Nonviolence in the New Testament: An Orthodox-Hermeneutical Perspective


Karakolis, Christos. “Nonviolence in the New Testament: An Orthodox-Hermeneutical Perspective”. Sacra Scripta 19, no. 1-2 (2021): 76-91.


Abstract. This study discusses the problem of the incompatibility between ethnocentric tendencies within the national Orthodox churches and the New Testament teaching on nonviolence. The three main parts outline the relevant New Testament teaching (1) in the four Gospels and the book of Acts, (2) in the Pauline epistles, and (3) in John’s Revelation. The study concludes that in the New Testament texts, there is no room for the justification of violence on the part of Christ-followers against their opponents. Quite on the contrary, the New Testament views the world as having the potential to become ecclesia, and the “other” as a possible sister or brother in Christ. Unfortunately, this fundamental New Testament teaching is often forgotten in modern-day Orthodoxy, notwithstanding its claims for unbroken continuity with the apostolic tradition. As an example, the Greek-Orthodox church oftentimes emphasizes national identity and heroism over ecclesial faith and ethos. Although understandable, such ethnocentric tendencies clearly contradict the New Testament witness and should be abandoned.

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