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A Peaceable Hope: Contesting Violent Eschatology in New Testament Narratives Paperback – February 15, 2013
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From the Back Cover
"The notorious disjunction between the peaceable Jesus who commands love of enemy and the returning Jesus who brings punitive vengeance is here met head-on. Neville is historically honest, hermeneutically sophisticated, and personally candid. This is New Testament theology at its best and most helpful."
--Dale C. Allison Jr., Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
"Can there be divine judgment without divine vengeance and violence? Does NT eschatology undermine NT ethics? David Neville's detailed exegetical and hermeneutical study of the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation makes a valuable contribution to these important questions. It is a manifesto for, and a demonstration of, a hermeneutic of peace."
--Michael J. Gorman, St. Mary's Seminary & University, Baltimore
"The heart of Neville's study is the proposal that Jesus's nonviolent mission and message of peace serve as means to assess the faithfulness of the New Testament witnesses to that mission. All readers, even those restless with how much daylight Neville finds between a nonviolent Jesus and sometimes vengeful eschatologies of his New Testament witnesses, will benefit greatly from this rich storehouse of erudition, honest engagement with difficult biblical texts, theological and moral vision, and the transparent presentation of arguments and conclusions emerging from Neville's 'hermeneutics of shalom.'"
--Thomas R. Yoder Neufeld, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo; author of Killing Enmity: Violence and the New Testament
"In this lucid and resolutely honest discussion, David Neville examines the discrepancy that exists between Jesus's advocacy of nonretaliation and peacemaking in the gospel tradition and portrayals of eschatological judgment steeped in retributive violence. Neville navigates his way through this tricky territory with skill and sensitivity, respecting both the text's significant diversity and its enduring authority."
--Christopher Marshall, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
"Neville's careful research--laudably interacting in depth with current scholarship and interpretive discernment--contributes richly to a foremost moral issue in New Testament interpretation and Christian praxis. Infused and guided by peace and eschatological hope, this book is not to be missed!"
--Willard Swartley, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
"For those concerned about the apparent conflict between Jesus's vision of peace and God's retributive judgment, Neville provides a very thorough, carefully nuanced examination of the relevant texts in the four Gospels, Acts, and Revelation, and develops thoughtful hermeneutical guidelines from this process."
--Thomas Finger, author of A Contemporary Anabaptist Theology
About the Author
David J. Neville (PhD, Murdoch University) is associate professor of theology and lecturer in New Testament studies at Charles Sturt University in Canberra, Australia. He is the author or editor of several books.
Top customer reviews
Interestingly, passages about eschatological vengeance seem to be clustered in the first and last books of the NT, which are the subjects of this analysis - along with Mark, Luke-Acts and John. Neville analyses the themes and contours of each book (particularly as they relate to eschatology), and he also gives close readings of key passages, such as Olivet and Revelation 19. His scholarship is world-class, and it is breathtaking to see these texts treated with such a distillation of candour and rigour. Neville consistently demonstrates how `shalom', non-retaliation, and peacemaking characterise the Incarnate Messiah - who is presented as one congruent with the being of God, now and forever. In light of this, he highlights how often the narrative shape and context of the texts give us good reason to relativise any violent imagery.
Not every problem is solved, and not every inconsistency is smoothed out, but what cannot be doubted is that Neville is asking the right questions, and that he succeeds in providing a programmatic text for reshaping Christian hope in the mould of Christ's love.
My only real criticism is that a more detailed defence of Neville's ethical framework would help to convince detractors of the driving force behind his main thesis. He regularly asserts the moral responsibility of biblical exegesis, and the corrosive effect of violent eschatology, and while I am in vehement agreement with this, the reality is that there are people who have grown accustomed to the dread of `burning sulphur' and `gnashing teeth'. It would have helped to support the argument to provide a more nuanced ethical framework early on in order to lay a concrete foundation for non-violent ethics.
Also, I would have loved to get some programmatic indication of how Christian hope can be articulated in light of Neville's conclusions. His final section fairly summarise his main arguments, but I was left wishing that he had gone further and sketched out an eschatological framework that coheres with his exegesis. As it stands, though, it can be hoped that many more Christians will walk the path of peace indicated by this brilliant and evocative book - and that thoroughgoing reconfigurations of theology come in its wake.