Girard, Religion, Violence, and Modern Martyrdom

Michael Kirwan

in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199588961
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Girard, Religion, Violence, and Modern Martyrdom

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This article frames the analysis of religion and violence with special reference to modern martyrdom in terms of a critique of Girard's theory of religion and violence that speaks of the annulment of the violent sacred. It sees this account, which is robustly Christian, as being highly problematic for many in a religiously pluralistic society. However, if understood correctly, the Girardian idea of religion and the annulment of violence need not offend non-Christians. The discussion also considers ways in which militant jihad and shahid or Islamic martyrdom may be interpreted in a way similar to the Girardian intepretation that speaks of the ‘abrogation’ of the false and violent sacred. This is not simply wishful thinking, for Islam is not as bereft of hermeneutical tools as is widely thought.

Keywords: Girardian interpretation; modern martyrdom; religious theory; violent sacred; religious pluralism; jihad; shahid

Article.  6533 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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