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Violence, Nonviolence and the Temple Incident in John 2:13-15

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image of Biblical Interpretation

The temple incident has been a popular episode in Jesus' ministry from which Christians since Augustine have drawn to justify Christian violence ranging from punishing schismatics and heretics to justifying war and the death penalty. However, another tradition of reading this passage nonviolently began well before Augustine. Whether contextualizing the passage in a narrative reading so that it would have spiritual meaning or seeing the Greek grammar as disallowing that Jesus hit people with the whip, these nonviolent strategies effectively undercut any notion that Jesus' action could provide a model for Christian violence. A close reading of the Greek text, I believe, supports these nonviolent strategies for reading the text, which simply denies based on Greek grammar that Jesus used his whip on any person.

Affiliations: 1: Marquette University


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