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Discussion of hermeneutics, esp. as it pertains to LDS scripture

Archive for the ‘Girard’ Category

Finishing Off–Or Starting–Girard’s The Scapegoat

Posted by joespencer on January 22, 2008

I took the time, over the weekend, to finish Girard’s The Scapegoat, and I’d like to wrap things up with a final post, though, as my title above I hope makes clear, the second half of this book has convinced me to read a great deal more of Girard and to incorporate his ideas into my own work. What follows below, then, is less a commentary on or discussion of the last few chapters of The Scapegoat as it is a summary of Girard’s overall position, an analysis of its strongest points, and a kind of invitation to discuss his work at further length. Read the rest of this entry »


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The Scapegoat, chapter 11: Of John’s Beheading… Sorta

Posted by joespencer on January 10, 2008

Chapter 11 is, so far as Girard goes, rather long, and most of it is detailed work at the level of the (NT) text. In a sense, I wish Girard had dropped the remainder of the book (everything before as much as everything after) just to flesh out the insights of this single chapter at great length (the ten preceding chapters could be shortened to a ten- or twenty-page introduction, and then he could have worked out two hundred pages of commentary on this one, brief story in Mark). In a word: it is here, in this eleventh chapter, that Girard’s project begins to sell itself to me, because it is here, in this eleventh chapter, that he finally shows me (1) how committed he is to the text, (2) how much better he is at reading it than other scholars, and (3) how interested he really is developing what I would call (though likely he would not) a textual theology. That said, I’m not really going to deal with Girard’s chapter in any real direct way in this post: rather, I want to think about something that Girard opens up here that he is not entirely cognizant of… I think. I’ll have to leave the great majority of this chapter’s rich insights to be discovered by those committed enough to read it! Read the rest of this entry »

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The Scapegoat, chapter 10

Posted by joespencer on December 15, 2007

I’ve finally gotten around to reading another chapter of Girard. And I’d like first to mention three very interesting R-words in the first part of the chapter: revelation, revolution, and radicalism. Read the rest of this entry »

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“The Key Words of the Gospel Passion” – The Scapegoat, Chapter 9

Posted by joespencer on December 2, 2007

I had a bit of time this morning to read further in Girard, and I find I am really wrestling with this now. After the brilliance of chapters 6-8, which provided me with a way to “appropriate” Girard’s work as a whole—with a way to make some sense of what Girard is doing with this massive project of his—I was a bit more prepared to tackle the thick substance provided in chapter 9. Some thoughts—evidence of a massive wrestle, I hope—follow. Read the rest of this entry »

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Getting back to the project: chapters 7 and 8

Posted by joespencer on November 21, 2007

We have all been away from Girard for a good while now, but several things have begun to push me back in this direction, and working through chapters 6-8 has been enormously helpful for me in situating his thought. I want to summarize, in extreme brevity, the summarizing work of chapters 7 and 8 and then get us moving onto the second half of the book, where Girard deals with scriptural texts directly. A few words, then. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Scapegoat, ch. 6: “Ases, Curetes, and Titans”

Posted by Robert C. on September 3, 2007

I’m really time pressed this week, so I’m going to simply mention what I personally found most intriguing in this chapter: the issue of transference. On p. 72, Girard writes:

In their eyes collective murder is too scandalous to be authentic. They do not consider it a falsification of the text when they reinterpret that scene in their own fashion. They consider the transmission of the myth at fault. Instead of faithfully reporting the tradition handed down to them, their forefathers must have corrupted it because they could not understand it. In this myth, too, the violence that was formerly shared by many is attributed to one god only, Kronos, who as a result of this transference becomes truly monstrous. This sort of caricature is unusual in myths that portray collective murder. There is a certain sharing of good and evil: moral dualism appears as collective violence is eliminated.

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The Scapegoat, chapter 5: “Teotihuacan”

Posted by joespencer on August 21, 2007

I’m glad I had to write this post this week because it impelled me to dig back into Girard, whose work (as far as this book goes) I almost had begun to feel like I had decently compassed. But there is something of a big shift in this chapter, and I hope that it yields a great deal more fruit. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Scapegoat, ch. 4: “Violence and Magic”

Posted by Robert C. on August 14, 2007

I’m not sure if this chapter was easier to read, or just easier relative to other things I’ve been reading, or if I’m just understanding Girard’s writing style better. At any right, I found lots of interesting things to think about in this chapter.

First, I find this idea of good-and-bad-as-one very interesting. On p. 47, “Lopez, like Oedipus and like Apollo himself, is both master of life and master of death.” Not quite sure why, but this reminded me of a character type called the “superfluous man” found in Russian literature, epitomized best by Lermontov in A Hero of Our Time. If I recall correctly, the setting is in Russia after the Napoleonic wars and the book is about this character who, if he had lived during the war, surely would’ve been a great war hero—he was courageous, and intelligent, and was well liked by others. However, living after the war, he doesn’t have much to engage him, so he mischievously starts playing games with a woman’s emotions (again, it’s been too long since I’ve read that book, though I found it very interesting). Anyway, this idea of hero-as-villain and villain-as-hero resonates with me. I haven’t seen the Spiderman 3 movie, but my sense is that this same idea comes into play there, as it does in many other great superhero plots. And of course we see this in LDS scripture regarding Lucifer who was one of the great ones in heaven (too much of a hurry to track down the exact verse…). Read the rest of this entry »

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The Scapegoat, chapter 3: “What is a myth?”

Posted by joespencer on July 30, 2007

In chapter 3, we suddenly find Girard changing his story: the first two chapters have been a necessary diversion or a helpful distraction. He states this quite bluntly on page 28

As a result we no longer see it [the persecution event behind the persecution text] as controversial but as the pure and simple truth of these texts. And we have good reason. It remains to find out why such a solution does not occur to us in the case of a myth like that of Oedipus. That is the real problem. The lengthy analysis I havae just given of the type of interpretation that automatically results int he identification of stereotypes of persecution was necessary in order to understand that problem.

This point of transition is vital, I think (right now), to understanding Girard’s entire project: what does this move betray about what Girard is doing? Read the rest of this entry »

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The Scapegoat, chapter 2: “Stereotypes of Persecution”

Posted by Robert C. on July 24, 2007

Here are a few of my thoughts and questions (esp. questions) in response to Chapter 2 (I’m probably going to be pretty busy over the next several days, so I’m hurrying to at least write something up):

First, before talking about sameness, difference, and the system/structure underlying community which Girard seems to discuss in the bulk of the middle of the chapter, I’d like to think a bit more about this notion of exchange as it pertains to violence, or as we commonly say, the cycle of violence. On page 13 Girard writes,

The reciprocity of negative rather than positive exchanges becomes foreshortened as it becomes more visible, as witnessed in the reciprocity of insults, blows, revenge, and neurotic symptoms. That is why traditional cultures shun a too immediate reciprocity.

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