This chapter analyzes a wide range of African customs and legends. It demonstrates that African traditional religion offers notions of a thriving spirit world which provides “sacred warriors” ritualized protections and martial enhancements when defense of community is urgent. African traditional religion remains primarily an African phenomenon and, as a result, is tightly associated with the cultures and realities of the continent. The role of religion in motivating violence and its role in carrying out the violence are addressed. The Lord's Resistance Army has revealed that a spiritual agenda and rhetoric is not enough to win the support of the people. A proliferation of news stories and images from across Africa of persecuted albino communities, victims of ritual sacrifice or magically empowered rebels might give the impression that traditional religion and violence are more intertwined than ever.
This article examines the development and ideology of Egypt’s largest militant groups, al-Jama`a al-Islamiya (al-Jama`a) and the Islamic Jihad Group (al-Jihad). It argues that modern Islamic movements in Egypt exhibit the recurrent pattern of extremism and offense followed by moderation and revision of both ideology and tactics. The experience of al-Jama`a and al-Jihad groups demonstrate that counterterrorism strategies may be carried out in the form of dialogue and communication that encourage terrorists to stop the use of violence and join in party politics.
This article examines the history, nature, and meaning of the “al-Qaida.” Debates have raged within the law enforcement and intelligence communities between those who favor a conception of al-Qaida as an organized, hierarchical group with the capacity to plan and execute terrorist strikes, and those who see “al-Qaida” as a phenomenon rather than a group. The article shows that there are several “al-Qaidas” that exist simultaneously and that over time they have interacted and evolved in response to exogenous and endogenous factors.
The Big Three Allies — Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union — ultimately brought vast military power to bear against the Third Reich, thus obtaining its unconditional surrender. But as Nazi pressure on Jews turned into the ‘Final Solution’, the Allies' actions usually did not assign priority to defending or rescuing the victims. This article explains this pattern with reference to the Allies' prewar immigration and refugee policies, political and military objectives during World War II, and concerns about domestic public opinion. It shows that the Jewish fate was determined largely by the continuous interplay between Nazi Germany's antisemitic propaganda and the Allies' desire to avoid the impression that they were fighting to benefit the Jews.
James D. Tabor
This article focuses on ancient Jewish and early Christian millennialism, which are found to be intrinsically inconsistent—there are no specific pointers towards marking the end of time; messianic figures appear in some texts and not in others; and God is humanized in some while others are exclusively emphatic on the transcendental paradigm. It makes the whole millennialist gamut essentially subjective. The groundwork was laid by the pre-Hellenic invasions of Israel and the context for the emergence of Jewish millennialism was provided by the widespread suppression under Greek emperor Antiochus. This article demonstrates that from the second and third centuries onwards, the trend increasingly tended from literal expressions towards symbolic subjective millennialism, to the extent that the former was considered inferior.
David H. Dye
Appropriating and manipulating human body parts was an important component of the belief system throughout much of the world. In eastern North America, Mississippian trophy-taking behavior was predicated on beliefs that focused on human life forces believed to reside in body elements, especially the head and scalp. Archaeologists have generally neglected to apprehend the potent meanings of trophy-taking behavior as a component of indigenous belief systems. Trophy-taking has been traditionally viewed as grounded in competition over economic resources, intercommunity conflict, or the pursuit of personal status and political advancement. This essay explores how Mississippians engaged in trophy-taking behavior, including snaring life forces for religious purposes through raiding and warfare, especially mortuary programs and ritual performances that emphasized the spirit’s journey to the realm of the dead and the enduring cycle of life and death. This alternative approach embraces a multidisciplinary perspective that includes archaeology, bioarchaeology, ethnography, ethnohistory, iconography, mythology, and osteoarchaeology.
Although there existed no real millennial text prior to late Jewish and early Christian texts, there exists an overabundance of resources that heavily draw on millennial texts. This article deals with the “Apocrypha” or the Hebrew Bible, which is wrought with apocalyptic literature. Similar literature is also to be found in Mesopotamian scriptures, a string of texts known as the “Akkadian Prophecies”. Ancient Zoroastrian texts, predating both Jewish and Christian counterparts, too seem to have substantial pre-millennial texts, similar in subjective elements such as an unhappy end of time with subsequent salvation, resurrection, personified angels etc. The common factors between these texts are: they commonly draw on general crisis contexts and most immediate and obvious hurdles in projecting the evils of the world; secondly, the geographical origins of these texts were unified by the common factor of their unequivocal resistance to Hellenic expansionism, something that figures prominently in the subjective interpretation of these texts.
Clark H. Pinnock
In Christian theology, annihilationism designates the views of those who hold that the finally impenitent wicked will cease to exist after (or soon after) the last judgment. Annihilation is a term designating theories which contend that human beings may pass or be put out of existence altogether. The theories fall into three classes: pure mortality, conditional immortality, and annihilation proper. Alongside the large number of texts that depict hell as a place of death and destruction, there is some countertestimony too. There are three texts in particular, one in the Gospel of Matthew and two in the Book of Revelation, which need comment because they are cited as proof texts of the traditional opinion. Scripture aside, belief in the nature of hell as everlasting conscious punishing remains solidly traditional, which means that the burden of proof rests on the shoulders of the reformers in this matter.
Anti-Semitism refers to all anti-Jewish statements, tendencies, resentments, attitudes, and actions, regardless of whether they are religiously, racially, socially, or otherwise motivated. Ever since the experience of National Socialist ideology and dictatorship, anti-Semitism has been understood as a social phenomena which serves as a paradigm for the formation of prejudices and the political exploitation of the hostilities that ensue from them. As prejudice research, it is primarily interested in the behaviour and attitudes of different majority societies, and strictly speaking, it does not even require knowledge of the discriminated minority. This article claims that anti-Semitism research and Jewish studies are not interconnected, nor dependent on one another. However, the history of Jews, their interaction with non-Jewish majority societies, their persecution and extermination, serves anti-Semitism research as a paradigm.
Richard S. Levy
This article addresses the phenomenon of organized antisemitism in the sixty years preceding the “Final Solution,” primarily in Germany but with comparisons to contemporaneous developments elsewhere in Europe. It assesses theories that attempt to account for the appearance of political movements aimed at disempowering Jews, profiles the creators and proponents of antisemitic ideology, identifies the social groups they sought to mobilize, and notes the widespread failure of these movements to achieve their goals prior to 1933. It shows that decades of organized antisemitism prepared the way for the Holocaust chiefly by eroding popular willingness to defend, and indeed to care about, the rights and fates of Jews.
This chapter offers a working definition of the apocalyptic, followed by some of the apocalyptic's most important constituent components. Then, it concentrates on associations between these components and violence, illuminating how structures of the apocalyptic can be deployed to serve violent ends. Apocalyptic texts and movements alike demonstrate a tendency to split the world and its contents into absolute good and absolute evil. Dualistic thinking has been noted by many scholars as a quintessential element of religious violence. Furthermore, the chapter examines three interrelated processes connected to duality that aid in the transformation of apocalyptic thinking into violence against others. Apocalyptic duality is deepened through a sense of temporality that envisions all of time having led up to the unique moment in history in which only the elect exclusively possess the truth. Duality and utopia coalesce as motive forces for foreign intervention to “free” those who are “oppressed.”
Michael A. Sells
This chapter, which looks at the actual or alleged cases of apocalypticism within contemporary Iranian Shi'ite, Saudi Sunni, and American Christian circles, evaluates the issue of contemporary militant apocalypticism, emphasizing the competition between its American Christian and Islamic versions. The hadith collections present contradictory reports regarding the end-time struggle between the Messiah Jesus and Dajjal. Militant near-term apocalypticism summons the power of religion, imagination, and personal conviction against any serious peace endeavor; demonizes those who work toward such endeavors; and sanctifies those who, once the tribulation or endtimes conflict is underway, kill the peacemakers. The apocalyptic messianism of American dispensationalists, and of the Salafi Sunni figures Safar al-Hawali and Ali al-Timimi, feature scenarios of Middle Eastern and global carnage ending with messianic triumph and theologically grounded rejection of Middle East peacemaking.
Focusing on works by artists such as Rico Lebrun (1900–1964), George Segal (1924–2000), or Jerome Witkin (b. 1939), art critics and art historians have sometimes criticized too realistic art about the Holocaust for aestheticizing atrocity, presenting a gratuitous and repellent violence, and advancing a reductive and one-dimensional literalness. Similarly, curators have often preferred to show work that is abstracted or allusive, avoiding ‘morbidity, sentimentality, and overused visual stereotypes’ that have lost their power to shock. The guiding mandate for post-Holocaust artistic practice was laid down by Theodore Adorno's (1903–1969) interdiction of ‘poetry after Auschwitz’ (1981). Paradoxically, Adorno's refusal of aesthetics, which began as a refusal of art altogether, became the conventionalized, dominant aesthetic, or anti-aesthetic, although the negative and allusive Holocaust-related artwork that met this mandate took a wide variety of forms. More recently, however, younger artists have rebelled against this ethic of representation in provocative ways. This article explores the changing strategies of representation in the postwar era, moving from the modernist premise guided by Adorno's interdiction to the postmodernist rejection of that premise. The controversy surrounding the 2002 exhibition Mirroring Evil at the Jewish Museum in New York provides an exemplary case study that illuminates the continuing debate over visual representation of the Holocaust.
Robin M. Wright
This article is an in-depth study of the cosmology and practices of assault sorcerers. While it concentrates mostly on indigenous Amazonian societies, comparisons are drawn from other ethnographic areas of the world. It shows that assault sorcery is an integral part of a nexus of religious knowledge and power, in which primordial spirits of sickness and sorcery are embodied in all manner of assault sorcery. The world of humanity today, according to indigenous cosmogonies examined here, is imbued with violent death through sorcery, the legacy of the primordial world. Prophet movements have often been associated with sorcery among indigenous societies throughout the world. Their principal objectives include the control of assault sorcerers, although the prophets themselves have often succumbed to their violent attacks or even deployed sorcery as a mode of defense against enemies. This world has been corrupted by the incessant violence of sorcerers, which the community elders, shamanic healers, and prophets have all sought to manage and control. What the future holds with the drastic decline of shamanic healers is cause for grave concern among traditional communities.
The concept of avertive apocalypticism describes a wide range of beliefs that predict imminent worldly destruction and maintains that apocalypse may be averted or forestalled if believers engage in specific spiritual or ritual actions. This article represents the survivalist strain in millennialism, believing in earthly deliberations, and history as pre-ordained, beyond human control and subject to divine will. Salvation from the impending apocalypse is to be delivered by some divine entity that involves enduring by divine messianic preaching. The ideas range from apparitions to planetary escape on exploration of UFOs to employ collective psychic efforts, through mass prayers and to avert imminent destruction. This article focuses on selected contemporary expressions of spiritual avertive beliefs and practices. The concept of avertive apocalypticism upholds human agency and free will. Failure of the apocalypse predictions is pitched as post-facto triumph. The continued analysis of the dynamics of such ideas is crucial for an expanded understanding of the complexity and enduring appeal of apocalyptic and millennial thought and practice.
This chapter discusses the history of Buddhist traditions and violence, concentrating on the scriptural justifications, symbols, and actual manifestations of violence. It covers Theravada (Path of the Elders), Mahayana (Great Vehicle), and Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle). Theravada scriptures present on occasion a categorical imperative to avoid violence. Mahayana scriptures condemn violence and hold murder as an unwholesome act (akushala). Vajrayana doctrine is perfused with texts and commentaries that reject the use of violence. The chapter then outlines the elements of violence with regard to war, punishment, and social control. Among the various examples in the scriptures lies one from its founder Siddhattha Gotama, who abandoned his own familial allegiance for the sake of reconciliation.
This article focuses on the evolution of the Nazi concentration camp system. It discusses how this system evolved from a relatively small network of installations dedicated to punishing ‘unreliable’ Germans prior to World War II into an empire under the control of the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps (IKL) and the Economic Administration Main Office (WVHA) of the SS. Eventually, this system encompassed more than twenty main camps, some 900 satellite installations, and a prisoner population that peaked in 1944 at over 700,000. Six of these camps became devoted to the mass murder of the European Jews.
Eugene V. Gallagher
Catastrophic millennialism emanates from a deep pessimism towards society, history, and general humanity. This article develops an analysis of the basic descriptive vocabulary of catastrophic millennialism from the examination of a pair of texts from Late Antiquity. It simultaneously emphasizes a catastrophic end to life as we know it and “a heaven on earth”, the new coming of humanity, following the cleansing. The article also states that predictions of the apocalypse always combine certain general but instrumental factors that invariably strengthen the conflict. This article shows how a group of contemporary millennialist movements have used the basic tropes of catastrophic millennialism to create their own distinctive apocalyptic messages. It highlights how these groups differ in their assessments of why the world will soon be destroyed, precisely how it will happen, who will accomplish that destruction, when and where it will happen, and, especially, what their faithful followers must do in the meantime.
Kevin P. Spicer
Catholic and Protestant churches were on-lookers and sometimes worse, as their responses to persecution included forms of inaction that spilled over into complicity. Beginning with an examination of the corrupting influence of Catholic antisemitism on European Christians through the centuries and the role of religious prejudice in advancing racial antisemitism, this article explores the controversial choices and modulated actions of the Catholic Church. It gives particular attention to German Catholicism's response to the question, ‘who is my neighbour?’ and assesses the reaction and attitude of the Church hierarchy, especially Pope Pius XII (1876–1958), to Nazi acts of persecution.
This article explores how historians, at least since the late 1980s, have subjected the experience of children to more searching analysis, without making their fate any less shocking. Nazism had a special interest in children, both in shaping the next generation of German children and in eliminating the offspring of Jews, Sinti, Roma, and other so-called degenerates. At every stage of persecution, children were targeted in specific ways, from ‘Jew benches’ in schools, through the medical killing of children in psychiatric asylums, to selection in the death camps. Children, however, were anything but passive victims. New research has revealed much about their experience of ghettoization, in particular their adeptness at smuggling, hiding, and adopting new identities, languages, and religious beliefs.