Is the Bible More Violent than the Quran?

UK's newspaper the Independent in its online version cites Tom Anderson, who runs a computer text analytics business. He did some textual analysis and "discovered" the Bible is more violent than the Quran. His findings cheer up Muslims and rile Christians. It is blowing up in social media.

Here is the bottom line

By categorising words into eight emotions -- Joy, Anticipation, Anger, Disgust, Sadness, Surprise, Fear/Anxiety and Trust -- the analysis found the Bible scored higher for anger and much lower for trust than the Quran. Further analysis found the Old Testament was more violent than the New Testament, and more than twice as violent as the Quran.

"Killing and destruction are referenced slightly more often in the New Testament (2.8%) than in the Quran (2.1%), but the Old Testament clearly leads -- more than twice that of the Quran -- in mentions of destruction and killing (5.3%)."

Ten points of reply: 

1.. The method looks shaky at best. If we do a raw word search and count in the U.S. criminal code, we would find all sorts of violence. But does that mean the code endorses murder and robbery and rape?

2. Ancient Israel was a full-fledged nation with a military, surrounded by hostile nations that waged annihilation or near-annihilation warfare (much like its neighbors today). Here's an excerpt from Mesha Stele (9th century BCE): 

"And Chemosh [a god] said to me [Mesha, king of Moab], Go take Nebo against Israel, and I went in the night and I fought against it from the break of day till noon, and I took it: and I killed in all seven thousand men, but I did not kill the women and maidens, for I devoted them to Ashtar-Chemosh; and I took from it the vessels of Jehovah, and offered them before Chemosh." 

In that passage, the Moabites wiped out the men and "devoted" (presumably enslaved) the women and children. The word "devoted" is conceptually related to the same word found in the book of Joshua. Israel's war practices paralleled those of its neighbors. If the neighbors had been peaceful, we wouldn't find war verses in the Hebrew Bible.

3. However, the extra-harsh language may be just a rhetorical trope that was intended to convey the national meaning that this or that tribe or nation was awesome and better than its neighbors. Yet, if the annihilation or near-annihilation warfare is literal, then the next points are valid.

4. Per the Bible, the Canaanites had the choice to leave the Promised Land.

5. If it is any consolation to a skeptical reader with a chip on his shoulder against everything biblical, the ancient Israelites never did clear them out or kill all of them, but this proved troublesome to the Israelites

6. Specifically, the Canaanites practiced child sacrifice. Following human nature that is bent towards corruption, some of the kings of Israel and the people copied the same atrocity. 1 Kings 11:7, 2 Kings 23:10, and Jer. 32:35. Trouble happens when one does not obey God's command.

7. Mr. Anderson analyzes the New Testament and claims it has violence in it. Yes, it does, as in these two examples: Jesus was crucified. Paul was beaten and stoned several times. But does that mean Christians should crucify or beat or stone people? Anderson's methods are dubious.

8. The fact is -- there is simply no verse in all the New Testament that commands or even suggests Christians should form a militia or even a military to injure or kill people in the name of Christ. Rather, Peter and Paul hand the sword over to the state (Rom 13:1-6 and 1 Pet. 2:13-14). This is where, once again, our Founders got things right. They separated the state from church, so the state does not meddle in church matters. Christians are called to preach the gospel that changes criminals to honest men, while the government is purposed to raise up a military and police force to protect the citizenry. (As to the question of Christians joining the military or police force, go here, here, and here. Short answer: Yes, they can, but when they discharge their weapons, they do so in the name of the government, not Christ. And Christians can exercise their right to self-defense.)

9. Christians do not live under the Old Covenant. No Christian denomination today quotes the Old Testament to endorse or encourage violence. So the Old Testament verses that command war -- not gratuitous violence -- in the name of God and righteousness do not apply to them.

10. Now for Islam. It is no secret that the Quran is filled with violent verses that terrorists use to justify killing people in the name of Allah. The terrorists don't need to twist the verses. We don't need to quote them, but instead here are some links: The Qital (Warfare) verses in the Quran, All the Jihad verses in the Quran. Jihad and Qital (Warfare) in the Quran, Traditions and Classical Law, A Brief History of War in Earliest Islam.

Mr. Anderson used a strange method that ripped the verses out of context. The Independent has a history of doing this (note the short video about marriage in the Old Covenant). The newspaper always seems to degrade the Bible. Does it do the same for Islam and the Quran?

The undeniable fact is that Islam is the most violent religion today and its followers use its "holy" book to justify themselves.

James Arlandson's website is Live as Free People, where he has posted Outlines of World Religions and Ten Big Differences between Christianity and Other Religions.

UK's newspaper the Independent in its online version cites Tom Anderson, who runs a computer text analytics business. He did some textual analysis and "discovered" the Bible is more violent than the Quran. His findings cheer up Muslims and rile Christians. It is blowing up in social media.

Here is the bottom line

By categorising words into eight emotions -- Joy, Anticipation, Anger, Disgust, Sadness, Surprise, Fear/Anxiety and Trust -- the analysis found the Bible scored higher for anger and much lower for trust than the Quran. Further analysis found the Old Testament was more violent than the New Testament, and more than twice as violent as the Quran.

"Killing and destruction are referenced slightly more often in the New Testament (2.8%) than in the Quran (2.1%), but the Old Testament clearly leads -- more than twice that of the Quran -- in mentions of destruction and killing (5.3%)."

Ten points of reply: 

1.. The method looks shaky at best. If we do a raw word search and count in the U.S. criminal code, we would find all sorts of violence. But does that mean the code endorses murder and robbery and rape?

2. Ancient Israel was a full-fledged nation with a military, surrounded by hostile nations that waged annihilation or near-annihilation warfare (much like its neighbors today). Here's an excerpt from Mesha Stele (9th century BCE): 

"And Chemosh [a god] said to me [Mesha, king of Moab], Go take Nebo against Israel, and I went in the night and I fought against it from the break of day till noon, and I took it: and I killed in all seven thousand men, but I did not kill the women and maidens, for I devoted them to Ashtar-Chemosh; and I took from it the vessels of Jehovah, and offered them before Chemosh." 

In that passage, the Moabites wiped out the men and "devoted" (presumably enslaved) the women and children. The word "devoted" is conceptually related to the same word found in the book of Joshua. Israel's war practices paralleled those of its neighbors. If the neighbors had been peaceful, we wouldn't find war verses in the Hebrew Bible.

3. However, the extra-harsh language may be just a rhetorical trope that was intended to convey the national meaning that this or that tribe or nation was awesome and better than its neighbors. Yet, if the annihilation or near-annihilation warfare is literal, then the next points are valid.

4. Per the Bible, the Canaanites had the choice to leave the Promised Land.

5. If it is any consolation to a skeptical reader with a chip on his shoulder against everything biblical, the ancient Israelites never did clear them out or kill all of them, but this proved troublesome to the Israelites

6. Specifically, the Canaanites practiced child sacrifice. Following human nature that is bent towards corruption, some of the kings of Israel and the people copied the same atrocity. 1 Kings 11:7, 2 Kings 23:10, and Jer. 32:35. Trouble happens when one does not obey God's command.

7. Mr. Anderson analyzes the New Testament and claims it has violence in it. Yes, it does, as in these two examples: Jesus was crucified. Paul was beaten and stoned several times. But does that mean Christians should crucify or beat or stone people? Anderson's methods are dubious.

8. The fact is -- there is simply no verse in all the New Testament that commands or even suggests Christians should form a militia or even a military to injure or kill people in the name of Christ. Rather, Peter and Paul hand the sword over to the state (Rom 13:1-6 and 1 Pet. 2:13-14). This is where, once again, our Founders got things right. They separated the state from church, so the state does not meddle in church matters. Christians are called to preach the gospel that changes criminals to honest men, while the government is purposed to raise up a military and police force to protect the citizenry. (As to the question of Christians joining the military or police force, go here, here, and here. Short answer: Yes, they can, but when they discharge their weapons, they do so in the name of the government, not Christ. And Christians can exercise their right to self-defense.)

9. Christians do not live under the Old Covenant. No Christian denomination today quotes the Old Testament to endorse or encourage violence. So the Old Testament verses that command war -- not gratuitous violence -- in the name of God and righteousness do not apply to them.

10. Now for Islam. It is no secret that the Quran is filled with violent verses that terrorists use to justify killing people in the name of Allah. The terrorists don't need to twist the verses. We don't need to quote them, but instead here are some links: The Qital (Warfare) verses in the Quran, All the Jihad verses in the Quran. Jihad and Qital (Warfare) in the Quran, Traditions and Classical Law, A Brief History of War in Earliest Islam.

Mr. Anderson used a strange method that ripped the verses out of context. The Independent has a history of doing this (note the short video about marriage in the Old Covenant). The newspaper always seems to degrade the Bible. Does it do the same for Islam and the Quran?

The undeniable fact is that Islam is the most violent religion today and its followers use its "holy" book to justify themselves.

James Arlandson's website is Live as Free People, where he has posted Outlines of World Religions and Ten Big Differences between Christianity and Other Religions.