Jacob Taubes: The Political Theology of Paul

This is one of those books one should treasure. Not so much for its particular subject, which is interesting in itself, but because this is one of those books that had to ”happen”.

It is based on recordings from Taubes final lecture series, held in 1987 when he was dying from cancer. They were delivered during four days in a week, the day off in the middle he spent in intensive care. He held them without anything like a manuscript, and originally they were to deal with something else, but when he realised he was dying he chose to speak about what he had been thinking about for several decades, that is, Paus letter to the Romans.

Obviously, not all of this is original or unique: the basic notion that ”Luther was wrong” is by now fairly well established. And to read Romans as an attack on Rome might be to overstate the case. But fascinating for me is the way he traces a jewish tradition of reading Paul (e.g. Spinoza, Freud) and the way he uses his own jewish tradition to read Paul as a jew concerned with jewish matters.

Of course this is a key text to understand recent developments in the mostly atheist interest in Paul (Zizek, Agamben etc.), and as such really helpful. It is also a joy to read, it is a very ”oral” text, edited only for clarity, it is in parts very funny. I also found his engagement, both personally and intellectually, with Carl Schmitt extremely interesting.

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