Biblical Violence

This study group is for those working on the hermeneutics of biblical violence in both testaments.
Biblical violence can be found within every genre of the Bible and is not a homogeneous entity: it is variously condemned, described, implored, threatened, endorsed or commanded. Biblical violence may be interpersonal, societal or international. It may be military, sexual or structural. It can be historical, mythological and eschatological. There are many unanswered questions that fall within this broad theme, and at times they present enormous pastoral and even missional problems to the Church. Further rigorous, confessional scholarship is imperative.

For all these reasons, a wide variety of hermeneutical approaches to a wide range of texts is needed. This group’s engagement with biblical books provides a forum for specific, focused conversation and collaboration on the hermeneutics of violence which subject transcends a focus on any one book or corpus and dialogues across genres and testaments.

Paper proposals must be submitted to Helen Paynter ( and copied to Trevor Laurence ( by Feb 28. A maximum of four proposals will be selected by March 15. Authors will then be asked to submit their papers to Helen (copied to Trevor) by October 15. The papers will be posted on the IBR website.

During the session itself, presenters will give a 15-minute overview of the major points and discoveries in their papers. This presentation will be followed by a period of discussion on the paper.

The three years of the research group will each pick up on different hermeneutical approaches to biblical violence. These are as follows:

2020 – speech act theory
2021 – humour, satire and subversion
2022 – intertextuality

It is anticipated that the papers may then be collected in an edited volume. For more information, contact Helen Paynter ( and Trevor Laurence (

Dec 2, 5–7pm

  • Trevor Laurence, Cateclesia Institute, Presiding (5 min)
  • Kit Barker, Sydney Missionary and Bible College
    “Did God Really Say … ?”; Speech Act Theory and Divine Violence (25 min)
  • Alexiana Fry, Stellenbosch University
    Her Body Still Speaks: Speech Act Theory and the Sin of Gibeah (15 min)
  • Joel Barker, Heritage College & Seminary
    “I Will Strike Them Down”: The Function of Threats of Divine Violence in Numbers (15 min)
  • Katherine Smith, Mary Andrews College
    The Metaphor of Sexual and Physical Violence as a Speech Act in Ezekiel 16 (15 min)
  • Anthony Lipscomb, Brandeis University
    Doing Violent Things with Words: The Root hrp as Metaphorical Stigma (25 min)
  • Discussion (20 min)