A conflict of Biblical proportions: How the Bible was used to turn the First World War into a Holy War

The significance of the Bible in the war, and anti-war efforts, of both Allied and Central powers in the First World War are to be examined in a new research project, which will document ways in which scripture was used to create notions of a Holy War, and how views of the Bible changed as a result of the conflict. Amid the mud and mechanised slaughter, it is difficult to see how the teachings of the Good Book could have been much more than an afterthought for those who lived and fought through the horrors of the First World War. Yet as a new research project aims to reveal, the Bible may have done far more to shape popular perception of the war than has previously been appreciated. Starting this week, researchers at the University of Cambridge will embark on a centenary study examining how the Bible played an influential role in the deadliest armed struggle that the world had, at that stage, ever seen. In some ways we treat the idea that scripture can be used as the basis of a holy war as primitive and medieval. Actually, the Bible was being used for self-justification by opposing sides in Europe just a century ago Nathan MacDonald Over the next two years, an international network of academics in various disciplines including history, literature and theology will attempt to piece together an aspect of the conflict that remains broadly overlooked, showing how the supposed word of God was widely employed both to support and oppose war efforts on both sides. Among other themes, the research will explore the Bible’s role...