Books by Girard / Secondary Works / Articles / Internet Resources
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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 [originally: Crossroad, 1997]. [Originally pub. in French, 1963, trans. by James G. Williams.] Cloth, 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: Michigan State University 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: Michigan State University 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: Michigan State University 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: Michigan State University 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.
amd Criticism, 1953-2005. Edited with an
Introduction by Robert Doran. Stanford, CA: Stanford University
Press, 2008. Cloth, 310 pages.
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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, “Jeremiah Alberg ... shines a gentle light on the admittedly scandalizing and scandalized nature of Rousseau's own thinking, and reveals quite how central to the whole of Rousseau's project and rationality is a scandalized pattern of desire, one where a person is simultaneously attracted to and repelled by the same object, and so 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
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
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."
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 on audio cassette tape (in 2003 being transferred to compact disk). Similar to his book but generally a bit more in depth. Highly recommended are the series: Creation, Fall & Sacrifice; The Gospel of John; The Gospel of Luke; and St. Paul's Letter to the Romans. See more info on Cornerstone website below.
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.
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."
Beck, Robert R. Nonviolent Story: Narrative Conflict Resolution in the Gospel of Mark. Orbis, 1996. Paper, 206 pages. Beck is not Girardian, but I find this to be the most helpful monograph on Mark for understanding it in Girardian terms, namely, as a Gospel story which demythologizes mythical plot narrative. In the Foreword, Ched Myers makes the connection to Girardian writers and themes when he says, "Like Wink and Bailie, Beck sees the gospel as a rejection of this classical plot formula. Jesus the protaganist explicitly rejects the option of righteous violence as the oxymoron it is, and chooses instead to suffer and die in order to redeem his antagonists."
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 Sřren 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 (COV&R member)
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, are available from the CBC
through the website below, or by writing CBC
Ideas Transcripts, PO Box 500, Station A, Toronto ON M5W1E6,
or by emailing your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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. Finally, he dismisses today's growing mood of
militant religious skepticism as philosophically outdated and out
of its depth before the resilient confidence of a genuine living
faith. What Cowdell calls 'abiding faith' emerges as a venerable
yet strikingly contemporary possibility."
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. Violence, Desire, and the Sacred: Girard's Mimetic Theory Across the Disciplines. 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. Violence, Desire, and the Sacred, Volume 2: René Girard and Sacrifice in Life, Love and Literature. 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 (call 1-800-767-9090 for ordering). 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.
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."
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. Michigan State University Press: forthcoming Oct 2014.
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. 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
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.'
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.
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: Michigan State University 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: Michigan State University 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 Bjřrnar. 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: Michigan State University 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.
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
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.
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."
Johnsen, William A.
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 (b.1923) 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."
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. 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 congrgational
life in its insights into how to live in Christian community.
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!
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.
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."
Orléan, André. The
Empire of Value: A New Foundation for Economics. MIT
Press, forthcoming in May 2014. [Originally published in French,
2011; trans. by
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 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
Media: In Discussion with Christian Theology.
Somerset, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2006. Paper: 528 pages.
Essays and papers related to the 2003
Conference in Innsbruck. (For more on COV&R
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.,
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.
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
Reineke, Martha J. Intimate Domain: Desire, Trauma, and Mimetic Theory. Michigan State University Press: forthcoming Oct 2014.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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].
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. 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.
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 (see, e.g., Girard's essay "Are the Gospels Mythical?"). (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.
Journals / Bulletins / Essays
Alison, James. "Looking Elsewhere." The Other Side, Vol. 38, No. 3 (May-June 2002), pages 16-19, 38. Originally, "Contemplation in a world of violence: Girard, Merton, Tolle" (link to web version), a talk prepared for a day retreat with Sebastian Moore, organized by the Thomas Merton Society, held at Downside Abbey, Bath, November 3, 2001. This is my favorite piece on the terrible day of September 11, 2001, and its aftermath, focusing more on our response than on what the terrorists did.
Bailie, Gil. "René Girard's Contribution to the Church of the 21st Century." Communio, Vol. XXVI, No. 1 (Spring 1999), pp. 134-153. An excellent introduction to Girard's work. The issue also contains a response to Bailie by Consulting Editor Roch Kereszty and Bailie's response to him, pp. 212-224. An online version of this essay has been posted in two parts: Part 1, "Violence and the Sacred," and Part 2, "The Mystery of Sin."
The Bulletin of the Colloquium on Violence & Religion. Published bi-annually (March and October): No. 1, October, 1991-. An international group has been formed to further Girard's ideas, called the Colloquium on Violence and Religion (or "COV&R"); this is its bulletin. To join COV&R and/or to receive its bulletin or journal, write to COV&R, 10616 Mellow Meadows, #27A, Austin, Texas 78750. Available online (see below).
Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture. Published annually: Volume I, Spring 1994 - Vol. 15/16, 2008-09. Published essays, primarily from the annual COV&R conferences.
Dialog: A Journal of Theology. Fall 1993 Issue (Vol. 32, No. 4): "Paul and Luther: A Debate over Sacred Violence," primarily an issue in conversation around Hamerton-Kelly's book Sacred Violence; includes essays by Hamerton-Kelly and Girard.
Girard, René. "Are the Gospels Mythical?" First Things, April 1996. An essay by Girard that provides a good introduction to his work. Also available online.
Girard, René. "On War and Apocalypse." First Things, Aug/Sept 2009. An essay by Girard based on Battling to the End (Achever Clausewitz). Also available online.
Heim, S. Mark. "Visible Victim: Christ's death to end sacrifice." The Christian Century, March 14, 2001, Vol. 118, No. 9, pp.19-23. This second part of a two-part series offers Girard's anthropology as a helpful answer to modern questions about the cross of Christ and atonement theory, questions raised in the first part of the series "Christ Crucified: Why does Jesus' death matter?" (The Christian Century, March 7, 2001, Vol. 118, No. 8, pp.12-17). Link to an online version: Part 1, on atonement theories in general; Part 2, on Girard's anthropology as a key to a more plausible atonement theory.
McDonald, Brian. "Violence & the Lamb Slain: An Interview with René Girard." Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, December, 2003, Vol. 16, Issue 10. One of the best brief introductions to Girard that I've come across. Also available online.
McKenna, Andrew. "Uncanny Christianity: René Girard's Mimetic Theory." In Divine Aporia: Postmodern Conversations about the Other (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2000), edited by John C. Hawley, pages 84-96.Nessan, Craig L. "Violence and Atonement," Dialog: A Journal of Theology, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Winter 1996), pages 26-34.
Nuechterlein, Paul J. "Holy Communion: Altar Sacrament for Making a Sacrificial Sin Offering, or Table Sacrament for Nourishing a Life of Service?" Contagion, Vol. 3 (Spring 1996), pages 201-221.
Nuechterlein, Paul J. "The Work of René Girard as a New Key to Biblical Hermeneutics." Currents in Theology and Mission, June 1999, pages 196-209.
Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature, Vol. LII, No.
1 (Fall 1999): "Critical Perspectives on René Girard." Published
by Marquette University; edited by Ed Block, Jr. An issue devoted
to Girard's work with essays by: René Girard, George Hardin Brown,
Curtis Gruenler, Peter Goldman, Thad Bower, Martin Kevorkian.
Eric Gans, a student of Girard's who has significantly
developed mimetic theory in his own directions (which he calls
"Generative Anthropology"), has this UCLA-hosted site, including
both an online journal, Anthropoetics,
and online commentaries, Chronicles
the website of widely acclaimed speaker and author Brian
McLaren, who many are calling the 'Martin Luther of the
Emergence Church.' Brian participates with the Girardian community
and frequently references Girard and Girardians in his blog.
COV&R Website. Colloquium on Violence & Religion. COV&R Object: "The COLLOQUIUM ON VIOLENCE AND RELIGION (COV&R) is an international association of scholars founded in 1990. It is dedicated to the exploration, criticism, and development of René Girard's mimetic model of the relationship between violence and religion in the genesis and maintenance of culture." (For full information on COV&R link to the COV&R website on the logo below.)
COV&R Conferences. COV&R has held an annual international conference since 1991. The current conference is posted at the COV&R site. Papers for recent conferences may be accessed at their websites; there is a complete listing of past events at the official COV&R website.
COV&R Listserve. Not generally a high-traffic list for discussion; used primarily to send information out to the COV&R membership. Subscribe at the Anthropoetics webpage.
Cornerstone Forum Website:
The homepage of Gil Bailie's mission forum (formerly the
Florilegia Institute). Gil has been a long-time, articulate
teacher of mimetic theory, and he has a great passion for bringing
it into the life of the church. The site has expanded to a
spin-off site, "Reflections
on Faith and Culture," where many of Gil's excellent lecture
series are now available as a series of podcasts.
Facebook provides a good
medium for cyber-conversation. There are a growing number of
Facebook pages for Girardian conversation, including: René Girard
Changed My Life, René Girard,
Nonviolent Atonement, Scapegoater's
and Peace, Jesus
the Forgiving Victim, The Raven
"The Scapegoat: René Girard's Anthropology of Violence and
Religion." Website for a CBC radio show produced by David Cayley
on the work of Girard. It aired March 5-9, 2001, and audio
cassettes and a transcript of the show, as well as podcasts, are
available through this webpage.
of True Peace." The weblog page of long-time Girardian Abbot
Imitatio. Imitatio was conceived as a force to press forward the consequences of René Girard’s remarkable insights into human behavior and culture, with goals to: Pursue research and application of Mimetic Theory across the social sciences and critical areas of human behavior; support the education and development of the next generation of scholars leveraging Mimetic Theory; further the dissemination, translation and publication of key works incorporating Mimetic Theory.
James Alison Theology Website, is a wonderful resource into Alison's work, with many links to online papers and book excerpts (some back to this site)."Preaching Peace." Hosted by Michael Hardin, this is another fine site for looking at the Sunday lectionary through the lens of mimetic theory. All the Gospel texts in the three-year lectionary have essays; the essays for the Epistles are currently being written. The site has greatly expanded with their ministry to include numerous resources, including Michael's books.
Raven Foundation. Established in January 2007 by co-founders
Keith and Suzanne Ross, the Raven Foundation is a
not-for-profit organization that seeks to advance the awareness of
Rene Girard’s insights into mimetic theory. Closely related is a
website for Suzanne Ross' book The Wicked Truth
and the site for the James Alison adult education course Jesus the Forgiving Victim.
"The Text This Week."
Hosted by Jenee Woodard, this is the most comprehensive
lectionary study site on the Internet.
Theology and Peace.
Website for the organization whose mission is: An emerging movement
seeking the transformation of theological practice through the
application of mimetic theory. It's annual
conference is the finest continuing education opportunity
for Christian practitioners. Theology and Peace also has a blog page
maintained by its Contributing Theologian (currently, Paul
"Violence and the Sacred Victim Vindicated." Abbot Andrew Marr's Home Page has numerous helpful brief essays introducing Girard's work. His more recent weblog is "Imaginary Visions of True Peace."
"Wood Hath Hope."
Girardian theologian Tony Bartlett's webpage, including a
blog. His more
recent weblog is "Hope in Time."
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