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Sacred Violence: Paul's Hermeneutic of the Cross
by Robert G. Hamerton-Kelly
List Price: Paperback $30.0

Sigler Price: Paperback $17.00 

Cloth - 230 pp
ISBN 0800625293
Fortress Press


Is there a necessary link between religion and violence?  Robert Hamerton-Kelly uses the hermeneutic of Rene Girard to frame a creative description of Paul's understanding of the death of Jesus, of sin, of Judaism, of the Law of Moses, of eros and agape.  The result is a startlingly new statement on Paul and on the dynamics of "sacred-violence."

Editorial Comments

This book is fundamentally about participative seeing.  Trying on the lenses ground in the hermeneutical laboratory of Rene Girard, Hamerton-Kelly asks whether looking in, through, and behind the letters of Paul we can see both the basic structure of our violent world (religion as the vortex of sacred violence) and the God-give antidote to it.  Given Paul's focus on the death of Jesus, the cross then emerges as the deconstruction of sacrifice, enabling us to withfraw our allegiance from the contemporary structure of sacrificial violence and to find -- in mimetic fellowship with the crucified -- true love of one another and the true hope of resurrection.

It is a fresh and powerful vision, demanding the attention of both peacemakers and readers of the Bible, and opening the possibility that each group may recognize itself in the other.

J. Louis Martyn

Building on the theoretical foundations of the French literary critic Rene Girard, Hamerton-Kelly argues that the cross of Christ is redemptive because it reveals the true dimensions of religious violence as motivated by an exclusive understanding of the law.  He shows that the death of Christ was offered as a transforming propitiation to humankind, revealing the imitation of vengeance that a perverse but universally shared view of the sacred produces.  Redemption thus gives human beings the chance to take responsibility for their violence, to escape its mystique, and to enter into new relationships of a nonacquisitive and consensual type.  This book provides the most compelling treatment of the death of Christ currently available, offering revolutionary insights into important issues in current ethic and theology.  Its provocative analysis . . . will likely make this the most hotly debated book of the season.

Robert Jewett

Written with conviction and courage, this is a new and daring approach to Paul in the light of Girard's theory of mimesis, scapegoating, and of a violence at the heart of the Sacred.  It will challenge and disturb Jews and Christians and all who have honored the category of the "Sacred."  This most serious work demands a most serious assessment and response.

W. D. Davies

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