Girardian Annotated Bibliography
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Books by René Girard (in chronological order)
Deceit, Desire, and the Novel: Self and Other in Literary Structure. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1965. [Originally published in French, 1961; translated by Yvonne Freccero.] Paper, 318 pages. Girard’s first major work, it introduces the first principle of Girardian theory, that of “mimetic desire” (called “triangular desire” in this first work) — through the study of novels by Cervantes, Flaubert, Proust, Stendhal, and Dostoevsky.
Resurrection from the Underground: Feodor Dostoevsky. MSU Press, 2012 [English original: Crossroad, 1997; originally pub. in French, 1963, trans. by James G. Williams.] Paper, 167 pages. An extension of his first work, focusing on the life and work of Dostoevsky.
Violence and the Sacred. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977. [Originally published in French, 1972; trans. by Patrick Gregory.] Paper, 333 pages. Girard’s second major work, it introduces the second principle of Girardian theory — namely, his anthropology of the mechanisms of victimage, or “scapegoating,” that lie behind all of human culture — through a study of classical Greek drama, Freud, and Levi-Strauss.
Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World. Research undertaken in collaboration with Jean-Michel Oughourlian and Guy Lefort. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1987. [Originally pub. in French, 1978; trans. by Stephen Bann and Michael Metteer.] Paper, 469 pages. Girard’s magnum opus. The third of his major works, it programmatically lays out Girard’s entire theory in dialogue form, structured into three major “Books” entitled “Fundamental Anthropology,” “The Judaeo-Christian Scriptures,” and “Interdividual Psychology.”
“To Double Business Bound”: Essays on Literature, Mimesis, and Anthropology. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978. Paper, 229 pages. A wide-ranging collection of essays.
The Scapegoat. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. [Originally published in French, 1982; trans. by Yvonne Freccero.] Paper, 216 pages. Girard takes a different starting point, a mid-fourteenth century “text of persecution,” to unravel his theory of myths and then to show how biblical texts demythologize the mythical viewpoint; roughly, one-half theory of myth and one-half biblical commentary. This is the book by Girard that I would recommend as best for an introduction. I think that it gives the best entry into his work as a scientific anthropology and then makes the transition to many of his most important biblical insights.
Job: The Victim of His People. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1987. [Originally published in French, 1985; trans. by Yvonne Freccero.] Cloth, 173 pages. Girard uses and expounds his theory through a uniquely enlightening commentary on the biblical Book of Job.
A Theater of Envy: William Shakespeare. St. Augustine’s Press, 2004. [Originally pub. by Oxford University Press, 1991, out of print.] Paper, 366 pages. Girard provides a comprehensive analysis of Shakespearean drama using his theories. It is a masterpiece of literary criticism befitting the master dramatist of the English language. Even the most learned of readers may discover a whole new Shakespeare (which is actually the same old Shakespeare understood in a whole new light).
When These Things Begin: Conversations with Michel Treguer. East Lansing, MI: MSU Press, 2014. [Originally published in French, 1994.] Paper, 152 pages. In this lively series of conversations with writer Michel Treguer, René Girard revisits the major concepts of mimetic theory and explores science, democracy, and the nature of God and freedom. Girard affirms that “our unprecedented present is incomprehensible without Christianity.” Globalization has unified the world, yet civil war and terrorism persist despite free trade and economic growth. Treguer, a skeptic of mimetic theory, wonders: “Is what he’s telling me true…or is it just a nice story, a way of looking at things?” In response, Girard makes a compelling case for his theory.
The Girard Reader. Edited by James G. Williams. New York: Crossroad, 1996. Cloth or Paper, 310 pages. An anthology of basic texts designed to give a substantive introduction to Girard’s thought and work, with an emphasis on his more recent positions; includes a brief biography, an interview, and a glossary of Girardian terminology.
I See Satan Fall like Lightning. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2001. [Originally published in French, 1999, trans. by James G. Williams.] Paper, 256 pages. Girard addresses his concern to more clearly elaborate the relationship between myth and Gospel. I hold it as a close second to The Scapegoat as a good introduction by Girard himself. It begins in Part I by laying out his thesis with biblical concepts such as covetousness, skandalon, and Satan. Part II parallels the beginning of The Scapegoat, which used a 14th century “text of persecution”; here he uses a myth of the 2nd century, as between ancient myth and “texts of persecution” in development, to give another helpful entry point into mimetic theory’s understanding of mythology. Part III parallels ch. 15 of The Scapegoat, “History and the Paraclete,” by elaborating the work of the Spirit in the uniqueness of the biblical texts and in the modern “concern for victims” and reactions against it (such as Nietzsche and Nazism).
The One by Whom Scandal Comes. East Lansing, MI: MSU Press, 2014. [Originally published in French, 2001.] Paper, 152 pages. “Why is there so much violence in our midst?” René Girard asks. “No question is more debated today. And none produces more disappointing answers.” In this landmark text, Girard continues his study of violence in light of geopolitical competition, focusing on the roots and outcomes of violence across societies latent in the process of globalization. The volume concludes in a wide-ranging interview with Maria Stella Barberi, where Girard’s twenty-first century emphases on the continuity of all religions, global conflict, and the necessity of apocalyptic thinking emerge.
Sacrifice. East Lansing, MI: MSU Press, 2011. [Originally published in French, 2003; trans. by Matthew Pattillo and David Dawson.] Paper: 104 pages. Based on lectures, Girard interrogates the Brahmanas of Vedic India, exploring coincidences with mimetic theory that are too numerous and striking to be accidental.
Oedipus Unbound: Selected Writings on Rivalry and Desire. Edited by Mark Anspach. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004. Paper (or cloth), 216 pages. A collection of three major, hard-to-find essays by Girard, never available before in English, on Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and its implications for anthropology. These essays bridge his writing between Deceit, Desire, and the Novel and the developing thesis for Violence and the Sacred.
Evolution and Conversion: Dialogues on the Origins of Culture. With Pierpaolo Antonello and Joao Cezar de Castro Rocha. London: T&T Clark/Continuum, 2007. [Originally published in French, 2004.] Paper, 282 pages. This book in many ways is a 30-year retrospective on Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, even done in the same dialogue form. A newer element is not only the comparison to Darwin’s theory but also greater clarity that Girard’s theory is very much an evolutionary anthropology — that is to say, homo sapiens was selected to survive among the various homonids on the basis of the scapegoat mechanism. But 100,000 years is a relatively short time in evolutionary theory, so the story of homo sapiens’ survival as a species may still be in question — which leads to Girard’s next major book, Achever Clausewitz [Battling to the End].
Christianity, Truth, and Weakening Faith: A Dialogue. René Girard and Gianni Vattimo. Edited by Pierpaolo Antonello and translated by William McCuaig. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. [Originally published in Italian, 2006.] Cloth, 124 pages. “Through an exchange that is both intimate and enlightening, Vattimo and Girard share their unparalleled insight into the relationships among religion, modernity, and the role of Christianity, especially as it exists in our multicultural world.”
Battling to the End: Conversations with Benoît Chantre. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2010. [Originally published in French as Achever Clausewitz, 2007.] Paper: 256 pages. “Girard engages Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831), the Prussian military theoretician who wrote On War. He shows us a Clausewitz who is a fascinated witness of history’s acceleration and pushes aside the taboo that prevents us from seeing that the apocalypse has begun. Human violence is escaping our control; today it threatens the entire planet.” — publisher’s website. Clausewitz is placed alongside two of his contemporaries, Hegel the philosopher and Hölderlin the Christian poet, as well as the Christian apocalyptic texts (e.g., Mark 13). This is an immensely important book that promotes the only true foundation for hope. As Girard says in the Introduction, “Like Hölderlin, I think that Christ alone allows us to face this reality without sinking into madness. The apocalypse does not announce the end of the world; it creates hope. If we suddenly see reality, we do not experience the absolute despair of an unthinking modernity, but rediscover a world where things have meaning. Hope is possible only if we dare to think about the danger at hand, but this requires opposing both nihilists, for whom everything is only language, and ‘realists,’ who reject the idea that intelligence can attain truth: heads of state, bankers and soldiers who claim to be saving us when in fact they are plunging us deeper into devastation each day.” (p. xiii)
Anorexia and Mimetic Desire. East Lansing, MI: MSU Press, 2013. [Originally published in French, 2008.] Mixing theoretical sophistication with irreverent common sense, Girard denounces a “culture of anorexia” and takes apart the competitive impulse that fuels the game of conspicuous non-consumption. He shows that showing off a slim physique is not enough—the real aim is to be skinnier than one’s rivals. Featuring a foreword by neuropsychiatrist Jean-Michel Oughourlian and an introductory essay by anthropologist Mark R. Anspach, the volume concludes with an illuminating conversation between René Girard, Mark R. Anspach, and Laurence Tacou.
Mimesis & Theory: Essays on Literature and Criticism, 1953-2005. Edited with an Introduction by Robert Doran. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008. Cloth, 310 pages.
René Girard and Raymund Schwager: Correspondence 1974-1991. Translated by Chris Fleming and Sheelah Treflé Hidden. Edited by Scott Cowdell, Chris Fleming, Joel Hodge, and Mathias Moosbrugger. Volume 5: Violence, Desire, and the Sacred. Bloomsbury: 2016. Cloth, 218 pages. This volume presents the important correspondence … the personal relationship between two great thinkers that led to the development of a significant break-through in the humanities.
For your convenience book titles on this page are linked to the Amazon.com page for that individual book. You help support this website by linking through this page to purchase from Amazon.com.
Secondary Works on René Girard and Applying His Theories
Alberg, Jeremiah. A Reinterpretation of Rousseau: A Religious System. Foreword by René Girard. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Hardcover, 252 pages. James Alison writes, “…[T]he whole of Rousseau’s project and rationality is … locked into a double-bind of the sort made luminous in the thought of René Girard. Alberg’s central insight is that Rousseau is simultaneously dependent on, and yet rejecting of, the Christian doctrine of original sin, a doctrine which he (as well as his contemporaries) regarded as a form of primordial accusation, rather than what it is: a perspective on who we are, which could have only come into being through an even more primordial forgiveness.”
Alberg, Jeremiah. Beneath the Veil of the Strange Verses: Reading Scandalous Texts. MSU Press: 2013. Paper: 141 pages. From Andrew McKenna’s Amazon.com review: “This elegant book draws its title from Dante, “O you who have sound intellects,/ look at the doctrine which hides itself/ beneath the veil of the strange verses.” …What is revealed, as his subtitle announces, is the logic of scandal by which humans are attracted to and repelled by scenes that engage our deepest moral sensibilities. The insights that René Girard has drawn from Dante are enriched when Flannery O’Connor’s dark writings are drawn into this conversation, and when the desperations of Rousseau and Nietzsche are decoded for our benefit.
Alison, James. Broken Hearts and New Creations: Intimations of a Great Reversal. New York: Continuum, 2010. Paper, 292 pages. As the jacket notes describe, “Unforgettable and moving, these remarkable essays show James Alison at his irrepressible best.”
Alison, James. Faith Beyond Resentment: Fragments Catholic and Gay. New York: Crossroad, 2001. Paper, 239 pages. As the jacket notes describe, “This is not a book of gay theology but, much more daringly, of catholic theology from a gay perspective.” Stanley Hauerwas says, ‘Like all James Alison books, Faith Beyond Resentment is frighteningly profound…. Alison’s readings train us to undertake the slow and painful work of living free of resentment. So taught we discover how debates about “homosexuality” can be repositioned from the stance of “us” versus “them” to “us” versus “us.” So positioned we may even learn to accept the salvation that is ours in Christ.’ Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, comments on this book: “The very best theological books leave you with a feeling that perhaps it’s time you became a Christian. This is emphatically such a book.”
Alison, James. Jesus the Forgiving Victim: Listening to the Unheard Voice. Doers Publishing, 2013. Paper (4 vols.), 572 pages. Based on 12 years of classroom development, these are groundbreaking course materials for an adult catechetical learning experience. Alison says of his work, “When a friend told me, ‘This is Christianity as I’ve never heard it before,’ I felt challenged to make the material more widely available. I hope you will find that this course offers a fresh take on how we read the Scriptures, how we are reached by Jesus’ self-giving up to death, and how this enables us to reimagine our lives as Church. Gradually and gently, the course allows the good news of a God in whom there is no violence at all to reveal itself afresh.”
Alison, James. The Joy of Being Wrong: Original Sin Through Easter Eyes. New York: Crossroad, 1998. Paper, 323 pages. This original work of theological anthropology looks at Original Sin in the light of the Resurrection and, from this point of view, is able to read all the major doctrines of Christianity from the order of discovery. Sebastian Moore says in his foreword, “One should, one can, never say of a theological work that it is the definitive statement on its subject. But very occasionally one is tempted to do so, and this book represents that temptation in acute form.”
Alison, James. Knowing Jesus. Springfield, IL: Templegate Publishers, 1994. Paper, 114 pages. A wonderful expression of basic Christian theology based on the perspective of the victim as vindicated by God through the Resurrection. It is an excellent and readable introduction to the Girardian thought-process for the Christian faith.
Alison, James. On Being Liked. New York: Herder & Herder, 2004. Paper, 168 pages. Description from the back cover: “Alison takes us step-by-step through a bold adventure of re-imagining the central axis of the Christian story, not as ‘How does God deal with sin?’ but as ‘How do we take up God’s invitation to share in the act of creation?’. All the while, to our growing astonishment and wonder, we discover ourselves as liked — not only loved — in the eyes of God.” Says Richard Rohr OFM: “Intellectual dynamite and spiritual joy.”
Alison, James. Raising Abel: The Recovery of the Eschatological Imagination. New York: Crossroad, 1996, 2000. Paper, 203 pages. Alison focuses his Girardian acumen to the subject of eschatology. “…an exceptional book, with soaring power.” — René Girard
Alison, James. Undergoing God: Dispatches from the Scene of a Break-in. New York: Continuum, 2006. Paper: 160 pages. The collection of essays includes the topics: monotheism, “Worship in a Violent World,” atonement, Romans 1, and more. “Undergoing God sets our comfortable worlds on a new axis.” — Martin Laird
Anspach, Mark R. Vengeance in Reverse: The Tangled Loops of Violence, Myth, and Madness. MSU Press, 2017. Paper, 136 pages. Likening gift exchange to vengeance in reverse, the first part of the book outlines a fresh approach to reciprocity, while the second part traces the emergence of transcendence in collective myths and individual delusions — an intellectual journey that begins with the problem of how to deceive violence and ends with the riddle of how one can deceive oneself.
Antonello, Pierpaulo, and Gifford, Paul, eds. Can We Survive Our Origins? Readings in René Girard’s Theory of Violence and the Sacred. MSU Press, 2015. Paper, 388 pages. “The importance of studies such as the ones contained in this book is that they both underline the urgency of the cultural crisis and open up impressive possibilities for conversation between Girardians and others in the mainstream of our discourse. If Girard and most of the contributors to this volume are right, such conversation is anything but a luxury.” — Rowan Williams
Antonello, Pierpaulo, and Gifford, Paul, eds. How We Became Human: Mimetic Theory and the Science of Evolutionary Origins. MSU Press, 2015. Paper, 406 pages. “Most of the time, the promise of ‘interdisciplinary’ inquiry remains precisely that—a promise. This collection, however, makes good on such a promise in the most decisive fashion. The description ‘indispensable’ rarely applies to collections; in the case here, the label is unavoidable.” — Chris Fleming
Antonello, Pierpaulo, and Webb, Heather, eds. Mimesis, Desire, and the Novel: René Girard and Literary Criticism. MSU Press, 2015. Paper, 358 pages. “This is the kind of collection that many of us have been waiting for years to see—first-rate scholars reflecting intelligently, critically, and nondogmatically on René Girard’s theory of mimetic desire, especially as it relates to the novel. The contributors to this volume do full justice to the complexity, nuances, and incomparable heuristic power of Girard’s theory, which represents one of the most important contributions to literary criticism in the twentieth century.” — Robert Pogue Harrison, Stanford University
Astell, Ann W. Joan of Arc and Sacrificial Authorship. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003. Cloth or Paper, 304 pages. Publisher’s Description: “Blending the theoretical insights of Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, and René Girard, Ann W. Astell persuasively argues that many modern authors have seen their own artistic vocation in the visions and voices that inspired Joan.”
Astell, Ann W., and Goodhart, Sandor, eds. Sacrifice, Scripture, & Substitution: Readings in Ancient Judaism and Christianity. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2011. Paper, 424 pages. An excellent collection of essays on Scripture from a Girardian perspective. Contributors: Sandor Goodhart, Ann W. Astell, Rene Girard, Thomas Ryba, Michael Fishbane, Bruce Chilton, Robert Daly, S.J., Alan F. Segal, Louis H. Feldman, Erich S. Gruen, Stuart D. Robertson, Matthew Pattillo, Steven Stern, Chris Allen Carter, William Morrow, William Martin Aiken, Gerard Rosse, Christopher S. Morrissey, Poong-In Lee, and Anthony Bartlett.
Bailie, Gil. Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads. New York: Crossroad, 1995. Paper, 293 pages. Brings a bouquet of texts together, including many biblical texts, to give an insightful interpretation of our modern situation from a Girardian perspective. Sam Keen says, “The single most important book of social analysis and prophetic theology to appear in our generation.”
Bailie, Gil. The Cornerstone Forum lecture series from the early 1990’s, originally on audio cassette tape but now available on compact disk and MP3 files. Similar to his book but generally a bit more in depth. Highly recommended are the series: The Gospel of John and The Gospel of Luke.
Bandera, Cesáreo. A Refuge of Lies: Reflections on Faith and Fiction. MSU Press, 2013. Paper, 150 pages. Erich Auerbach’s seminal Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature … is the starting point for Bandera’s insightful work. Auerbach, Bandera notes, is amazed at the Bible’s “passionate” concern for the truth of what it says — a concern he found absent in Homer. Bandera finds that what the prophet Isaiah called “a refuge of lies” defines Homer’s work. He draws on his own research and René Girard’s theory of the sacred to develop an enhanced perspective of the relationship between these texts.
Bandera, Cesáreo. The Humble Story of Don Quixote: Reflections on the Birth of the Modern Novel. Catholic University of America Press, 2006. Hardcover, 318 pages. An in-depth study of the novel that inaugurated Girard’s mimetic theory in his first book Deceit, Desire, and the Novel.
Bandera, Cesáreo. The Sacred Game: The Role of the Sacred in the Genesis of Modern Literary Fiction. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 1994. Paper, 318 pages. With penetrating historical insight, it superbly deals with fundamental issues in Western culture and literature.
Bartlett, Anthony W. Cross Purposes: The Violent Grammar of Christian Atonement. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 2001. Paper, 272 pages. James G. Williams writes: “It is a radically Girardian analysis and constructive proposal regarding the Christian doctrine of atonement. …uses Girard’s idea of the generative mimetic scapegoat mechanism and Kierkegaard’s concepts of repetition and anxiety in a brilliant fashion.” This remarkable book takes the relatively undeveloped thesis from Girard’s Things Hidden, chapter three of Part II on “The Sacrificial Reading and Historical Christianity,” and takes a huge leap forward in reading large portions of Christian history through the lens of an anthropology of the cross — yielding the fresh concept of the cross as Christ’s leap into the abyss of human violence which is transformed by God’s “abyssal compassion.”
Bartlett, Anthony W. Pascale’s Wager: Homelands of Heaven. Syracuse, NY: Hopetime Press, 2014. Paper: 505 pages. A wonderful science fiction novel about remnants living on earth in an artificially engineered world, both physically and spiritually, where it’s dangerous to ask questions about what it really means to be human. Two teenagers dare to pursue answers to their challenging questions and embark on a journey of discovering their true humanity — a journey eerily similar to one many of us have been on in recent years with the work of René Girard as our guide to rediscovering our Christian tradition anthropologically.
Bartlett, Anthony W. Virtually Christian: How Christ Changes Human Meaning and Makes Creation New. Washington: O-Books, 2011. Paper, 290 pages. John Caputo writes, “Tony Bartlett makes a stunning presentation of Christianity as the transformation of desire from violence to non violence from retribution to forgiveness from competition to compassion from acquisitiveness to giving.”
Beck, Richard. Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Morality. Cascade Books, 2011. Paper, 201 pages. With Mimetic Theory very much in play, this book analyses a fundamental element of sacred violence, purity. The official book description: “‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’. Echoing Hosea, Jesus defends his embrace of the unclean in the Gospel of Matthew, seeming to privilege the prophetic call to justice over the Levitical pursuit of purity. And yet, as missional faith communities are well aware, the tensions and conflicts between holiness and mercy are not so easily resolved. In an unprecedented fusion of psychological science and theological scholarship, Richard Beck describes the pernicious (and largely unnoticed) effects of the psychology of purity upon the life and mission of the church.”
Bellinger, Charles K. The Genealogy of Violence: Reflections on Creation, Freedom, and Evil. Oxford University Press, 2001. Cloth, 157 pages. Reads Kierkegaard and Girard together in offering an understanding of violence and social pathology.
Bellinger, Charles K. The Joker Is Satan, and So Are We: And Other Essays on Violence and Christian Faith. Churchyard Books, 2010. Paper, 193 pages. A collection of essays which focus on the task of thinking about violence psychologically and ethically, from a Christian point of view — featuring Girard and Kierkegaard.
Bellinger, Charles K. The Trinitarian Self: The Key to the Puzzle of Violence. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2008. Paper, 167 pages. “Bellinger has thrown a clarifying spotlight on the question of violence as the crucial intersection between our human sciences and theology, a dialogue that proves as fruitful in theory as it is necessary in practice. His telling readings of Søren Kierkegaard, Eric Voegelin, and René Girard are woven together into an interpretive framework that multiplies the diagnostic relevance of each one for our conflicted human condition. Ambitious, clear, and creative, this book is a welcome contribution to the theological understanding of humanity and to the struggle to overcome violence.” — S. Mark Heim
Bredin, Mark. Jesus, Revolutionary of Peace: A Nonviolent Christology in the Book of Revelation. Bletchley, England: Paternoster, 2003. Paper, 260 pages. Foreward by Richard Bauckham. Bredin cites René Girard as one of his main guides in seeing “Jesus the Nonviolent Teacher and Activist.” From the back cover: “Drawing insight from diverse strands of literature, Bredin spreads a rich feast, to energize readers in the nonviolent revolution of Jesus Christ for justice and peace.” — Willard M. Swartley
Castro Rocha, João Cezar de. Machado de Assis: Toward a Poetics of Emulation. MSU Press, 2015. Paper, 308 pages. “Acute, captivating, beautifully written and translated, this is a masterful reinterpretation of one of the world’s greatest novelists. By subtle close reading and a groundbreaking, innovative approach, João Cezar de Castro Rocha unfolds in front of our eyes the subtle, ramified, mimetic complexity of Machado de Assis’s genius, along with the anxieties of its formation. — Pierpaolo Antonello, University of Cambridge
Cayley, David, with René Girard and others. “The Scapegoat: René Girard’s Anthropology of Violence and Religion.” A CBC radio show, in the “Ideas” series, which provides an excellent introduction to Girard’s work. A 4.5 hour production that aired over five evenings, March 5-9, 2001, primarily crafted out of interview material with Girard interspersed with narrative explanation by Cayley. An audio cassette version of the program, as well as a 53 page transcript, were available for many years. A podcast of the broadcast: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.
Collins, Brian. The Head Beneath the Altar: Hindu Mythology and the Critique of Sacrifice. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2014. Paper, 314 pages. This is the first book to present a wide-ranging study of Hindu texts read through the lens of René Girard’s mimetic theory of the sacrificial origin of religion and culture. Collins examines the idea of sacrifice from the earliest recorded rituals through the flowering of classical mythology and the ancient Indian institutions of the duel, the oath, and the secret warrior society. He also uncovers implicit and explicit critiques in the tradition, confirming Girard’s intuition that Hinduism offers an alternative anti-sacrificial worldview to the one contained in the gospels.
Cowdell, Scott. Abiding Faith: Christianity Beyond Certainty, Anxiety, and Violence. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2009. Paper, 232 pages. “Cowdell explores how “having faith” has changed under the influence of modernity and post-modernity in the West…. He explores faith against the backdrop of secularization, the collapse of community, and the encroachment of an intentionally destabilizing consumer culture. He expounds the nature of desire in terms of imitation and rivalry, and the violent false-sacred roots of cultural formation evident in the modern West’s many victims, all according to the uniquely comprehensive vision of René Girard. …What Cowdell calls ‘abiding faith’ emerges as a venerable yet strikingly contemporary possibility.”
Cowdell, Scott. René Girard and Secular Modernity: Christ, Culture, and Crisis. University of Notre Dame Press, 2013. Paper, 260 pages. Wolfgang Palaver writes, “Scott Cowdell’s book is the first comprehensive study of modernity and secularity in René Girard’s thought. Cowdell brings Girard’s theory into a fruitful dialogue with leading approaches on secularization like those of Max Weber, Hans Blumenberg, Peter Berger, or Charles Taylor. Scholars and students of theology, philosophy, and sociology will benefit from this wide-ranging overview of the relationship between religion, modernity, and secularization.”
Cowdell, Scott; Fleming, Chris; and Hodge, Joel, eds. Mimesis, Movies, and Media, Volume 3: Violence, Desire, and the Sacred. Bloomsbury, 2015. Cloth, 256 pages. “A theater professor once said that Girard’s book on Shakespeare was head-and-shoulders more insightful than anything else she had ever read on the playwright. This collection of superb essays takes the powerful insights of Girard’s mimetic theory and applies them to the contemporary analogs of Shakespeare: films, television shows, and popular literature. … This program is not an abstract, ivory tower, exercise, but an effort to understand the world we live in.” — Charles Bellinger
Cowdell, Scott; Fleming, Chris; and Hodge, Joel, eds. Girard’s Mimetic Theory Across the Disciplines, Volume 1: Violence, Desire, and the Sacred. Bloomsbury, 2012. Cloth, 312 pages. “The collection showcases the work of outstanding scholars in mimetic theory and how they are applying and developing Girard’s insights in a variety of fields.”
Cowdell, Scott; Fleming, Chris; and Hodge, Joel, eds. René Girard and Sacrifice in Life, Love and Literature, Volume 2: Violence, Desire, and the Sacred. Bloomsbury, 2014. Cloth, 304 pages. “Following in the footsteps of Girard, whose explorations span the humanities and social sciences, the contributors to this interdisciplinary collection demonstrate how mimetic theory continues to illuminate a broad range of phenomena in areas such as politics, cultural studies, psychology, and literature.”
Culbertson, Diana. God in a World of Violence. Villa Maria, PA: The Center for Learning, 2003. Paper booklet, 52 pages. Written for adult education in the Christian congregation, this booklet provides an excellent introduction to Girardian anthropology for the life of faith (but no longer available). (Diana Culbertson was an original member of COV&R and long-time officer on its Board.)
Daly, Robert J., S. J. Sacrifice Unveiled: The True Meaning of Christian Sacrifice. London: T&T Clark / New York: Continuum, 2009. Paper, 260 pages. “Most ideas of sacrifice, even specifically Christian ideas, as we saw in the Reformation controversies, have something to do with deprivation or destruction. But this is not authentic Christian sacrifice. Authentic Christian sacrifice, and ultimately all true sacrifice … begin to enter into that perfectly loving, totally self-giving relationship that is the life of the triune God…. After exploring the possibility of finding a phenomenology of sacrificial atonement in Girardian mimetic theory, the book will end with some suggestions on how to communicate its findings to people likely to be put off from the outset by the negative connotations associated with ‘sacrifice.'”
Dawson, David. Flesh Becomes Word: A Lexicography of the Scapegoat or, the History of an Idea. MSU Press, 2013. Paper, 200 pages. In his Amazon review, Andrew Marr writes, “this book is about a lot more than tracing the evolving meaning of a word [“scapegoat”]; it is tracing a growing level of awareness of humanity’s tendency to shift the blame for social tensions on to one person or group of people, precisely what was revealed in the Gospel narratives.”
Depoortere, Frederiek. Christ in Postmodern Philosophy: Gianni Vattimo, René Girard, and Slavoj Zizek. London: T&T Clark / New York: Continuum, 2008. Paper, 159 pages. “In the wake of Heidegger’s announcement of the end of onto-theology and inspired by both Levinas and Derrida, many contemporary continental philosophers of religion search for a post-metaphysical God, a God who is often characterized as tout autre, wholly other. Christ in Postmodern Philosophy investigates the Christological ideas of three contemporary thinkers, Gianni Vattimo, Rene Girard and Slavoj Zizek. In doing so, Depoortere focuses on the relation between transcendence and the event of the Incarnation on the one hand, and the uniqueness of Christianity on the other.”
Distefano, Matthew. All Set Free: How God Is Revealed in Jesus and Why That Is Really Good News. Resource Publications, 2015. Paper, 154 pages. ”All Set Free is a splendid contribution to an ever-growing theological conversation springing from the work of René Girard…. Most of all, he gives us a positive message of a nonviolent God whose deep attraction promises to make the rote prayer of ‘your kingdom come…on earth’ become thrilling human reality. A vital book for twenty-first-century Christianity.” — Anthony W. Bartlett
Dizdar, Draško. Sheer Grace: Living the Mystery of God. Paulist Press, 2008. Paper, 218 pages. Sheer Grace “is about doing liturgy as theology, and about a way of doing theology through liturgy as something that God does; and invites us to participate in as fully, consciously and actively as we are able.” The introduction outlines Mimetic Theory as the lens through which the book reads its subject matter.
Doran, Robert M. The Trinity in History: A Theology of the Divine Missions, Volume 1: Missions and Processions. University of Toronto Press: 2012. Cloth, 544 pages. “The Trinity in History is an extremely important book, for despite the proliferation of Trinitarian theology, Lonergan’s voice in this discussion has not yet been fully heard. Doran guides us systematically through an expansive argument, integrating his appropriation and development of Lonergan’s thought with that of other important contemporary thinkers, most notably the groundbreaking work of Réne Girard. Attentive to our multi-religious context, he develops a theology of the Holy Spirit that deserves wide engagement.” — Randall S. Rosenberg
Douglas, Kelly Brown. Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God. Orbis Books, 2015. Paper, 264 pages. “Douglas’ book is a clarion call to all in the United States, regardless of race, gender, class or faith, to acknowledge our sordid and painful past and to work together to transform the American dream of equality and opportunity into a reality for all.” — National Catholic Reporter
Douglas, Kelly Brown. What’s Faith Got to Do with It?: Black Bodies / Christian Souls. Orbis Books, 2005. Paper, 252 pages. Book description: “…this book begins as a reflection on the historical sins of Christians, particularly the role of white Christians in countenancing the lynching of African Americans. This exploration then leads the author to broader questions: What is it about Christianity that could lend itself to racism and similar abuses?” Girard’s work has a prominent place in examining atonement theory; Ms. Douglas was a presenter at the 2013 Theology & Peace Conference.
Dumouchel, Paul. The Ambivalence of Scarcity and Other Essays. MSU Press: 2014. Paper, 388 pages. “Paul Dumouchel is a subtle, powerful, and profoundly original thinker. He has an uncommon knack for making us look at the most basic social facts with different eyes. Taking mimetic theory in new directions, this book uncovers the hidden logic behind the economic and political transformations of our time.” — Mark R. Anspach
Dumouchel, Paul. The Barren Sacrifice: An Essay on Political Violence. MSU Press, 2015. Paper, 224 pages. “The primary function of the modern state is to protect us from our own violence. Paul Dumouchel uncovers the hidden paradox behind this classical thesis: why do states commit massive violence against their own citizens? The Barren Sacrifice is a powerful, lively and clear contribution to penetrate into the heart of new forms of modern and contemporary political violence.” — Stefano Tomelleri, University of Bergamo
Dumouchel, Paul, ed. Violence and Truth: on the Work of René Girard. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1988. Cloth, 289 pages. In this collection of essays from a symposium in 1983, authors from philosophy, ethnology, theology, psychology, history, economics, and sociology assess Girard’s work for their disciplines.
Dupuy, Jean-Pierre. A Short Treatise on the Metaphysics of Tsunamis. MSU Press, 2015. Paper, 96 pages. “[A] strikingly original argument against the ravages of contemporary economic technocracy and for a new civilization that [Dupuy] describes as a ‘post-economic modernity.’” — Elaine Coburn
Dupuy, Jean-Pierre. Economy and the Future: A Crisis of Faith. MSU Press: 2014. Paper, 194 pages. “From a few simple questions Jean-Pierre Dupuy draws a number of profound insights, not always easy to grasp, that run contrary to the usual interpretation of the recent economic crisis. The trouble is well worth it.” — Julie Clarini, Le Monde
Dupuy, Jean-Pierre. The Mark of the Sacred. Stanford University Press, 2013. Paper, 240 pages. “Dupuy approaches the philosophical question at the very heart of today’s social and economic crisis: how is self-transcendence possible? How is it that, although we all know that market is just the result of the interaction of millions of individual acts, it appears to all of them as a foreign autonomous power? Through a close reading of Christian theology, Hegel, Heidegger, and Rene Girard, Dupuy provides a unique answer which shatters all our common wisdoms. The Mark of the Sacred is one of those rare books that cannot simply be measured by academic standards because they themselves set new standards–a book which, in an enlightened well-organized state, should be printed and freely distributed in all schools!” — Slavoj Žižek
Farneti, Roberto. Mimetic Politics: Dyadic Patterns in Global Politics. MSU Press, 2015. Paper, 194 pages. “Mimetic Politics constitutes a path-breaking work based on intellectual rigour, scholarly erudition, and empirical illustration conducted in an interdisciplinary spirit. This compelling reflection on taken-for-granted assumptions in political theory delivers an urgently needed anthropological grounding for a theory of politics in a global age.” — Harald Wydra, University of Cambridge
Finamore, Stephen. God, Order, and Chaos: René Girard and the Apocalypse. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2009. Paper, 290 pages. “If the Apocalypse was a book for its times to enable what the Spirit was saying to late first century people, Finamore’s reading of the Apocalypse, through the lens of Girard’s theory, is an equivalent wake up call for a world addicted to violence and coercion in the pursuit of human flourishing and a plea to consider the ‘better way’ of the victim, the story of whose death, supposedly expedient for the wellbeing of the people, is recorded in the New Testament Gospels.” — Christopher Rowland, Oxford
Fleming, Chris. René Girard: Violence and Mimesis. (Series: Key Contemporary Thinkers.) Cambridge, Eng.: Polity Press, 2004. Paper, 211 pages. Apt description from the cover: ‘This is an impressively lucid and complete account of the major phases of Girard’s thought, and it should be read with profit by anyone who wants a clear, comprehensive explanation of Girard’s key ideas.’
Flood, Derek. Disarming Scripture: Cherry-Picking Liberals, Violence-Loving Conservatives, and Why We All Need to Learn to Read the Bible Like Jesus Did. Metanoia Books, 2014. Paper, 294 pages. “Jesus is the savior of everything — including the Bible! That’s what I kept thinking while reading this brilliant book. There have been a number of excellent books in recent years on how Christians should read the Bible, but Disarming Scripture is the very best. Derek has done us an immeasurable service in showing us how to read the Bible like Jesus did.” — Brian Zahnd
Flood, Derek. Healing the Gospel: A Radical Vision for Grace, Justice, and the Cross. Wipf & Stock Pub, 2012. Paper, 136 Pages. ”On a cresting wave of reaction against violent atonement theory, Healing the Gospel charts a sea-change course back to Jesus’s ministry as a model of gracious restoration, moving far beyond the traditional, abusive contours of penal substitution as explanation of Christ’s death . . . Jesus dies to show us God’s enemy-love, which changes everything. A splendid, stirring, and essential book!” — Anthony Bartlett
Fornari, Giuseppi. A God Torn to Pieces: The Nietzsche Case. MSU Press, 2013. Paper, 186 pages. Fornari’s groundbreaking inquiry shows that Friedrich Nietzsche’s neglected importance as a religious thinker and his “untimeliness” place him at the forefront of modern thought. … Fornari concludes that Nietzsche’s fatal rebellion against a Christian awareness, which he identified as the greatest threat to his plan, led him to become one and the same not only with Dionysus but also with the crucified Christ. His effort, Fornari argues, was a dramatic way to recognize the silent, inner meaning of Christ’s figure, and perhaps to be forgiven.
Froemming, David R. Salvation Story: A Biblical Commentary on Human Violence and Godly Peace. Resource Publications, 2016. Paper, 152 pages. Salvation Story is written to challenge religious fundamentalists and atheists alike, as well as the rest of us — all those who realize that our current approaches to the Bible are woefully inadequate.
Garrels, Scott R., editor. Mimesis and Science: Empirical Research on Imitation and the Mimetic Theory of Culture and Religion. MSU Press, 2011. Paper, 266 pages. From the book description: “Together, mimetic scholars and imitation researchers are on the cutting edge of some of the most important breakthroughs in understanding the distinctive human capacity for both incredible acts of empathy and compassion as well as mass antipathy and violence.”
Golsan, Richard J. René Girard and Myth: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2001 (originally, Garland Publishing, 1993). Paper, 237 pages. A book that Girard himself has recommended as a good introduction to his work.
Goodhart, Sandor; Jorgensen, Jorgen; Ryba, Thomas; Williams, James G.; eds. For René Girard: Essays in Friendship and in Truth. East Lansing, MI: MSU Press, 2009. Paper, 289 pages.
Goodhart, Sandor. Sacrificing Commentary: Reading the End of Literature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. Cloth, 362 pages. “Sandor Goodhart shows most convincingly that … the supreme works of our culture, Sophocles, Shakespeare, and the Hebrew Bible, are still ahead of us in their anti-mythic mythical stance.” — René Girard
Goodhart, Sandor. The Prophetic Law: Essays in Judaism, Girardianism, Literary Studies, and the Ethical. East Lansing, MI: MSU Press, 2014. Paper, 342 pages. Whether engaging the European novel, ancient Greek tragedy, Shakespeare’s plays, or Jewish and Christian scripture, Girard teaches us to read prophetically, not by offering a method he has developed, but by presenting the methodologies they have developed, the interpretative readings already available within (and constitutive of) such bodies of classical writing. In The Prophetic Law, Goodhart divides his essays on René Girard into four groupings: Girardian concerns with Biblical scripture (Genesis and Exodus), literature (the European novel and Shakespeare), and philosophy and religious studies issues (especially ethical and Jewish subject matters), and polemical exchanges as part of what could justly be deemed Jewish-Christian dialogue.
Grande, Per Bjørnar. Mimesis and Desire: An Analysis of the Religious Nature of Mimesis and Desire in the Work of René Girard. LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, 2009. Paper: 224 pages.
Grote, Jim and McGeeney, John. Clever as Serpents: Business Ethics and Office Politics. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1997. Paper, 149 pages. A wonderfully practical look at how to work together with others, one that uses a very accessible outline of Girardian theory for the background to getting practical.
Hamerton-Kelly, Robert G. The Gospel and the Sacred: Poetics of Violence in Mark. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994 (out of print). Paper, 175 pages. A commentary on the Gospel of Mark using Girard’s ideas; with an excellent summary of Girard’s basic theses.
Hamerton-Kelly, Robert G, ed. Politics & Apocalypse. East Lansing, MI: MSU Press, 2007. Paper, 266 pages. “Including an important new essay by Girard, this volume enters into a philosophical debate that challenges the bona fides of philosophy itself by examining three supremely important philosophers of the twentieth century [Eric Voegelin, Leo Strauss, and Carl Schmitt]. It asks how we might think about politics now that the attacks of 9/11 have shifted our intellectual foundations and what the outbreak of rabid religion might signify for international politics.”
Hamerton-Kelly, Robert G. Sacred Violence: Paul’s Hermeneutic of the Cross. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992 (out of print). Cloth, 230 pages. Provides an introduction to Girard’s theories and then applies them to the writings of St. Paul. (This is the book that launched me into Girardian studies — PJN.)
Hamerton-Kelly, Robert G, ed. Violent Origins: Walter Burkert, René Girard, and Jonathan Z. Smith on Ritual Killing and Cultural Formation. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1987. Paper, 275 pages. Record of a scholarly conversation held in 1983; it contains an important statement by Girard of the basics of his theory.
Hardin, Michael, and Grimsrud, Ted, editors. Compassionate Eschatology: The Future as a Friend. Cascade Books, 2011. Paper, 294 pages. Wes Howard-Brook writes, “Compassionate Eschatology interweaves close readings of the Bible — with Revelation as its central text — theology and current events to shed light on the ‘times of the end.’ The authors reveal, each from their own angle of vision, how God’s ultimate purpose is not destructive vengeance, but the healing into harmony of all creation.” Contributors include: the editors, Richard Bauckham, Barbara Rossing, Walter Wink, Anthony Bartlett, and Jürgen Moltmann.
Hardin, Michael. The Jesus Driven Life: Reconnecting Humanity with Jesus. Foreword by Brian McLaren; afterword by Walter Wink. Lancaster, PA: JDL Press, 2010. Paper, 317 pages. Walter Wink: “I scarcely know how to find words to do justice to this brilliant study. The Jesus Driven Life is nothing less than a magisterial synthesis of much that can be known about Jesus and the early centuries of Christianity and their continuing relevance for today.”
Hardin, Michael, and Baker, Sharon L., editors. Peace Be with You: Christ’s Benediction Amid Violent Empires. Foreword by Willard Swartley. Telford, PA: Cascadia, 2010. Paper, 299 pages. A collection of essays sparked by an August 2007 conference on Post-Christendom theology. Contributors include: Brian McLaren, Michael Hardin, Sharon Baker, Ted Grimsrud, and more.
Hardin, Michael. Reading the Bible with René Girard: Conversations with Steven E. Berry. Foreword by Scott Cowdell. JDL Press, 2016. Paper, 196 pages. “One of the many gifts of René Girard is his ability to unfold his theory in interviews…many of these dialogues open new perspectives on mimetic theory. Reading the Bible with René Girard is a wonderful example of this.” ~ Wolfgang Palaver
Hardin, Michael, and Jersak, Brad, editors. Stricken by God? Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007. Paper, 536 pages. “In the search for constructive rethinking of the cross, this book is a mother lode of resources.” — S. Mark Heim. Contributors include: James Alison, Anthony Bartlett, Marcus Borg, Miroslav Volf, Rowan Williams, N. T. Wright, and many more.
Hardin, Michael. Walking with Grandfather: A Skeptic’s Journey to Spirituality. Foreword by Brian Zahnd. JDL Press, 2014. “Both skeptic and acolyte, Hardin explores how a Christian path can converge peaceably and fruitfully with a deep spirituality of nature.” — Ched Myers
Hardin, Michael. What the Facebook? Posts from the Edge of Christendom. Foreword by Brad Jersak. JDL Press, 2014. “Michael’s posts have helped many to rethink their concepts of God, man, atonement, violence, and the satan.” — Andre Rabe
Haynes, Stephen. Noah’s Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Cloth, 322 pages. Presents a thorough history of interpretation of Noah’s curse on Ham (Gen. 9:25), especially in its justification of American slavery; saves mimetic theory’s perspective of the victim to the book’s end as the way of redeeming the past sacrificial readings of this story. Walter Brueggemann says, “Noah’s Curse is an exercise in historical disclosure not to be missed by those who care about the crisis of reading in the church and in a Bible-reading culture.”
Heim, S. Mark. Saved from Sacrifice: A Theology of the Cross. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006. Paper: 346 pages. Publisher’s Description: “The cross has long been not only a scandal but also a profound paradox: filled with saving significance and power, it is at the same time a sobering tragedy. In Saved from Sacrifice theologian Mark Heim takes on this paradox, asserting that the cross must be understood against the whole history of human scapegoating violence. In order to highlight the dimensions of his argument, Heim carefully and critically draws on the groundbreaking work of French theorist and biblical scholar René Girard. Yet Heim goes beyond Girard to develop a comprehensive theology of the atonement and the cross through his fresh readings of well-known biblical passages and his exploration of the place of the victim.”
Humbert, David. Violence in the Films of Alfred Hitchcock: A Study in Mimesis. MSU Press, 2017. Paper, 210 pages. Parting ways with the Freudian and Lacanian readings that have dominated recent scholarly understanding of Hitchcock, David Humbert examines the roots of violence in the director’s narratives and finds them not in human sexuality but in mimesis. This study will appeal not only to Hitchcock fans and film scholars but also to those interested in Freud and Girard and their competing theories of desire.
Johnsen, William A. Violence and Modernism: Ibsen, Joyce, and Woolf. University Press of Florida, 2003. Cloth, 192 pages. “Employing Northrop Frye and René Girard as his theoretical foundation, Johnsen [who edits many books on this page for MSU Press] reinterprets the works of three canonical modernists — Ibsen, Joyce, and Woolf — to argue for their commitment to analyzing collective violence as a defining motive in literary modernism.”
Kaplan, Grant. René Girard, Unlikely Apologist: Mimetic Theory and Fundamental Theology. University of Notre Dame Press, 2016. Cloth, 282 pages. Grant Kaplan brings mimetic theory into conversation with theology both to elucidate the relevance of mimetic theory for the discipline of fundamental theology and to understand the work of René Girard within a theological framework.
Kaptein, Roel. On the Way to Freedom. Columba Press, 1993. Paper, 142 pages. An early, readable introduction to Girard’s thought by a sainted practitioner of peacemaking in the late 20th Century Northern Ireland.
Kirk-Duggan, Cheryl A. Refiner’s Fire: A Religious Engagement with Violence. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001. Paper, 206 pages. COV&R participant Kirk-Duggan uses a womanist perspective and “probes the meaning of religion’s involvement in violence — for good and ill — in the Bible, slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and the youth scene today.”
Kirwan, Michael. Discovering Girard. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 2005. Paper, 137 pages. René Girard says, “Really wonderful; an elegantly written initiation into the mimetic theory. I am lucky to have interpreters who understand what I want to say and who can write so well.”
Kirwan, Michael. Girard and Theology. London: T&T Clark / New York: Continuum, 2009. Paper, 165 pages. “The work of the French American theorist René Girard (1923-2015) has been highly influential in a wide variety of intellectual disciplines…. Mimetic theory is an account of how religion, culture and violence are interrelated. Its three principal parts consist of: an assertion of the ‘mimetic’ (i.e. imitated or derivative nature of desire); the function of ‘scapegoating’ as a means of achieving and maintaining social cohesion; the gospel revelation as the means by which these truths of the human condition are made known to us…. Kirwan looks at these ideas and their relevance to theology as well as their reception in the development of ‘dramatic theology’ and new theological concepts of atonement and sacrifice.”
Kirwan, Michael, and Hidden, Sheelah Treflé, editors; Williams, Rowan, foreword. Mimesis and Atonement: René Girard and the Doctrine of Salvation, Volume 5: Violence, Desire, and the Sacred. Bloomsbury, 2016. Cloth, 208 pages. Mimesis and Atonement brings together philosophers from Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox, and Jewish backgrounds — including James Alison, Anthony Bartlett, Nikolaus Wandinger, and Michael Kirwan — to examine the continued significance of Girard’s work. They do so in the light of new developments, such as the controversial ‘new scholarship’ on Paul.
Laird, Martin, and Hidden, Sheelah Treflé, editors. The Practice of the Presence of God: Theology as a Way of Life. Routledge: 2016. Cloth/paper, 168 pages. Exploring the unity of the practice of prayer and the practice of theology, this book draws together insights from world-class theologians including Rowan Williams, Andrew Louth, Frances Young, Margaret R. Miles, Sebastian Brock, Brian Robinette, and Nicholaï Sakharov.
Lawtoo, Nidesh. Conrad’s Shadow: Catastrophe, Mimesis, Theory. MSU Press, 2016. Paper, 480 pages. Through a reading of Joseph Conrad’s novels, Nidesh Lawtoo examines the psychological, ethical, and anthropological implications of contagious affects that trouble the boundaries of individuation. Looking at Conrad’s fiction through the lens of mimesis sheds light on key themes of dueling, catastrophe, and ritual sacrifice.
Lawtoo, Nidesh. The Phantom of the Ego: Modernism and the Mimetic Unconscious. MSU Press, 2013. Paper, 424 pages. The Phantom of the Ego is the first comparative study that shows how the modernist account of the unconscious anticipates contemporary discoveries about the importance of mimesis in the formation of subjectivity. Through a transdisciplinary, comparative reading of landmark modernist authors like Nietzsche, Joseph Conrad, D. H. Lawrence, and Georges Bataille, Lawtoo shows that, before being a timely empirical discovery, the “mimetic unconscious” emerged from an untimely current in literary and philosophical modernism. This book traces the psychological, ethical, political, and cultural implications of the realization that the modern ego is born out of the spirit of imitation; it is thus, strictly speaking, not an ego, but what Nietzsche calls, “a phantom of the ego.”
Lefebure, Leo D. Revelation, the Religions, and Violence. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2000. Paper, 244 pages. Jacket: “Lefebure extends the path-breaking insights of René Girard into a multi-religious context.”
Marr, Andrew. Moving and Resting in God’s Desire: A Spirituality of Peace. St. Gregory’s Abbey, 2016. Paper, 368 pages. With the help of the Gospel, René Girard’s insights, and soundings in the fundamental practices of Christian spirituality, Marr examines how … shared desires lead to violence and how we can overcome it by allowing ourselves to be strengthened by God’s desire as shown us in the Forgiving Victim who rose from the dead. A powerful path towards spiritual renewal.
Marr, Andrew. Tools for Peace: The Spiritual Craft of St. Benedict and René Girard. iUniverse, Inc., 2007. Paper, 256 pages. A fine resource on mimetic theory that relates very much to congregational life in its insights into how to live in Christian community.
McCormack, W.J. Enigmas of Sacrifice: A Critique of Joseph M. Plunkett and the Dublin Insurrection of 1916. MSU Press, 2016. Paper, 372 pages.
McCracken, David. The Scandal of the Gospels: Jesus, Story, and Offense. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. Cloth, 204 pages. Excellent New Testament exegesis on a key Girardian term: “stumbling block” (Greek: skandalon). Also compares Girard’s work to that of Kierkegaard.
McKenna, Andrew J, ed. René Girard and Biblical Studies. Semeia: an experimental journal for biblical criticism, No. 33. Decatur, GA: Scholars Press (for the Society of Biblical Literature), 1985. Paper: 171 pages. An excellent collection of essays on Girard’s work as it pertains to biblical criticism.
McKenna, Andrew J. Violence and Difference: Girard, Derrida, and Deconstruction. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992. Paper, 238 pages. Brilliantly uses Girardian anthropology to go one step beyond Derrida’s deconstructionist philosophical project by showing how and why the violence — which Derrida poses as underlying the entire Western philosophical tradition — is generated, thus completing Derrida’s deconstruction of the latter. The Christian revelation is suggested as a more enlightening alternative to Derrida’s deconstruction (e.g., 1 Cor. 1:18ff.) — one which pre-dated the latter by almost two thousand years!
McLaren, Brian. Everything Must Change: When the World’s Biggest Problems and Jesus’ Good News Collide. Thomas Nelson, 2007. Paper, 338 pages. McLaren’s most important book (even though it’s before his ‘conversion’ to Mimetic Theory). “McLaren, a leader in the emerging church, issues a salvo of arguments for radical hope in the face of profound dilemmas. The prolific author and pastor identifies the earth’s four deep dysfunctions that have created a suicide machine: crises in prosperity, equity, security and spirituality. … Using a close reading of the Gospels to challenge conservative evangelicals’ emphasis on individual salvation, not to mention end-times theology and, by implication, the prosperity gospel, McLaren argues for establishing a beloved community based on justice, peace, equality and compassion.” — Publisher’s Weekly
McLaren, Brian. The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian. Convergent Books: 2016. Cloth, 288 pages. “This is Brian McLaren’s finest book: a beautiful exploration of a hopeful, joyful, mystical, and just faith that invites Christians to move from fear to love. On every page, he calls out to longing readers, ‘Don’t give up. A better world, a better way of belief is possible.’ And he is right.” — Diana Butler Bass
McLaren, Brian. We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation. Jericho Books, 2014. Cloth, 304 pages. “If I were to organize this website into a year’s worth of sermons presenting a comprehensive engagement with the basic Christian message, and all with the anthropology of René Girard in the background guiding the interpretation, I couldn’t hope for writing a book this good. It benefits from both Brian’s extraordinary gifts as a writer and his situation of being uniquely positioned as a spokesperson and leader in the Emergence Church. I am delighted and extremely grateful that Brian has written this book. I pray that it becomes a classic of Christian instruction and spiritual formation.” — Paul Nuechterlein
McLaren, Brian. Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith Road. Jericho Books, 2012. Cloth, 288 pages. Mimetic Theory plays a key role in this excellent and important book on Christian identity. The pivotal move is to see what religions have in common: the tendency to shape identity in hostile ways to outsiders. McLaren argues that Christ came to redeem religion so that religion can shape identities in ways hospitable to others. He begins the task of exploring a redeemed Christianity in its history, doctrine, liturgy, and mission — with the work of Girard and James Alison making prominent appearances throughout.
Merrill, Trevor Cribben. The Book of Imitation and Desire: Reading Milan Kundera with René Girard. Bloomsbury Academic, 2014. Paper, 208 pages.
Meszaros, Julia, and Zachhuber, Johannes, eds. Sacrifice and Modern Thought. Oxford University Press, 2013. Cloth, 288 pages. Individual chapters discuss in depth major theological trajectories, theories of sacrifice including those of Marcel Mauss and René Girard (including Wolfgang Palaver and Jon Pahl), and current feminist criticism.
Moore, Sebastian. The Contagion of Jesus: Doing Theology as if It Mattered. Edited by Stephen MacCarthy. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2007. Paper, 208 pages. “Sebastian Moore describes his book as ‘a passionate rather than rigorous theology,’ representing his enthusiasm for a theology based on a loving God, a saving Christ, and a church of friendship and discipleship.”
Myers, Ched (with Marie Dennis, Joseph Nangle, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Stuart Taylor). “Say to This Mountain”: Mark’s Story of Discipleship. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996. Paper, 240 pages. Myers is a reader of Girard, but this book is on this bibliography as a brilliant example of a Girardian reading of Mark’s Gospel — in the sense of reading from the perspective of the victim of sacred violence, especially in its social and cultural dimensions. Myers and his team bring out the political dimension of Jesus’ ministry better than any other commentary on Mark which I’ve encountered. (Note: this book is a wonderful distillation for a wider audience, with an eye to faith practice, of Myers’ more scholarly commentary on Mark, Binding the Strong Man.)
Orléan, André. The Empire of Value: A New Foundation for Economics. MIT Press, 2014. [Originally published in French, 2011; trans. by M. B. DeBevoise.] Cloth, 368 pages. Edited from the inside cover: Despite the 2007-08 financial crisis, economists continue to rely on the same methods and to proceed from the same underlying assumptions. André Orléan challenges the neoclassical paradigm in this book, with a new way of thinking about perhaps its most fundamental concept, economic value. Using the “Mimetic Hypothesis,” he contends that economic value is a social force whose vast sphere of influence, amounting to a kind of empire, extends to every aspect of economic life. What economists must therefore study, Orléan urges, is the hold that value has over individuals and how it shapes their perceptions and behavior. Awarded the prestigious Prix Paul Ricoeur on its original publication in France in 2011.
Oughourlian, Jean-Michel. Psychopolitics: Conversations with Trevor Cribben Merrill. Foreword by René Girard. MSU Press: 2012. [Originally published in French, 2010; trans. by Trevor Cribben Merrill.] Paper, 99 pages. René Girard writes in the preface, “This book should interest all sorts of readers. . . . It expresses a spark of hope in the face of a future that is at best uncertain and encourages us to think about the concrete measures to be taken.”
Oughourlian, Jean-Michel. The Genesis of Desire. E. Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2010. [Originally published in French, 2007; translated by Eugene Webb.] Paper, 174 pages. From the book description: “How can a couple be saved when they have declared war on one another? By helping them realize that desire originates not in the self but in the other. There are strategies that can help, which Dr. Oughourlian has prescribed successfully to his patients. This work, alternating between case studies and more theoretical statements, convincingly defends the possibility that breakups need not be permanent.”
Oughourlian, Jean-Michel. The Mimetic Brain. MSU Press, forthcoming in 2016. Paper, 228 pages. “Its theory of the three ‘brain functions’ — rational, emotive, and mimetic — is clearly explained and well-illustrated with fascinating case studies that show how psychoses and neuroses need to be understood as involving the interaction of all three in different proportions relating to the particular case.” – Eugene Webb
Oughourlian, Jean-Michel. The Puppet of Desire: The Psychology of Hysteria, Possession, and Hypnosis. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991. [Originally pub. in French, 1982; trans., with an introduction, by Eugene Webb.] Cloth, 263 pages. A collaborator with Girard on Things Hidden and a practicing psychiatrist, Oughourlian elaborates on the “Interdividual Psychology” of the Girardian anthropology. It is also a fascinating effort at writing a history of psychology that goes back much further than Freud–putting him in his place, so to speak.
Pahl, Jon. Empire of Sacrifice: The Religious Origins of American Violence. New York: NYU Press, 2010. Hardcover, 288 pages. This book provides an insightful reading of how the Scapegoating Mechanism structures American culture, with chapters on the oppression of violence around youth, race, and gender; it concludes with a historical analysis of the 17th Century roots to our American version of sacrificial empire.
Pahl, Jon. Shopping Malls and Other Sacred Spaces: Putting God in Place. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2009 (originally, Brazos Press, 2003). Paper, 288 pages.
Palaver, Wolfgang, and Steinmair-Posel, Petra, editors. Passions in Economy, Politics, and the Media: In Discussion with Christian Theology. Somerset, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2006. Paper: 528 pages. Essays and papers related to the 2003 COV&R Conference in Innsbruck.
Palaver, Wolfgang. René Girard’s Mimetic Theory. E. Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2013. [Originally published in German, 2003; translated by Gabriel Borrud.] Paper, 403 pages. Andrew Marr writes, “This survey of René Girard’s though is clear, comprehensive, and insightful to a degree that is not surpassed…. Particularly valuable is the way Palaver explores the contest of Girard’s thought in the intellectual and cultural world around him, featuring interactions between his thought & Freud, Marx, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Hegel & many others.”
Pfeil, Margaret R., and Winright, Tobias L., editors. Violence, Transformation, and the Sacred: “They Shall Be Called Children of God”. Orbis Books, 2012. Paper, 242 pages. From the book description: “Approximately fifteen referred essays on the theme of violence and the sacred in the twenty-first century. The plenary speakers include Shawn Copeland and James Logan (Earlham College), Todd Whitmore of Notre Dame, and Bill Cavanaugh (De Paul).” Brian Robinette has an excellent essay, “Deceit, Desire, and the Desert: René Girard’s Mimetic Theory in Conversation with Early Christian Monastic Practice.” Elizabeth Vasko and Scott MacDougall are among the several presenters that make use of MT.
Rabe, André. Desire Found Me. Lengthy subtitle: “Exploring the unconscious movements of desire — how they form us, connect us, shape our greatest ideas, mold our societies, influence human history and ultimately, how they are unveiled.” Andre Rabe Publishing, 2014. Paper, 346 pages.
Redekop, Vern Neufeld, and Paré, Shirley. Beyond Control: A Mutual Respect Approach to Protest Crowd-Police Relations. Bloomsbury Academic, 2010. Cloth, 288 pages. An important resource book for the 2016 Theology & Peace conference — Redekop a plenary speaker.
Redekop, Vern Neufeld. From Violence to Blessing: How an understanding of deep-rooted conflict can open paths to reconciliation. Foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Toronto: Novalis, 2002. Paper, 408 pages. Sharing his extensive experience as one of Canada’s foremost leaders in conflict resolution, Redekop gets beyond the analysis of mimetic violence to suggest paths toward peace and reconciliation.
Reineke, Martha J. Intimate Domain: Desire, Trauma, and Mimetic Theory. MSU Press: 2014. Paper, 414 pages. “Reineke’s Intimate Domain is an authoritative and timely response to many of our contemporary dilemmas. Drawing on René Girard’s neglected early work on sensory experience, Reineke boldly reactivates the stalled relationship between mimetic theory and psychoanalysis.” — Maria Margaroni
Reineke, Martha J. Sacrificed Lives: Kristeva on Women and Violence. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1997. Paper, 232 pages. From the back cover: “…Reineke advances a theory of sacrifice, inspired by Julia Kristeva and René Girard, that attempts to account for violence in Western culture, the human proclivity for body mutilation and abuse, and women’s special vulnerability to violence.”
Robinette, Brian D. Grammars of Resurrection: A Christian Theology of Presence and Absence. New York: Crossroad, 2009. Paper, 444 pages. “A genuinely rich and dense account of Christ’s Resurrection and the way it opens out human understanding towards a re-imagination of Creation and of God’s beauty.” — James Alison This book is amazing in the breadth and depth of plumbing the best of contemporary theology and philosophy, and it gives a central place to Mimetic Theory as a key to pulling it all together.
Rohr, Richard. Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality. St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2008. Paper, 238 pages. Since he borrows the title from one of Girard’s books, it’s a good clue that Mimetic Theory is a major influence in Rohr’s reading of Scripture. In general, Girard has been a major influence in Rohr’s later works, often making Girard one of the only citations of other authors — books such as Jesus’ Plan for a New World and Immortal Diamond.
Rosenberg, Randall S. The Givenness of Desire: Human Subjectivity and the Natural Desire to See God. University of Toronto Press: forthcoming in 2017. Cloth, 272 pages. Rosenberg examines the human desire for God through the lens of Lonergan’s “concrete subjectivity.” Rosenberg engages and integrates two major scholarly developments: the tension between Neo-Thomists and scholars of Henri de Lubac over our natural desire to see God and the theological appropriation of the mimetic theory of René Girard, with an emphasis on the saints as models of desire.
Ross, Suzanne. The Wicked Truth: When Good People Do Bad Things. Chicago, 2003. Paper, 215 pages. “It is a rare privilege as an artist to have one’s work explored in such a profound way. The Wicked Truth is a fascinating and valuable study of the ways we all wrestle with the wickedness within and without us and how we can combat it.” — Stephen Schwartz, Composer/Lyricist, Wicked. Available at the website: http://www.thewickedtruth.com/.
Ross, Suzanne. The Wicked Truth about Love: The Tangles of Desire. Chicago, 2009. Paper, 125 pages. Available at the website: http://www.thewickedtruth.com/.
Ryba, Thomas; Redekop, Vern Neufeld, eds. René Girard and Creative Mimesis. Lexington Books, 2013. Cloth, 348 pages. “For half a century René Girard’s theories of mimetic desire and scapegoating have captivated the imagination of thinkers and doers in many fields as an incisive look into the human condition, particularly the roots of violence. In a 1993 interview with Rebecca Adams, he highlighted the positive dimensions of mimetic phenomena without expanding on what they might be. Now, two decades later, this groundbreaking book systematically explores the positive side of mimetic theory in the context of the multi-faceted world of creativity.”
Ryba, Thomas; Redekop, Vern Neufeld, eds. René Girard and Creative Reconciliation. Lexington Books, 2014. Cloth, 424 pages. “The contribution of this book to the field of reconciliation is both theoretical and practical… Using a Girardian hermeneutic as a starting point, a new conceptual Gestalt emerges in these essays, one not fully integrated in a formal way but showing a clear understanding of some of the challenges and possibilities for dealing with the deep divisions, enmity, hatred, and other effects of violence.”
Salomon, Daniel. Creation Unveiled. Longwood, FL: Xulon Press, 1993. Paper, 297 pages. From the back cover: “Following in the tradition of Christian environmentalism, Creation Unveiled opens up the unique perspectives of Christian anthropologist René Girard.”
Schwager, Raymund, S.J. Banished from Eden: Original Sin and Evolutionary Theory in the Drama of Salvation. Gracewing, 2006. Paper, 200 pages.
Schwager, Raymund, S.J. Jesus in the Drama of Salvation: Sketch of a Biblical Doctrine of Redemption. New York: Crossroad, 1999. [Originally in German, 1990; trans. by James G. Williams.] Paper, 245 pages. The scholarly companion volume to his Jesus of Nazareth, which substantiates the latter’s portrayal of Jesus through a systematic analysis of biblical research.
Schwager, Raymund, S.J. Jesus of Nazareth: How He Understood His Life. New York: Crossroad, 1998. Paper, 187 pages. [Originally published in German, 1991; trans. by James G. Williams.] Schwager takes the impulse from von Balthasar’s idea of Theo-Drama, and applies Girard’s evangelical anthropology, to provide a unique life of Jesus that asks a new question: how did Jesus himself come to understand his life, and experience his faith?
Schwager, Raymund, S.J. Must There Be Scapegoats? Violence and Redemption in the Bible. Forward by Robert J. Daly, S.J. New York: Crossroad, 2000, 1987. Paper, 264 pages. [Originally in German, 1978; trans. by Maria L. Assad.] The first attempt by a biblical scholar and theologian to read Girard’s theories through all of Scripture. (Published in 1978, the year of Girard’s Things Hidden, the first time Girard himself wrote extensively on Scripture.)
Scubla, Lucien. Giving Life, Giving Death: Psychoanalysis, Anthropology, Philosophy. MSU Press, 2016. Paper, 420 pages. “Giving Life, Giving Death delivers a challenge to both psychoanalyst and anthropologists. It makes something that neither group has wanted to see look like an obvious fact, namely that the desire and organization of human societies do not revolve around penisneid, the Oedipus complex (classically interpreted), or alliance, but instead around masculine envy of women’s power to give birth and relations of filiation as much as or more than alliance.” — Alain Caillé
Smith, Theophus H., and Wallace, Mark I. Curing Violence: Essays on René Girard. Sonoma, CA: Polebridge Press, 1994. Paper, 352 pages. A fine collection of essays from early participants in COV&R.
Sung, Jung Mo. Desire, Market, and Religion. London: SCM Press, 2007. Paper, 174 pages. Sung draws heavily on Girard as this book description indicates: “Where ancient idolatry had visible altars, the modern altar of the ‘global market god’, is invisible, but still demands human sacrifices in the name of ‘objective’ desires. Here Sung recovers theology’s relevance for a world where the most dangerous idols – those that sacrifice millions of people upon the altar of wealth – have for too long been ignored by theology.”
Swartley, Willard M. Covenant of Peace: The Missing Peace in the New Testament Theology and Ethics. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006. Paper, 542 pages. Publisher’s Description: “In this comprehensive yet accessible book Swartley explicates virtually all of the New Testament, relating peace — and the associated emphases of love for enemies and reconciliation — to core theological themes such as salvation, christology, and the reign of God. No other work in English makes such a contribution.” A participant in COV&R Swartley makes significant use of Mimetic Theory, especially in Chapters 13-14.
Swartley, Willard M., editor. Violence Renounced: René Girard, Biblical Studies, and Peacemaking. Response by René Girard and Foreward by Diana M. Culbertson. Telford, PA: Cascadia Publishing House, 2000. Paper, 343 pages. The marvelous fruits of a 1994 conference hosted by the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, IN. Contributors include Charles Mabee, James G. Williams, Sandor Goodhart, and Rebecca Adams.
Tomelleri, Stefano. Ressentiment: Reflections on Mimetic Desire and Society. MSU Press, 2015. Paper, 240 pages. “Stefano Tomelleri shows with clarity and insight how resentment came to be the dominant passion of modern societies. At the core of the process of democratization . . . lies the perpetual combustion of this ‘sad passion,’ with all the ambivalent complexity that Tomelleri brilliantly teases out. A fundamental book for understanding the deep-seated relational articulation of our democratic world that is balanced between retaliatory violence and the (im)possibility of forgiveness.” — Pierpaolo Antonello, University of Cambridge
Trestad, Marit, editor. Cross Examinations: Readings on the Meaning of the Cross Today. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006. Paper, 320 pages. Michael Hardin recommends this book as “a powerful book of theological reasoning and an ally in deconstructing the false power of the logic of sacrificial theology” (p. 15) — and as a womanist balance to the majority male perspective of the Stricken by God? volume. In addition to S. Mark Heim’s contribution from a Girardian perspective, contributors to this collection include: Rita Nakashima Brock, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Susan L. Nelson, Alicia Vargas, Delores S. Williams, Douglas John Hall, and Jürgen Moltmann.
Tyrrell, Wm. Blake. The Sacrifice of Socrates: Athens, Plato, Girard. MSU Press, 2012. Paper, 189 pages. Examining Plato’s dialogues on the death of Socrates, the book description says, “With tremendous insight and satisfying complexity, this book analyzes classical texts through the lens of Girard’s mimetic mechanism.”
Vattimo, Gianni. Belief. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999. Paper, 98 pages. [Originally published in Italian; trans. by Luca D’Isanto and David Webb.] Professor of Philosophy at the University of Turin, Vattimo narrates in this little book how reading Girard’s Things Hidden was the turning point in his career as a philosopher, leading to his concept of “weak ontology” based on the Christian notion of kenosis, as found, for example, in Philippians 2.
Wallace, Mark I. Fragments of the Spirit: Nature, Violence, and the Renewal of Creation. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2002. Paper, 237 pages. “Fragments of the Spirit is a confrontation between Christian theology and radical nihilism.” — René Girard. Note: Mark Wallace has two subsequent books on ecojustice with a framework that omits explicit reference to Mimetic Theory but still of great interest to Girardians: Finding God in the Singing River: Christianity, Spirit, Nature [Fortress Press, 2005], and Green Christianity: Five Ways to a Sustainable Future [Fortress Press, 2010].
Warren, James. Compassion or Apocalypse?: A Comprehensible Guide to the Thought of René Girard. Christian Alternative, 2013. Paper, 380 pages. Brian McLaren writes not only a strong endorsement for this book but also for the importance of Girard’s work: “I’m convinced that the seminal work of René Girard is the single most promising and productive contemporary resource capable of stimulating fresh readings of the Bible, constructive critical thought about Christian theology and practice, and incisive inducement to productive activism. Several scholars are engaging productively with Girard’s thought, but James Warren has written the best popular introduction and overview — substantial and thorough yet accessible and delightfully written.”
Williams, James G. Girardians: The Colloquium on Violence and Religion, 1990-2010. Zurich: LIT Verlag, 2012. Paper, 336 pages. There is no better person to give a fair, thorough, and personal account of the ‘Girardian’ movement and community — not just the historical details but also the ebb and flow of theological and theoretical issues.
Williams, James G. The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred: Liberation from the Myth of Sanctioned Violence. Foreword by René Girard. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2007 [originally published by HarperCollins, 1991]. Paper, 288 pages. The second major work by a biblical scholar to read Girard’s theories through a large portion of Scripture. (James Williams was an originating member of COV&R and long-time officer on its Board.)
Wright, N. T. Christian Origins and the Question of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Vol. 1: The New Testament and the People of God (1992, 535 pages). Vol. 2: Jesus and the Victory of God (1996, 741 pages). Vol. 3: The Resurrection of the Son of God (2003, 817 pages). These books help set up a Girardian reading by making the following bold moves: (1) Bypass Bultmann and much of modern scholarship with its suspicion of the evangelists around a notion of mythologizing which misses the anthropological point. (2) Revive Schweitzer’s categorization of Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet but (3) correct his description of what that would have meant in first century Judaism: namely, Jesus was essentially correct as an apocalyptic prophet in his prophecy that the way of armed rebellion would bring an end to the Temple, and thus an end to Judaism as it was practiced and known in first century Palestine. (4) Understand with Jesus that the real enemy is not Rome, the Judean leadership, or any human leaders but the satanic powers behind them. (5) When this is understood, then it is easy to see that the way to peace is not through killing Romans or any human beings, who are but instruments of “the satan” (Wright uses the article to indicate a title akin to “the accuser”). Girard’s anthropology can then fill in the nature of the satanic powers, on which Wright (disappointingly) doesn’t really elaborate much.
Zahnd, Brian. A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace. David C. Cook: 2014. Paper, 208 pages. This is a wonderfully written story of a conversion from a conservative evangelical way of reading Scripture that endorses militarism to reading it as a compelling call to faithful discipleship of the Prince of Peace. Girard’s work is among his most frequently cited. His reading of Matthew 25:31-46 is stunningly fresh, as a true judgment of nations in history, rather than of individuals in the afterlife. “A Farewell to Mars is provocative, prophetic, and pastoral. Zahnd hits it out of the park as he shares his personal journey toward the path of peace. This small book is packed with insight and liberating good news. It is simply the best book I have ever read on Jesus’s way of peace.” — Michael Hardin