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Holding Hands and Bearing Arms: A Continuing Challenge for Global Communities

Kitchen, Merrill (2011) Holding Hands and Bearing Arms: A Continuing Challenge for Global Communities. In: Religion and Ethics in a Globalizing World. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 103-114. ISBN 9780230104624


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The last one hundred years has been a time in which scientific research has yielded unprecedented life-saving contributions, but at the same time probably more violent actions have been perpetrated by human beings on each other than ever before. All too frequently these conflicts have arisen amongst and between communities known as the ‘children of Abraham’ who have a common monotheistic religious history. Furthermore, each of the three faith traditions are being challenged by those passages in their holy scriptures that can be interpreted selectively to justify actions of aggression and rejection; at the same time, each has scriptural justification for initiatives that can lead to reconciliation and understanding of difference. One example of a variously interpreted scriptural passage in the Christian Bible is the Parable of the Pounds in the Gospel of Luke. This parable has been interpreted in many different ways over the past two millennia. Sometimes it has been cited to justify exploitation, polarisation and division while at other times it has been seen as a prophetic stimulus for moral rectitude and passive resistance in the face of political and religious oppression.
The parable is explored in terms of its literary context along with the socio-cultural contexts of its past and present audiences. A particular focus is on the way in which early Christian scholars understood this parable when Christianity was a minority sect in the Mediterranean world in comparison with later interpretations that emerged within a context of politically dominant Christendom. It is asserted that the interpretation and contemporary impact of ancient religious writings such as this parable are highly dependent on the interpretive lens employed by readers at the time. Finally, it is suggested that the contemporary post-Christendom reader must be open to reviewing critically some of the commonly accepted readings of influential New Testament texts that justify oppressive actions and be open to differing interpretations that offer an understanding of affirmation and permission, in their embrace and even celebration of human difference. It is argued that an alternative reading of the Parable of Pounds, for instance, opens a pathway to the kind of social capital that can embrace unity within diversity and promote the fair distribution of resources amongst contemporary global human communities.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Repository Version: Author's Final Manuscript
Keywords: Scripture, conflict, dialogue, Interpretation
Fields of Research: 16 Studies in Human Society > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2201 Applied Ethics > 220199 Applied Ethics not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society
Type of Activity: Applied Research
Subjects: B - New Testament
A - World Religions
College/Association with University of Divinity: STC: Stirling Theological College
Depositing User: Rev Merrill Kitchen
Date Deposited: 27 May 2011 02:54
Last Modified: 27 May 2011 02:54
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/868

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