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Making Sense of Old Testament GenocideChristian Interpretations of Herem Passages$
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Christian Hofreiter

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198810902

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198810902.001.0001

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Dissenting Readings

Dissenting Readings

(p.42) 3 Dissenting Readings
Making Sense of Old Testament Genocide

Christian Hofreiter

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents and discusses criticisms of the Jewish Scriptures by Marcion and the Marcionites, by Ptolemy, Celsus, and other pagan critics of Christianity, and by the authors of the Didascalia Apostolorum and Pseudo-Clementines. The criticisms demonstrate that violent, warlike texts in the Old Testament were seen as problematic by a number of authors in late antiquity. Some of the critics attempted to address the hermeneutical challenge either by positing two different gods (Marcion) or by denying that the Old Testament is true in its entirety (Ptolemy, the Didascalia Apostolorum, the Pseudo-Clementines); others did not attempt to solve the hermeneutical dilemma but rather sought to highlight it, in an attempt to discredit Christianity altogether. Some of these later pagan critics raised pertinent moral concerns; however, as far as we can tell, none of them did so specifically with respect to herem, apart from Celsus.

Keywords:   apologetics, Bible criticism, Celsus, Didascalia Apostolorum, genocide, gnostics, herem, holy war, Marcion, Pseudo-Clementines

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