Colby Dickinson and Stéphane Symons, eds., Walter Benjamin and Theology [Book review]

2017-05-23T13:32:14Z (GMT) by Marcos Norris
Scholarly interest in Marxist literary critic and political philosopher Walter Benjamin has steadily increased over the last forty years. Today, Benjamin’s theoretical insights pervade the landscape of continental philosophy. His ideas have deeply influenced writers as diverse as Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, Sajov Zizek, and Judith Butler, but the nature of his contributions to contemporary philosophical debates is, like the author’s own body of work, diverse and often enigmatic. Perhaps complicating matters, the past decade of continental philosophy has seen a resurgence in Pauline thought which, in its various manifestations, purports to uncover the Judeo-Christian foundations of antinomianism, or the undoing of Jewish law and other representational boundaries. As Howard Eiland writes, Benjamin’s philosophical messianism unites with the political theology of the apostle Paul in “its overcoming (‘dying to’) both natural law and state law, both Greek rationalism and Jewish legalism, in its decisive setting-apart of truth from all possession (of knowledge, of property)” (124). In this manner, the so-called “religious turn” in continental philosophy has brought underrepresented strains of Benjamin’s oeuvre to the fore.