WN: This was written by Simon J. Taylor, and is so helpful in understanding René Girard.
What difference does it make to human society that Jesus was crucified? This is, I think, the fundamental question that René Girard addresses in what he has called ‘the anthropology of the cross’. Girard’s work on anthropology, literature and psychology ends up at the foot of the cross. The cross is, for Girard, the defining moment of human society and religion. It is the cross that enables us to see them for what they are; it is the vantage point from which we obtain the most clarity. Girard’s thesis is startlingly simple. Jesus’ death on the cross shows the violence at the heart of human society of which religion is the most important institution. In revealing this violence the cross renders it impotent. All human society requires a willingness to accept the falsehood that those killed in its name are guilty. The declaration of Jesus’ innocence stands against this. Like all simple theses, of course, it is capable of a great deal of explanation and development, and it is in this development that we find the power and significance of Girard’s work. Before attempting such an explanation, however, we should turn to some background.
Please click on: Cruciform anthropology