Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2015


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

William Wright

Committee Member

Bogdan Bucur

Committee Member

Elisabeth Vasko


Covenant, Cross, Eucharist, René Girard, Last Supper, Soteriology


This study assesses René Girard's claims regarding the Gospels' understanding of Jesus' death. Though Girard contends that the Gospels never depict Jesus' death as an atonement for sin, there are significant passages that Girard avoids discussing like the Last Supper sayings in the Synoptic Gospels. This dissertation investigates whether these central passages, along with other supporting texts in the Synoptics, jeopardize the viability of Girard's assertions, especially when they are read in light of restoration theology.

The core components of Girard's thought, his reading of salvation history, and the ways in which Girard's followers have adapted his thought are adumbrated in the opening chapters. Once the Girardian approach to soteriology has been depicted with its various permutations, the research turns towards Israel's hopes for restoration after the exile, including the reconstitution of its covenantal relationship with YHWH, as they are articulated in the Old Testament and intertestamental literature in order to establish the historical and theological context for reading the Gospels. After identifying the core components of restoration theology, it is argued that the Synoptic Gospels situate Jesus within Israel's hopes for restoration and that this backdrop should inform one's reading of the Synoptics rather than presupposing a polemical relationship between the Gospels and mythology as Girard does. After establishing restoration theology as the leitmotif of the Synoptics, specific attention is devoted to the Last Supper sayings along with other passages that, when read in light of restoration theology, indicate Jesus' death reconstitutes God's covenant relationship with his people by atoning for their sin. Should the exegesis and hermeneutical approach of this study prove persuasive, the conclusions jeopardize Girard's global claims regarding the Gospels' dearth of atonement theology. As a result, concessions or alterations will be necessary. The final segment of the study offers several ways in which Girardian soteriology could be reframed in order to account for the results of this particular study.