Theology Beyond Metaphysics (Paperback)
A theory of human origins that is one-half Charles Darwin and one-half Cain and Abel is bound to entail a lot of rethinking of traditional themes. Rene Girard's thesis of original human violence and the Bible's power to reveal it has been around for more than a generation, but its consequences for Christian theology are still only slowly being unpacked. Anthony Bartlett's book makes a signal contribution, representing an astonishing leap forward in understanding what a biblical disclosure of founding violence means for Christian thought and life. If human language arose directly out of the primal experience of murder, then semiotics becomes a core area for theological examination. Tracing the discipline of semiotics through postmodern thinkers, then back through its birth in the Latin era, Bartlett shows how Girard's thought is itself a semiotic emergence, beyond standard Christian metaphysics. Above all, Girardian theory of human signs demands we see the generative impact of violence in our language and thought, and then, conversely, that the Word of God, crucified without retaliation and risen in the same identity, brings a totally new sign and relation into history, offering a thoroughgoing transformation of human life and meaning.
Anthony Bartlett earned his PhD at Syracuse University in 1999. Previously he ran a center for the homeless in London, England, and before that served as a Roman Catholic priest. His time as a priest brought him wide theological exposure, including study in Rome, and he has continued to research, write, and teach theology as impacted by Girardian anthropology. He is the author of several books, including a sci-fi novel. He's married with three children.