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The historical conditions surrounding the processes of forming a canon (its canonicity) are rarely examined directly, yet it is these processes which govern over the realm of (religious) representations and identity constructions. In light of several recent publications which have directly criticized the explicitly monotheistic scriptures, it has become imperative to address theologically the role which the canon plays within religious tradition. By focusing on the role of the canonical form in the works of Jan Assmann and René Girard, for example, this essay will demonstrate the cultural necessity of canonical forms despite their ‘monotheistic tendency’ to subdivide the world into binary divisions. In this regard, it is by utilizing a scale of violence to determine the impact of the canonical form upon culture that this essay seeks to provide an account of canons and their role in forming religious identities over and beyond the violence they are said to provoke in our world. Through a clarification of the violence which a canon is capable of promoting within societies, another alternative perspective of canons can emerge. Such an alternative moreover serves to reveal the violence at the core of cultural-canonical norms, thus providing a valuable distinction between differing (violence-concealing or violence-revealing) canonical forms.


Author Posting. © Cambridge University Press, 2013. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Cambridge University Press for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version is forthcoming and will be published in published in Horizons.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.