Paul in the Grip of the Philosophers

March 27, 2014 — 10 Comments

9780800699123.jpghIn the introduction to Paul in the Grip of the Philosophers: The Apostle and Contemporary Continental Philosophy (Fortress Press), Peter Frick notes there has been a great hermeneutical shift.

The shift is that from the beginning to about the end of the modern period, theological thinking was predicated on a specific hermeneutical assumption, namely, that philosophical thinking will clarify and make more coherent theology’s own self-understanding. As Frick says, “theology was the queen of the interpretive undertaking and philosophy the handmaid.”

But the shift is that now philosophers interested in Pauline thought do not begin with Paul and his texts. “They have their own ideological structures and therefore employ Paul in the service of those structures. They also do not substantially use theology to clarify their philosophy; the former is hardly every the handmaid of the latter.”

Frick and others write this book to clarify for people what to make of this reversal.

Their main critique of Continental philosophy’s appropriation of Paul is that they deconstruct Paul as the “other.” Continental philosophy uses the voice of Paul, but does not always give him his own voice. Paul has thereby suffered “the death of an author.”

The rest of the book goes through a variety of Continental philosophers, Nietzche, Heidegger, Agamben, Taubes, Derrida, Vattimo, Badiou, and Žižek, explaining how these philosophers use Paul, what we can learn from them, and how Paul contradicts them.

This looks like a helpful volume that philosophers and students of Paul should be aware of.


Table of Contents

  1. Neitzche: The Archetype of Pauline Deconstruction | Peter Frick
  2. Heidegger and the Apostle Paul | Benjamin Crowe
  3. Paul of the Gaps: Agamben, Benjamin and the Puppet Player | Roland Boer
  4. Jacob Taubes–Paulinist, Messianist | Larry Welborn
  5. Circumcising the Word: Derrida as a Reader of Paul | Hans Ruin
  6. Gianni Vattimo and Saint Paul: Ontological Weakening, Kenosis, and Secularity | Anthony Sciglitano Jr.
  7. Baidou’s Paul: Founder of Unversalism and Theoritician of the Militant | Frederiek Depoortere
  8. Agamben’s Paul: Thinker of the Messianic | Alan Gignac
  9. Mad with the Love of Undead Life: Understanding Paul and Žižek | Ward Blanton
  10. The Philosophers’ Paul and the Churches | Neil Elliott


Patrick Schreiner

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I teach New Testament at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. I am married with three children. This blog, against all wisdom, includes anything I am interested in. That includes movies, music, theology, culture, hermeneutics, the Gospels, and politics. Feel free to comment and let me know you are reading or that you have found something helpful. I reserve the right to delete unhelpful or rude comments. Many of these posts are simply things I find interesting and therefore I am not asserting I agree with everything I link to.

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