Approaches to Auschwitz, Revised Edition: The Holocaust and Its Legacy

Westminster John Knox Press
Free sample

Distinctively coauthored by a Christian scholar and a Jewish scholar, this monumental, interdisciplinary study explores the various ways in which the Holocaust has been studied and assesses its continuing significance. The authors develop an analysis of the Holocaust's historical roots, its shattering impact on human civilization, and its decisive importance in determining the fate of the world. This revised edition takes into account developments in Holocaust studies since the first edition was published.
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About the author

Richard L. Rubenstein is President Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Religion at the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he also serves as Director of the University's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. An internationally recognized historian of religion, he previously served as Distinguished Professor of Religion at Florida State University, where the Richard L. Rubenstein Chair for Religious Studies was created in his honor.

John K. Roth is Edward J. Sexton Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, where he taught from 1966 through 2006. In addition to service on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and on the editorial board for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, he has published hundreds of articles and reviews and authored, coauthored, or edited more than forty books. In 1988, he was named U.S. National Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Westminster John Knox Press
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Published on
Aug 31, 2003
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Pages
499
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ISBN
9781611642148
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Christian Church / Growth
Religion / Christian Theology / Ethics
Religion / Christian Theology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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What did Jesus mean when he said to “love your enemies” and “pray for those who persecute you”? Do these commandments leave room for Christians to serve in militaries or police forces that implement the use of force? Or is the Christian to steadfastly reject violence and embrace pacifism? Are certain wars justified on the basis of just war theory, or are all wars, in their brutality and destruction, inherently evil? 

 

In this study, Harold Palmer, an attorney, examines the case that has traditionally been made to justify Christian participation in war. The author begins with a historical background of the roots of just war theory as promulgated by Thomas Aquinas. He then examines the passages on which just war theorists rely, including God’s commandments to the Israelites to go to war against their enemies, Jesus’ praise of the Roman Army centurion for his faith and God’s use of the centurion Cornelius to graft Gentiles into the Kingdom of God. Arguing that these passages have been misunderstood, he concludes that Christianity only permits a single response to evil—self-sacrificial love.

 

The author makes a cogent case for Christian pacifism by examining the life of Jesus and arguing that His crucifixion was more than a salvific act; it also exemplified the ideal of Christian living. Being a disciple of Jesus means emulating Him in every way, including responding to violence through self-sacrificial love, as Jesus did, and obeying Jesus’ commands to be as “harmless as doves,” to “turn the other cheek” and “pray for those who persecute you.”

 

Finally, this study tackles the difficult question of Old Testament violence by arguing that it falls within a specific context and is not normative for members of the New Covenant of Grace. Rather than embrace violence, we are to follow the examples set by the early church and its martyrs, including the Apostle Stephen, who prayed that his persecutors not be charged with their sins, and the apostle Paul, who taught us to “live peaceably with all men.” Our war is not a physical struggle, but a spiritual war to be waged with prayer, faith and the gospel of peace (Eph 6:12-18). 

Defined by deliberation about the difference between right and wrong, encouragement not to be indifferent toward that difference, resistance against what is wrong, and action in support of what is right, ethics is civilization's keystone. The Failures of Ethics concentrates on the multiple shortfalls and shortcomings of thought, decision, and action that tempt and incite us human beings to inflict incalculable harm. Absent the overriding of moral sensibilities, if not the collapse or collaboration of ethical traditions, the Holocaust, genocide, and other mass atrocities could not have happened. Although these catastrophes do not pronounce the death of ethics, they show that ethics is vulnerable, subject to misuse and perversion, and that no simple reaffirmation of ethics, as if nothing disastrous had happened, will do. Moral and religious authority has been fragmented and weakened by the accumulated ruins of history and the depersonalized advances of civilization that have taken us from a bloody twentieth century into an immensely problematic twenty-first. What nevertheless remain essential are spirited commitment and political will that embody the courage not to let go of the ethical but to persist for it in spite of humankind's self-inflicted destructiveness. Salvaging the fragmented condition of ethics, this book shows how respect and honor for those who save lives and resist atrocity, deepened attention to the dead and to death itself, and appeals for human rights and renewed spiritual sensitivity confirm that ethics contains and remains an irreplaceable safeguard against its own failures.
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