian reader’s sense of his own character. Taken together, these two episodes—one a cautionary tale and one a model of Christian self-cultivation—offer the reader not only an argument for what type of education Christians should seek, but also the motivation to seek it. In other words, Prudentius was using depictions of violence inflicted on children and by children to educate his audiences about education.
33. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 3
Susan B. Ridgely When Pain Becomes Symbolic of Commitment: The Pratice of Spanking Among Adults and Children and “Focus on the Family” Childrearing Literature
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In this article, I use the narrations of Focus on the Family users to argue that in this community spanking has moved from a disciplinary technique to a symbolic religious practice that embodies their commitments to parental authority, traditional families, and intergenerational connections. What matters, then, is not that the physical practice of spanking occurs, but that these families embrace a corporal punishment based philosophy of discipline. Making this choice positions them in opposition to what they perceived to be an undisciplined liberal mainstream society in which the lack of submission to authority has led to the destruction of the family. Although support of spanking is universal, how that support is expressed and enacted is far from monolithic. The urgency to support spanking seems to ebb and flow over time as families, such the families who use Focus on the Family materials, respond to their changing contexts.
34. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 3
Paul K.-K. Cho The Conflict Myth and the Biblical Tradition. Debra Scoggins Ballentine
35. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 3
Brian A. Catlos Holy War, Martyrdom, and Terror: Christianity, Violence, and the West. Philippe Buc
36. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 3
Chris Frilingos Rethinking Early Christian Identity: Affect, Violence, and Belonging. Maia Kotrosits
37. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Margo Kitts Introduction: Violence, Religion, and the State
38. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Juli L. Gittinger The Rhetoric of Violence, Religion, and Purity in India’s Cow Protection Movement
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In India there has been a recent increase in violence and intolerance towards people who eat beef. While India has a fairly wide Cow Protection Act that bars the slaughter of female cows and calves, many areas have permitted slaughter of bulls and bullocks for centuries. Hindu religion has no doctrinal proscriptions against the consumption of beef in particular, although it has borrowed heavily from Jainism in the last century, arguing that the concept of ahimsa (nonviolence) forbids such slaughter and consumption of beef. Violence is exacted upon those who would dare eat beef—notably Muslims and lower castes—further politicizing the issue. This paper explores the various claims and legitimations of violence regarding the tradition of abstaining from beef. These include arguments of religious purity, racial biases, caste, and cultural arguments which have been put forth in defense of or in condemnation of beef-eaters. I argue that, in the case of such regulations of “authentic” Hindu traditions (like the sanctity of the cow), purity concerns are directly tied to Hindu nationalist ideologies.
39. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Paul R. Powers Territory Is Not Map: Deterritorialisation, Mere Religion, and Islamic State
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While the Islamic State (IS) has much in common with many other contemporary jihadist groups, this article argues that it expresses a distinctive attitude toward the taking, holding, and expanding of territory. Olivier Roy’s notion of the “deterritorialisation” of late-modern Muslim religiosity suggests that many Muslims, whether in minority or majority situations, perceive themselves as detached from “home” lands and cultures and, partly as a result, find Islam reduced from a holistic phenomenon to a truncated and compartmentalized “mere religion.” IS efforts to take territory can be seen in part as a rejection of such deterritorialisation. The IS version of a reinvigorated Islam is made possible solely by the possession of territory, and hinges on apocalyptic expectations about certain concrete locations and on the possibility of enacting a robust, hyper-aggressive form of Islamic law.
40. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Yonatan Y. Brafman Towards a Neo-Ḥaredi Political Theory: Schlesinger, Breuer, and Leibowitz between Religion and Zionism
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This article explores the resources available in modern Jewish thought for overcoming the conflict between secular liberalism and religious nationalism. In addition to a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, the modern state’s claim to sovereignty demands the reconstruction of existing social formations, normative orderings, and personal identities. The primary Jewish responses to this demand have been either the privatizing of Judaism as religion or the nationalizing of Jewishness as Zionism. However, this demand was resisted by diverse thinkers, including Akiva Yosef Schlesinger, Isaac Breuer, and Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who can be described as advancing a Neo-Ḥaredi political theory. This theory has five related characteristics: (1) an affirmation of the publicity of halakhah, or Jewish law; (2) a rejection of the construction of Judaism as a “religion”; (3) a lack of aspiration to establish halakhah as state law; (4) a refusal of the identification of the state as the unitary locus of sovereignty; and (5) an ambivalent relation to Zionism, ranging from indifference, to disappointment, and opposition. Common to these reactions is a decentering of the state and its claim to sovereignty in favor of a plurality of social formations, normative orderings, and identities. It is suggested that such an approach may provide a way of avoiding the zero-sum game for control of the state that seems to plague the current politics of both the United States and Israel/Palestine.