Who Would Jesus Kill?

War, Peace, and the Christian Tradition 

(9 Reviews)

By Mark J. Allman

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A Concise, Provocative Look at the Continuum of Approaches to War and Peace within the Christian Tradition and Beyond: Pacifism, Holy War, and Just War.
In Who Would Jesus Kill? War, Peace, and the Christian Tradition, Dr. Mark J. Allman asks a provocative, timely, and timeless question. Readable and thought-provoking, Who Would Jesus Kill? provides an overview of approaches to war and peace within the Christian tradition. The author invites students to reflect on their own views as he examines in detail the topics of holy war, just war, and pacifism. An appendix further explores the issues of war and peace from Jewish and Muslim perspectives.

In the video below, Dr. Allman gives a lecture entitled "Gods of War." The lecture is broken into nine videos. View the rest of the lecture: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=265E4A598BE60A61.

Product Details

Copyright: Sept. 22, 2008

Format: Paperbound

Size: 5.375 x 8.25

Length: 326 pages

Item number: 7010

ISBN: 978-0-88489-984-6

ISBN-10: 0-88489-984-5

Winner of the CTS Award for Best Book of 2008.
Customer Reviews

By Philip L. Barclift, PhD, associate professor of theology, Seattle Univeristy

I will be using Who Would Jesus Kill? Allman's text is very insightful and provocative—exactly what we want in an undergraduate theology text.

By Catherine F. Brodersen, instructor, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I particularly liked the book by Mark Allman Who would Jesus Kill? I found that it does an excellent job of presenting the basics of just war and pacifism while at the same time making the subject currently relevant by tackling issues such as holy war and Muslim perspectives on war. I think that the discussion questions it provides would be a tremendous help in sparking classroom conversations and debates.

By David L. Weedle, professor of religion, The Colorado College

The readable text and engaging layout are features that will appeal to our undergraduates—and I am impressed by the clear and concise summaries of theoretical positions.

By J. Milburn Thompson, PhD, chair and professor of theology, Bellarmine University, Louisville, Kentucky

I am using Mark Allman's Who Would Jesus Kill? in my Christian Peacemaking course this semester. His chapter that is a primer on Christian ethics is a thorough overview that is student-friendly. He is equally thorough and fair in presenting the three models of Christian response to issues of war and peace: nonviolence, holy war, and the just war tradition. I am delighted that his chapter on challenges and adaptations to just war theory includes both the jus post bellum addition and the just peacemaking paradigm. The reader knows that an effective and creative teacher has written this book.

By Todd T. W. Daily, assistant professor of theology and ethics, Urbana Theological Seminary

Mark J. Allman has done Protestants a favor in writing this book. While the provocative title might suggest Allman's affinity for a liberal, idealistic pacifist position intimately acquainted with the horrors of war, this book is anything but. Allman weaves Scripture, church history and tradition together beautifully in presenting the complexities and challenges of any theological position on war with generous attentiveness to competing positions. Yet, Allman does so in a way which is remarkably accessible for undergraduate students, while remaining challenging enough for postgraduates as well.

By Ian Bell, professor of religious studies, Siena Heights University

Who Would Jesus Kill? is an insightful book that my students have found both enlightening and accessible.

I would adopt this for my classroom

By Rev. Benedict M. Guevin, OSB

I read his book and enjoyed it immensely. A fine piece of work. Were I to teach a course on this topic, I would certainly adopt it.

By Brian Orend, PhD, author of The Morality of War and professor of ethics, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Clear writing, good use of accessible quotes, nice historical references, and an effective pedagogical approach, with the questions forcing a critical summary reflection.

By Tobias Winright, PhD, assistant professor of Christian ethics, Saint Louis University, Missouri

The fruit of careful research and instructional experience in the college classroom, this text provides a comprehensive yet accessible treatment of the various Christian ethical approaches to peace and war: pacifism, holy war, and just war. Also discussed in a fine appendix is that ethical approaches to peace and war are not the sole domain of Christians but are important considerations in the Jewish and Islamic faith traditions as well. Easily discernible throughout the text is the author's passion for teaching undergraduates and providing them with the tools and information they need for thinking critically about this timely yet perennial moral issue.
Editorial Reviews

Horizons: A Journal of the College Theology Society, Fall, 2009, Vol. 36, No. 2

In the Foreword, Tobias Winright says this book is "comprehensive yet accessible" and imbued with "the author's passion for teaching undergraduates and providing them with the tools for thinking critically about this timely yet perennial issue." I could not agree more. I used Who Would Jesus Kill? as one of the texts in a Christian peacemaking course, and my students agree that it is thorough, informative, and readable. It presents the Christian tradition on war and peace in a substantive and critical manner. This text helps the student to understand the wisdom of the past and to clarify his or her own position on the morality of war.

The first words of the Introduction are "War is about killing" —to shock us out of our complacency regarding this massive evil. The Introduction seeks to define war and concludes with a chart that places the approaches to war and peace on a continuum. Later chapters refer to this chart in clarifying the reader's position on the morality of war.

The first chapter is a "crash course in Christian ethics" that surveys the four sources of Christian ethics—Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience—in a way worthy of a good course on moral theology. The next three chapters explore the major approaches to war and peace in the Christian tradition: pacifism, holy war, and just war. The basic pattern of these chapters is to begin with definitions and distinctions, examine the biblical basis for this model, trace it through history, and discuss the criticisms of this model regarding the morality of war. The fifth chapter investigates "challenges and adaptations" to the just war theory, including criteria for postwar justice (jus post bellum) and the just peacemaking model. After a brief concluding chapter, there is a substantial Appendix devoted to "Jewish and Muslim Perspectives on War and Peace." There are numerous sidebars throughout the text that present related topics, such as conscientious objection in the chapter on pacifism. Each chapter includes provocative discussion questions and endnotes, which demonstrate extensive research and point to further reading.

This is an accurate, insightful, and user-friendly introduction to the Christian tradition on war and peace. I think it is the best text available on the topic. From my perspective, its major weakness is that the presentation of the New Testament basis for nonviolence is not challenging enough. Gandhi quipped that the only ones who do not think that Jesus was nonviolent are the Christians. Allman might have drawn on Scripture scholar Walter Wink, who presents Jesus' "third way," and/or James Douglass's theology of the nonviolent cross (or many others) to buttress the Christian foundation for peacemaking. Instead, the chapter on pacifism devotes more pages to the challenge from realism than to the Gospel basis of nonviolent discipleship. In the end, Allman's answer to the provocative question in the book's title is that Jesus would kill unjust aggressors and those who oppress others, (or at least the followers of Jesus can be morally justified in killing them). Perhaps that is right, but the unsettling power of the title's question should be more convincingly presented.

While many of my students appreciated the thoroughness of the book, some thought it gave too much information. I understand their point; it is like wanting to edit a movie we think is too long. I also appreciate, however, the author's desire to be comprehensive. An instructor can always highlight sections for student focus. Nevertheless, there may be places where judicious summary might have replaced more comprehensive exposition.

The College Theology Society confirmed the excellence of Who Would Jesus Kill? by bestowing the Best Book Award to Mark Allman for this book at the 2009 annual meeting. It is well-deserved.

Used by permission of Horizons.

Review by J. Milburn Thompson, Bellarmine University

U.S. Catholic, March 15, 2009

"Who would Jesus kill?" asks author Mark Allman in this introduction to Christian thought on the ideal of peace and the morality of warfare. The answer is easy: No one! The unmarried, childless, propertyless, nonpolitical Jesus of the canonical Gospels kills no one.

Many of those baptized into the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus, however, as well as others who look to Jesus as a moral example, have engaged in warfare and killing with regularity. WWJK? presents a variety of positions, rationales, and critiques that disciples of Jesus have used throughout history to justify their personal and communal conduct that seems in such clear opposition to the words and example of Jesus.

This book seems to be intended for college classrooms, adult education programs, and thoughtful readers. A challenging teacher, Allman presents a great deal of information but does not do all the work for the reader. In addition to the reflection questions that close every chapter, Allman leaves open to discussion why the various moral theories presented early in the book exist. Also unexplained (because it is possibly unexplainable) is why various prayerful, thoughtful, sincere Christians might hold such different positions on issues so important—the matters of killing and the destruction of lives, cultures, and property that is of the essence of warfare.

There are places in the text where Allman leaves it to the reader to figure out the kind of pacifist, just warrior, or holy war he is discussing, but no one who reads WWJK? will ever want to use the words "pacifism," "just war," or "holy war" again. Allman does not allow simplistic understandings of these complicated ideas to stand without critique.

WWJK? Is a useful introduction to Christian positions on the objective morality of war and peacemaking. Those forming and reforming their consciences on matters of war and peace will profit from Allman's thought-provoking explanation.

From http://www.uscatholic.org/culture/art-and-reviews/2009/03/who-would-jesus-kill-war-peace-and-christian-tradition

Review by James Halstead, O.S.A.

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