In lectures and conference presentations, I often have occasion to mention the ransom theory of atonement, or the crucifixion more generally. As such, I am very, very frequently asked how my work relates to Girard. And my answer is: it doesn’t, because I have never read Girard, indeed never even held one of his books in my hand.
I don’t expect that I ever will. Why? Because — although I’m sure there is a vast archipelago of nuance and subtlety that I’m missing here — every summary of Girard that I have ever read or heard sounds like a simplistic social theory that just so happens to make Christianity unique and central. In fact, I suspect that it’s the simplicity of his theory that makes it such a go-to for Q&A sessions, because it makes Girard the one theorist of the cross everyone can remember.
Admittedly, I may be falling victim to the paralogisms of pure dismissal insofar as I’m giving reasons for dismissing Girard. And it could be the case that there’s a valuable counter-reading that I could find if I studied his work intently, reading against the grain, etc. But given the unanimity of the summary accounts, I just can’t imagine that there would be some amazing nuance that would save Girard and make his theory useful to me.