Saturday, July 12, 2008

Girard and Schwager on Sacrifice & Archaic Religion

Girard speaking in

I remember that discussion and I think he is right. I wrote an article on my latest position on the subject, which was published in a volume in honour to Raymund Schwager. Schwager thinks like me that we need to see a spontaneous scapegoat phenomenon behind the crucifixion, as well as behind the myths. The whole difference rests on the recognition of this phenomenon, that cannot be found in myths, but is there in the Gospels. But the most extraordinary thing in the Gospels is that this recognition comes from Christ himself, rather than the evangelists, who do everything they can in order to follow Christ, and overall they accomplished it. I would like to write a total Christian interpretation of the history of religion that would really be the history of sacrifice. It would show that archaic religions are the real educators of mankind, which they lead out of archaic violence. Then God becomes victim in order to free man of the illusion of a violent God, which must be abolished in favour of Christ's knowledge of his Father. One can regard archaic religions as a prior moment in a progressive revelation that culminates in Christ. Thus, to those who say that the Eucharist is rooted in archaic cannibalism, instead of saying 'no', we have to say 'yes!'. The real history of man is religious history, which goes back to primitive cannibalism. Primitive cannibalism is religion, and the Eucharist recapitulates this history from alpha to omega. All this is essential and once it is understood, there is a necessary recognition that the history of man includes this murderous beginning: Cain and Abel. To put it bluntly, we cannot have a perfectly non-sacrificial space. In writing Violence and the Sacred and Things Hidden I was trying to find that non-sacrificial space from which to understand and explain everything without personal involvement. Now I think that this attempt cannot be successful.
- pgs 216-217

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