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Colloquium On Violence & Religion



COV&R-Bulletin No. 9 (Oct. 1995)



A Note from the Editor

In this issue of the bul0etin, you will find reports from our annual meeting in Chicago. We invite you to contact the authors mentioned in the reports for a copy of their papers for further discussion. The executive secretary of COV&R or the editorial office of the bul0etin will provide you with addresses.

Let me raise also some administrative matters:

(1) Please note that the fax number of the editorial office in Innsbruck was changed.

(2) We ask you to send us your contributions to the bul0etin on a floppy disk or by e-mail. It greatly simplifies the publication of the bul0etin.

(3) If you would like to write a book review for the bul0etin please contact the editorial office or James G. Williams, the executive secretary. The length of a review should be between 600 and 1000 words. Longer reviews (at most 2000 words) will only be published in special circumstances.

(4) The length of an abstract should be between 100 and 300 words.

(5) Please find out if you have paid your annual dues. You will find the date of your last payment at the top of your mailing label. The regular membership fee is $40.00. Matriculated students may enroll for $20. It is also possible to subscribe to the bul0etin without membership for $15. The bul0etin appears biannually. The terms of payment you will find on the front-page.

Wolfgang Palaver


The Ex-President's Report

Looking back on the past four years I have a good feeling. Although we might have expected our colloquium to grow more vigorously in quantity, we enjoy good contacts and a friendly atmosphere. At our annual symposium I learned that quite a few members look forward to our meeting. This is certainly a very positive sign. Thus, looking back, I want to thank everybody: First of all Jim Williams, our Executive Secretary, who works for COV&R with great zeal and dedication and who guarantees a development without greater crises. Thanks are due to Judith Arias, without whose enormous, time consuming engagement Contagion would never have come into existence. I hope that her work will bear fruit and that COV&R will get known further afield. Special thanks also go to those who work in the background: Kaeti and Gil Bailie for their work as treasurers, Wolfgang Palaver and Dietmar Regensburger for the regular editing of the Bulletin and the bibliography. The annual symposiums are of special importance for COV&R. It is a lot of work to organize them. Therefore I want to thank all those who have taken trouble to do this. In pleasant memory of our last symposium my extra-special thanks go to Andrew McKenna, whom I want to congratulate on his successful work. My best wishes go to the new president, Cesaréo Bandera, who has played an important role for COV&R from the beginning. He will be a great leader.

Raymund Schwager


A Note from the Executive Secretary

Our most recent annual conference, held at Loyola University of Chicago, was another excellent symposium. Many thanks to Andrew McKenna for his unstinting work as planner and organizer. Andrew applied for an NEH grant to fund the conference. The reports from NEH were quite positive, and it appears that we came close to gaining funding. The work that went into the application was enormous; even though the grant was not awarded, the work paid off in an outstanding conference. One of notable features of this quality was an overall integrity, in light of COV&R's objectives, which included a diversity of speakers and perspectives. For the first time we had sessions on women questions and ecclesiology. The Jewish-Christian dialogue was continued, and there were new and significant workshops on violence reduction and criminal law.

The announcement of the 1996 annual meeting at Stanford will be found in the Bulletin on p. 14. The theme is "Ethnic Conflict in International Perspective," with Robert Hamerton-Kelly as organizer. Please note that on the final day, Saturday, June 29, there will be multiple sections or groups on a a variety of topics. I will be the organizer of those sessions, so please send proposals for papers or sections to me. In the past, we have had groups focusing on Biblical studies and literature, and we have often had workshops on issues of ethics and practice. Deadline for all proposals is January 1, 1996.

We now have one new officer and two new members of the Advisory Board. Cesáreo Bandera of the University of North Carolina was elected president. Sandor Goodhart of Whitman College and Cheryl Kirk-Duggan of Meredith College were elected to the Advisory Board. Raymund Schwager, the outgoing president, has given us inestimable service as president, administratively, intellectually, and spiritually. He was selected for the Advisory Board in the slot left vacant by Cesáreo, so we will continue to have the advantage of his presence and wisdom in our deliberations. The two Advisory Board members whose terms ended, Charles Mabee and Mark Wallace, were both involved in the beginnings of COV&R. Both participated in the Bible, Narrative, and American Culture Seminar (BINAC), which was the forerunner of COV&R. Charles was the chair of BINAC and was instrumental in the founding of COV&R. Mark has been active in COV&R and is the coeditor, with Thee Smith, of Curing Violence. We thank them for their contribution and expect them to continue to help us see COV&R through its evolution in years to come.

James G. Williams


Minutes of the Business Meeting of the Annual Symposium, Chicago, June 3, 1995

The meeting convened over lunch at 12:15 p.m. Raymund Schwager, president, convened and moderated.

1. Elections: The nominations of the Advisory Board were presented. Nominations were invited from the floor.

President: Cesáreo Bandera. Elected by acclamation for two years.

Advisory Board Members: Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, Sandor Goodhart, Raymund Schwager. Elected by acclamation for three years.

James Williams thanked Raymund Schwager for his work as the first President of COV&R.

2. Treasurer's Report: Gil Bailie reported on the financial state of COV&R. As of May 30, 1995, there was a total of $1,756.36 in the general account and $2,833.00 from meeting registration fees. Much of the registration monies would be taken for various expenses. A motion was made to increase annual dues to $40, because of the costs of Contagion. Seconded and approved.

3. Contagion: Judith Arias reported on the costs of the first issue: $3,500 for 900 copies. There are at present about 200 paid subscribers. A motion of congratulations to Judith for the high quality of the first issue. Passed by acclamation.

4. Bulletin: Wolfgang Palaver reported on the Bulletin. He reminded us to send him information on matters of interest to the membership, and announced that the Bulletin would soon be on Internet, where a "home page" might serve the same purpose as the printed bulletin.

5. Next Meeting: Stanford University, June 27-29, 1996 (June 26 will be reserved for the meeting of the Advisory Board):

Robert Hamerton-Kelly invited COV&R to meet next year at Stanford as guests of the Center for International Security and Arms Control. The theme will be: "Ethnic Conflict in International Perspective." We invite all to submit papers on this theme. There will be opportunity for papers and discussions on related topics. (See the Announcement of the meeting in this issue. For papers and groups not on the theme of the conference, send proposals to James Williams.)

6. The 1997 Meeting: The Advisory Board canvassed the possibility of meeting in Jerusalem but concluded that the time was not ripe for such a venue. Professor Gerhard Larcher invited us to Graz, Austria where the theme might be something like "Mimesis goes to the Movies." His invitation was accepted eagerly.

7. Syracuse University Press and the Book Series: James Williams reported that the project is moving ahead slowly and encountering some resistance from the Board of the Press. He will keep us informed.

8. Thanks to Andrew McKenna: Raymund Schwager, founding president of COV&R, closed the meeting with a vote of thanks to Andrew McKenna, his wife Kathleen, and all those at Loyola University who helped to make this truly an outstanding meeting. The vote was passed with acclamation, applause, and loud remarks of appreciation and thanks!

Meeting adjourned, 1:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Robert Hamerton-Kelly


Bibliography of Literature on the Mimetic Theory

1) Books concerning the entire work of René Girard

Chirpaz, François. Enjeux de la violence: Essais sur René Girard. Paris: Cerf, 1980.

Emmanuel, Louis. La Théorie de Jung précisée par la théorie de la violence selon René Girard: Lecture de l'Inconscient des Syndicats. Paris: Bayensaine, 1981.

2) Articles concerning the entire work of René Girard

Adams, Rebecca. "Introduction." Religion & Literature 25/2 (Summer 1993): 1-8, 9f., 35f., 53f., 77f., 105f., 120f.

Fornari, Giuseppe. "Mistificazioni e sifnificato della solidarietà." In Solidarietà umana e competizione sociale: Atti del convegno 16 Aprile 1994, ed. Telefono Amico di Mestre-Venezia, 46-60. Venezia: Grafiche Italprint, 1995.

Milbank, John. "Stories of Sacrifice." Contagion: Journal of Violence. Mimesis, and Culture 2 (Spring 1995): 75-102.

Müller-Funk, Wolfgang. "Gewalt und Opfer: Ein Radiokolleg in vier Teilen." ORF/Ö1: Radiokolleg, 14-17 March 1995, tape recording: 100 minutes.

Palaver, Wolfgang. "Order out of Chaos in the Theories of Carl Schmitt and René Girard." Synthesis 1/1 (Spring 1995): 87-106.

3) Interviews with René Girard

Girard, René. "Entretien avec René Girard: Propos recueillis par Marie-louise Martinez." Revue Internationale d'Education à Sèvres (31 May 1994): 1-19.

Girard, René. "Violence, Difference, Sacrifice: A Conversation with René Girard. Interview by Rebecca Adams." Religion & Literature 25/2 (Summer 1993): 11-33.

4) Reviews about single works of René Girard

Gardeil, Pierre. "'Quand ces choses commenceront...' Un nouveau livre de René Girard." Nouvelle Revue Théologique 117/3 (May-June 1995): 426-432.

Martinez, Marie-Louise. "Review of Quand ces choses commenceront... Entretiens avec Michel Tréguer, by René Girard." Revue Internationale d'Education à Sèvres (April 1995): 1-3.

5) Books with references to René Girard

Creveld, Martin van. The Transformation of War. New York: The Free Press, 1991.

Herzinger, Richard and Stein, Hannes. Endzeit-Propheten oder Die Offensive der Antiwestler: Fundamentalismus, Antiamerikanismus und Neue Rechte'. Rororo 13561. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1995.

Vollmer, Antje. Heißer Frieden: Über Gewalt, Macht und das Geheimnis der Zivilisation. Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1995.

6) Articles with references to René Girard

Cohen, Derek. Shakespeare's Culture of Violence. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993.

Dunne, John S. "Myth and Culture in Theology and Literature: A Conversation with John S. Dunne, C.S.C. Interview by Rebecca Adams." Religion & Literature 25/2 (Summer 1993): 79-104.

Japser, David. "'The Old Man Would Not So, But Slew His Son': A Thelogical Meditation on Artistic Representations of the Sacrifice of Isaac." Religion & Literature 25/2 (Summer 1993): 122-130.

Kaufmann, Franz-Xaver. "Macht Zivilisation das Opfer überflüssig?" In Zur Theorie des Opfers: Ein interdisziplinäres Gespräch, ed. n.d., 173-191. Collegium Philosophicum 1. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1995.

Kitzmüller, Erich. "Wer folgt dem schwindenden Subjekt? Zum aktuellen Menschenbild im öffentlichen Diskurs und in den aktuellen Sozialwissenschaften." In Politische Theorie und Ideengeschichte im Gespräch, ed. Kramer, Helmut, 105-122. Wien: WUV-Universitätsverlag, 1995.

Luhmann, Niklas. Soziologische Aufklärung 5: Konstruktivistische Perspektiven. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1990.

Niewiadomski, Józef and Palaver, Wolfgang. "Ein Symposion in Innsbruck." In Dramatische Erlösungslehre: Ein Symposion, ed. Niewiadomski, Józef and Palaver, Wolfgang, 9-12. Innsbrucker theologische Studien 38. Innsbruck, Wien: Tyrolia, 1992.

Nordhofen, Eckhard. "Die schlechteste aller möglichen Welten: Zur Inversion des Heilswissens bei Robert Nozick." In Philosophische Orientierung: Festschrift zum 65. Geburtstag von Willi Oelmüller, ed. Hermanni, Friedrich and Steenblock, Volker, 281-290. München: Fink, 1995.

Reus Canals, Manuel. "Rezension zu 'Dramatische Erlösungslehre: Ein Symposion'." Zeitschrift für Katholische Theologie 117/2 (1995): 218-220.

Sander, Hans-Joachim. "Die Zeichen der Zeit in Gewalt und Widerstand: Zu einem Grundbegriff der Theologie in der Welt von heute." Orientierung 59/8 (30 April 1995): 92-96.

Schwager, Raymund. "Dramatische Theologie als christliche Judenfeindschaft? Erwiderung auf P. Fiedler, in: KatBl 119 (1994): 883-887." Katechetische Blätter 120 (1995): 278-282.

Verstraeten, Johan. "Eine ethische Agenda für Europa: Grundfragen der praktischen Ethik aus christlicher Sicht." Zeitschrift für medizinische Ethik 40 (1994): 131-142.

Waldschütz, Erwin. "Wahrnehmung und Rezeption französischer Philosophie in Österreich (1918-1993)." In Frankreich - Österreich: Wechselseitige Wahrnehmung und wechselseitiger Einfluß seit 1918, ed. Koja, Friedrich and Pfersmann, Otto, 182-220. Studien zu Politik und Verwaltung 58. Wien, Köln, Graz: Böhlau Verlag, 1994.

Wyschogrod, Edith. "Killing the Cat: Beauty and Sacrifice in the Novels of Genet and Mishima." Religion & Literature 25/2 (Summer 1993): 107-119.

7) Books applying the mimetic theory

Alison, James. Knowing Jesus. Springfield: Templegate Publishers, 1993.

Quinones, Ricardo J. Foundation Sacrifice in Dante's Commedia. Penn State studies in Romance literatures. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994.

Smith, Theophus. Conjuring Culture: Biblical Formations of Black America. Religion in America series. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1994.

Smith, Theophus and Wallace, Mark, ed. Curing Violence. Forum fascicles. Sonoma: Polebridge Press, 1994.

8) Articles applying the mimetic theory

Bartolf, Christian. "Geachtet und geächtet: Der Sündenbock im Werk von Hyam Maccoby." In Brauchen wir einen Sündenbock? Gewalt als gesellschaftliche Herausforderung, ed. Evangelische Akademie Baden, 47-68. Herrenalber Forum 5. Karlsruhe: Verlag Evangelischer Presseverband für Baden, 1993.

Culbertson, Diana. "Ain't Nobody Clean: The Liturgy of Violence in 'Glory'." Religion & Literature 25/2 (Summer 1993): 37-52.

Duff, Paul Brooks. "René Girard in Corinth: An Early Christian Social Crisis and a Biblical Text of Persecution." Helios 22/1 (1995): 79-99.

Dumouchel, Paul. "Hobbes & Secularization: Christianity and the Political Problem of Religion." Contagion: Journal of Violence. Mimesis, and Culture 2 (Spring 1995): 39-56.

Dupuy, Jean-Pierre. "The Self-Deconstruction of the Liberal Order." Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture 2 (Spring 1995): 1-16.

Elias, Michael. "Neck-Riddles in Mimetic Theory." Contagion: Journal of Violence. Mimesis, and Culture 2 (Spring 1995): 189-202.

Gauthier, Jean-Marc. "Quand le texte fondateur devient fondement meurtrier: Pour une herméneutique vivifiante." Théologiques 1/2 (1993): 79-100.

Grande, Per Bjørnar. "Stavrogin, en studie i barndom, begjaer og bedrag." Ergo: Tidsskrift for Kultur- og Samfunnsspørsmal no.1 (1994): 27-70.

Kitzmüller, Erich. "Economy as a Victimizing Mechanism." Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture 2 (Spring 1995): 17-38.

Lohfink, Norbert. "The Destruction of the Seven Nations in Deuteronomy and the Mimetic Theory." Contagion: Journal of Violence. Mimesis, and Culture 2 (Spring 1995): 103-118.

Martinez, Marie-Louise. "Le Sujet de l'éducation comme personne: L'enjeu de l'intégration du tiers." In Actes du colloque d'Angers A.F.I.R.S.E., tome 2, ed. Institut Superieur de Pédagogie, 1-14. Anger: Université Catholiques, 1995.

Morrow, Duncan. "Violence and the Sacred in Northern Ireland." Contagion: Journal of Violence. Mimesis, and Culture 2 (Spring 1995): 145-164.

Nordhofen, Eckhard. "Beleuchtung des schwarzen Lochs. Heilsgeschichte als Unheilsgeschichte: Über die Versuche, Auschwitz theologisch zu deuten." Die Zeit, 3 March 1995, 66f.

Pahl, Jon. "A National Shrine to Scapegoating? The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D. C." Contagion: Journal of Violence. Mimesis, and Culture 2 (Spring 1995): 165-188.

Palaver, Wolfgang. "Macht und Gewalt: Eine kritische Auseinandersetzung mit Hannnah Arendt und Jürgen Habermas." In Theologische Ethik im Diskurs: Eine Einführung, ed. Lesch, Walter and Bondolfi, Alberto, 191-211. UTB 1806. Tübingen, Basel: Francke Verlag, 1995.

Palaver, Wolfgang. "Hobbes and the Katéchon: The Secularization of Sacrificial Christianity." Contagion: Journal of Violence. Mimesis, and Culture 2 (Spring 1995): 57-74.

Redekop, Vern N. "The Centrality to the Exodus of Torah as Ethical Projection." Contagion: Journal of Violence. Mimesis, and Culture 2 (Spring 1995): 119-144.

Schwager, Raymund. "Der Böse, das Böse und der gute Gott." In Leid - Schuld - Versöhnung, ed. Gordan, Paulus, 69-90. Graz: Styria, 1989.

Schwager, Raymund. "Die Götzen und der Satan." In Theologie der gekreuzigten Völker: Jon Sobrino im Disput, ed. König, Otto and Larcher, Gerhard, 44-54. Graz: Andreas Schnider Verlags-Atelier, 1992.

Schwager, Raymund. "'Lüge auf Lüge, Gewalt auf Gewalt': Die Rotte der Gewalttäter in den Psalmen Israels." Entschluß 9/10 (1994): 32-38.

Schwager, Raymund. "Religion als Quelle des Unfriedens? Zivilreligion - Politische Theologie - Evolutionslogik." Stimmen der Zeit 204/1 (1986): 41-51.

Schwager, Raymund. "Thesen zur Erlösungslehre." In Dramatische Erlösungslehre: Ein Symposion, ed. Niewiadomski, Józef and Palaver, Wolfgang, 13-15. Innsbrucker theologische Studien 38. Innsbruck, Wien: Tyrolia, 1992.


Search for Literature on the Mimetic Theory via Internet

As some of you may know we established a Center for Documentation at the Institut für Dogmatik in Innsbruck as a part of the research project "Religion-Social System-Communication/Violence-World Order" in November 1991. One of the main aims of this Center is to oversee the Bibliography of Literature on the Mimetic Theory and to integrate the bibliographical references into the comprehensive Documentation of Theological and Interdisciplinary Literature of the School of Theology at the University of Innsbruck.

This Documentation contains :

about 3.000 records from the Bibliography of Literature on the Mimetic Theory (started in 1991).

about 57.000 monographs, articles from collective works and articles from 300 journals dealing with Biblical Literature (started in 1980).

about 3.000 monographs, articles from collective works and articles from 30 journals dealing with Systematic and Fundamental Theology (started in 1994).

about 600 monographs, articles from collective works and articles from 20 journals dealing with Canon Law (started in 1995)

How to run an online search:

In cooperation with the Computer Center of the University of Innsbruck we now have been able to establish an Internet-gateway to this database, so that an online search in our bibliography as well as in the complete documentation database can be done from all over the word via World Wide Web (WWW). This search is free of charge. You only need a gateway to the World Wide Web and a software like Netscape or Mosaic, which is able to read HTML-documents.

Our home page is: http://starwww.uibk.ac.at/theologie/theologie.html

If you run a search for the first time please read first our help texts, which will give you some useful hints for working with the search screen. If you have some questions or any problems send an E-mail to one of the following adresses:

Dietmar.Regensburger@uibk.ac.at (Mimetic Theory)

Josef.Oesch@uibk.ac.at (Biblical Literature)

Silvia.Hell@uibk.ac.at (Systematic Theology)

Georg.J.Anker@uibk.ac.at (technical support)


The Documentation Center needs your help

We have endeavoured to keep our Bibliography thoroughly up-to-date. In some cases it is not easy to receive texts in the original and a quotation from second, sometimes unreliable sources is only a compromise. We would be glad if you could send us copies of your articles or of articles which you don't find in our bibliography; copies of contents from books dealing with the mimetic theory would also be helpful. Furthermore we are working on abstracts and subjects in English, therefore we invite you to send us short abstracts of your books and articles as well as a proposal of fitting subjects. Whenever you find any mistakes in our records or you are missing some bibliographical references, please inform us about that.

For all those who can't do an online search as well as for those who want to have a print out of the Bibliography of Literature on the Mimetic Theory, we can offer a copy published by the Institut für Dogmatik in 1994. You can order a copy for $15 (mailing included) via E-mail or send a letter to me.

Dietmar Regensburger/Girard-Documentation

c/o Institut für Dogmatik, Universitätsstr. 4, A-6020 Innsbruck/Austria


Erwin Waldschütz

Erwin Waldschütz, who had suffered from a serious illness, died on September 18, 1995. He was a member of COV&R since 1993. A professor of philosophy at the University of Vienna, his published works include Denken und Erfahren des Grundes: Zur philosophischen Deutung Meister Eckharts. Wien: Herder, 1989, and several articles on Girard and mimesis (e.g. "Wahrnehmung und Rezeption französischer Philosophie in Österreich [1918-1993]." In Frankreich - Österreich: Wechselseitige Wahrnehmung und wechselseitiger Einfluß seit 1918, ed. Koja, F. and Pfersmann, O., 182-220. Wien: Böhlau Verlag, 1994). We regret the loss of this fine colleague, and extend our sympathy to his family and friends.


Reports from the COV&R Conference in Chicago June 1-3, 1995

Symposium: Violence, Mimesis, and the Subject of Responsibility

Sections on Literature, Womens Studies, Secular Institutions, Ecclesiology, Biblical Studies and Interfaith Dialogue took place during the three-day conference, in addition to two evening lectures and discussions by Jean-Michel Oughourlian (with Rusty Palmer responding) and by René Girard (with Martha Nussbaum responding).

Discussions of literature by W. Mishler and W. Johnsen uncovered the main lines of the mimetic model and a critique of sacrificial thinking in the works of Ibsen, while discussion pointed to Ibsen's formative role for Joyce, in whose works a critique of mimesis also figures importantly. C. Bellinger pointed out the confluences between Kierkegaard's thought, as available in less discussed works, and Girard's work on social crisis and crowd behavior; discussion thereafter focused nonetheless on Kierkegaard's more individualistic approach to Christianity. In the first of two Womens Studies sessions, N. Reed engaged in a close reading of Dostoevsky's "Gentle Creature" to show the dynamics of rivalry, as nourished by notions of intelligence as originality, which inform the tale's first person narrator and fuel his incomprehension. J. Rike's presentation in the same section engaged several feminist constructions of selfhood in order to articulate the Girardian critique of victimage against the "disintegrating pathology of narcissism" in child development, with particular reference to the work of Otto Rank in psychoanalysis.

Thursday afternoon's session began with E. Gans' outline of Generative Anthropology derived from the mimetic model, with special attention to the role of the marketplace as means of displacing transcendence by the egalitarian dynamics of exchange and of defusing potential acquisitive violence amidst a plethora of commodities. T. Siebers followed with a reading of Kant's Perpetual Peace, which seeks to redefine politics as relations between communities while acknowledging that "political form is inherently sacrificial." R. Hamerton-Kelly reviewed the events and texts of French Revolutionary regicide with the aim of uncovering its explicitly sacrificial dynamics, observable alike in the Revolution's civil festivals. W. Palaver's reading of Carl Schmitt's writings brought out the plangently sacrificial dimensions of his communitarianism that made his view of Christianity available to Nazi collaboration. M. Elias retraced the social dynamics governing the practice of riddles from traditional societies through modern quiz shows in order to underline how such rituals variously collude with violence.

Thursday evening, J.-M. Oughourlian presented some case studies in the application of mimetic theory in psychotherapy, where the clinical term is rivalry, where a solution lies sometimes in encouraging that it be played out further. R. Palmer responded with an incisive formulation of interdividuality by insisting that we are in every case dealing first with a relation between or among individuals, with regard to which the constitution of the selves involved is secondary and derivative. Discussion further evinced the observation on the aleatory or democratic aspect of psychological crisis, such that it need not stem from causes or factors in one's upbringing, but emerges just as commonly from later, adult relations.

Friday morning's Biblical Studies session began with J. Williams' review of the querulous status of "Jews" in Matthew's Gospel: he refuted certain antisemitic charges laid to the text, while admitting a polemical atmosphere surrounding its compositon that has allowed for subsequent misunderstandings. D. McCracken focussed on the paradox of scandal in Luke, as it gives offense to ethnic prejudices and challenges its witnesses to take no offense against this challenge itself. The discussion that followed focused on the paradox of forgiveness as scandalous. C. Bandera engaged the Iliad with Simone Weil's reading of it in order to show the sacrificial dynamics informing Achilles' wrath and his subsequent destruction by his rival-double, the god Apollo. The question was what pre-Christian authors could know about the scapegoat mechanism, without being able to relinquish its efficacy.

In the second Literature session, C. Weimer conducted a close reading of Tirso de Molina's Privar contra su gusto in order to show the scapegoating mechanism at work in the unfolding of the drama as it ably interprets its environing culture. R. Adams took up various feminist texts in order to argue for a more expansive notion of desire that would not necessarily include or induce violence. Andrew Bartlett conducted a critique of the Freudian notion of family romance via eighteenth-century novels of genealogical succession by Fielding and Burney, showing how their emancipatory strands are not available to a blanket critique of patriarchy.

S. Nowak evoked the feminist hermeneutic of suspicion and remembrance, with its ideals of inclusiveness, interdependence and mutual responsibility, as a means of correcting Christian anti-Judaism evinced by some North American feminist theologians. C. Kirk-Duggan articulated the parallels observable in African-American sororities and in girl gangs, pointing out the levels of identity and group support they provide to their members, and their symmetrically opposed relations to the violence of their environing cultures.

In the session on Ecclesiology, P. Nuechterlein highlighted the role of servant leaders modelled by Jesus around the institution of the Eucharist; further associating notions of forgiveness and debt, he provided a focus which obviates certain sacrificial practices and notions legible in past Church history. M. Wallace spelled out the subversive role of the Holy Spirit, a kind of "trickster" figure, as a remedy to abuses within Church history marked by tribalism, racism, and sexism. Anthony Bartlett explored the originary emptiness of mimesis as evidenced in the marketplace and in the development of ecclesiastical structures in order to argue for a non-sacrificial church as "a capsule of non-violence in the world, a seed of epochal change in human society necessary to its humanization."

Friday evening, R. Girard chose the growing cases of anorexia and bulimia among young women as symptoms or dynamic metaphors of destructively competitive drives in our consumer culture, where anticonsumerist slimness and athleticism caricatures rivalries propelling a culture devoid of transcendence. M. Nussbaum responded in counterpoint by questioning the statistical significance of the eating disorders examined by Girard, and by pointing to the manifold positive dimensions, and benefits to women worldwide, of new regimes of diet and exercise.

In the interfaith dialogue, L. Lefebure's displayed the overlaps and differences between the mimetic model and the Buddhistic critique of individualism and violence by way of opening a conversation with Buddhism that has been truncated to date. J. Niewiadomski pointed to archaic and violent practices no less rampant in our "global village" than in the traditional societies superseded by it: the self-delusions of world-civilization "megamachinery" finds a foil and rival double rather than a real difference in emerging fundamentalisms. R. Schwager presented Jacob Taubes's correlation between Moses and St. Paul, which clarifies and deepens the antilegalistic continuities between Jewish and Christian traditions.

In the Jewish-Christian dialogue which followed, S. Goodhart focused on the ethics implicit in the mimetic model as available in the dramatistics of Exodus 3 and in the writings of Levinas and Buber, while underlining the positive role assigned to mimesis by Girard in a recent interview. C. Mabee and R. Prystowsky focused in their contributions among other questions on the roots of both Christianity and Judaism in the Mosaic prophetic tradition.

Andrew J. McKenna

Report on Criminal Justice Workshop

Participants began by brainstorming a list of concerns related to crime and criminal justice. These included the humiliating effects of the system, youth, "victims rights," lack of compassion, fear and prevention of crime. Peter Cordella, Wayne Northey and Vern Neufeld Redekop presented on the themes of social order, restorative justice and terrorism respectively.

Peter Cordella outlined the connection between the Girardian perspective and the major theoretical orientations of both criminal justice and criminology. Cordella suggested that the rational actor model that informs the criminal justice perspective presumes the legitimacy of the sacrificial act in the form of either the deprivation of liberty or death. The mythology of the criminal justice system is based on the persistent belief in the legitimacy of a 'rational' sacrificial system of deterrence despite empirical evidence to the contrary. Cordella provided a number of empirical examples that suggest that not only is punishment not a deterrent but that it may actually exacerbate the crime problem. One study suggests that the application of the death penalty has had a brutalizing effect such that the number of homicides have risen rather than fallen immediately after an execution. In contrast, Japan, with its less punitive model of criminal justice since World War II, is the only industrial country to have recorded a decrease in its crime rate during the intervening years.

Cordella made an even stronger connection between the Girardian perspective and criminological theory. Most criminological theory has been predicated on Emile Durkheim's theory of social order which suggests that deviance creates a sense of moral superiority which strengthens social solidarity and it helps define moral boundaries. Durkheim's functional conception of deviance very closely parallels Girard's analysis of the importance of identifying and maintaining difference. Deviance and its punishment are the primary ways in which society creates and maintains differences. Robert Merton's classic "Anomie and Social Structure," suggests that the cultural imperative of 'unlimited wealth' inevitably creates a mimetic desire that leads some individuals to employ innovative strategies to achieve the cultural goal. Because these strategies are beyond the accepted moral boundaries they become defined as deviance.

Addressing "The Implications of a Non-Sacrificial Approach to the Restorative Justice Paradigm of Justice," Wayne Northey spoke of reconciliation as "bringing victim and offender to where the natural enmity between them as a fallout from the crime has been superseded by a new relationship where the enmity has ceased." Northey characterized the criminal justice system as being a sacrificial mechanism in a Girardian sense. The restorative justice paradigm was presented as an attempt to introduce a non-sacrificial, non-punitive approach to dealing with crime. After analyzing the pros and cons of retributive and restorative justice, Northey presented several models of justice which exemplify the restorative paradigm: Native Sentencing Circles, Family Group Conferencing in New Zealand, and Transformative Justice Courts which would incorporate mediation and trauma counselling. He concluded with a reference to a draft apology/confession "for the church's role in promulgating a retributionist response to crime."

Vern Neufeld Redekop addressed the theme "Terrorism: Scapegoating Doubles." Terrorism was defined as "indicriminate violence designed to inspire fear in a given population by a perpetrator motivated by anger, loss, vengeance, and/or relative deprivation who believes in the legitimacy of the act of terror." It was pointed out that terrorism combines polar opposite violence of undifferentiation with the violence of differentiation. Undifferentiation occurs as terrorists become doubles of those who perpetrated violence against them. Differentiation occurs when the victims of terrorism become wholly dehumanized "other" as they become symbolic and real scapegoats. Drawing on the field of political psychology, Redekop noted the link between victimization (particularly in childhood or youth) and becoming a terrorist. Finally the Oklahoma City bombing was analyzed, taking note of its mimesis of aspects of the American Revolution.

Discussion focussed both on theoretical notions as well as personal experience related to crime and criminal justice.

Vern Neufeld Redekop

Theory & Practice in Violence Reduction

The June 3, 1995 meeting of the Colloquium on Violence & Religion (COV&R) at Loyola University Chicago provided an opportunity for participants to move beyond critical theory in violence studies to matters of practice and social transformation. The annual meeting of COV&R offers scholars interested in the mimetic theory of violence developed by René Girard, an intensive occasion to further explore, develop, and criticize one of the most powerful theories of violence available today. As a workshop facilitator of the "prejudice reduction workshop model" developed by Cherie Brown of the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI-International, Washington, D.C.), I have for several years been eager to see similar issues of practice addressed in Girard studies. The meeting organizer, Professor Andrew McKenna of Loyola, graciously facilitated that intention.

My workshop, entitled "Theory & Practice in Violence Reduction: A Prejudice Reduction Model" also featured responses and commentary by Roel Kaptein from the Centre for the Study of Conflict at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. Professor Kaptein was excellent in collegially supporting my workshop facilitation, yet not neglecting to offer critical perspectives and alternatives from his own advanced research practicums, and publications in violence studies. Indeed, the participants as a group responded admirably to the challenges I posed for them: (1) to imagine practices of violence reduction that are comparable in insight and efficacy to Girard's theory of violence as a "generative mimetic scapegoating mechanism" (the "GMSM," coined by Robert Hamerton-Kelly in Sacred Violence); (2) to consider how 'good mimesis' (e.g., the NCBI ethic of "All for One and One for All") and healing catharsis (NCBI speakouts for personal stories) can counteract the 'bad mimesis' and malign catharsis that operates in socially systemic scapegoating processes (e.g. in gay bashing or terrorism); (3) to utilize such practices as NCBI's treatment for overcoming "internalized oppression"--the use of identity group affirmations to counter the turning-inward of victimization on oneself and one's own group--as an sociotherapeutic antidote to the psychology of the scapegoat as a willing victim (so-called "victimology politics"); and many other, related challenges of connecting (Girardian) theory and prejudice reduction (NCBI) practice.

In these ways the workshop contributed to a nearly century-long quest more effectively to link theory and practice in violence studies. That quest has engaged theorists and practitioners as diverse and yet as related as: Herbert Marcuse and the Frankfurt School in Germany who, in the aftermath of World War I, endeavored to "think Marx and Freud" together; Mahatma Gandhi who pioneered in the use of nonviolent direct action in South Africa and India; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the influential German theologian and pastor who attempted but tragically failed to meet with Gandhi and organize a resistance movement against early Nazism; and Howard Thurman, one of the first African Americans to meet with Gandhi and promote his philosophy of nonviolent action and who then mentored Martin Luther King, Jr. On the one hand Marcuse and colleagues, like Bonhoeffer and many other religious activists, were essentially theorists in search of an adequate practice. On the other hand African Americans like Thurman and King discovered in Gandhi a practice that still awaits adequate theoretical formulation in violence studies. At this point COV&R and Girard studies most resemble Frankfurt School - theorists in possession of a powerful critical theory but still questing for comparably compelling practices. With my colleagues, and with my students (for whom I will offer a new course next semester called, "Religion and Prejudice Reduction: Theory & Practice" ), I look forward to the day when we too will be able to say, "I found it!" (Eureka!)

Thee Smith



Cesáreo Bandera, The Sacred Game: The Role of the Sacred in the Genesis of Modern Literary Fiction. University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994. Pp. 318; no price available.

Our modern era is still dominated by the belief that religion is a thing of the past. According to the well established secularization theory, modernization results in the decline of religion. The last decades, however, have shown us rather painfully that this modern belief is simply empirically wrong. Fundamentalism, religious nationalism and religion in general have become more important in recent years. The humanities, especially sociology, were more or less unable to predict this rise of religious movements. Peter L. Berger even speaks of a complete failure of sociology in this regard. The reason for this failure is the humanities' belief in the secularization theory.

Cesáreo Bandera's new book means hope for the humanities. Bandera, who is a Professor of Romance Languages, reconstructs the development of our modern world--the genesis of modern literary fiction in particular--without submitting to secularization theory. He insists, to the contrary, on the thesis "that there is no such thing as leaving the sacred entirely behind" (p. 39). In a chapter on Marx he illustrates this thesis in a powerful way. Despite Marx's attempt to leave the sacred fully behind, his way of thinking remains governed by the logic of the sacred. Bandera uses the insights of René Girard's mimetic theory to explain this logic. According to Girard's theoretical approach, the sacred is rooted in the scapegoat mechanism, the sacrificial killing or expulsion of a victim. In Bandera's view, Marx's attempt to get rid of the sacred adheres to the sacrificial logic of the sacred. It is the sacrificial expulsion of the sacred and remains therefore in the realm of the sacred. Is therefore desacralization completely impossible? No, Bandera shows only that all violent ways to struggle against the sacred are futile and prolong the sacrificial world of the sacred. In his eyes it was the nonviolent spirit of Christianity that led to our desacralized modern world. Modern literature, to take Bandera's main example, was made possible by Christianity. At the basis of Bandera's study "lies the conviction that there is no such thing as a conflict between Christianity and a purely 'secular,' nonreligious man, but only between Christianity and the old sacred." (p. 16)

In the first half of his book Bandera introduces us into the frightening ambivalence of the sacred by dealing with Plato, Aristotle, and Virgil. These three thinkers help to understand our modern era if we focus on the way modern thinking went beyond them. In the case of Plato, Bandera concentrates on the sacrificial expulsion of the poets. He compares Plato's recommendation to expel the poets with the Renaissance moralists' "war against poetry" and shows the similarities between these two attitudes. At the same time, however, Bandera also makes clear that desacralization had already taken place at that time. The Inquisition, which--contrary to Plato's theoretical attempt--had the means to expel the poets, did not persecute poets. In the watchful eyes of the Inquisition poetry was not important enough. This marginality of poetry meant freedom and enabled poetry to reflect on itself. According to Bandera, it was the modern classic authors like Cervantes and Calderón who came closest to the spirit of Christianity that made this desacralization possible. Like the moralists they discovered the sacrificial character of poetry and theater, but unlike them they were not scandalized and reacted therefore in a nonsacrificial way: they were able to see the connection between their own "poetic fiction and the sacrificial mechanism that lay at the root of human culture" (p. 87). Although Aristotle did not--like Plato--recommend the expulsion of poetry, his thinking is rooted in the sacred, too. He is the perfect example of the sacrificial tendency of philosophy to expel the sacred by avoiding any contact with it. According to Bandera, Aristotle is "the best concealer of the old sacred" (p. 107). The most impressive case in Bandera's book is his chapter on Virgil. Bandera uncovers the sacrificial levels in Virgil's Aeneid, which is governed by the logic of the sacred: "One head will be given up for the sake of many." According to Bandera, Virgil knew the truth about the sacrificial foundation of the world, but lacking the nonsacrificial answer of Christianity, he tried to conceal this truth. His poem is "a colossal, brilliant cover-up" (p. 144).

Bandera's main counterexample to the old world of the sacred is the vision of the great modern classic, especially the work of Cervantes and Calderón. They reveal that it is the faceless crowd that persecutes the victim and focus on the individual member of the crowd to remind him of his responsibility. In accordance with the true spirit of Christianity they know that the desacralized modern world forces us to renounce the search for the victim altogether. In Bandera's eyes only this hope can "sustain the freedom of the modern poet" (p. 301).

From the point of view of the history of ideas Bandera's chapter 5 "Historical Signposts" is the most important one. In this chapter he challenges Hans Blumenberg's thesis about the self-assertion of the modern age and shows that this thesis is built on the absence of the Cross. To understand the development of our modern desacralized world, Bandera recommends to focus on the Crucifixion, instead. Contrary to the majestic Jesus of Romanesque crucifixes, the spirituality of the devotio moderna emphasized the human sacrifice at the Cross and the suffering humanity of Christ at the end of the Middle Ages. This new perspective is the dawn of the modern era. It made modern individualism possible and it is also the root of modern liberal thinking. The emphasis on the individual is a system-breaking element that opens up every sacrificial system. This new view on the Crucifixion is the essential prelude to the nonsacrificial awareness of the great poetic masters like Cervantes and Calderón.

Superficially Bandera's book looks like a contribution to the relationship between the sacred and modern literary fiction. It is, however, a book that goes far beyond that particular question. The Sacred Game is one of the most important books on secularization in general and will significantly change our old views on the development of our modern world. Hopefully it will be translated into other languages soon.

Wolfgang Palaver


Girard, Bloody Sacrifices, and the End of the Cold War: Recent References to Girard's Mimetic Theory in the Cultural and Political Debate in Germany

Although Raymund Schwager has discussed and applied the mimetic theory in his theological work since the beginning of the 70s, René Girard's theory is still not very well known in Germany. This may change in the near future. The discussion of Girard's work has entered the cultural and political debate in Germany. Botho Strauß, a well-known German author and essayist, published a highly controversial essay with the title "Anschwellender Bocksgesang" in the weekly magazine Der Spiegel in February 1993. In this essay Strauß challenges several dogmas of the intellectual left in Germany and deals among other things with the problem of xenophobia. He claims, for instance, that racism and hostility to foreigners were originally sacred passions of cultures to create order. In this part of his essay he refers explicitly to Girard's book Violence and the Sacred to explain the archaic roots of xenophobia. Strauß' essay led to a very controversial intellectual debate. Many participants in this debate accused Strauß of having intellectually legitimized recent acts of hostility against foreigners in Germany. Others defended Strauß' attempt to search for the deeper roots of xenophobia. Eckhard Nordhofen (Die Zeit Nr. 15 [April 9, 1993]), for instance, called Strauß a representative of the Enlightenment after the end of the Enlightenment. According to Nordhofen, Strauß tried to explain the connection between the scapegoat mechanism, ritual sacrifice and those mechanisms that lead to the creation of a community. Nordhofen claims that such an enlightening explanation should not be mixed up with political proposals of the extreme right to expel foreigners and emphasizes that Strauß' reference to Girard clearly shows that his thinking is rooted in the Enlightenment.

In their recent book Endzeit-Propheten oder Die Offensive der Antiwestler: Fundamentalismus, Antiamerikanismus und Neue Rechte (Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1995) Richard Herzinger and Hannes Stein reflect in detail on Strauß' remarks about sacrifice and his reference to Girard. The main aim of their book is the defense of the liberal and open society of the West against its enemies, like anti-American intellectuals, fundamentalists and the European New Right. One chapter of the book ("Sündenböcke und Bocksgesänge: Die Sehnsucht nach dem Blutopfer"; pp. 190-200) deals explicitly with Strauß' essay. According to Herzinger and Stein, Strauß' remarks about the function of archaic sacrifices show that he is actually longing for sacred violence. Strauß is associated with the sacrificial thinking of Ernst Jünger and with antisemitism. They criticize Girard's theory in the same fashion. The two authors, however, have not studied the mimetic theory very carefully. According to them, Girard legitimizes bloody and violent sacrifices because he proposes sacred killing as the only alternative to civil war. Girard's actual proposal of reconciliation to overcome mimetic violence, which is in line with the core of the Judeo-Christian revelation, is completely overlooked in this book. The conclusion of Herzinger and Stein's chapter on Strauß sounds rather naive: "Like Girard, Strauß forces us to accept the gloomy alternative: human sacrifices or civil war. He forgets that there is something else beside community: society. It is not held together by stoning scapegoats but by contracts." (p. 200)

In view of the fact that civil wars around the world and violence in the big cities have increased after the end of the cold war, it is really naive to believe that contracts are sufficient to sustain our societies. One does not have to be a member of the extreme right or favor bloody sacrifices to reject such naivety. Antje Vollmer, Vice-president of the German Bundestag and member of the Green Party in Germany, claims in her recent book, Heißer Frieden: Über Gewalt, Macht und das Geheimnis der Zivilisation (Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1995), that the hopes of humanism and the Enlightenment--according to which social order could be built on the social contract, the separation of powers and the state's monopoly on violent means--have come to an end. These hopes belong to the second period of European culture that started with political absolutism and ended with the totalitarian regimes of Hitler and Stalin. According to Vollmer, the mythic-religious period that started after the fall of the Roman empire preceded this period and lasted until the religious wars in the 16th and 17th centuries. Vollmer calls the current situation in Europe "hot peace," which means that civil wars and the beginning of new disorder have followed the end of the cold war. To overcome all the current threats she proposes a third period of civilization and regrets that no social group has yet been found to build the core of this third period.

Vollmer's book is part of the new German interest in Girard's theory. She not only gives a short introduction into Girard's mimetic theory in one chapter (pp. 109-115), but uses the mimetic theory throughout her book to explain the way in which the different cultural periods tried to control violence. Following Girard, she explains, for instance, the importance of traditional religions to overcome internal violence in human societies. The central thesis of her book is closely connected to the mimetic theory, too. According to Vollmer, the taming of violence is the core of human civilization. When both the traditional religious means and the modern idea of the state have lost their power to control violence, however, world wars or civil wars are very likely to emerge. In Vollmer's view, Europe went exactly through such a crisis in the first half of this century. The cold war with its nuclear deterrence created again stability and peace for a certain period. Violence was contained anew. Now, after the cold war, violence and civil wars have re-emerged in Europe. According to Vollmer, it is necessary to form a new type of civilization to overcome these news threats. This third period of civilization should be respectful toward all former human cultures that tried to control violence without, however, forgetting the reasons that led to the downfall of these cultures. Vollmer expresses the vague hope that artists, musicians, and poets could form the core of this new civilization and could help to overcome the hot peace of today just as they fought the Vietnam-war in the fields of Woodstock. Vollmer's vague hope does not sound very convincing. Besides that, it should be mentioned that Vollmer, who is also a theologian, sees no future for a religious answer to our current problems. Whether or not one agrees with her in that respect, her opinion on the future role of religion shows that many European intellectuals do no longer regard churches as important institutions to overcome our current crisis. Facts like this should lead European churches to think about their role in society.

Beside her general thesis, Vollmer's book deals with a great variety of different issues, which are related to questions about power, violence, and civilization. In her book we can find chapters on the relationship between the church and the state, on the possibility of a pacifist foreign policy, on the question how the state should deal with terrorists and on the role of sport, music, and the media in our modern societies. Regarding her interest in theories beside Girard's mimetic theory, she reflects on Hannah Arendt's distinction between power and violence (pp. 103-108) and on Mahatma Gandhi's belief in the power of nonviolence (pp. 116-122). On this theoretical level, however, Vollmer's book has some weaknesses. She does not confront these different theoretical approaches with each other, but discusses and applies them side by side. In her book On Revolution Arendt, for instance, rejects all political theories that maintain a violent origin of political power in order to support her distinction between power and violence, whereas mimetic theory claims the violent origin of all culture. These two theoretical approaches are to a certain degree incompatible. A reading of Arendt's theory from the perspective of the mimetic theory would uncover Arendt's blindness to structural violence. In her book On Violence Arendt's insight that "the extreme form of power is All against One" clearly shows that her notion of power is not fully detached from violence but bears traces of its root in the scapegoat mechanism. Unfortunately Vollmer's book excludes such questions and remains quite superficial in regard to systematical and theoretical problems.

Concerning the current cultural and political debate in Germany, however, it is definitely an important book that provides many new and provocative insights on current political questions. Her rather critical view of equality alone is a provocation to the intellectual left in Germany. For a serious discussion of mimetic theory in Germany it is an important book, because it will introduce many people to the work of Girard who may not know Schwager's theological application of mimetic theory or have only heard about Girard in books like that of Herzinger and Stein.

Wolfgang Palaver


A Jewish-Christian Dialogue III

Raymund Schwager, "Second Reply to Sandor Goodhart"

In his "reply to Father Schwager and Józef Niewiadomski" (Bulletin No. 8, p. 12) Sandor Goodhart critically views all my statements and is in basic disagreement with my enquiries. I appreciate his direct and frank language, because only by this can we achieve a definition of our statements which goes beneath the surface. Moreover, his reply shows that we are discussing essential points of the Jewish-Christian dialogue. This is why I confine myself to three questions in my reply.

1. A central point in our discussion is S. Goodhart's statement that "the notion of a 'conflict of interpretations' is less a Hebraic notion than a Platonic Greek one" and "that in Judaism there are no true and false interpretations". I have heard such statements quite frequently, but I have never been able to understand them. In the history of Judaism there were quite a few 'conflicts of interpretations'. They can already be found in the Bible,--for example in the fight between the true and the false prophets or between Job and his friends (=enemies), arguments which actually include the claim of a true interpretation against a false one. The conflicts continue in the post-Biblical time. Just think of the community of Qumran, which--against Jerusalem--claims to be the only and genuine Israel. Today we find the same situation. It is certainly a very big 'conflict of interpretations', when Jewish settlers quote the Bible in maintaining that God has given them the land and when they are even ready to defend their conviction with violence against their own government. Furthermore one can pose the question: Why should one reject 'a sacrificial interpretation', which has a long tradition in Christianity--this is done by S. Goodhart--if there do not exist true and false interpretations? Can one actually speak of 'an innocent victim' without claiming at the same time to be in the possession of the true interpretation in contrast to those who consider the 'victim' guilty? There is certainly not an authority in Judaism who could definitely decide which interpretation is the true one. But this is a different problem, which is not the theme at the moment. For me personally, however, there would no longer be any reason to continue my theological work, if I were not convinced that there are true and false interpretations and that one should take pains for the former and reject the latter. I want to add a citation of René: "As far as I am concerned, such ideas as 'textual indeterminacy', 'infinite interpretation', 'undecidability', and the like, while they may be true as far as Mallarmé's poems are concerned, do not apply to myth and the other great texts of traditional culture. The interpretation of myth which I propose is either true or false. What it most closely approximates is our historical demythification or deconstruction of late medieval witch hunts and that deconstruction, too, is either true or false. The victims were real behind the texts, and either they were put to death for legitimate reasons, or they were victims of mimetic mobs of the rampage. The matter cannot be undecidable. There cannot be an infinite number of equally 'interesting', or rather uninteresting, interpretations, all of them neither true nor false, and so on. The interminable preciosity of contemporary criticism is completely irrelevant to my question." ("Violence, Difference, Sacrifice: A Conversation with René Girard." Religion & Literature 25/2 [1993] pp. 13-14)

2. S. Goodhart continues: "There is no unresolved tension in Hebrew at least between God acting through Cyrus in one moment, and the suffering servant in another". Here I realize an essential problem. Can I assume that God sides with the victim in one moment and acts through military power in another? Kings and military leaders have frequently referred to the belligerent David and the anointed Cyrus to justify their claim to wage wars in the name of God? Have the done so rightfully? It is the most essential point in Girard's analysis that this question is denied. This is why I simply cannot understand how Cyrus and "the suffering servant" as far as God's action from Girard's point of view is concerned can be put on the same level.

3. S. Goodhart criticizes that I have brought in the question of resurrection and he thinks that 'the fact Girard happens also to be a believing Christian' has not got to do anything with his theory of the innocent victim. This differentiation between Jesus as a victim and his resurrection is not clear to me. According to the Bible Jesus was convicted as a blasphemer. Had he really been one, he would not have been innocent, but he would have deserved death according to the Torah (Lev 24:16). The Gospels uncover the mechanism of power and describe him as an innocent victim only because his disciples were convinced that God raised the crucified from the dead and proved him innocent against his prosecutors.

4. The question of Jesus' condemnation and resurrection is a central problem in the Jewish-Christian dialogue. In his study Resurrection: A Jewish Experience in Belief the Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide shows that there need not necessarily be a separation between the two paths. He first makes clear that the belief in Jesus' resurrection was only possible in the context of the pharisaic belief in the resurrection of all dead. He continues that he had been a Sadducean for decades as far as Jesus' resurrection is concerned and he finally gives reasons why he changed his conviction and found his belief in Jesus' resurrection. Though Lapide did not become a Christian, it is his intent to give an important position in the Jewish history of belief also to that Jew who had by far the greatest spiritual influence on the world. Going back to Moses Maimonides he considers Jesus that prophet who was authorized by God to prepare the heathen world (as Messiah for the heathens) for the salvation expected by Israel. I judge this attitude of a Jew very positively, because he uses the same category of thought as Christian theology. This says that the Hebrew Bible is a preparation for the Gospel, and Lapide says that Christianity is a preparation of the heathen world for the Jewish Messiah. From my point of view this could be a (preliminary) target of the Jewish-Christian dialogue. The differences between the Jews and the Christians remain with this result, but there is no longer a condemnation, and common work will be possible in more or less all points (e.g. also with the help of the mimetic theory). In order to achieve this aim the Christians will have to give up the position of the traditional theology that the church has finally replaced Israel in its function in the history of salvation, which I personally do. On the part of the Jews one would have to renounce definitely the declaration of Talmud that Jesus was a magician, who seduced Israel (Baraitha to Sanhedrin 43 a) and Jesus should be acknowledged as a Jewish prophet with a special mission in the pagan world. Not even Paul is an unsurpassable hindrance, as the Jew Jacob Taubes has shown. (cf. my contribution at the symposium in Chicago).

(trans. by Elisabeth Thurner)


Announcement of 1996 COV&R Meeting: Ethnic Conflict in International

Perspective" - Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford

Call for Papers

The meeting will be at Stanford University, from the 27th-29th June, 1996. The theme of the meeting is Ethnic Conflict in International Perspective. It is co-sponsored by the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford. We invite all members to submit papers on or related to this theme. Papers might deal with the phenomenon of ethnic conflict from the point of view of mimetic theory, or be case studies of conflicts as seen through the theory, or on any subject related to the theme. On the 29th there will be smaller group meetings on topics in literature, psychology, biblical studies, penal justice, and other topics of interest. Proposals for these smaller groups should be submitted to James Williams. A number of the keynote speakers who have special expertise in this subject will come from Stanford and the Center (CISAC). We are, therefore, especially eager to have papers from the COV&R membership to balance the presentations from those outside COV&R. Please send your proposals in brief outline by January 1st, 1996, to Robert Hamerton-Kelly, CISAC, Stanford University, 320 Galvez Str, Stanford, CA 94305-6165. The final copies for mailing to participants will be due on May 1st.


Future Events

November 17, 1995, Philadephia in conjunction with AAR/SBL.

Program of sessions in Philadelphia:

Friday, Nov. 17, 1995. Both sessions will be held in 408 Marriott. The Philadelphia Marriott is the headquarters hotel of AAR/SBL.

Biblical Interpretation, 9a.m.-12:15 p.m.


1. Reading Commandment: The Prophetic and Genesis 22

Sandor Goodhart, Charles Mabee, and possibly a respondent to be announced.


2. Atonement, Exclusion, and Orthodoxy: 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:4

David Odell-Scott

Violence Conversion: Towards A Theory and Practice of Benign Force2-5 p.m.

Theophus Smith; respondents Richard Fenn, C. Boyd James, Barbara A.B. Patterson.

June 27-29, at CISAC, Stanford University: "Ethnic Conflict in International Perspective" (see Announcement). Organizer: Robert Hamerton-Kelly. N.B.! Advisory Board will meet June 26.

November 22, 1996, San Francisco in conjunction with AAR/SBL.

1997 in Graz, Austria: on mimetic theory and popular culture ("Mimesis Goes to the Movies"?). Organizer: Gerhard Larcher (Universität Graz).


New Books

Alison, James. Knowing Jesus. Springfield: Templegate Publishers, 1993.

Smith, Theophus. Conjuring Culture: Biblical Formations of Black America. Religion in America series. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1994.

Smith, Theophus and Wallace, Mark, ed. Curing Violence. Forum fascicles. Sonoma: Polebridge Press, 1994.

Vollmer, Antje. Heißer Frieden: Über Gewalt, Macht und das Geheimnis der Zivilisation. Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1995.

Williams, James G. The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred: Liberation from the Myth of Sanctioned Violence, published in paperback by Trinity Press International, 1995.


Special Issue of Synthesis

Synthesis: An Interdisciplinary Journal, a newly founded journal, deals in its first issue (Spring 1995) with the theme "Chaos in the Humanities." Four articles of this first issue are directly related to the mimetic theory:

Anspach, Mark Rogin. "The Solitary Madman and the Maddening Crowd: Symmetrical Morphogenesis of the Social Bond." (pp. 129-145)

Palaver, Wolfgang. "Order out of Chaos in the Theories of Carl Schmitt and René Girard." (pp. 87-106)

Scubla, Lucien. "Towards a Morphogenetic Anthropology: Generative Violence and Singularity Theory." (pp. 107-127)

Simonse, Simon. "Mimesis, Schismogenesis, and Catastrophe Theory. Gregory Bateson as a Forerunner of Mimetic Theory: with a Demonstration of his Theory on Nilotic Regicide." (pp. 147-172)

This first issue of Synthesis can be purchased for twenty dollars. The annual subscription fee for two issues is thirty dollars. For further information please write to:

Patrick Brady, New Paradigm Press, 5413 Neilwoods Drive, Knoxville, TN 37919, USA.