Pope Benedict's Verbum Domini (2010), especially the chapter called "On the Interpretation of Sacred Scripture in the Church", touches on the "dark" or violent passages of Scripture and how to approach them.
I then received a Comment on this from Bill Bannon saying
Benedict's chapter 42 on the dark passages is unfortunately not his best. Not only were some of the massacres of the Old Testament mandated by God as opposed to Benedict's innuendo (see sect.40 of Evangelium Vitae where John Paul makes the same innuendo about the OT death penalties), but Christ announces the worst doom (Jerusalem 70AD) as imminent because Jerusalem did not know the hour of its visitation. About 35 years after Christ rises and ascends, 1.1 million people are killed in the very fall of Jerusalem Christ predicted. Benedict is totally silent on the fact that Christ announces the worst doom in a series. Luke 19:41 NAB Bible As he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 * For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. 44 They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
There are several issues here. It is a fact that bad, violent, consequences follow from sin, and that in these "punishments" many of the innocent suffer. God may or may not announce these in advance. He may be "blamed" for them or not. But he takes these consequences upon himself on the Cross. Sometimes in the OT God speaks and commands massacres and so forth, but this may be an anthropomorphic way of describing the unfolding of this process of moral cause and effect, or a representation of the Jewish understanding of God's guidance to them filtered through their historical consciousness at the time. We don't have to take it literally that God said "slaughter them all", as we would if we were fundamentalists. This is why B16 is so careful to stress the need of training in careful analysis of the texts. This is all, of course, very relevant to the discussion about violence in Islam and the Koran.
Stratford, But you switched to the OT only... just as Benedict did. Christ, not "anthropomorphic" OT writers, connects children inter alia being killed within their mothers in Jerusalem...connects it to His people not accepting Him and to their having filled up the full measure of their sins. This was bigger than the OT dooms. It was not quintessentially Roman but Divine. Was their mercy in it? Yes. Christ left a warning for 40 years to those who would believe in His advice..." those in Judea, flee to the mountains". Was there mercy in the OT dooms. Yes. God punished them bit by bit for 400 hundred years and only after they did not repent did God use the Jews as His arm against them. He tells you this in the Catholic Bible in Wisdom chapter 12:3-10 which I don't think Benedict was cognizant of: Wisdom 12:3-10 ” For truly, the ancient inhabitants of your holy land, ...and parents who took with their own hands defenseless lives, You willed to destroy by the hands of our fathers...But condemning them bit by bit, you gave them space for repentance.” He gave them space for repentance for four hundred years from the death of Abraham til the Jews leaving Egypt by punishing them lightly first so that they would repent. Did anyone ever tell you that, Stratford? No. Would a primitive OT writer projecting massacres onto God's shoulders ala Freud....tell you this time sequence in Wisdom 12 along with Moses telling the four hundred years of sins becoming filled up in Gen.15:16...."In the fourth generation* your descendants will return here, for the wickedness of the Amorites is not yet complete.". No... a projecting OT writer would have simply said God said to invade the promised land. God ordered Saul to kill the Amalekites. Sound like a projection? Yes until you read that Saul didn't obey and left alive Agag, their king; and Samuel, the prophet, then removed Saul from being king and Samuel the prophet killed Agag himself. Which brings us back to Benedict who knows the NT but not the OT since Benedict says in section 42 that the prophets "challenge... every form of violence". Apparently Benedict missed Samuel killing Agag and Elijah killing 450 Baal prophets himself at the stream in Kishon in I Kings 18:40 " Then Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal. Let none of them escape!" They were seized, and Elijah had them brought down to the brook Kishon and there he slit their throats." Eliseus the prophet was told by God to kill any of the house of Ahab that escaped the sword of Jehu. Benedict must have missed that in I Kings 19:17. The later prophets....were they more like what Benedict was thinking? You tell me. Jeremiah says the Chaldeans are to punish the Moabites for God and then he warns them: Jer.48:10. “Cursed are they who do the LORD’s work carelessly, cursed those who keep their sword from shedding blood.” Benedict must have missed that....along with others. What is happening is that the Church is embarassed before secular post Christian Europe for unjust violence by the Church...the Inquisition and the Iberian murders in the name of religion as Spain and Portugal used South America for their gain as allowed by Romanus Pontifex, mid 4th large par., Pope Nicholas V. To counter that sinful legacy which secular Europeans rigthly denounce, the last two Popes have become so against Church past violence that they are now about denouncing violence in the Bible and as I think you can see by now....no prophet was a Ghandi. You would actually have to remove from the canon of the OT half the OT. Judith as a book vanishes if you remove her ruse or trick ( another OT element Benedict hates) and if you remove her beheading Holofernes ( violence) which saved her people.
SC: I intend to continue this discussion if God gives me the opportunity in this thread of the Forum.