My AAR paper: Negri and Gutierrez on Job

[I presented this on Saturday, November 19, under the auspices of the Bible, Theology, and Postmodernism group. I admit that my last couple paragraphs are somewhat self-indulgent, but my audience was forgiving.]

Gutierrez and Negri on Job:
Between Theology and Materialism

Adam Kotsko
Shimer College

For those of us who have been following the burgeoning trend of radical philosophical readings of the Bible, Negri’s Labor of Job may represent something of a breath of fresh air, not least because a major philosopher has finally chosen to focus on something other than the letters of Paul. More significant from my perspective, however, is the fact that Negri brings a voice into this dialogue that has often been neglected by recent philosophical interpreters: liberation theology.

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Presentation: “Agamben, Paul, and the Oath”

This afternoon, I was invited by my friend Virgil (Bill) Brower to give a presentation at Northwestern under the auspices of the Paul of Tarsus Reading Group. The topic is Agamben’s engagement with Paul in The Sacrament of Language, and you can read the text of my presentation here (PDF).

My AAR presentation

This year I was fortunate to be part of a panel on “The Body of Christ” put on by the Bible, Theology, and Postmodernism group at the AAR. Presenters approached this theme from various directions — Mark L. Taylor critiqued Agamben’s category of bare life by arguing that his messianism is devoid of any reference to “crucified flesh,” Shelly Rambo put forward the idea of a “spectral Jesus,” and Jon Berquist discussed the Body of Christ in connection with the work of “the postmodern philosopher Paul.” I have posted my paper, entitled “Zizek and the Excremental Body of Christ,” on Scribd.

Scenes from a Conference

With much-appreciated financial assistance from a few of you here at AUFS and the fine folks who put together this year’s Religion, Literature & Culture Conference at the University of Iowa, a few weeks ago I made my way to Iowa City. First things first: I absolutely love Midwestern college towns. I like college towns in general, but something about in-the-middle-of-nowhere Midwestern college towns are especially delightful. One minute you’re dining at a Long John Silvers in some random highway-exit town, whose denizens actually wore blue overalls, like they knew I was going to be there and had to fulfill the stereotype, taking in the insanely paranoid, but wonderfully narrative, signs that adorn Illinois’ & Iowa’s rural highways; and the next you find yourself surrounded by the soon-to-be-ex-Iowa-residents, the gorgeous corn-fed students of the University of Iowa. Back to the signs real quickly: the ones telling the story of the grandeur of corn were self-serving in a way that I could understand, if not agree with. More interesting, though, were the ones arguing against anti-gun laws that, at least on a national level, to my knowledge anyway, are not even being discussed in committee. Fox News country is, they led me to believe, very dangerous. Unarmed, I kept my doors locked and windows tightly closed. Read the rest of this entry »

Last Minute Conference Collaboration

I will be reading two papers at the Midwest Region AAR meeting tomorrow (at Augustana College, Rock Island, IL), and would love to meet up for lunch with any AUFS lurkers if they will be there, or go see their papers if they are presenting. I would have posted something earlier this week, but I have been fighting a sickness and was not certain I would make it. I will begiving a paper entitled, “Christology After the Death of God: Incarnation and the Rise of Secularism” (Session 3:4, 10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.), in a session on the Incarnation with Even Kuehn and Nathan Crawford giving papers on Kathryn Tanner’s Christ the Key, with Samuel Chambers responding). I will be in another session giving a paper on John Milbank and Jeffrey Stout: “Theopolitics After Secular Liberalism, Theological Traditionalism, and Incomplete Pragmatism: Assessing Jeffrey Stout and Radical Orthodoxy” (Session 2:2, 8:30-10:15 a.m.).

The Post-Christ and the Ascension

The following is part of an essay I am proposing for some conferences, titled “The Passing of the Peace: The Ascension after the Death of God.”  Here I am working through a notion of the Post-Christ, which is the reality of Christ between the resurrection and the ascension.  The bottom line here is questioning the absolute exigency of the resurrection in most radical theologies, that it seems to me that the “Christ-event” is more than the resurrection.  Is the resurrection the main act?  Or is there something radical to be disclosed if we do not stop reading at the resurrection, and on to the ascension (and later, Pentecost)?


With the arrival of the first fruits of the Post-Christ and the New Creation with the event of the resurrection, old thinking about the divine must transfigure, as the Christ-event has fundamentally changed any conception of God in such a cataclysmic way that a new post-Temple epoch may be conceived.  After all, “death” is an “impossible” concept for the Post-Christ, according to the Pentecost narrative in Acts 2:24.  We should recall that in the apocalypse of 2 Baruch, after the destruction of the first temple, the angels inhabited the real, spiritual temple.  Given Luke’s nostalgia for the recently-destroyed Temple, could it be possible that the ascension is a ritual exercise recalling the post-Temple apocalypse of 2 Baruch?[1] Even though the ascension is an upward movement, it is an ascension into a temporally destroyed temple, an apocalyptic ascension in a post-resurrection world that is a final symbolic movement of an actual dissolution of Godhead into flesh.

Turning to the Deutero-Pauline epistle to the Ephesians, the Post-Christ is described as having “put all things under his feet” and been “made…the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23).  Although “Paul” speaks of these in “the age to come” (1:21), the Gospel and apocalyptic narratives place this authority in the present.  Returning to the authentic Pauline epistles, again we find that Christ is “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28) a total presence, remaining fully divine as entangled enfleshment.[2]

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AAR Paper: “Patristic Perspectives on the Cross: A Reinterpretation”

[The following is the paper I presented at this year's AAR meeting in AAR, in a session on "Trauma and the Cross."]

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