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PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, RELIGION (oxfordre.com/religion). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 29 September 2020

Summary and Keywords

A “cosmic war” is an imagined battle between metaphysical forces—good and evil, right and wrong, order and chaos—that lies behind many cases of religion-related violence in the contemporary world. These transcendent spiritual images have been implanted onto the social and political scene, magnifying ordinary worldly conflict into sacred encounter. There is nothing specific to Christianity, Islam, or any other religion about this idea of cosmic war. Every religious tradition contains images of grand battles that have a divine valence to them. Hence every religion has some kind of mythic or legendary scenario of warfare that can be transported into contemporary conflict and elevate a social or political confrontation into cosmic war.

Keywords: war, religious violence, martyrdom, terrorism, jihad, holy war

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