Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Friday's children : an examination of theologies of martyrdom in the light of the mimetic theory of Rene Girard.
Author: Kirwan, Michael Joseph.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3600 495X
Awarding Body: Heythrop College (University of London)
Current Institution: Heythrop College (University of London)
Date of Award: 1998
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
The thesis looks in detail at different understandings of the phenomenon and significance of Christian martyrdom, with a view to what is needed for an adequate doctrine of martyrdom for the present day. My primary methodological tool will be the 'mimetic' theory associated with the cultural anthropologist Rene Girard, which looks at the interrelations between culture, religion and violence. I work, therefore, with two aims in view: firstly, an enhanced doctrine of martyrdom, and secondly, an assessment of the utility or otherwise of mimetic theory when applied to a particular area of Christian doctrine. In a preliminary first chapter, I establish the theological context within which questions about martyrdom are to be raised, namely the doctrine of atonement. I provide a survey of recent reflection on the principal metaphors of atonement (victory over demonic powers, justice, sacrifice), and indicate how this approach may be of hel p in constructing a theology of martyrdom. The second chapter offers a description and definition of Christian martyrdom by way of an extensive historical survey, drawing upon biblical, martyrological and 'patristic sources. I show how this 'classical' doctrine of martyrdom contains a number of problematic aspects. A discussion of twentieth-century reflections and reworkings of the theme of martyrdom reveals further complexities for an adequate doctrine. It is these aporias, I contend, which require a fresh theoretical approach- namely, that of mimetic theory- if an adequate doctrine is to be worked out. Chapter Three introduces the mimetic theory associated with Girard and developed for systematic theology by the Swiss Jesuit, Raymund Schwager, and essays a critical assessment. I contend that mimetic theory opens up two methodological options for a reflection on martyrdom: a radical hermeneutic of suspicion, and the basis of a 'dramatic' theology. On the basis of these two options, therefore, the discussion of the final fourth chapter addresses the aporias of the theology of martyrdom. I confirm here the abiding importance of martyrdom for systematic theology, while making explicit the criteria (drawn from mimetic theory and other sources) by which a non-pathological, 'authentic' theology of martyrdom may be affirmed. The preceding discussions are illustrated by means of two Appendices, which look in more detail at selected scriptural passages and early martyrological texts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Christian martyrdom