Abstract

René Girard and his mimetic theory have undergone an interesting development with respect to the category of sacrifice. While the early Girard saw sacrifice as a development within the scapegoat mechanism, he later came to distinguish two types of sacrifice: one being part of scapegoating and belonging to pre-Biblical religion; the other being the sacrifice of self-offering and conforming to the act of Jesus of Nazareth. That way Girard could uphold his earlier analyses about pre-Christian sacrifice and still accept the Christian teaching that Jesus’ death was indeed a sacrifice, yet of a different kind.

As it happens, the popular Harry Potter series of novels, which was concluded in July 2007 with the publication of the seventh volume, is suffused with the language of sacrifice, beginning with Harry’s mother giving her life for her son and ending with Harry "self-sacrificing" in order to end the reign of the evil Lord Voldemort. The question is, what type of sacrifice do the popular novels espouse? Are they pre-Christian, Christian, or a syncretism of any kind?

Presupposing Girard’s developed idea of sacrifice, I will argue that J. K. Rowling’s novels do propagate a Christian conception of sacrifice, while depicting perversions of it as well. I will look at the novels from a theological perspective. By illustrating conceptions of sacrifice with pivotal scenes from the novels, I will argue that these novels indeed espouse a late-Girardian—or, if you will, Christian—view of sacrifice.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.