Violent Death in Religious Imagination

Margo Kitts

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199759996
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Violent Death in Religious Imagination

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This chapter reviews the selected religious myths of violent death under three rubrics: when death is primordially wrong; when violent death is cosmically right; and when violent death, particularly in the form of suicide, is enshrined as martyrdom. A brief speculation on religious imagination and its peculiar obsessions is given. There are few themes in religious studies that justify a sweeping overview, but violent death is recurrent enough to be one of them. The biblical Chaoskampf theme needs death, rescue, and restoration. Two motifs that illustrate the violent deaths are the dema and the Chaoskampf. The first focuses on the victim, the other on the victor. The spectacle of violent death has concentrated individuals and mobs across traditions. Although the examples presented consider the mythology of violent death, the ritualistic display of violent death could have been treated in equal breadth.

Keywords: religious myths; violent death; suicide; martyrdom; religious imagination; Chaoskampf; dema

Article.  4270 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Philosophy of Religion

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