Peace is a concept that is difficult to define and interpret. There have been many deviated opinions towards peace that have been gathered, throughout the history. A common concept of peace is the idea of freedom from disturbance resulting in tranquillity, which also means a state or period where there is a lack of war or conflict. Peace is broken down into two refined aspects; Inner peace, which refers to a person being mentally and spiritually at peace, and World peace, an ideal state of freedom and happiness among and within all nations. These ideologies of peace evident within the sacred texts and principle teachings of Christianity and Judaism.
Christianity, being the largest religion in the world, has sought to present itself as a Religion of Peace through following Jesus’ teachings within the New Testament which is part of their sacred text. Therefore, “Let there be peace” has been emphasised throughout the Bible which explains the deeper understanding as to why peace should be among the nation. Christians often understand peace as a ‘state of ordered tranquillity, of controlled calm, quiet ad serenity.’ Although there is a general overview of the definition of peace, it has a deeper meaning. Christians believe that peace is attained from having positive relationships, for example between the individual and God, and also the individual and their neighbour.
The New Testament is a foundational source that is utilised to teach Christians. Peace is a frequent theme laid out within the New Testament, it highlights Jesus as a Messiah and the promised deliverer of peace to God’s people. Hence, given the name “Prince of Peace”– Isaiah 9:6. Peace is then also found in the Birth of Jesus, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those whom his favour rests” Luke 2:14, the teachings of Jesus “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be the children of God” – Matthew 5:9
and it is also unitised as a form of greeting “Grace to you and peace from God and the lord Jesus Christ”- Romans 1:7. Peace is a central element of Jesus’s life and ministry, he died for His people to gain peace and save the human race. He created peace through uniting Jews and Gentiles that live through all nations, through his death and resurrection. This point is accentuated through “And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” – Corinthians 1:20. This depicts a strong connection to the stimulus “Let there be peace” as God submitted himself to death to ultimately gain peace. Peace is a key element that is identified within the New testament, it strives towards the reign of God. Within the New Testament, majority of the references to peace relate to inner peace which have the guidance towards world peace as world peace cannot be achieved without inner peace.
Peace is a central concept within Judaism, alongside with honesty and justice. They are three key values within Judaism. According to the Midrash, peace is a grand idea. “Great is peace since all other blessings are included in it.” Midrash, Vayikrah Rabbah 9. According to Jewish descents, the purpose of the Torah is to bring upon peace “All that was written in the Torah was written for the sake of peace”– Tanhuma Shoftim 18).
Within the Torah the notion of peace is based on two fundamental understandings, which are the fifth commandment and the Jewish word for peace, Shalom. In Exodus 20:13, it states “thou shall not kill,” which stresses that God asks his people for the peace of heart and he informs the Jewish adherence the horror of hatred and murder as these both are ungodly. Listening to Gods commandments also Depicts a loyalty to God “Even if Israel is tied to idols, leave him, as long as peace prevails within it”- Genesis 38:6. In there is no tradition of individual pacifism in Judaism but there is an obligation for an individual to protect their life, even if there Is a need to imply themselves, “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed”- Exodus 22:2. Jews are educated to the aspect of non-violence as a response to conflict but in history they were not entirely against violence, but rather sought to utilise it as a tactic to combat and minimise any conflict in specific situations.
The Jewish word for peace is Shalom, a Hebrew word that is used to describe the well-being of an individual and a nation. This is a result of devotion and faithfulness to the promises of God, which is portrayed in judges 6:23, “But the lord said to him, “Peace? Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” Within Judaism Shalom does not just mean peace, but it also means completion and perfection. Thus, in Judaism, peace is not only the opposite of war and cruelty but an ideal state of affairs. This can be achieved once the Messiah is in presence, “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and neither shall they learn war anymore”- Isaiah 2:4. This verse states that keeping the Mitzvots will ultimately lead a nation to inner peace and world peace. This closely links with the statement “Let there be peace,” as even within the Torah, the Mtizvots express how peace should be brought upon the world and for war to diminish it will bring peace among world peace. Peace is one of the most revered values, which is depicted through the Talmud, it allows deviation from the truth to establish Shalom.
Peace is written many times within the sacred texts of Judaism, those being the Torah, Talmud, and Midrash which all teach the significance of peace. Within Leviticus, God calls upon Micah, where God has sent his people redeemers through Moses, Aaron and Miriam. In particular, they refer to Aaron as the model of the peacemaker, “Be among the disciples of Aaron: love peace and pursue peace;”- Pirkei-de-rabbi eliezar 19a. However, the ultimate peacemaker, and deliverer of peace, is God. The Tanakh displays peace as something only God can give and remove. This is demonstrated in Numbers 6:26, “the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” Peace can only be present if sin is not existent or washed away, as the flood of Noah’s ark symbolic to the world cleansing the ungodliness, which in turn restores peace- Genesis 5-10.
For peace to be attained, it is necessary for the Jewish adherence to achieve Halacha which is way of life. This is a mass body of laws that is derived from the written and oral Torah. The Prophetic Vision of peace in Judaism returns to the theme of sin and redemption. The Torah Is filled with the longing of peace, correlating to the concept of ‘Tikkun Ollam’ which includes justice and compassion with the restoration and repairing of the world that results in both inner and world peace. ‘Gemilut chassidim’ refers to the deeds of loving kindness. The Tikkun Olam means the restoring or repairing of the world, and this ethical teaching is founded in the Mishnah. Through this ethical teaching, Jews join God purpose of establishing social order by listening to the Mitzvots of the Torah. Also by teaching everyone to love to one’s neighbour which is displayed through Gemilut Chassidim “upon three things the world stands: the Torah, the worship of God, the bestowal of loving kindness.” – Pikel Avot 1:2
Within Australia there are major organisations which have a responsibility working towards peace such as Australian Catholic Social Justice Council. They work together to enforce ecumenism and interfaith dialogue in order to maintain good relationships within society and different world traditions.
In conclusion, each religion have different perceptions of peace within their sacred texts and principal teachings. Some religions however promote war, conflict and violence portraying the horror in society today. One significant aspect remains almost identical in every religion, thus being, they seek peace for their adherents. Although there are major differences between all religions, every religion face the same issues and problems in the world today. There are strong links with the stimulus throughout, as there are many issues the world faces today, less fortunate people are suffering significantly therefore peace is not brought upon them. Therefore, citizens should act together and unite to help restore peace within the world.
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