Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2016


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Marie Baird

Committee Member

George Worgul

Committee Member

Sebastian Madathummuriyil


Eucharist, Sacrifice


In this dissertation I examine the Sacrament of the Eucharist in light of the theory of sacrifice proposed by René Girard. Specifically, I consider the Eucharist within the context of the sacrificial nature of Christianity, a matter of some controversy as regards both the early thought of Girard and those who have taken up and developed his thought. In his early work Girard rejects the notion of a Christian sacrifice. In later works, the realization that Christian and archaic sacrifice are analogous realities that have a typological relation helps him come to accept the notion of a Christian sacrifice, but certain expressions throughout his corpus give evidence that he is not entirely at ease with a fully typological understanding of the relationship of archaic religion and Christianity.

This dissertation seeks to establish the typological character of Girard’s thought, and to understand sacrifice and the relation of archaic religion to Christianity this light. The typological character of Girard’s thought comes into view within his analysis of idolatry. Idolatry is seen to form a type that bears the character of a parody that comes fully into view in light of Christian realities. Both the adoration that mimetic desire directs towards the model of desire and the violent worship of the victims of sacrifice emerge as anticipatory parodies of Christian life and worship. The parody emerges fully when Christ recapitulates its elements. Freeing humanity from idolatry means re-presenting in a healed and restored manner all of the elements of the original parodies, which includes archaic sacrifice. The meaning and purpose of Christian sacrifice will be examined in this light, first to see its role in completing the recapitulation of human nature and human culture, and then to understand better its role in Christian life.

Lastly, the dissertation will consider the significance of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Specifically, the dissertation will examine the Eucharist’s role in bringing the individual believer to participate in Christ’s renewing re-presentation of all things human, to bring him or her out of the parody of idolatry and into the truth and beauty of authentic discipleship.