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Sacrifice (Breakthroughs in Mimetic Theory) Paperback – April 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Breakthroughs in Mimetic Theory
  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: Michigan State University Press (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870139924
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870139925
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 4.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #943,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ren� Girard is a member of the French Academy and Emeritus Professor at Stanford University. His books have been translated and acclaimed worldwide. He received the Modern Language Association's Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement in 2008.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Henry Berry on May 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
In this diminutive-sized monograph in the publisher's series Breakthroughs in Mimetic Theory, Girard casts Vedic (Asian Indian) sacrifice into the perspective by which sacrifice in Western religion as recounted in the Bible has come to be understood. The religious grounds for such sacrifice in the Vedic religion are found mainly in the "Brahmanas," a "selective anthology" of Vedic writings ignored or scorned by most leading scholars of Indian religion when this became a subject of interest in the late nineteenth century. Because of this marginalization of writings dealing with Vedic sacrifice, the place of sacrifice in Indian religious practices and Indian society was not generally known by Westerners.

Vedic sacrifice, most importantly human but animal too, served the same purpose in Indian society as in Western society. Mainly, a scapegoat was sought for sacrifice to keep social cohesion and confirm community conventions and mores. In the Western tradition, as recorded in the Bible, Jesus was the ultimate sacrificial victim. His sacrifice however, as ultimately with Vedic sacrifice, meant to strengthen social cohesion resulted eventually in breaking up such cohesion and serving as a passage to a successive social form. Girard's focus is this ambivalence--or what he in places calls the "enigma"--of sacrifice by which it is at its deepest level an agency for social transformation.

Sacrifice is ambivalent because the sacrificer such as the Brahmins in early Indian religion know that sacrifice is murder. Thus elaborate ceremonies often involving drugs--the hallucinogenic "soma" for the Brahmins--and rationalizations such as the victim as the "other" or the "outsider" surround sacrifice. Some ceremonies call for apologizing to the victim before the sacrifice.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By George Farahat on June 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Professor Girard shares his research in Mimetic Theory applying it to the Vedic Hindu tradition and comparing his findings to the Biblical accounts. He is able to show that the Vedic myths are very similar to the Biblical stories in revealing the scapegoat mechanism, yet they are different as the Vedic myths do not condemn the evil act in the process while the Biblical writers do. Quite enlightening!
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By matt on August 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have to say that after reading Stephen Finlan's works on sacrifice that this was a bit less engaging, both technically and in style, as it reads like a grad school paper. I was glad it was so brief. And before anyone thinks I am dissing, I fully acknowledge Girard's genius and influence in the mimetic realm. I found his comparison of certain Hindu texts to the idea of scapegoat sacrifice to be very informative, as I have no working knowledge of it beyond academics. His application of the mimetic concept was new to me as well, and for that I am glad to have read the book. I wonder, however, if he might not overplay his hand in casting the argument too narrowly along the scapegoat lines of sacrifice as if that is THE definitive model in Judaism, and by extension, Christianity, upon which a great deal of his thesis hangs. Sometimes to make all-encompassing generalizations for specific applications we paint with too wide of a brush. He does make the disclaimer that his thoughts, while not preliminary, are not as detailed as he could be. Perhaps I am asking too much.

I do have to say, however, that a book dealing with sacrifice in the Gospels, which concludes that Christianity has forever abolished blood sacrifice wherever it goes, seems a little off base when it fails to recognize the centrality of the Eucharist as an anamnesis, a making present, of the sacrifice of Christ. The very heart of the earliest Christian ritual was this participation in the sacrificed and glorified blood and body of Christ. (He mentions Celsus briefly, and could have worked this angle in here, as one of his the Roman arguments against the new faith was its supposed cannibalism.) Fertile soil there for planting was ignored I am afraid.
Not sure I would read this again.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mawdz on September 21, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Purchasers need to be aware that this book is very tiny... it will hardly make a contirbution to your bookshelf. Its content is Girardian theory, and if you subscribe to, or are curious about his thoeries then fair enough, but if you are on a budget the money spent may buy more value on other volumes.
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