The herem in the favela: the “Evangelical trafficker” and the Hebrew Bible concepts of war and violence


Słowa kluczowe:

Biblical studies, Hebrew Bible, Pentecostalism in Brazil, gang-related violence


This article asks whether the Hebrew Bible concepts of war and violence, especially the concept of herem, could be applied to the study of gang-related violence in Brazil. Specifi[1]cally, this article looks at two cultural phenomena evidencing a great degree of porosity between the Evangelical church and organized crime in Brazilian favelas, namely, the “Evangelical traf[1]ficker” (Cunha, 2015) and “Evangelical exemption” (Brenneman, 2011). This porosity has been described before, but the causes have been given in mostly sociological terms without enough attention paid to the exegesis of biblical stories, which are likely to be known in Evangelical cir[1]cles and hence likely to influence traffickers who move in these circles. This article discusses the cultural context of both phenomena and then asks, first, how the Hebrew Bible concepts of war and violence could be mediated into the favela circles, and second, whether the concepts could serve as ordering lenses of analysis for gang-related violence in Brazil. Extant terrorist and story research, as well as relevant Brazilian research on drug-related violence, are sourced throughout the article to support the proposal. Ultimately, however, the article proposes to test and finetune this connection via a focused field study. Thus, the posited connection gains practical implica[1]tions and can be adapted to other research settings where a similar blending of research and violence is observed.