Violence more common in the Bible than the Qur’an?

Bible-QuranGranted this is low-hanging fruit, and I don’t why I’m surprised any more when I see “statistics” like this…

Apparently a software engineer named Tom Anderson processed the texts of the Abrahamic scriptures to find which contained the most violence. His conclusion is that violence is more common in the Bible than in the Qur’an.

“Killing and destruction are referenced slightly more often in the New Testament (2.8%) than in the Qur’an (2.1%), but the Old Testament clearly leads—more than twice that of the Quran—in mentions of destruction and killing (5.3%).”

The data absurdly ignores the important issue — whether or not believers are commanded to imitate the violence being described. While the Old Testament has holy-war elements pertaining to keeping the interior of the promised land pure, it does not give marching orders to wage war against unbelievers or to subjugate them. The holy wars of Joshua are descriptive, not prescriptive. The New Testament is consistently pacifist; it always leaves any destruction/killing to the Almighty. Even the book of Revelation commands the faithful to resist violence in favor of witnessing and pacifist martyrdom. Physical wrath is left to God. The Qur’an repeatedly tells Muslims to kill (2:191, 4:89, 9:5, 47:4, etc.), and those orders are presented as having eternal force. The violence of the Qur’an is prescriptive to the core. This is what matters and is ignored by the study.

The study also finds that

“While the New Testament leads in mentions of the concept of love, the Qur’an leads heavily in mentions of mercy — thanks partially to Allah’s title, ‘the merciful.'”

But again, this is absurdly misleading. Allah is merciful to devout Muslims. Not to enemies. Not to unbelievers. Nor even to wayward Muslims, who are described as “hypocrites” and who should be slain alongside the pagan idolaters and the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) who refuse to pay the jizya tax.

Anderson admits that his analysis is “superficial and the findings are by no means intended to be conclusive”, but that’s an understatement to the point of pointlessness. It’s a study so superficial that it effectively paints the sky green and the grass blue.

For a detailed and substantive treatment of violence in the three Abrahamic faiths, see my recent trilogy:

Holy War in Islam: Historical Origins
Holy War in Judaism: The Fall and Rise of a Controversial Idea
Holy War in Christianity: The Birth and Death of a Paradox

(Also see my earlier Jihadists, Refugees, and the Use/Misuse of Statistics.)


2 thoughts on “Violence more common in the Bible than the Qur’an?

  1. What an absolute joke of a study. This is the reason people support Donald Trump. A typical verse from the Quran:

    “And when Moses said unto his people: O my people! Ye have wronged yourselves by your choosing of the calf (for worship) so turn in penitence to your Creator, and kill (the guilty) yourselves. That will be best for you with your Creator and He will relent toward you. Lo! He is the Relenting, the Merciful.”

    So lets see, +1 worship, +1 penitence, +2 relenting, +1 merciful = 5 peace vs 1 kill. So the message of this passage is one of peace? What a disgrace. What an absolute disgrace. The very reason that Islam is so harmful is that it ascribes positive qualities (mercy, piety, etc) to evil deed (slaughter of infidels, oppression of women, gays, etc). A high frequency of “good” words make the Quran *worse* not better.

    If the media keeps publishing trash like this Trump will just waltz into the White House.

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