In this book Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi – a distinguished Biblicist and one of the most authoritative voices of Italian culture of our time – re-reads the Scriptures with an emphasis on the powerful relationship between religion and violence. His text is divided into a sort of thematic triptych. The first table is about the wars of God, the violence that bears the sacred mark, warfare featuring ritual connotations. This topic is broached many times in the Old Testament, involving intertribal conflict and holy war, and then almost disappears in the Gospels in light of the disruptive message of Christ. The second table deals with fundamentalism, “the letter that kills”, a phenomenon that today mainly concerns Islam but which is also inscribed in the Jewish-Christian tradition and poses very serious problems, especially as regards ethical-existential outcomes. The third table addresses a particularly timely and controversial topic: the relationship with foreigners, therefore with that which is different from us. Such encounters can lead to conflict and generate exclusion and rejection, as shown by various nationalistic or ethnocentric biblical texts; but they can also foster dialogue, express the universalism of salvation, and shed light on the equality of all human beings.
Gianfranco Ravasi – an expert in Bible studies and Judaism – is president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology.