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Nonviolence - A Brief History
The Warsaw Lectures
By John Howard Yoder Edited by Paul Martens, Matthew Porter and Myles Werntz
Few theologians have done as much as John Howard Yoder to articulate the case for Christian pacifism. The eleven lectures collected in Nonviolence—A Brief History were presented in 1983 in Warsaw, Poland, and this is their first publication together.
Despite their apparent diversity, the lectures trace a single trajectory: the increasing relevance of nonviolent thought and action. They argue that nonviolence aligns with the inner logic of the world and, therefore, with human social existence. A quarter century after they were delivered, Yoder’s remarks seem prophetic, heartfelt, and essential.
For those unfamiliar with the life and thought of John Howard Yoder, these lectures, together with their accompanying brief contextualizing summaries, provide an easily accessible introduction.
Note on the Text
1. The Heritage of Nonviolent Thought and Social Action
2. The American Civil Rights Struggle
3. The Lessons of the Nonviolent Experience
4. The Fall and Rise of the Just War Tradition
5. The Science of Conflict
6. From the War of Joshua to Jewish Pacifism
7. Jesus and Nonviolent Liberation
8. Early Christian Cosmology and Nonviolence
9. Varieties of Catholic Peace Theology I: Nonviolent Spirituality
10. Varieties of Catholic Peace Theology II: Professors and Pastors
11. Varieties of Catholic Peace Theology III: Latin American Models
"For anyone who wants a cogent defence of non-violence from within the Christian tradition this is as fine a place to start as anywhere."
—Tim Gorringe, Exeter, The Journal of Theological Studies (October 2010, 61:2)
“These are priceless lectures. Drawing from the spiritual wells of contemporary visionaries, Yoder unmasks the redemptive power of reconciliation.”
—Daniel G. Groody, Department of Theology, Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame
“These lectures wonderfully convey Yoder’s depth and breadth of knowledge and his respectful engagement with the Roman Catholic tradition.”
—Mark Thiessen Nation, author of John Howard Yoder: Mennonite Patience, Evangelical Witness, Catholic Convictions
"These recently discovered lectures represent a significant addition to our understanding of Yoder’s published thought on war and nonviolence."
—Ronald J. Sider, Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry & Public Policy, Palmer Seminary at Eastern University
"[T]his book is a welcome addition to Yoder's published corpus of work."
—Paul Doerksen, Canadian Mennonite University, The Mennonite Quarterly Review
"The collection is eminently readable and offers glimpses and insights into Yoder's thought without being too difficult. ... [A] text highly recommended to those interested in the contemporary discussion surrounding questions of Christians and violence, the role of nonviolence and Christianity, and just war theory."
—Reviews in Religion and Theology (2012, 19:1)
John Howard Yoder(1926-1997) was a Mennonite theologian, whose writings had a major impact on Christian thought and social ethics. He was Professor of Theology in the Department of Theology and a Teaching Fellow in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, both at the University of Notre Dame. He is best known for The Politics of Jesus (1972), as well as The Original Revolution: Essays on Christian Pacifism (1971) The Priestly Kingdom (1984) and The Royal Priesthood (1994), among others.