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René Girard and the Nonviolent God
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Hardcover | 9780268104535 | November 2018
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268104559 | November 2018
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268104566 | November 2018
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In his latest book on the ground-breaking work of René Girard (1923–2015), Scott Cowdell sets out a new perspective on mimetic theory and theology: he develops the proposed connection between Girardian thought and theological dramatic theory in new directions, engaging with issues of evolutionary suffering and divine providence, inclusive Christian uniqueness, God's judgment, nonviolent atonement, and the spiritual life. Cowdell reveals a powerful, illuminating, and life-enhancing synergy between mimetic theory and Christianity at its best.
With religion widely seen as increasingly violent and intransigent, the true Christian emphasis on divine solidarity, mercy, and healing is in danger of being lost. René Girard provides a countervailing voice. He emerges from Cowdell's study not only as a necessary dialogue partner for theology today, but as a global prophet offering hope and challenge in equal measure.
René Girard was a Catholic cultural theorist whose mimetic theory achieved a powerful symbiosis of social science with scripture and theology, yielding a unique perspective on humanity’s origins, violent history, and future prospects. Cowdell maps this synergy, revealing theological themes present from Girard’s earliest writings to the latest, less-familiar publications. He resolves a number of theological challenges to Girard’s work, engaging mimetic theory in fruitful dialogue with key themes, movements, and thinkers in theology today.
Bringing a distinctive Anglican voice to a largely Catholic debate, Cowdell gives an orthodox theological account of Girard’s intellectual achievement, bearing witness to Christianity’s nonviolent God. This book will be of great interest to theologians, seminarians and clergy of all traditions, Girardians, and Christian peace activists.
Scott Cowdell is an Australian Anglican priest and a research professor in public and contextual theology at Charles Sturt University, Canberra. He is the author of René Girard and Secular Modernity: Christ, Culture, and Crisis (University of Notre Dame Press, 2013) and several earlier books.
"Great theological writing comes with age. Great books arise when the author has lived with, analyzed deeply, and sees a way forward that others cannot see. Scott Cowdell has written a great book; it is a powerful analysis of the mimetic theory of René Girard placing Girard's insights into conversation with the best of contemporary thought, and offering an apologia for Girard that could create new trajectories of theological thought. Cowdell at his best: a masterpiece of a book." —The Very Rev. Dr. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary
"This book offers a fresh and adventurous theological take on the work of René Girard and the bourgeoning area of mimetic theory inspired by his work. For all the creative work that has been done on Girard's work in the area of theology, there is still a need to bring this work into a more systematic and constructive form. By working through the early, middle, and later eras of Girard's work, and by incorporating a broad range of secondary sources that have occasioned new questions and insights, this book provides a valuable resource to theologians who may or may not be deeply knowledgeable of Girard's work."—Brian Robinette, Boston College
“This is an excellent work. Though Cowdell has already written extensively on René Girard and mimetic theory, he breaks new ground here. He is developing his own distinctive take on mimetic theory—in this case an Anglican Catholic take that strikes me as not only valuable but attractive. The scholarship is masterful. Cowdell has already shown himself the master of digesting large quantities of theology and presenting them in a highly readable way. It is one of the joys of reading him." —Jeremiah Alberg, editor of Apocalypse Deferred: Girard and Japan
“Scott Cowdell submits again a very readable engagement with René Girard’s mimetic theory. This time he unfolds its significance for theology by taking up with critics such as Hans Urs von Balthasar, John Milbank, and Sarah Coakley and by developing his own dramatic theology alongside James Alison and Raymund Schwager. His five-act Girardian Theo-drama that encompasses the evolutionary nature and pan-historical scope of mimetic theory demonstrates convincingly how much Girard’s emphasis on God’s nonviolence can contribute to our theological debates of today.” —Wolfgang Palaver, University of Innsbruck
“A scholar of public and contextual theology, Cowdell is one of the most prominent interpreters of René Girard’s mimetic theory.” —Choice