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Methodological rivalries: Theology and social science in girardian interpretations of the new testament

Dunnill, J. (1996) Methodological rivalries: Theology and social science in girardian interpretations of the new testament. Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 18 (62). pp. 105-119.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0142064X9601806205
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Abstract

This paper examines some applications to biblical studies of Rene Girard's theory that all human culture and religion is based on the mechanism of mimetic violence. It looks particularly at recent writings by B. Chilton and R.G. Hamerton-Kelly, which employ Girardian analysis to uncover Jesus' critique of sacrifice as ritual vengeance. In both cases Girard's theory is shown to function not as a neutral heuristic tool but as a theologically weighted presupposition. The paper argues that Girard's anthropo logical theory is highly misleading as an account of sacrifice, and itself presupposes the anti-sacrificial theology it appears to generate. The theory, which is large and suggestive, needs to be criticized on both anthropological and theological grounds before being appropriated. In this instance what looks like an enriching dialogue between biblical studies and the human sciences is the subordination of exegesis and historical inquiry to a forceful but unexamined theology.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: SAGE Publications
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/19054
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