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Hector Avalos
Hector Avalos

Hector Avalos is Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Iowa State University, Ames, IA.

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The Reality of Religious Violence: From Biblical to Modern Times

Published: Sep 2019
£75.00
Violence and religion have been interacting from the beginning of recorded history according to The Reality of Religious Violence: From Biblical to Modern Times. This book addresses two major questions: 1. Does religious violence exist? 2. If so, how is it different from other types of violence? The first question is a reaction to a whole stream of scholarship led by William T. Cavanaugh, author of The Myth of Religious Violence (2009), which denies that religious violence is a specific category of violence over against many other types of violence that we can name. The second question is whether 'religious violence' is a useful category at all. This book argues that religious violence is not only a useful category, but also a necessary one if we are to understand our history and seek solutions. It is true, nevertheless, that wars and other types of violence can be caused by problems that have nothing to do with religion. What is central to this book is the ethical quality of religious violence. Non-religious violence arises from causes one can detect (e.g. oil, water, money). Religious violence does not have any detectable cause, since there is no supernatural force or being that we can identify as the cause. That is what makes religious violence more tragic. Detailed examples are drawn from the Hebrew Bible, Christian texts, and Muslim texts.
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The Reality of Religious Violence: From Biblical to Modern Times

£75.00
Violence and religion have been interacting from the beginning of recorded history according to The Reality of Religious Violence: From Biblical to Modern Times. This book addresses two major questions: 1. Does religious violence exist? 2. If so, how is it different from other types of violence? The first question is a reaction to a whole stream of scholarship led by William T. Cavanaugh, author of The Myth of Religious Violence (2009), which denies that religious violence is a specific category of violence over against many other types of violence that we can name. The second question is whether 'religious violence' is a useful category at all. This book argues that religious violence is not only a useful category, but also a necessary one if we are to understand our history and seek solutions. It is true, nevertheless, that wars and other types of violence can be caused by problems that have nothing to do with religion. What is central to this book is the ethical quality of religious violence. Non-religious violence arises from causes one can detect (e.g. oil, water, money). Religious violence does not have any detectable cause, since there is no supernatural force or being that we can identify as the cause. That is what makes religious violence more tragic. Detailed examples are drawn from the Hebrew Bible, Christian texts, and Muslim texts.
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The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics

Published: Apr 2015
£25.00£60.00
Did Jesus ever do anything wrong? Judging by the vast majority of books on New Testament ethics, the answer is a resounding No. Writers on New Testament ethics generally view Jesus as the paradigm of human standards and behaviour. But since the historical Jesus was a human being, must he not have had flaws, like everyone else? The notion of a flawless human Jesus is a paradoxical oddity in New Testament ethics. According to Avalos, it shows that New Testament ethics is still primarily an apologetic enterprise despite its claim to rest on critical and historical scholarship. The Bad Jesus is a powerful and challenging study, presenting detailed case studies of fundamental ethical principles enunciated or practised by Jesus but antithetical to what would be widely deemed 'acceptable' or 'good' today. Such topics include Jesus' supposedly innovative teachings on love, along with his views on hate, violence, imperialism, animal rights, environmental ethics, Judaism, women, disabled persons and biblical hermeneutics. After closely examining arguments offered by those unwilling to find any fault with the Jesus depicted in the Gospels, Avalos concludes that current treatments of New Testament ethics are permeated by a religiocentric, ethnocentric and imperialistic orientation. But if it is to be a credible historical and critical discipline in modern academia, New Testament ethics needs to discover both a Good and a Bad Jesus.
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The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics

£25.00£60.00
Did Jesus ever do anything wrong? Judging by the vast majority of books on New Testament ethics, the answer is a resounding No. Writers on New Testament ethics generally view Jesus as the paradigm of human standards and behaviour. But since the historical Jesus was a human being, must he not have had flaws, like everyone else? The notion of a flawless human Jesus is a paradoxical oddity in New Testament ethics. According to Avalos, it shows that New Testament ethics is still primarily an apologetic enterprise despite its claim to rest on critical and historical scholarship. The Bad Jesus is a powerful and challenging study, presenting detailed case studies of fundamental ethical principles enunciated or practised by Jesus but antithetical to what would be widely deemed 'acceptable' or 'good' today. Such topics include Jesus' supposedly innovative teachings on love, along with his views on hate, violence, imperialism, animal rights, environmental ethics, Judaism, women, disabled persons and biblical hermeneutics. After closely examining arguments offered by those unwilling to find any fault with the Jesus depicted in the Gospels, Avalos concludes that current treatments of New Testament ethics are permeated by a religiocentric, ethnocentric and imperialistic orientation. But if it is to be a credible historical and critical discipline in modern academia, New Testament ethics needs to discover both a Good and a Bad Jesus.
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Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship

Published: May 2013
£19.50£70.00
In this immensely wide-ranging and fascinating study, Avalos critiques the common claim that the abolition of slavery was due in large part to the influence of biblical ethics. Such a claim, he argues, is characteristic of a broader phenomenon in biblical scholarship, which focuses on defending, rather than describing, the ethical norms encountered in biblical texts. The first part of Avalos's critique explores how modern scholars have praised the supposed superiority of biblical ethics at the cost of diminishing or ignoring many similar features in ancient Near Eastern cultures. These features include manumission, fixed terms of service, familial rights, and egalitarian critiques of slavery. At the same time, modern scholarship has used the standard tools of biblical exegesis in order to minimize the ethically negative implications of many biblical references to slavery. The second part of the book concentrates on how the Bible has been used throughout Christian history both to maintain and to extend slavery. In particular, Avalos offers detailed studies of papal documents used to defend the Church's stance on slavery. Discussions of Gregory of Nyssa, Aquinas and Luther, among others, show that they are not such champions of freedom as they are often portrayed. Avalos's close readings of the writings of major abolitionists such as Granville Sharp, William Wilberforce and Frederick Douglass show an increasing shift away from using the Bible as a support for abolitionism. Biblical scholars have rarely recognized that pro-slavery advocates could use the Bible just as effectively. According to Avalos, one of the complex mix of factors leading to abolition was the abandonment of the Bible as an ethical authority. The case of the biblical attitude to slavery is just one confirmation of how unsuitable the Bible is as a manual of ethics in the modern world.
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Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship

£19.50£70.00
In this immensely wide-ranging and fascinating study, Avalos critiques the common claim that the abolition of slavery was due in large part to the influence of biblical ethics. Such a claim, he argues, is characteristic of a broader phenomenon in biblical scholarship, which focuses on defending, rather than describing, the ethical norms encountered in biblical texts. The first part of Avalos's critique explores how modern scholars have praised the supposed superiority of biblical ethics at the cost of diminishing or ignoring many similar features in ancient Near Eastern cultures. These features include manumission, fixed terms of service, familial rights, and egalitarian critiques of slavery. At the same time, modern scholarship has used the standard tools of biblical exegesis in order to minimize the ethically negative implications of many biblical references to slavery. The second part of the book concentrates on how the Bible has been used throughout Christian history both to maintain and to extend slavery. In particular, Avalos offers detailed studies of papal documents used to defend the Church's stance on slavery. Discussions of Gregory of Nyssa, Aquinas and Luther, among others, show that they are not such champions of freedom as they are often portrayed. Avalos's close readings of the writings of major abolitionists such as Granville Sharp, William Wilberforce and Frederick Douglass show an increasing shift away from using the Bible as a support for abolitionism. Biblical scholars have rarely recognized that pro-slavery advocates could use the Bible just as effectively. According to Avalos, one of the complex mix of factors leading to abolition was the abandonment of the Bible as an ethical authority. The case of the biblical attitude to slavery is just one confirmation of how unsuitable the Bible is as a manual of ethics in the modern world.
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