4.2 Video projection as a starting point for teaching

4.2.1 Comprehension questionnaire

Having watched the video, students are asked to answer the following multiple-choice questions individually. These questions aim to help the teacher assess the extent of the students’ understanding of the content of the video and to evaluate their views on the relationship between violence and religion.

Based on the video you watched, try to answer the following questions.

1. What prompted the discussion in Yiorgos’ class?

  1. A dispute between students and teacher.
  2. A dispute between one group of students and another.
  3. The racist attack of one student on another.
  4. I do not know / I did not understand.
2. In the video, the teacher read to the class a passage from the Gospel, in which Jesus said:
  1. You should be patient when you are slapped.
  2. If you are slapped on the cheek, you should slap back, to be fair.
  3. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
  4. When you are slapped you must report it to the authorities.
  5. I do not know / I did not understand.
3. What method did the teacher use to convey his message to the students:
  1. They all read a text on terrorism and discussed it.
  2. They split into two groups and did a simulation of a quarrel.
  3. They played the educational game “debate’’.
  4. They played the interactive game “return the blow.
  5. I do not know / I did not understand.

4.2.3 Have you got the message?


In the video we see that the teacher used the game to help the students understand the words of Christ: “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also” (Mt. 5:39). In the following box, write a sentence explaining what you think the students learned from this?

Indicative answer:

When we do not respond with violence to the violence we receive, then we can hope that the vicious circle of violence will be broken.

4.3 The rejection of violence in the New Testament

Every day we witness behavior characterized by conflict and violence. Man is constantly trying to dominate and impose his ideas, or change situations using force, disregarding any concept of freedom.

In the teachings of Christ in the New Testament we find the rejection of any form of violence. Two incidents from Jesus’ life reveal in practice his attitude toward violence; an attitude that contrasts with violent behavior suggested even by his own Disciples.
So, we read in the Gospel according to Luke:

A. Shortly before the passion of Christ

51When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55But he turned and rebuked them. 56Then they went on to another village. (Lk. 9:51-56, NRSV)

B. During the arrest of Jesus

47While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; 48but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” 49When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” 50Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. (Lk. 22:47-51, NRSV)


1. In the above biblical texts, find the words and actions of the Disciples which show violent behavior, and then find the response of Jesus.

2. Jesus advises us to avoid responding to violence with violence. Is this suggestion helpful for breaking the vicious circle of violence? Justify your


Let us remember again the words of Jesus that we heard in the video: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also” These words urge us to stop the vicious circle of enforcement and retaliation. But this attitude raises the question which is often expressed: Does the rejection of violence lead us to passivity and submission to the evil that happens around us?

The following text gives us the answer to the above question:

We need to be aware that this attitude (the rejection of violence) does not mean passivity* and fatalism*. On the contrary, it is an active attitude; it is a choice and an action. The witness [the Christian] does not legitimize evil. He clashes with it and refuses to obey those who serve it. Christ himself, during his trial by the high priest, asked the guard who had hit him to explain the reason: “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” (John 18:23). In fact, at some point before his arrest, when he saw that the temple precinct had been turned into a trading post, he made a rough whip out of ropes, pulled people and animals out, threw down the money and turned over the benches. “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” (John 2:16). It is noteworthy that even at this particular moment, Christ did not hit people.
(Ath. N. Papathanasiou – M. Koukounaras-Liagkis Topics of Christian Ethics, Athens: Educational Policy Institute, 2020 p.83)

Based on the text, formulate your conclusions in your own words.

4.4 War: one of the harshest forms of violence

War is one of the harshest forms of violence a human being can face. The thirst for power and strength, but also the desire for wealth, lead to the annihilation of peoples and cultures, destroying every sign of freedom and humanity. History is full of wounds that war has inflicted on the body of humanity. They confirm how unjust and tragic the violence of war is.

Find, in the following texts, what are the causes of the war.

1Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 2You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. (James 4:1-2)
Money is the gallows of souls, the hook of death, the bait of sin. How long will it be omnipotent? How long will wealth, the cause of wars, for which weapons are made and swords are sharpened, rule? (Basil the Great, Sermon to the reach, PG 31, 297B)

But there are also wars that we treat as necessary, because they help to bring greater evils to an end. We are accustomed to calling this war "just", when it takes the form of defense because it protects freedom and life, which are precious to us. In other words, when you are trying to protect the freedom of your homeland and the lives of your loved ones by sacrificing your own life. In the history of the Orthodox Church there are cases where the Church was asked by the Byzantine emperors or by the state power to sanction the just wars they waged, by invoking the help of God. But even in this "just" war, people use violence and kill their fellow human beings in order to defend themselves.


What is the position of the Orthodox Church concerning the "just" war?
To answer, consult the following text and, based on its positions, write a short paragraph with your answer:

Whenever it becomes necessary for a Christian to take part in a war, it should be done in a spirit of self-sacrifice. But this self-sacrifice does not concern […] his life. It is about something infinitely more important for a Christian: the committing of sin and salvation! That is, participating in a war, with the tragic awareness that for the sake of certain relative values (e.g. the freedom of the community or the security of ones family) one accepts committing a sin and risking ones own salvation. It is a contradictory circumstance, as it is a historic duty to use violence in order to stop a torrent of violence, while being at the same time a torture, in that it is an act that not only does not please God, but will require forgiveness on His part..

(Th. N. Papathanassiou, “Anthropology, Culture, Praxis” in Terrorism and Culture, Athens, Armos, 2013, p.89)

4.4.2 Can a war be holy?

A war is called holy when it is declared by the Church or by a religion or, in general, in the name of God, in order to defend the faith and ideas that characterize that particular religion. For a Christian, every war is a civil war since man turns against his brother, that is, his fellow man. It is a tragic and undesirable reality. Therefore, the Orthodox Church does not accept that a war can be holy for any reason; it is impossible to declare war in the name of God and for it to have a salvific character, leading those who participate in it to their salvation.


The following text mentions an incident from the time of the Byzantine Empire that reveals the position of the Church that no war can have a salvific character.

In 960 A.D. the emperor Nikephoros II Phokas demanded that the Church proclaim as saints all those who died in battles against Islam, defending the Christian faith and the homeland. The Church refused, citing a sacred canon […] It was the thirteenth canon of Basil the Great, who expressed disagreement with the “impunity” of those killing in war (even defensively!) and argued that a penance of a three year abstention from Holy Communion should be imposed […]

(Th. N. Papathanassiou, “Anthropology, Culture, Praxis” in Terrorism and Culture, Athens, Armos, 2013, p.91)

State in one sentence the conclusion you reached after reading the text.

4.4.3 And so to conclude ...

… with what Archbishop Anastasios proclaims about what should be the role of any religion when faced with an armed conflict:

Violence brings violence and in this vicious circle it is the innocent and the weak that become the victims. The Church insists that no one has the right to use the holy oil of religion to feed the flames of armed conflict. Religion is a divine gift, to soothe hearts, to heal wounds and to bring individuals and peoples closer together, in peace.”

(Anastasios (Yannoulatos, Archbishop of Tirana), Vigilance, Debt of the Orthodox, En Plo, Athens 2017, p. 122)

4.5 The struggle for peace

4.5.1. Prophet Isaiah on peace

The prophet Isaiah, in the years of the Old Testament, envisioning the coming of a new world where peace will prevail, says: “4 […] they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isa. 2: 4)


Observe the drawing “plow* made of weapons” and find the matches with the words of the prophet Isaiah.

4.5.2 The role of religions in achieving peace

The Declaration of Assisi

On January 24th 2002, patriarchs, imams, monks and rabbis from all over the world gathered in Assisi and proclaimed, together with Pope John Paul II, that believers around the world must renounce violence, and prayed together for peace.

Excerpts from the Declaration of Assisi

We commit ourselves to proclaiming our firm conviction that violence and terrorism are incompatible with the authentic Spirit of religion, and, as we condemn every recourse to violence and war in the name of God or religion, we commit ourselves to doing everything possible to eliminate the root causes of terrorism. […] We commit ourselves to taking up the cry of those who refuse to be resigned to violence and evil, and we desire to make every effort possible to offer the men and women of our time real hope for justice and peace.

(Anastasios, (Yannoulatos, Archbishop of Tirana): Coexistence: Peace, nature, poverty, terrorism, values, Armos, Athens 2016, p.35))


Having read the above excerpts from the Assisi declaration, imagine that you are a reporter in a newspaper and write a short tweet informing your public on the conclusions of this very important meeting.

4.6 Additional Assignments: Material for further discussion

An incident with Bishop Acacius*

In skirmishes with Persian troops in 421, in the territories of Persian Armenia, the Byzantine army captured seven thousand Persian soldiers. These prisoners suffered a famine resulting in numerous deaths. Acacius summoned the clergy of his diocese and said to them: “Our God needs no discs or chalices*. He neither eats nor drinks, since he has no physical needs. Thanks to the gratitude of the pilgrims, the Church has many such treasures of gold and silver, so I find it appropriate to use them to save the captured soldiers from hunger”. Thus, the valuable ecclesiastic vessels were given for melting. The income from these precious metals provided food for the prisoners (despite the fact that they were of a different nation and religion), and they were provided with the supplies they needed to return to their homeland. It is said that the Persian king asked to meet bishop Acacius personally, and expressed his admiration for the wisdom of the Byzantines, who managed to triumph both in war and by benevolence..

(Papathanassiou, Th. (2008), My God, a foreigner. Texts for a truth “down in the street”, Athens: En plo, p. 57-58. The incident is cited from Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 7, 21, PG 67, 781B-784A)

An incident with St. Carpus*

Saint Carpus, in the 1st century, narrates the following incident: Once a pagan made him very sad because he deceived a Christian and converted him to paganism. The pagans rejoiced over this conversion and sacrificed to their gods and Carpus was filled with bitterness and hatred. At night, as usual, he got up to pray to God, protesting that it is unfair for atheists and pagans to live and distort the truth of Christ. He prayed to God to send a thunderbolt and mercilessly end their lives. As soon as he had said these words, he suddenly saw a vision of Jesus with his angels high in heaven. Looking down, into a dark chasm, he saw the people he had cursed, terrified and about to fall into the void. Below them, at the bottom of the chasm, rose snakes, ready to bite them. And then he saw Jesus looking mercifully at the two men in danger and, rising from his throne, approaching them and reaching out to help them. Surprised, Carpus heard Jesus saying to him: “So hit me too, I am ready to suffer greatly again to save people.

(From the Synaxarist of St Nikodemos of Mount Athos)

Peace and the divine Liturgy

Based on the following text, the teacher can comment briefly that the main request of the Divine Liturgy is for the acquisition of peace.

The Divine Liturgy ends with the exhortation “let us go forth in peace”. This exhortation invites the faithful to go out to the world with the gift of peace, to live with it and to fight for it. In essence, each individual believer, but also the community as a whole, is bidden to go out and to prove that the Mystery they experienced was truly accepted. The realization and acquisition of the good of peace is the overriding request of the Divine Liturgy. It is the amazing wealth that the Liturgy contains for this good”.

(St. Ch. Tsopanidis, “The Churches in Search of a ‘Just Peace’ in an Age of Globalization”, in Kasselouri-Chatzivasileiadi, Eleni (ed.): “Peace on Earth…”: a Vision and a Demand for Societies and Churches Today. An Orthodox Contribution, Athens: Indiktos, 2010, p. 120)

The Black Eyed Peas - “Where Is The Love?”


People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach?
Or would you turn the other cheek?

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
Cause people got me, got me questioning

Where is the love (Love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love, the love, the love


Abstention (from Holy Communion):
The Church, for pedagogical reasons, sometimes imposes abstention from Holy Communion as a penance for certain serious transgressions or failures. Penances are acts proposed by the priest during confession, in order for the believer to comprehend the magnitude of his transgression and to move towards goodness. In the Orthodox Church, common penances include intensive prayer, study, fasting, and acts of charity. For more serious sins, the penance can be abstention (i.e. exclusion) from Holy Communion.

Became bishop of Amida, an Armenian city, at the beginning of the 5th century. In 419 the emperor Theodosius II sent him as ambassador to the king of Persia and his presence there helped to strengthen the faith of the Orthodox believers of the region. Acacius visited Persia for the second time at the invitation of the Persian king himself, who asked to meet him after his miraculous act of freeing 7000 Persian captives captured by the Byzantines. The Orthodox Church commemorates him on April 9.

The struggle of the Christian to overcome the failures which strengthen and develop the ego, through prayer, fasting, vigil and charity, and thus restore the relationship with God, fellow humans and the whole of creation.

Carpus, Saint:
Lived in the times of Nero (52 AD), and is one of the seventy disciples of the Lord. He was a collaborator of St Paul and, according to his 2nd Epistle to Timothy, worked for the dissemination of the Gospel in the region of Troy. Later he became a bishop in Varna, Thrace, where he was the spiritual father and a shining example for all the people of his diocese. The Orthodox Church celebrates his memory on May 26.

A view or opinion according to which all events are irrevocably predetermined by a higher power, such as fate.

behavior that implies acceptance of a situation and does not act or seek to change it.

An agricultural tool drawn by a tractor or animals to plow the land

They were the inhabitants of Samaria. Samaria was attacked by other tribes who had a pagan faith and its population was completely changed due to cross-marriages. Although they maintained their faith in the one God of the Jews, they introduced into their faith several pagan customs and ceremonies. They worshipped God on Mount Gerizim and not in Solomon’s Temple. In the New Testament, the word Samaritan signifies the unclean (sinful) and hated person (John 8:48).


The list of books used by the writers in the preparation of the book at hand, plus the works of art and music used as stimuli for the students, along with the sources where they have been found.
The Holy Bible, Old and New Testament, translated from the original texts, Athens: Hellenic Bible Society, 1997 [Η Αγία Γραφή, Παλαιά και Καινή Διαθήκη, Μετάφραση από τα πρωτότυπα κείμενα, Αθήνα: Ελληνική Βιβλική Εταιρία, 1997]
“Dialogues in times of fanaticism”, Synaxis 104 (2007), pp. 3-87.[Διάλογοι σε καιρούς φανατισμών, περιοδικό Σύναξη 104 (2007), σσ.3-87)
“Violence, religions and multiculturalism”, Synaxis 98 (2006), pp. 3-54 [Η βία, οι θρησκείες και η πολυπολιτισμικότητα, περιοδικό Σύναξη 98 (2006), σσ 3-54]
Anastasios (Yannoulatos, Archbishop of Tirana): Vigilance, Debt of the Orthodox, Athens, En Plo, 2017, [Αναστάσιος (Γιαννουλάτος, Αρχιεπίσκοπος Αλβανίας), Εγρήγορση, Χρέος των Ορθοδόξων, Αθήνα: Εν πλω, 2017].
Anastasios (Yannoulatos, Archbishop of Tirana: Co-existence: Peace, Nature, Poverty, Terrorism, Values. Athens: Armos, 2015 [Αναστάσιος (Γιαννουλάτος, Αρχιεπίσκοπος Τιράνων), Συνύπαρξη: Ειρήνη, φύση, φτώχεια, τρομοκρατία, αξίες, Αθήνα: Αρμός, 2015]
Anastasios (Yannoulatos, Archbishop of Tirana), God manifested in flesh, Athens: Maistros, 2006 [Αναστάσιος (Γιαννουλάτος, Αρχιεπίσκοπος Τιράνων), Θεός εφανερώθη εν σαρκί, Αθήνα: Μαΐστρος, 2006].
Girard, R., La violence et le sacré, Editions Grasset, 1972 [Ρ. Ζιράρ, Βία και θρησκεία: Αιτία ή αποτέλεσμα; μτφρ. Α. Καλατζής, Αθήνα: Νήσος, 2017]
Kalaitzidis, P., “Holy Lands and Sacred Nations”, Concilium: International Review of Theology, 2015.1, pp. 115-124.
Kalaitzidis, P. (ed.), Orthodoxy and Modernity, Athens, Indiktos, 2007 [Καλαϊτζίδης, Π. (επιμ.), Ορθοδοξία και Νεωτερικότητα, Αθήνα: Ίνδικτος, 2007].
Kasselouri-Chatzivasileiadi, Eleni (ed.): “Peace on Earth…”: a Vision and a Demand for Societies and Churches Today. An Orthodox Contribution, Athens: Indiktos, 2010 [Κασσελούρη-Χατζηβασιλειάδη, Ελ. (επιμ.), Και Επί γης Ειρήνη…, Όραμα και αίτημα για τους λαούς και τις χριστιανικές Εκκλησίες – Ορθόδοξη συμβολή, Αθήνα, Ίνδικτος, 2010]
Daniel, Jean, Dieu, est-il fanatique?, Paris: Diffusion Le Seuil, 1996 [Greek translation: Ντανιέλ, Ζαν, Ο Θεός είναι φανατικός;, Μετφ. Ανδ. Πανταζόπουλος, Επιμέλεια – Εισαγωγή Στ. Ζουμπουλάκης, Αθήνα: Πόλις, 1998]
Works of art The betrayal of Judas, Catholicon of the Vatopedi Monastery (fresco of the outer narthex), Mount Athos, 1312
https://www.vatopedi.gr/i-moni/techni-i-m-vatopediou/vizantines-tichografies/i-tichografies-toukatholikou/ i-tichografies-tou-exonarthika/i-tichografies-tou-exonarthika/
Ch. Bokoros, Olive shadow and candle, 1996 [Χ. Μποκόρος, Σκιά Ελιάς, Καντήλι] 1996
P. Picasso, Guernica, 1937
https://thestrategybridge.org/the-bridge/2020/7/13/the-art-of-war-examining-picassos-guernicaas- a-tool-for-leader-professional-development
A. Tassos, Pigeon, [Α. Τάσσος, Ένα περιστέρι], 1958
Artwork links retrieved on Feb. 15, 2021