For the sake of sorrow: Christian Holocaust theology and the interpretation of the Resurrection

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




David L. Miller


Christian, Holocaust, Theology, Resurrection

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


This dissertation challenges René Girard's reading of the resurrection of Jesus, insisting that any substantive re-evaluation and re-interpretation of the crucifixion must necessarily involve a re-interpretation of the resurrection as well. The context in which this challenge takes place is that of Christian Holocaust theology, following the work of Alice and A. Roy Eckardt's Long Night's Journey into Day . The Eckardts openly and without hesitation criticize those elements of Christian theology which allow complacency (and in some instance, complicity) in the face of mass murder. In the course of their work, however, they designate the resurrection as a primary theological link to the death camps. This dissertation examines their understanding of the resurrection and demonstrates that their reading of the resurrection is dependent upon what Girard calls the "sacrificial" reading of the crucifixion. Given the anthropology of the victimization mechanism and the subsequent interpretation of the crucifixion which Girard offers utilizing his theory (the "non-sacrificial" reading of the crucifixion) the path is open toward a non-sacrificial reading of the resurrection which need not lead inevitably to the death camps, but which works to deconstruct Christian violence toward Jews by demanding that Christianity accept accountability for the violence done in the name of the one crucified.

Chapter One surveys Jewish and Christian responses to the Holocaust. Chapter Two surveys scholarship regarding the interpretation of the crucifixion and resurrection and presents Girard's non-sacrificial reading of the crucifixion. Chapter Three examines the work of Alice and A. Roy Eckardt and demonstrates the dependency of their reading of the resurrection on Jürgen Moltmann's theology, which is shown to have several elements in common with the sacrificial reading of the crucifixion and resurrection, as well as certain theologies of atonement. Chapter Four contrasts the historical and literary concerns of René Girard with the work of John Dominic Crossan and establishes Girard's oversight with respect to his treatment of the resurrection--he has not followed through on the movement of thought which begins with a non-sacrificial reading of the crucifixion. Chapter Five weaves two avenues of thought together (the question of the interpretation of the figure of Judas and the impact of the non-sacrificial reading of the crucifixion on the interpretation of the resurrection) and offers a new reading of the resurrection.


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