Holy War

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Though the wise know that history will inevitably repeat itself, mankind keeps on making the same mistakes. It is never an easy task to write about war and religion, and Dr. Jacques G. Ruelland has managed to do so clearly and without prejudice. Through his exposé of the holy wars, this philosopher-historian traces a not-so-holy picture of civilization by analyzing the semantics of “sacredness” inherent to monotheistic religions. With the compassionate eye of the humanist, he helps us understand the origins of the justifications of wars waged in the name of the Almighty. Will we ever learn to eradicate this ancient practice? Not really, the historian believes, unless humanity can succeed in redefining the very notion of peace by assigning a new mission to science which would, ultimately, be dedicated to its real and ever-lasting pursuit.


“From the beginning, Dr. Ruelland seeks to establish a clear distinction between a holy war which concerns religion, and a just war, which concerns ethics ... The author makes us understand that the root problem of the definition of holy war resides in the ambiguity of the notion of “sacredness”, in its metamorphoses or in its displacements ... We are indebted to Dr. Jacques G. Ruelland for unveiling the variety of meaning pertaining to the sacred throughout history. He succeeds in revealing the ideas behind holy war by examining the speeches and events of many eras and cultures. By showing their differences and resemblances, he criticizes the sacred character of the wars between Jews and Moslems, jihads and crusades, the religious and Byzantine wars, the two World Wars of the twentieth century, and finally the Gulf War.” – (from the Preface) Professor Éric Volant, Département des Sciences de la Religion, Université du Québec à Montréal

“There can be no doubt about the worth of Dr. Ruelland’s essay on the so-called “holy war,” especially now as we face the reality of religion’s overwhelming presence in the political arena. To the same extent as this presence signifies that we are not living in a global society and that the new ideology of political and economic neo-liberalism has not yet achieved the status – thank God! – of universal acceptance, it is more urgent than ever to denounce the confusion of all self-sanctified crusades of the Good against the Evil. Dr. Ruelland’s essay does this in a quasi-encyclopedic way, characteristic of all his publications: he does not wage war but makes the voices of dissent explicit. This incredibly well-informed manner of scholarship is what we need most.” – Professor Gerard Raulet, Université de Paris - Sorbonne

Table of Contents

Preface by Éric Volant
Introduction War and Holy War
1. Holy War and Sacred War
2. The Hebrews and Sacred War
3. The Weapons of Yahweh
4. From Holy War to Just War
5. The Islamic Jihad
6. The Crusades
7. The Byzantine Pseudo-Crusades
8. The Wars of Religion
9. The Suicidal Tactics of the Germans and the Japanese
Conclusion Redefining Peace
Diagram The Notions and Relationships of Holy War

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