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Poverty, Peacemaking and the Sacred: A Girardian Reading of the Early Franciscan Movement

KELLY, LIAM (2021) Poverty, Peacemaking and the Sacred: A Girardian Reading of the Early Franciscan Movement. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.




This thesis is a structured dialogue between the theological and social concerns of the early Franciscan movement and the insights of the contemporary cultural theorist, René Girard. Acknowledging from the outset different historical contexts, different methodologies and different core commitments the thesis, nevertheless, indicates a fertile range of shared perspectives amounting to a new reading of the early Franciscan movement. This dialogue has a twofold purpose: to interpret the spiritual and social novelty of the early Franciscan movement from a new perspective, outside the hitherto dominant categories of medieval scholasticism, or indeed, the categories of mystical and ascetical theology, medieval hagiography and later, romanticism. A mimetic reading of the early Franciscan movement is helpful in transcending the limits of traditional interpretations, particularly the culturally dominant romantic interpretation. This thesis indicates how romantic and neo-romantic interpretations of Francis of Assisi and the early friars continue to obscure, more than they explain, both the founder and the movement. Secondly this thesis grounds Girard’s mimetic theory in an historical moment within a concrete social and political reality. Mimetic theory, frequently criticized as an abstraction, at least with respect to any positive political expression, is here theoretically clothed in the garb of the early Franciscan friars. A social and political grounding of mimetic theory benefits Girard’s theory even as his theory breathes new life into the narrative of early Franciscanism. A Girardian reading of the early Franciscan movement is by no means definitive in its scope. In the style of Girard it serves, rather, to draw together into new perspectives elements of an old story. In doing so it offers an established tradition of Catholic ecclesial life a voice on contemporary questions of desire, peace-making, violence and belonging.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Early Franciscan movement. Francis of Assisi. René Girard. Mimetic Theory. Peacemaking. Voluntary Poverty.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 Dec 2021 12:07

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