The Prophetic Law
Essays in Judaism, Girardianism, Literary Studies, and the Ethical
Studies in Violence, Mimesis & Culture
Published by: Michigan State University Press
Imprint: Michigan State University Press
Sales Date: 2014-01-01
To read literature is to read the way literature reads. René Girard’s immense body of work supports this thesis bountifully. Whether engaging the European novel, ancient Greek tragedy, Shakespeare’s plays, or Jewish and Christian scripture, Girard teaches us to read prophetically, not by offering a method he has developed, but by presenting the methodologies they have developed, the interpretative readings already available within (and constitutive of) such bodies of classical writing. In The Prophetic Law, literary scholar, theorist, and critic Sandor Goodhart divides his essays on René Girard since 1983 into four groupings. In three, he addresses Girardian concerns with Biblical scripture (Genesis and Exodus), literature (the European novel and Shakespeare), and philosophy and religious studies issues (especially ethical and Jewish subject matters). In a fourth section, he reproduces some of the polemical exchanges in which he has participated with others—including René Girard himself—as part of what could justly be deemed Jewish-Christian dialogue. The twelve texts that make up the heart of this captivating volume constitute the bulk of the author’s writings to date on Girard outside of his three previous books on Girardian topics. Taken together, they offer a comprehensive engagement with Girard’s sharpest and most original literary, anthropological, and scriptural insights.
An Introduction to Girardian Reading
Part One. Dialogue Among Girardians
“I Am Joseph”: Judaism, Anti-Idolatry, and the Prophetic Law
A Jewish-Christian Dialogue
al lo-chamas ’asah (Although He Had Done No Violence): René Girard and the Innocent Victim
Response by René Girard and Reply to René Girard
Part Two. Girardian Reading and the Scriptural
The End of Sacrifice: Reading René Girard and the Hebrew Bible
From Sacrificial Violence to Responsibility: The Education of Moses in Exodus 2–4
Part Three. Girardian Reading and the Literary
Reading Religion, Literature, and the End of Desire: Mensongea romantique et vérité romanesque at Fifty
“Nothing Extenuate”: Love, Jealousy, and Reading in Shakespeare’s Othello
Part Four. Girardian Reading and the Ethical
Reading Halachically and Aggadically: A Response to Reuven Kimelman
The Self and Other People: Reading Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation with René Girard and Emmanuel Levinas
From the Sacred to the Holy: René Girard, Emmanuel Levinas, and Substitution
Back to the Future: The Prophetic and the Apocalyptic in Jewish and Christian Settings
Conclusions: Reading René Girard
Sandor Goodhart claims that one can sustain a Girardian reading of the sacrificial and the mimetic and remain a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Muslim, or a Jew. His own intellectual itinerary exemplifies impressively how a Jewish reader can broaden the understanding of René Girard’s mimetic theory by uncovering its prophetic roots and by complementing it with Emmanuel Levinas’s emphasis on the ethical.
--Wolfgang Palaver, Institute for Systematic Theology, University of Innsbruck
Goodhart brings to these deft readings in Mosaic law and prophetic tradition a thorough grounding in René Girard’s mimetic theory and in Hebrew culture. The result is a Jewish-Christian dialogue that interweaves the most powerful cognitive and ethical insights of our religious heritage.
--Andrew J . McKenna, Professor of French Language and Literature, Loyola University
These collected essays reflect a Jewish intellectual’s lifelong, devoted, and critical engagement with the mimetic theory of René Girard, the renowned French cultural anthropologist, literary critic, and Biblical interpreter who was Goodhart’s teacher at SUNY Buffalo. As the developing corpus of his writings show, Girard also learned a great deal from Goodhart. Indeed, principally because of Goodhart, it is now possible to imagine a Jewish Girardianism.
--Ann W. Astell, Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
Essays by Goodhart and responses from René Girard and others address a common theme: Goodhart’s call to bring within the purview of mimetic theory the anti-sacrificial message of Judaism and other religious and reflective traditions. An essential back story to the Girardian corpus, these essays chronicle and preserve for future generations a conversation that spanned two decades and had a transformative impact on mimetic theory.
--Martha J. Reineke, Professor of Religion, University of Northern Iowa