Universal History: The Bridegroom and the Scapegoat | with Richard Rohlin

by | Apr 19, 2022 | Videos

In this Universal History episode Richard Rohlin and I talk about holy week and the idea of marriage as the basis of civilization alongside René Girard’s idea of the sacrifice and the scapegoat.

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  1. Janine

    For me as Orthodox Christian, the most significant work of Girard is in his book “I See Satan Fall Like Lightning.” This is because he compares the scapegoat of the myths (and the societies based on them) and then the scapegoat in the Old Testament, and then the New. And Girard speaks about the change in the understanding of the scapegoat through those developments. He goes from the myths and pagan societies in which the scapegoat is entirely guilty, to the OT where the “small” people who are often scapegoats are good (Jews), and finally to the point where you get in the NT the Scapegoat who is the completely most Innocent person — and most good and holy — of the society. This is very important and it is a teaching about our violence. (And leads us to think about theodicy in an important way.)

    In the context of your talk, our “scapegoat” is our Bridegroom which entirely fits with the Bridegroom icon. Most notably is the willing sacrifice, the willingness to be the scapegoat in this case. This is such a profound part of the Gospels it is not a conflict but something that has to lead us to more understanding, more things to think about.

    That prisoner/Bridegroom icon is also the icon of marriage — the mutual sacrifice it requires (a much more pragmatic understanding of marriage than the modern “myths” we see). This is even more pertinent to the scapegoat understanding

    Also the “final rejection” really came because of the raising of Lazarus. The cleansing of the Temple incurs the demand to know by what authority He does what He does. He also frequently spends the night on the Mount of Olives with the other pilgrims.

  2. Janine

    The fig tree was showy with foliage — that was the point. His whole criticism of the religious leadership was based on their hypocrisy: one beautiful, light, showy thing on the outside, and something empty or dark on the inside.


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