Millard Lind. The Sound of Sheer Silence and the Killing State

Millard Lind. The Sound of Sheer Silence and the Killing State: The Death Penalty and the Bible. Cascadia Publishing House, 2004.

This book is a fitting conclusion to the career of Mennonite Old Testament scholar Millard Lind. Lind has written several important books on the Old Testament and ethical issues such as war and peace and the use of the law. This book on the death penalty, published when Lind was 86 years old, is a nice capstone.

Focusing on three biblical prophets–Moses, Elijah, and Jesus–Lind presents a strong case for see covenant love, not retribution, as the heart of Torah. As with his other writings, especially Yahweh is a Warrior: The Theology of Warfare in the Old Testament, Lind’s strength here lies in his careful reading of the texts. He asks penetrating questions that allow him to see the peace-oriented message in the challenging parts of the Bible that is too often missed in conventional interpretations.

This book does not present a wide-ranging argument directly engaging contemporary issues (two helpful books by the late lay biblical scholar Gardner Hanks [Against the Death Penalty and Capital Punishment and the Bible] are more socially engaged). Lind’s focus is more narrow and its achievement more modest. But we should be most grateful that Lind was moved to produce this final testament. For Christians wrestling with their response to the death penalty, this book will be a useful resource.

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