THE SACRIFICIAL STRUCTURE OF ISRAEL’S COSMOGONY

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Chapter 2 – Girard‘s Theory and Methodology 

among the minefield of methodologies before anything can be said about a text, for most,it is still more dubious to claim not to have any method and then proceed with obvious assumptions. Nonetheless, Girard (Hamerton-Kelly 1994:xi) fairly warns of a peculiar twist to his ‗approach‘: Of most theories, such as psychoanalysis or structuralism, it is legitimate to say that they are ―applied‖ to the Gospels. In the case of mimetic theory, the language of ―application‖ falters. Whenever the theory is used as intelligently as it is in this book, it tends to disappear behind the text. It is so close to the text that, when the two are brought together, the text wins out. The theory dissolves into the text, and this annihilation is its greatest triumph. Hamerton-Kelly (1994:129) has attempted an overarching label—‗The Generative Mimetic Scapegoating Mechanism‘ (GMSM for short)—and attempts to concisely package it to a general audience. Although this may be helpful, I would agree with Bottum (1996:e) that this gives the impression of a ‗system‘ which inevitably creates fodder for critics. Throughout this inquiry, various designations will be given depending on where the emphasis lays in a similar vein to what Girard seems to do. Where the scapegoating operation of collective violence is emphasized, terms like ‗scapegoat mechanism,‘ ‗mythic structure,‘ or ‗sacral violence‘ is preferred. At times, the more foundational aspects of the theory require one to speak in terms of mimetic theory. Of course, I will direct the focus particularly on the Old Testament, but conceding that, unlike Old Testament theologies that attempt to interpret it in its own right, this cannot be done without comparison and contrast with a wide variety of texts, both ancient and modern. Since this chapter attempts to describe Girard‘s theory and practice primarily as he speaks of it and applies it, most critical interaction is by way of introduction and is reserved for the next chapter.

From Theory to Methodology

The focus here is on Girard‘s theory and method as it specifically applies to biblical texts,especially the Old Testament. It is critical, however, in which this focus does not and indeed cannot be examined separately from the broader context that Girard places it.What applies to the Old Testament applies to all texts, mythological, religious, literary, and in ideological, political and ‗scientific‘ texts of modern times. Indeed, it applies to human institutions of every kind.7 Girard did not set out to be a biblical exegete, nor does he claim to be one. Applying his formal training as an historian, the insipientn formulation of a theory began with the medieval literature, then novels of Proust,Dostoyevsky, Stendahl, also Shakespeare, and with Greek tragedies to which his original notoriety as a gifted literary critic came in the 1960s. His early critics oddly criticized him as an anti-religionist or a religionist simultaneously (Bottum:1996:e). Girard‘s focus on biblical texts, and his developing preference for them, comes as a result or application of his theory rather than the cause. Because the Old Testament and above all the Gospels reveal the scapegoat mechanism more extensively than other texts, Girard gives priority to them. Girard‘s study of great novels propelled him into an increasing awareness of the role that desire plays in creating tensions and rivalry. This concern, he concludes, in fact dominates the novel, and it seemed that imitative desire profoundly affected the author‘s construct. It became clear to Girard that the main cause of rivalry, conflict, and violence in novels had its genesis in human desire that is looking for an object. It is here where he solidified the idea that human desire is imitative and hence the label ‗mimetic.‘8 This interest propelled him to explore ‗mimetic desire‘ beyond literature and into the social sciences, particularly psychology, sociology, and anthropology.9 This pursuit was the impetus for his seminal theoretical works—Violence and the Sacred (1972), delving into the field of ethnology and anthropology, and Things Hidden From the Foundations of the World (1978), interacting more with psychology where he calls for the ‗testing‘ out of his ideas.

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
1.1 Religion and Violence: A Heightened Contemporary Concern
1.2 Focus of Inquiry 
1.3 Thesis 
1.4 Approach 
1.5 Outline 
1.6 Definition of Terms 
1.6.1 Mythical Structure, sacrificial or scapegoat mechanism
1.6.2 Generative violence
1.6.3 Sacrificial or scapegoat victim
1.6.4 Mimetic desire
1.6.5 Monstrous double
1.6.6 Sacrificial crisis
1.7 Hebrew Word Studies 
1.8 Documentation Notes 
CHAPTER 2 GIRARD’S THEORY AND METHODOLOGY
2.1 From Theory to Methodology 
2.2 A Theory-laden Approach to Biblical Text 
2.2.1 Mimetic or acquisitive desire
2.2.2 With in deconstructive perimeters
2.2.3 A hermeneutic of absence
2.2.4 Text as ritual, sacrificial participant
2.2.5 Passion of Christ, structural model of inversion
2.3 Applied Methodology – Towards a Hermeneutic 
2.3.1 Biblical revelation – God of victims, not persecutors
2.3.2 Revelation from inside out
2.3.3 Real event behind fantastical elements
2.3.4 The role of the crowd
2.4 Conclusion 
CHAPTER 3 GIRARD WITHIN LATE MODERNITY’S CHALLENGE AND PROSPECT OF THEORY AND METHODOLOGY
3.1 Theory making in Modernity and Late Modernity
3.1.1 Theory-making in the modern period
3.1.2 Skepticism of theory post-modern
3.2 A Contextual Approach to Sacrifice/Ritual in the Old Testament
3.2.1 The anthropological, contextual approach of Janzen
3.2.2 The nature of ritual
3.2.3 Social Context
3.3 Problems with a Contextual Approach
3.3.1 Distinction between ritual as medium or ritual as message
3.3.2 The problem of identifying context
3.3.3 Key assumptions problematic
3.3.4 Meaning of meaning
3.3.5 Meaning and crisis
3.4 Girard and Theory in the Late Modern Context
3.4.1 What is Post-Modern?
3.4.2 What is ideology?
3.4.3 Theory-making
3.4.4 Scientific theory or not?
3.5 Theological and Hermeneutical Concerns
3.5.1 A theological critique
3.5.2 Girard and the hermeneutical task
3.5.3 Conclusion
CHAPTER 4 OBJECT OF DESIRE – STRUCTURAL SHAPE OF THE PENTATEUCH 
4.1 Exodus 1 and the Crisis of Blessing 
4.1.1 The pseudo and the real sacrificial crisis in Egypt
4.1.2 Exodus 1: an accurate reflection of ‘the age-old rhythm’
4.2 Sacrificial Arrangements and the Expulsions of Abraham
4.2.1 God irrevocably announces blessing
4.2.2 Parallel oracles and colliding flights
4.2.3 Desire driven narrative and the father/son relationship
4.3 Sacrificial Protocol and the Counter-sacrifice in the expulsion of Abraham
4.3.1 The clash of cultures
4.3.2 Abraham in Egypt: Gen 12:10-20
4.3.3 Abraham and Abimelech
4.4 Conclusion 
5 THE SACRIFICIAL STRUCTURE OF ISRAEL’S COSMOGONY: GENESIS 1
5.1 Forcing a Sacrificial Reading on the Text?
5.1.1 The direction of the projection
5.1.2 Much ado about nothing
5.1.3 Hermeneutical considerations
5.2 Genesis 1:1 Mymsh ta Myhla arb tysarb 
5.2.1 In the beginning
5.2.2 The initial act of God
5.3 Genesis 1:2 The Undifferentiated Crisis of the World 
5.3.1 whbw wht htyh Urahw
5.3.2 Darkness up against the deep
5.3.3 tpxrm Myhla xwrw
5.3.4 God’s intervention with the ‘monstrous double’
5.4 Genesis 1:3 – Light – the Intervention, the Offering, the Reversal 
5.4.1 The structural features of the emerging light for Genesis 1
5.4.2 Theological characteristics of the emerging light
5.4.3 Light as salvific action
5.5 Sacrificial Role of Light in Genesis 1 
5.5.1 The emergence of light and the first three days
5.5.2 Evening and Morning
5.5.3. The filling of the world and God’s act of blessing
5.5.4 The Sacrificial Origins of Image
5.5.5 The seventh day – Sabbath Gen 1:31-2:4a
5.6 Elohim’s Creation – a new Sacral Realm 
6 THE SACRIFICIAL CRISIS AND ITS RESOLVE IN GENESIS 
6.1 Earth’s Crisis and the Emergence of ha’adam: Gen 2:5-7 
6.1.1 Genesis 2:5-7, a description of an indifferentiated state
6.1.2 Gen 2:7, God’s intervention in the earth’s crisis
6.2 Ha’adam, the Impetus for Divisions: Gen 2:8-17
6.2.1 First two acts of separation: Gen 2:8-14
6.3 Third Act of Separation, the Proper Object of Desire
6.3.1 Ha’adam’s cooperation with God in the garden
6.3.2 The triangular shape of the object of desire
6.3.3 The desirable trees and the life tree
6.3.4 The knowledge tree of good and evil
6.3.5 The dual command
6.4 The Crisis of Ha’adam: Gen 2:18-20
6.4.1 Crisis of desire: isolation and insulation
6.4.2 Dual nature of ha’adam’s sacrificial crisis
6.4.3 The severity of ha’adam and Yahweh’s sacrificial solution
6.5 Yahweh Elohim’s Sacrificial Resolve: Gen 2:18-24 
6.5.1 Insufficiency of animal sacrifice
6.5.2 Ha’adam’s sacrifice
6.5.3 The sacrifice of ishah
6.5.4 The outcome of the ‘counter-sacrifice’: one flesh Gen 2:24
6.6 Naked without Shame—the precarious vision of a covenant community
6.6.1 Naked: the dual nature of desire
6.6.2 Absence of shame: the end of scapegoating
6.6.3 Wisdom and the precarious nature of nakedness
6.7 Summary 
7 CONCLUSION 
7.1 Verification of Thesis: Validation of Mimetic Theory 
7.2 The Historical/literary Contexts of Israel’s Primeval Narratives from a Mimetic Perspective
7.2.1 Weight of current archeological data
7.2.2 Neglect of internal context
7.2.3 Emerging sensitivity of ‘sacrificial arrangements’ in the Pentateuch’s formation
7.3 Implications of Mimetic Theory on Old Testament Theology and Exegesis

GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
ISRAEL’S NARRATIVE OF ORIGINS IN GENESIS ONE AND TWO FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF RENÉ GIRARD’S MIMETIC THEORY

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