Biblical Archaeology Review 42:4, July/August 2016

Queries & Comments

BAR July/August 2016 cover

Rabbi Hot About Hendel

I’m a charter subscriber to BAR. I’ve read every issue, from the first to the latest, and enjoyed them immensely. But now, for the first time, I’m angry at an author and at BAR for printing Ronald Hendel’s “Biblical Views: The Bible and Religious Violence” (BAR 42:02). The alleged theme is violence in the three monotheistic religions, in the past and today.

Hendel is a professor of Hebrew Bible. His descriptions of holy wars in the Biblical period are accurate. But when he tries to learn a lesson from them for today, he steps way outside his area of expertise and authority and displays his own distorted agenda.

He rightly condemns “radical Islam” for the atrocities that have been perpetrated in its name and that have been justified by a number of its clergy. But in Hendel’s agenda, it’s important that all three religions be condemned equally.

His first example: One Christian man admits to murdering people at an abortion clinic in Colorado. Thousands of Christian clergy condemn his actions, but no matter. To Hendel, Christianity itself is guilty of murder.

His next example: Three Jews in Israel are accused of setting a fire that murders an Arab family. Thousands of Jewish clergy condemn the crime, but no matter. To Hendel, Judaism itself is guilty of murder.

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