Girard on Christ’s Death

Girard on Christ’s Death December 3, 2003

There’s an intriguing interview with Rene Girard in Touchstone as well. His most provocative comments come in response to a question about his “non-sacrificial” understanding of the death of Christ:

“It is not quite true that I take what you have called a ‘non-sacrificial reading of the death of Christ.’ We must establish first of all that there are two kinds of sacrifice.

“Both forms are shown together (and I am not sure anywhere else) in the story of Solomon’s judgment in the third chapter of 1 Kings. Two prostitutes bring a baby. They are doubles engaging in a rivalry over what is apparently a surviving child. When Solomon offers to split the child, the one woman says, ‘yes,’ because she wishes to triumph over her rival. The other woman then says, ‘No, she may have the child,’ because she seeks only its life. On the basis of this love, the king declares that ‘she is the mother.’

“Note that it does not matter who is the biological mother. The one who was willing to sacrifice herself for the child’s life is in fact the mother. The first woman is willing to sacrifice a child to the needs of rivalry. Sacrifice is the solution to mimetic rivalry and the foundation of it. The second woman is willing to sacrifice everything in the sense of the gospel. It is in this sense that Christ is a sacrifice since he gave himself ‘for the life of the world.’”

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