David Nirenberg on ‘Religion and Violence’

Religion and Violence

Lecture by David Nirenberg

Given at Washington, DC, on April 23, 2015


Interreligious conflict—and, with it, many questions about the role of scripture in that conflict—is once again at center stage in our geopolitical consciousness. Do the respective claims of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic holy texts contribute to the violence between the various communities that read them? Or do they provide a basis for solidarity between the three Abrahamic religions? In this Harper Lecture, David Nirenberg examined how the Qur’an, Torah, and New Testament have been read at different moments in history—including our own—in order to consider the politics of conflict and community among the “peoples of the Book.”

David Nirenberg is the Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor of Medieval History and Social Thought and dean of the Division of the Social Sciences. His research focuses on the ways in which Jewish, Christian, and Islamic cultures interrelate. His book Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages received numerous honors, including the Premio del Rey Prize and the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize from the American Historical Association and the John Nicholas Brown Prize from the Medieval Academy of America. His 2013 book Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition was awarded the 2014 Phi Beta Kappa Society Ralph Waldo Emerson Award.


His latest book is Neighboring Faiths: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in the Middle Ages and Today.