Sacrifice, Conflict and the Foundation of Culture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the wake of the geo-political development in recent years, the question of sacrifice has come to the fore in the contemporary philosophical discussion. Does sacrifice merely sharpen conflicts between cultures, or should it be seen as an inevitable part of their foundation? This article addresses the question from the perspective of the biblical view of sacrifice, expressed paradigmat- ically in the story of the Akedah. The author picks up Merold Westphal’s argument - developed in extension to Kierkegaard - that the biblical view of sacrifice rather implies an unsettling of human culture, by pointing to a God whose transcendence disrupts and relativises every human culture. However, although Westphal’s appeal for transcendence is greeted, a more discriminating approach to transcendence, involving phenomenological and hermeneutical questions, is pleaded for. The author seeks to outline such an approach by combining Emmanuel Levinas’ critical reading of the Akedah with René Girard’s argument that the Bible ultimately reveals an anti-sacrificial logic.


External organisations
  • Stockholm school of theology
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Religious Studies
  • Philosophy


  • Sacrifice, Akedah, Kierkegaard, Levinas, Girard, culture
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-341
JournalNeue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes