Sei sulla pagina 1di 67

SAINT PAUL

Cultural M e mory

In

th e Pr e sent

Mi e k e B at a nd H ent d e V r i es, ta i l o r s

SAINT PAUL

The Foundation of Universalism

Alain B a dio u

T r a n s l a t e d b y Ray B rass i e r

STANFORD

UNIV E R S ITY

PRESS

STANFO RD ,

CA LI F OR N I A

St a n for d Uni ve r s i t y P r e s s S t a n f o rd , Ca l if o r nia

w w w .s u p . or g

© 2 00 3 b y t h e B o a rd of T ru s te es of th e L e l and Sta nf or d Ju n ior U ni ve r s i t y . A l l ri g h t s r e s e rv e d.

O ri g i n a ll y pu b l i s h e d as Saint Paul: La fondation de i 'un i uc r salisme, © 1 997 by Presses Un i v e r si ta ir e s d e Fr a n ce

A ss i s ta n c e fo r th e t r a n s l at i o n wa s pro v id e d by th e Fr e n c h M in istr y o f C ultu r e .

Print e d in t h e U n i ted S t a t es of A me r i ca o n ac id-fr ee, a r c h i va l -q u a l i t y p a p er.

L i b r ary of Co n g r es s Ca ta lo g in g - in -Pub li catio n D ata Bad i o u , Al a in .

[

Sa i nt Paul . E n g l is h ]

S aint P a u l : t h e f oun d at i on of uni ve r sa l ism / Alain Bad i o u ; tra n slate d b y R ay Bra s sier .

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I S BN 0- 8 0 47-447 0-X ( c l o t h : a il e . p a p e r ) - I S BN 0-8047-4 4 7 1 -8 (aile p a p e r )

1 . P a ul , t h e Apost l e , S a i n t .

. cm. - ( C u l t ur a l

m e m o r y i n t h e p r ese n t )

2.

B i b l e NT E p i st l es o f P a ul - s- C r it i c i s m , i n te r -

pr e tat i o n , e tc . 3 . U niv e r sa l i s m - B ib l i c a l

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eac hi n g.

1. T i d e .

II. Ser i e s.

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Ori gi n a l pr in t i n g 2 00 3

L as t f i g u r e b e l ow i n d i ca t es ye a r of t h i s pr i n ti ng:

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1 0

09

08

0 7

06

Co n t e nts

Translator's Note

P r o l og u e

I

P a ul : O u r Co n tem p o r a r y

2

W h o I s Pa ul ?

3

Te x ts a nd Co nt e x ts

4

T h e or y o f D i s co urses

5

T h e D i v i s ion of th e S ubj ect

6

T h e A nr i di a l ectic of D e a th a nd Res ur recti on

7

Pau l A g a in s t th e Law

8

Lov e a s U n i v e r sal Pow e r

9

Hope

10

U ni v e r s a li t y an d t h e T r av e r s al of D i ffe r e n ces

II

I n Con c lu s i o n

I

X

4

16

3 1

4 0

55

65

75

86

93

9 8

107

T r ans l at o r' s Note

t h e

A uth o riz e d ,

e pi s t l es. Si n ce m y a im wa s to s ti c k a s c l o s e l y a s po s s ib l e t o Bad i o u 's ow n

I f o und th e b est r es u l t s we r e obt a in e d thr o u g h a s e l ec -

F r e n c h r e nditi o n ,

R ev i se d S t a n dar d , a nd N ew R e v i se d S t a nd a rd Ve r s io n s of h i s

In r e nd e ring qu ot a t i on s

fr o m P a ul int o E n g l i s h , I con s u lte d

t

iv e co mbina t io n

o f t h e A u t h or i ze d

a n d R e v i se d S t a n dar d V e r s i o n s . I a l -

t

e r e d

or a dj u s t e d formu l a ti o n s

f r om b o t h w he n e ve r

n e c ess a r y. I t r a n s-

l

a t e d th e q u o t a t i on s

from Pasca l 's Pensees

in

C h a pt e r

4 m yse l f . F or th e

N i e t zsc h e quo t a tio ns

tra n s l ati o n of The Ant i - Chr i st ( H a r r n o nd sw o r t h ,

in C h a p t e r s

5 a n d 6,

I u se d R . ] . H o ll in g d a l e ' s

M i d dl e s e x : P e n g u i n, v er s i o n u se d b y B a -

1990). T h ese we r e s l i g h t l y a l t ere d t o fi t t h e F r e n c h

d i o u .

T hi s i s a b ook pr i nc ip a l l y co n c e r n e d w ith u s i n g P a ul to re d e f in e th e

ca t egory of " t h e s ub jec t " a s a " u n i ve r sa l s i ng ul a r i t y."

p

t

th

t h o u g h sujet in F r e n c h i s a m asc ul i n e n o u n f o r w hi c h t h e co rr e s po ndi ng

m asc u lin e pr o no un

s

rary Fr e n c h philo s o phi c a l

" h e o r s h e " ( o r " it" ) w h e n eve r t h e F r e nc h h as i f s t a n d in g i n f o r a t e rm li k e

sujet. H ow e v e r , in th e c o n t e x t o f th e pr ese n t w ork , t wo co n s id e r a ti o n s

r e nd e r e d this c u s toma r y t ac ti c p a r ti c u l a rl y probl e m at i c :

c a l a nd s t y lis t i c ; th e s e con d, s ub s t a nti ve a nd th e m a ti c. F ir s t, f r o m a

pu r e l y pr acti c a l point o f v i e w , th e re w e r e to o m a n y se n t e n ce s in w h ic h

t he co n c a t e n atio n of a b s t rac t n o un s m ea nt th a t u s in g t h e pro n o u n " i t " to

r ef e r t o "t h e s ubj e ct" wo ul d h av e c r ea t e d a m b i g uit y a t b es t, un ac c e p t a bl e

G i v e n u se of

h i l o s o ph i c a l

hi s pu t a tive uni versa lit y , m any rea d ers wi ll b a lk a t th e pe r s i s t e n t

e m asc u l in e pr on o u n

" h e" t o refer to th is new l y d e fi n e d "s u bjec t . " A l -

i f ( w hi c h m ea n s both " h e" a n d " i t ") is h a bit u a l l y s ub-

i n E n g l i s h t r a n s l a t i o n s

of co n t e mp o -

tit u t e d ,

it h a s b ec om e cu s tom a r y

t e x t s to c o rr ec t t hi s ge nd e r b i a s b y s t ip ul a ti n g

th e f irs t , pr ac ti-

x

Translator's Note

conf u s ion a t worst. In a ddition,

w hi c h sub s titutin g

poi s e, an d s y m m e t r y of B a d iou 's meticul o u s l y con s tru cte d s entenc e s . A l-

t h oug h s u c h practi ca l a nd st y li s tic con s id e ration s in v ite d a disintere s ted choice bet ween th e c o n s istent u se o f eith e r " he " or "s h e," it was t h e sec-

i n

t h e r e were eq u a lly m a n y instances

"he or s h e " f or " it " wo ul d h ave d estroye d t h e rh y th m,

th a t s eemed to r e nder

t h e u se of the m a sc u lin e pron o u n appropr i a te and that f in a lly p e rsu a d ed

m e to o pt f or " h e. " I r e fer h er e to Badi o u 's e x pli c i t comme n t s t hro u g h o u t

6 a bout t h e "f i liat i on " of th e P aulin e s u b j ec t , a f iliation

n e c essi tat i ng the l a tt er's un e q u i voc al c h a r ac t e ri z ati o n as a Son ( in F r en c h , filiation a lr ead y cont a in s th e w o r d fils, "so n " ) .

a nd P e t er H a llw ard for th e ir

ond, mor e s u b s ta nt iv e

a n d t h e m a tic po i nt o f vi e w

C h apte r s 4 , 5 , a nd

I w oul d l ike to th a nk Alb e rto To sca n o friend l y b ut i nd i s pen s ab l e advic e.

RA Y BRASSI E R

SAINT P AUL

Prologue

Str a n ge e nt e rpri s e. F or a lon g t i m e, thi s fi g ur e h as a ccomp a ni e d me,

alon g w ith o t h e r s : Ma ll a rrn e, Ca nt o r , Ar c him e d es, Pl a to , R o b e s pi e rr e ,

C onr a d

yea r s ago, I w r o t e a pl ay, Th e Incident at Antioc h , w h o s e h e r o in e was

n a m e d

(and thi s i s with o ut ve nturin g i nt o o ur o w n ce ntur y). F i f t ee n

Pa ul a. The c h ange of s ex pr o b a bl y preven t e d r oo ex pli c it a n id e n -

tif ica ti o n. For me, truth b e t o ld , P a ul i s n o t a n apo s t l e or a sai nt. I care

n

o t hing for th e Goo d New s h e d e c l a r e s, or the c ult d e d icate d to h im. But

h

e i s a s ub j e ct i ve fi g ur e of pr i ma r y imp orta n ce . I h ave a l wa ys re a d th e

e pi s tl es th e wa y o n e return s t o t h ose c l ass i c t e x t s w ith w hi c h one is p a r -

ticul a rl y fami l ia r ; the ir pa th s we l l wo r n, t he i r d e t a il s a b o li s h e d , th e i r po wer preserved. N o t ran sce nd e n ce, n o thin g sac r e d , p e r fec t e qu a l i t y o f thi s w ork w i t h e v e r y oth e r , th e mom e nt i t tou c h e s m e p er s on a ll y . A m a n

emph a ti ca l l y i nsc rib e d th ese phr ases , t h ese ve h e m e nt a nd t e nd er a d-

dr esses , a nd we m a y draw u po n th e m fr e e l y, wi th o ut d evo ti o n

s ion . A l l th e m o r e s o in m y case , s in ce , irr e l i g iou s b y h e r e dit y, a nd eve n

e ncou rage d in th e d es ir e to cru s h th e c l e ric a l in f am y b y m y four g r a nd-

p ar e n t s , a l l of w hom w er e te ac her s, I e n counte r e d t h e epi s t l es l a te, t h e

w a y on e e n c ount e r s cur i o u s t ex t s w ho se po e try a s ton i s h es.

o r r e pul -

neve r r e a ll y c onn e ct e d Pa u l wit h r e li g i on . It i s not

according to thi s regi s ter, or to b e ar w itn ess to a n y s ort of f a ith , or eve n anrifairh , that I have, for a l o n g time, b ee n i n tere s te d in him. No more

B as ica ll y, I h a ve

2

P r ol ogue

P r olog ue

3

s

o , t o te ll t h e tru t h - bu t th e impr e ss i o n w a s le ss s t rik in g - th a n I sei ze d

e

p i s t l e t o th e P hi lippi a n s, a nd T he s s . I fo r th e fir s t e p ist l e t o the Th e ss a-

h

old o f P a scal , K i e rk e g aard , o r C l a ud e l , o n th e b a s i s of w h a t wa s e x p l i c-

loni a ns .

itl

y C hr i s ti a n in th e i r d isco u r s e. An y wa y, th e cr u cib l e i n w hic h w h a t w il l

Fo r a n y o n e int e r este d i n fu r th e r r ea din g , I w ou l d a t l e as t lik e t o in-

becom e a w ork of art an d thought b urn s i s br im f ul w ith na m e l e s s i mpu -

dicate t w o work s f r om a m o n g the c o l o s s a l se cond a r y l i t e r a t u re on P a u l :

r i ties; it compris e s ob se s s ion s, b e li e f s , inf a n ti l e p u z z l e s , v a rio u s p e r ve r -

s ion s , undivu l gea bl e m e m o ri es, h a p h a z a rd r ea din g , a nd quit e a f e w idi o -

c i es a nd c him e r a s. A n a l yz i n g thi s a l c h e m y i s of l it t l e u se.

For me , P a u l i s a po e t-think er of t h e e v e nt , a s we l l as o n e w h o pr ac - tic es a nd s t a t es t h e i n va ri a nt t r a i t s of w h a t c a n b e ca l l e d th e m i li tant fig -

ur e . H e br i n gs fo rth t h e e nti r e l y h u m a n c o nn ec ti o n , w h ose d e s t i n y fasc i-

n

a te s m e, b etwe e n th e g e n era l id ea of a rup t ur e, a n o ve rt urnin g , a nd t h a t

o

f a th o u g ht-pr actic e th a t i s th i s r u p t u r e's s ubj e c ti ve m a t er i a l i t y . If t o d a y I w i s h to r e t race in a f e w p a ge s th e s in g ul a r i t y of thi s c o n-

n

ec tion in P a u l , i t i s pr o b a b l y b e c a u s e th e r e i s c urr e ntl y a w id espr e a d

s

e arch for a n ew m i l it a nt fi g u r e-e ve n i f i t t a k e s th e f o r m of d e n y in g it s

p o s s ibi l it y- cal l e d

Bo l s h ev i k s a t t h e b e g i n ni n g o f th e cen t u r y, w hi c h ca n b e sai d t o h a ve

b een t h a t of th e p a rt y mil i t a nt . Wh e n a s t e p for wa rd i s t h e or d e r of th e d ay, on e m ay, amo n g ot h er

t hin gs, f ind ass i s t a nc e in th e g r e a t est s t e p b a ck . Whe n ce t hi s r e acti va ti on

o f P a u l. I a m n o t t h e fir s t to ri sk t h e c ompa ri s on th a t mak es of h i m a

Len in f o r who m C hri s t wi ll h a v e b ee n t h e e q ui voca l M a r x . M y in t e ntion, c l ea r l y , i s n e i t h er hi s tori c i z i n g n or ex e ge ti c a l . I t i s

s u b j ecti v e thr o u g h an d t hro u g h . I h av e co nf i n e d m ysel f s t ri c t l y t o t h o s e

t ex t s o f P a ul t h a t h ave b ee n a u t h e n t i c a t e d b y c o n t e mp o r a r y sch o l a r s hi p

a n d to t h e r e l a t ion t h ey b e a r t o m y t ho u g ht . For t h e G r eek or i g i n a l , I u se d th e N o vum T e stamentum Graece, in

N es t l e-A l a n d 's c r iti ca l e d i ti o n , p u bl i s h e d b y D e u t sch e Bib e l gese l lsch af t

up o n t o s u c c ee d th e o n e in s t a l l e d b y L e n in a n d th e

III 1993.

T h e b a s i c F r e n c h t ex t , w h o se fo rmul a ti o n s I h a ve so m et im es a l -

t e r e d , i s th a t b y Lo ui s S eg o nd , L e N ou veau Test ame n t, publi s h e d b y th e

Trinit a ri a n Bibl e So c i e t y (1993 e d i ti o n ) .

R e f e r e n ces to th e e pi st l es fo l l ow th e c u s t o m a r y a rr a n g e m e nt b y

c h a pt e r a nd ve rs e . Th u s, R o m. 1.25 m e a n s : e pi s t l e to th e Ro m a n s, c h a p-

t e r I , ve r se 25. S imi l ar l y, w e w i l l sa y G a l . for th e e pi s t l e t o th e G a l a ti a n s ,

Co r. I a n d C or . II for t h e t w o e pi s tl e s to the Co rint hian s, Phil i pp . for th e

St a n i s l a s Br e t o n ' s ro bu s t lit t l e bo ok , S a in t P au l ( P a ris : Pr e s ses U ni -

vers it a i r e d e F ra n c e , 20 00) .

G iin t h e r Bo rnk a m m ' s P au l , t r a n s l a t e d b y D .M . G . Stalk e r ( Min -

n ea po li s: Fo r t r ess P ress , 1995).

A Cat h oli c , a P r o t e s t a nt . Ma y th ey form a tri a ng l e w i t h the a t h e i s t .

P

a u l: Ou r Contemporary

5

1

P a u l : Our Co n temporar y

Wh y Sa in t P a ul ? W h y so li ci t t hi s " a po s tl e" w h o i s a ll th e m or e sus-

p ec t f o r h av in g , it see m s , pr o c l a im e d hi ms e l f s u c h a nd w h ose n a m e i s fre-

qu e n t l y t i e d t o C h r i st i anit y 's l eas t open, m os t ins ti t u tio n a l asp e ct s : the

C hu rch , mora l d is cipl ine, soc i a l co n s erva ti s m , s u s p i c i o u s ness toward

J ews? How a re we to i n s cri b e th i s n ame

ect: to r efo und a t heo r y of t h e S ub j e ct t h at s ub o r d i nat es i t s ex isten c e to

t h e a l e a t or y dim e n s i on of t h e e v e nt as w e l l a s to t h e pur e c onti n gen cy of

m ul t ipl e-b e ing wi th ou t sa crific in g t h e theme of freedom?

into th e d e ve l op m e n t of o u r proj -

Simil a rl y, one wi l l ask : What

u se do we c l aim to m a ke of t he appa-

r a tu s of Christian fai t h, a n a ppar a t u s from w hi ch i t s e e m s stri c t l y impo s -

s i bl e to di s soc i a t e th e figu r e a nd t e x t s of Pa ul ? W h y i n v ok e a n d an a l y ze

t h i s fab l e? Let u s b e p erfect l y c l ea r : s o far a s we are conc e rn e d , w h at we

fas t t o thi s poi n t as re a l , one i s unb u rd e ned of a ll the i m ag in a r y that s u r -

r o und s it . If it i s pos s i b l e for u s to s p e ak of b e l ief from th e out se t ( but

P a ul 's e nt i re p ro bl e m c on cer n s th e qu esti o n of b e l ief o r f a ith , o r o f th a t

w hi c h i s pr esuppos e d

are co n ce rn e d it i s ri gor ou sly imp oss ible to b e l i eve i n t h e r es ur rec tio n of

b e n eath t h e wo rd pistis), let us say th a t s o fa r a s w e

th e cr u c ifi e d .

P a ul i s a d is t a nt fi g u re in a th ree f o l d se n se : hi s hi s t oric a l s ite ; h is

ro l e a s C hur c h fo u nd e r ; a nd hi s pr ovoca tive c e n terin g of tho ugh t up o n

it s fa b ul o u s e l e me n t .

We a re dut y -b o u nd t o ex p l a in w h y we ar e i n ves tin g th is di s t ance

w i th t h e we i g h t o f a phi l os op h i ca l pro x imity, w h y th e fabulo u s f o r c i ng o f

th e r e a l provi d e s u s w i t h m e d i a t ion w h e n i t is a q u es t i o n of re s t o r i n g t h e

u n i ver sal to it s pur e secu l ar ity , h e r e a nd now.

W e a r e d o ubtl ess assi ste d in th i s b y t h e f a ct th a t - f o r exa mp l e -

H eg e l , A u g u s t e Co mt e , N i e t zsc h e, Fre ud , H e i d egger, a nd aga i n in o u r

o w n t i me, j ea n - Pran co i s Lyo r ar d , have a l so f o u nd it n ecessa r y to examin e

t h e fig ur e of P a u l an d h ave d one so, m o r eove r, a l ways in t e r ms of so m e

e x tr e m e di s p os it io n s ( f o und ati o n a l o r regress iv e, destin a l o r forg e t fu l , ex -

e m pl a ry o r ca t ast ro phi c) in or d er to orga ni ze t h e i r ow n s pecu l ativ e di s - co ur ses. For o u r ow n pa rt , w h at w e s h a ll foc u s on i n Pa ul ' s wo r k i s a s i ng u-

l ar connec ti on , whic h it i s form a l l y p oss i b l e to di s j oin from th e f a bl e a nd of whi c h Pa u l i s , str i ct l y s peak i ng, the in ven t or: the connec t io n t h at e s -

ta b li s h e s a p a s s a ge between a proposi tio n conce r ni n g the s ubj ec t an d an

i n terrogat i on co n ce rnin g t h e l aw . Let u s s a y t h at, fo r Pau l , i t i s a m atter

of i n v e s t ig a ting w h ich l aw i s ca p a bl e of stru c tu rin g a s ubj ec t d evoid of a l l

i d e ntit y a nd susp e nd e d to a n event w h ose o nl y " proof" l i es p rec i s e l y i n

a

r e d eal in g wi th h e r e i s pr e c i s e l y a fa b l e . A nd s in g u l a rl y so in th e case of

it

s h avi n g b ee n d e c l a r e d b y a s ubj ec t.

P

a u l , wh o f o r cru cia l r easo n s r e du ces C hri s tianit y to a s in g l e st a teme n t:

W

h a t i s esse nti a l f o r u s i s t ha t this p ara do x ica l co nn ec t io n b e t wee n

J

es u s i s r es ur r ect e d . Y e t t hi s i s p rec i s e l y a fa bu l ous e l e m en t [point fabu-

a

s ubj ec t w itho u t id e ntit y a nd a l aw w itho u t s u ppo r t p ro vi d es th e f o un-

l

eux], si nc e a ll th e r es t , b ir th , t each in gs, d ea th, might af t e r a ll b e u ph e l d .

d

a tion for t h e p ossi bil it y of a un i versa l t ea c hi ng w ithin h ist ory i t se l f .

A

"fa bl e " i s t h a t p a rt of a n a rr a t i ve t h a t , s o f a r a s we a r e conc e r n e d , fa il s

Pa ul ' s u npr ece den t e d ge s tu re c on s i s t s in s u b tra c t ing t ruth from t h e co m -

to

t o u c h o n a ny R e a l , u n l ess it b e b y v i r t u e of t h a t i n v i s i b l e a nd i nd i r ec t l y

munit a r ia n gra s p , b e it t h a t of a p e op l e, a cit y , a n empire , a t e r rit or y, or a

a

c cess ib l e resi du e st i ck in g to eve r y o b v i o u s im ag in a r y . In th i s r ega rd, it i s

soci a l c l ass. Wh a t i s tru e ( o r j u s t; th ey ar e t h e sa me in t h i s case) ca nno t b e

to i t s e l e m en t o f fab ul a tion [point de fabLe] a lo n e t h a t P a ul re du ces t h e

C hr i s ti a n n a r rat i ve , wi th th e s tr eng th o f o n e w h o kn ows th at in h o l din g

re du ce d t o a n y o bjec ti ve a g g r ega te, e i t h e r b y i t s ca u se or b y its d es t i n a-

n o n .

6 Paul: Our Contemporary

Paul: Our C o ntem p orary

7

 

It w ill be ob j e c t e d th a t, in the p rese n t case, fo r u s " truth " d esig n a t es

t

a r y a b s tr ac t io n , w ho se fa l se u ni v er s alit y has a b s olute l y n o difficulty ac -

a me re fabl e . Gr an t ed, bu t wha t i s impor t ant is the s ub je ct ive gest ur e

commod a tin g th e ka l e ido s c o p e o f co mmunita ria ni s m s . T h e l e ngth y yea r s

gr

as p e d in its foundin g p o we r w ith res p ec t to t h e gene ri c co ndi tio n s o f

o

f communi s t di c t a tor s hip w ill ha v e h a d th e m e rit of s ho w ing th a t fi-

un i v ersa l it y . T h a t t he cont e n t of t h e fab l e m u s t be ab a nd o n e d le a v es as it s

n

a n cial g l ob a li z ation, th e a b s olute s ov e r e i g n t y of capita l ' s e mpty u n i v e r-

r e ma i nder t h e fo r m of t h ese conditio n s a nd , i n p a r ticu l ar, t h e ruin of

eve r y att e mpt to assign th e di s c o u r se of truth to precon s tit u ted h i s tori ca l

ag greg a t es. To s h a rpl y se par a t e eac h truth p r o ce dur e f r om t h e c ul t ur a l " h is -

t or icit y" w h ere in opini o n pr es um es t o di s so l ve it: s u c h i s th e o p e r at i o n i n

w hich P a ul is ou r g uid e.

T o r e think thi s ges tur e , to un rav e l its twis t s a nd t urn s, t o e nli v e n

s a li t y , h a d as it s on l y genuin e e nemy anoth e r univ e r sa l pro j ect, a l b e it a corrupt and b l oodstained o n e: that onl y L e nin and Mao trul y frightened tho se w h o prop osed t o bo as t unre se rv e dl y a bout th e m er its of l ib era l i s m

a nd the ge n er a l e qui v a l e nt , or t h e d e m ocra tic v irtu es of co mme rcia l co m - munic a ti on . T h e sen esce nt co lla p se o f t h e USS R , th e p a r a di g m of socia l-

i s t S t a t es, p r ovis i ona ll y s u s p e nd e d f ea r , unl eas h e d emp ty a b str ac t io n , d e-

b ase d t h o u g ht in ge n e r a l . A nd it i s ce rtain ly n o t b y r e n o un c in g

th e

it s s in g u l arit y , it s in s titutin g fo r ce, i s w ithout doub t a co nt e mpor a r y n e - cess i ty .

concr e t e u nive r sali ty of t r u ths in ord e r t o a ffirm th e rig ht s of " minori- ties," b e th ey r ac i a l , r e li g i o u s, n a tion a l, or se x u a l, th a t t h e d evas tation w i ll

Wh a t , in effect , do es o u r co n t e mpor a r y s it u at i o n c on s i st of ? T h e

be s l ow e d d ow n . No, w e wi ll not a llow th e r i g ht s of t r u e- thou g ht to h a v e

progress ive r e du c t ion of th e qu es tion o f truth ( a nd h e n ce , of thou g ht ) to

a

s th e ir onl y in s t a n ce m o n e t a r ist free exc h a n ge a nd i t s m e di o c re polit ica l

a

lin g ui s ti c for m , jud gme nt -a p o int o n which Ang l op h o n e ana l y ti ca l

app e nd age, ca pit a li st -p ar li a m e ntarianis rn , w ho s e s qu a l or is eve r m o r e

id

e o l ogy a nd th e h erme n e uti ca l t r a d it i on b oth conc ur (t h e ana l yti c !

poor l y di ssi mu l ate d b e h in d t h e fin e wor d " d e m ocracy . "

hermeneu t i c d o ubl e t is t h e s traig htj acket of co nt emp or ary a c a dem i c phi -

l o s o ph y) -en d s up i n a c ultu r a l an d h istor i c a l r e l a ti v i s m t h at to d a y con-

s titut es at once a to p ic of p ubli c o pi n i on , a " po l itica l " mo ti va t ion, an d a

f r a m ewo rk f o r resear ch in th e hum a n sc i e n ces. T h e e x t r e m e f o rm s of t hi s

r e l a ti v ism , a lr eady a t wo rk , c l a im to r e l egate m at h emat i cs it s e l f t o an

" Occid e n t a l " se t u p , to whi c h an y numb e r of ob sc ur a nti s t or sy mbo li ca l l y

t ri vi a l a pp a r a tu ses c ou l d b e r e nd e r e d e qui v a l e n t, pr ov id e d on e i s a bl e to

n a m e t h e s ub se t o f hum a ni ty th a t s up por t s t h is a pp arat u s , a n d, b e t te r

s ti l l , t h a t o n e h a s r ea s on s fo r b e li e v i ng thi s s u bs e t t o b e m a d e up of v i c -

T hi s i s w h y Pa ul , him s e l f t h e co nt e m pora r y of a m onu m e nt a l fig -

u re of th e d estruction of a ll polit i c s ( t he b eginn i ngs of th at milit a r y des-

poti s m known a s " t h e R o m a n Em p i r e " ), i n t erest s u s in t h e hi g h es t d e -

g r ee. H e i s th e o n e w h o, a s sig nin g to th e un iver s a l a s p ec i f i c co nn ec tio n

of la w a nd th e s ubj e c t, a s k s hims e lf w ith th e mo s t e x tre m e rigo r w h a t pric e i s to b e p a id for thi s assi g nm e nt , b y th e l a w as we l l as b y th e s ubj ec t.

Thi s i nt e r ro g a t io n i s pr ec i s e l y o ur ow n . S upp os i ng we we r e a bl e t o r e- found t he con n ec ti on b e t wee n truth a nd th e s ubj ec t , th e n w h a t co n se-

q ue n ces m u s t we h ave t h e streng th t o h o ld fast t o, on the sid e of t r uth

t

i ms. A ll access t o th e uni versa l , whic h neit h er to l e r ates ass ignation to

(eventa l [evenementieLLe] a n d ha z a rd ou s) as w e ll as on t h e s id e of th e s ub -

t

he p a r t i c ul a r , n o r ma in ta i ns a n y d ir e ct r e l ation w it h th e sta t u s -

j

ec t (rar e a n d h e roic)?

I

n th e case of ou r ow n c ountry, Fr a nc e, of the p u blic d es tin y of its

w

h e th e r it b e th a t o f d o min a t or o r vic t i m -of th e

sites f r om w h ic h i ts

It i s by confro ntin g t his q u e s t i o n , a nd n o ot h er , t h a t ph i l oso ph y

propo s ition e m e r ges, co l l a p ses w h e n co nfr o nt e d w i th t h is i n t e r sec ti on b e t w een c u l tur a l ist id eo l ogy a nd th e " vic ti m i s t " [victimaire] c o nce pti o n of m a n . Wh a t i s the re a l unif yi n g facto r b e h i nd thi s att e mpt t o p r om o t e th e

ca n ass u me its te mp o r a l co ndition w ithou t b e c o min g a m ea n s o f cove r - ing up th e wors t. Th a t it ca n m e a s ur e up to th e tim es in w hi c h we live othe r wis e th a n b y Bat t e rin g th e ir s av age in e rtia.

cu l tur a l v irtu e of oppr esse d s ub se t s, thi s invo ca tion o f l a n g u a g e in or d e r

St a t e, w ha t c a n we p o i n t t o in th e way of a n o tice a b l e t e nd e nc y o f th e l as t

to ex tol c omm u n i ta r i a n p ar ticu lar i s m s (w hi ch, b esi d es l a n g u age, a l ways

fif t ee n yea r s? N o t w ith s t an di ng, of c our se , th e c on s t a nt

e x p a n s ion o f ca p -

ultima t e l y ref er b ac k t o r ace, r e ligion , or gen d er ) ? I t i s, ev identl y , m o n e-

it a l ' s a utom a ti c func t i on i ng th a t s h e lters b e hind th e sig ni fiers o f E u ro p e

8

Paul: Our Contemporary

 

a

n d l i b e rali sm,

a n exp ansion

th a t , being the l aw o f the wor l d - m a rket,

c

a nnot b e taken as s p ec i f i c t o o ur si t e.

Al as, t h e onl y thin g w e c a n p o int to b y way o f reply t o this q u e stion

inst a ll a ti on o f L e P e n 's p a rt y," a trul y n a tio n a l s in g ular -

i s th e permanent

it y, w ho se e qui va l e nt we h ave to g o a ll the w a y to A ustria t o find , h ardly

Paul: Our Contemporary

9

s

Proof th a t , s o f a r as peop l e s' re a l l iv e s a nd w h a t h a ppens to them i s con-

c er n e d , th ere ex i s t s a de s pic a bl e co mp l i c it y

of ca pita l a nd French identit a ri a n fa n at i cis m .

b etwee n t h e g l ob a li ze d lo g ic

t itu tion s, ou r astonishing

sys tem s o f educatio n and rep r es e n t a tion ) .

Wha t is b e in g con s tru c t e d

b e f o r e our ve r y e y es i s th e comrnuni t a-

a

f la tt e rin g comp a ri s on. A n d w h a t co nstitute s this party's u ni qu e m a x im?

riza tio n of t h e public sph ere, th e r e nun cia tion o f the l aw's t r a n sce ndent

T

he ma xi m th a t non e o f th e p a rli a m e nt a r y

parti es d a re directly

o ppo se,

neutr a lit y. T h e State i s s upp ose d

t o ass u re it se l f prima rily

a nd p e rm a -

s o t h a t t hey all v ote for o r tol e r a te th ose incr ea sin g l y v ill a inous l aws th a t

deduc e d f r om i t ? Th e m ax i m in qu es tion

ar

the F r e n c h ." In th e case of th e S t a t e , t hi s l e ad s ba c k t o w ha t se r v ed as the

para do x ica l n a me gi v en b y

is: " F r an c e for

e impl aca b l y

Pet a in t o a p u pp e t st a te, zea l o u s se r v ant o f t h e

N a z i oc c upier : th e Fr e nc h St a t e . How doe s the no x iou s q u es tion " Wh a t

nen t l y of th e ge ne a l o g i ca lly, r e li g i o u s l y, a nd r ac i a ll y ver i fia b l e id e nti ty o f

tho se for w hom i t i s re s po nsi b l e . It i s r e quir e d t o d e fine two , p e rh a p s

even thre e, di stin c t r e g i on s o f th e l a w , acco rding t o wheth e r th e l a tt e r ar e

trul y Fr e n c h, integr a t e d o r int eg r a tab l e who a r e d ec l a r e d to b e un i nt e gr a t e d,

The l a w

for e ign e r s , or fin a l l y for e ign e r s

o r ev en u ni n t e gr a t a bl e .

i

s a Fr e nc h pers on? " come to in s t a ll its e l f a t th e h ea rt o f th e public

t

h e r e b y fa lls und e r t h e contro l of a " nation a l "

mo d e l devoid of a ny r ea l

s

p h e r e ? But everyon e know s th e r e is no te n a bl e an s w e r to this q u es t i on

prin c i pl e,

un l e s s it b e that of th e p e r se c u t i on s

it i n i tiate s . A b a ndonin g

a ll

o th e r t h an t hro u gh the p e r secution of tho se p e op l e a rbitra r i ly d es i g n a t e d as th e non-Fre n ch. The u n i qu e political re a l proper to th e w ord "F r e n c h, "

wh e n the l a t t e r i s up h e l d as a f o undin g

m eas ur es

t arge tin g peop l e wh o a r e h e r e, o r w h o a r e try in g to l i ve h e r e . An d it i s

p ar ti c u l ar l y s t r ikin g th a t thi s persec u to r y r ea l p r op e r t o id e ntira ria n lo g i c

c r e a s in g l y insistent in s tall a t i on o f r e l en t l ess l y d i sc rimin a t o r y

ca t eg or y in th e St a t e, i s t h e i n-

( th e Law i s o nl y va lid for the French) ga th e r s und er th e s a m e b a nn e r - as

a d vocates of ca pi -

ta li s t d evast a ti o n ( p e r sec u t i on is i nev it a bl e b eca u se u ne mploymen t

c lud es a ll h os pit a li ty)

it i s excepti o n a l

th e m s e l ves into th e m ag ni fice nt m o d e l prese nt e d t o t h e m b y o u r pur e in-

re-

is s h ow n by t he s o rry affa i r of t h e fluLard** - res i gne d

p

an d advoca t es of a "F r e n c h r e public" as g h ostl y as

( for e i g n e r s a r e o nl y to l era bl e so l o n g as th ey " integ r a t e "

* A r efere n ce t o J ea n -Mar i e Le Pen's Front National, a n extr eme r i g ht -w in g

p a rt y th a t co nti n u es to e nj oy s i g nif ica nt e lec t o r a l s u cce s s i n F r a n c e . - T r a n s .

* *L'affaire du foulard r e f e r s t o a co nt r oversy o ver th e wea rin g o f t h e trad i -

t i ona l Mu s l im h ead sca r f (fouLard) b y yo un g A r a b wo m e n in Fre n c h seco nd a r y

sc hoo l s . Sin ce th e Fr e n c h e d u c a t i o n a l syst e m exp l icit l y pr o hib i t s th e wea r i n g of

r e l i g i o u s ga r b or p a r a ph e rn a l ia in c l ass, so m e te ac h e r s p r ot este d a nd r e f u se d to

te ac h st u d e nt s who insi s t e d on wear in g th e h ea d s c a r f , ar g uin g that tole r a ting t h e

i nfrac t i on o f one e thni c g ro u p pr ov id e d a d a n ge rou s pr ece dent t hat co u l d o n l y

in c it e st ud e nt s of oth e r r e li g i o u s d e n om i na ti o n s to foll ow s u it, th e r e b y u n d e r-

minin g th e Fr e n c h e du ca ti o n a l sys t e m ' s secul a r e th os. - T ra n s.

u niv e r sa l princip l e , i d e nt i t a r i an ve r i fi ca tion -w h i c h

bu t p o lice m o nitorin g -comes

a pp l i ca tion

i ste r s saw n ot hi n g w ron g i n s urr ep titiou s l y d e finin g th e J ew as pr o to ty p e

of th e

id e ntit a ria n pr o t oc ol s,

d ef in e d eac h time b y

cou rse , as s u ccessive governme n ts e a c h brin g t o i t th e i r ow n s p ec i a l

tou c h . We a r e d e a lin g w i t h a ra mp a n t " P eta i nization"

i s n eve r a nyth i n g

or

to t a k e pr ece dence over th e d efi nition

o f th e l aw. Thi s m ea n s th a t , ju s t a s und e r P eta in , w h e n min -

n on -F r e n c h , a ll l eg i slati on wo uld b e acco mp a ni e d b y th e r e qui re d

an d s ub se t s of th e po pul a t io n

wo uld co m e to b e

th e ir special status. T hi s a r range m e nt

i

s ta kin g it s

o f t h e S t ate.

H ow c l ear l y P a ul' s s t ate m e n t

r in gs o ut und e r t h ese co ndi tio n s !

A

genui n e l y stup efy i ng s t a t emen t when o n e knows t he r ul es o f th e a n cie nt

wo rld: " T h e r e is n eit h er J ew n or G r eek,

th e r e i s n e ith er m a le no r fe m a l e" (Ga l. 3 . 28) ! A nd h ow a ppropria t e,

w e w h o w ill unprob l e m a tica l l y

Good b y th e serv ice th is tr uth re qui res, th e m axim "G lor y , honor , a nd

pea ce for eve r yo n e

For G od s h ows n o pa r tia l it y" ( R o m . 2 . 1 0 ).

re pl ace G od b y thi s or th a t truth, a nd

th ere i s n e ith e r s l ave n or free,

for

th a t do es go od, to th e J e w firs t a nd a l so to th e G re e k .

O u r wor l d is in n o wa y a s " comp l e x" as t h o se w h o wi s h to ensure

i t s p e rp e t u a t ion

of cap -

ital , f ul fil l ing one of Marx' s in s p i r e d prediction s : the world f in a ll y config-

T h is config u r a tion impos es t h e

ured, but as a mar ke t , a s a wo r ld-mar k et.

c l a im. It i s e v e n, in it s bro a d outlin e , p e rfectly s imp l e.

On t h e o n e han d , th e r e i s a n ex tension of th e autornati s m s

10 Pa u l: Our Co n t em po ra r y

rule of an a bstr a ct homo gen i z ation . E v er y thin g th a t c ir c ul a t es f a ll s und e r

th e unit y of a co unt , w hil e in vers e l y, o nl y w h a t l et s i t s e lf b e co unt e d in

thi s wa y can c ir c ul at e. M o r e ove r , thi s i s th e n o rm th a t illumin a t es a p ar-

a

d ox few h a ve point e d

o ut: in t h e h o ur of gene r a l i z e d circul a tion a nd th e

p

h ant as m of in s t a ntaneo u s c ul tur a l c ommun i c a ti o n , l aws a nd r eg ul at i o n s

fo r bi d din g th e circu l a tio n o f person s a r e b e i n g mu lt i p li e d e v e ryw h ere . So

i t is th a t in F rance, n ev er h a ve f ew e r f o r e i g n e r s se tt l e d t h a n in th e r ece n t

p e r i o d! Free c i r c ul ati o n of w ha t l e ts it se l f b e c ou n t e d , yes, a n d a b ov e a ll

of c a pit a l, wh i c h i s t h e c o unt of t he c o un t. F r ee c i r c ul a ti o n o f t h a t u n- cou nt ab l e in fin it y co n s t itut e d b y a si n g u l a r h u ma n li f e , n eve r ! F or c a p i -

t a li st m on e t a r y a b s t r a ct i o n i s ce rtain l y a s i n g u l a ri t y, bu t a s in g ul ar it y that

has n o c o nsi d e r a t i o n f or any singulari ty w h a t s o ever: s i n g ul a rit y as in di f f er -

e n t t o t h e pe r s i s t e n t i nfinit y of ex i s t e n c e a s it i s to th e e v e n t a l b ec om i n g

o f t r u t h s .

O n th e ot h e r s id e, t h e r e i s a p r o c ess of fr agm e nt at i o n int o c l osed

i d e n titi e s , a n d th e c ul t u r a l i s t a nd r e l at i v i s t i d eo l ogy t h a t ac c om p a n i e s thi s frag m e nt a ti on . Bo t h p r ocess e s a r e p e r f ect l y i nt er t w i n e d. Fo r eac h id e n tifi ca ti o n

(t h e cre a t i on or c obb l in g toge th er o f i d e ntity) c r ea t es a fig ur e th a t p r o -

v i d es a ma t e r i a l f o r it s i n ves tm e nt b y th e m a rk e t . T h ere i s n o thin g m ore

ca pt i ve , so f a r as co mme r cia l i nves tm en t i s c o n ce rn e d , n ot h in g mor e

a

menab l e to th e inven ti o n of n ew fig u re s of m oneta r y h omoge n eit y, t h a n

a

co m m u nity a nd i t s t er ritor y or te rri to r i e s . T h e sem b l a n ce of a n o n -

e

q u i va l e nc e i s r e q u ire d s o th a t e qui va l ence it s e l f ca n co n s t it ut e a pr ocess.

W h a t in ex h a u s t ibl e p o t e nti a l for mercan t i l e inve s t men t s in t h is u p-

s u r ge - t ak i n g th e f o r m o f comm u ni ti es d ema nd i n g recog n it i o n a nd so -

c a ll e d c ul t ur a l s i n g ul a rit ies- o f wome n , h omos e x u a l s, th e d i sab l e d ,

Ara b s ! An d th ese infin i t e co mbin a ti ons of p re di ca ti v e t r a it s, w h a t a go d-

sen d ! B l ack hom o sex u a l s, di s a bl e d S er b s , Ca th o l ic p e d o p hil es, m o d e r ate

M u s l i ms , m a r ri e d pr i es t s, eco l og i st y u ppi es , th e s ub mi ssi ve un e mpl oye d ,

p

r e m a tur e l y age d y ou t h ! Eac h ti me, a s o cia l i mage a u th o ri zes n ew pr o d -

u

ct s , s p e ci a li zed m a g az i n es , imp r ov e d s hoppin g ma ll s, " fr ee" r a di o sta-

ti o n s, t a r ge t e d a d v e r t i s in g n e tw o rk s , a nd fi n a ll y, h ea d y " pu bli c d e b ates"

at p e a k v iewing tim es . D e l e u z e put i t p e rfect l y: c ap i t a l i s t d et errito ri a l i za -

t io n r eq uir e s a con s t a nt r e te r ritori a l i za ti on . Ca pi t a l d e m a n d s a p e rm a-

n e n t c reat i o n of s u bj ec t i v e a nd t e rri t oria l ide nt i t i es in or d e r fo r i t s pr i n -

P aul: O ur Co n tempo r ary

I I

c ipl e o f m ov e m e nt t o homo g eniz e i t s s pac e of acti on ; id e ntitie s, m o r e -

o ve r , t h a t ne ver d ema nd a n y th i n g but th e r i g h t t o b e e x p o s e d i n th e same

w ay a s ot h er s to t h e un i f orm p r eroga t ives of th e m a rk e t . Th e c a pita l ist

l ogi c of th e gene r a l e qui va l e nt a nd th e identita ria n a nd cult ur a l l ogic of co mmun it i e s o r min o ri t i es fo r m a n a rticula ted w h o l e .

T hi s a r t i c ul a t ion pl a ys a con s tra inin g r o l e r e l a t i v e to e ve r y truth

proc e du re. It is org a n i c a ll y with ou t tru t h. On th e o n e ha nd , e ver y t r uth proc e d ure bre a k s w i th th e ax ioma tic

p rin c i p l e t h a t go ve rn s t h e s itu a tion a nd o rga ni zes its r e p e tit ive se ries. A

tr u th proce du re i n t e rr up t s r e pe tition a nd ca n th e r e fore no t b e s u pporte d

b y t h e a b s tract p e rm a n e n ce pr o p e r to a u nity of th e c ount . A trut h i s a l-

ways, acc o r di n g to t h e d o m i n a n t l aw of th e count, s ubt ra c ted fro m t h e

c ou n t . Con seq ue nt l y, n o t ruth ca n b e s u s t a in e d t hr o u g h ca pita l 's homo-

ge n e o u s ex p a n s i on .

B u t, on th e oth e r h a n d, n e ith e r c a n a t ru t h pr o c e du r e t a k e r oo t i n

th e e l e m e n t of i d e n tit y . F or i f i t i s t r u e th a t e v e r y truth er u pt s as s in g ul a r,

i t s s i ng u l a r i t y i s imm e d i a t e l y un i ve r sa l i za b l e. U ni versa liza bl e s i n g u l ar ity

n ecessa r il y br ea k s w i t h id e nt i r aria n s i n g ul a rit y .

T h a t t h e r e a re i nt er t wi n e d hi sto ries, di f f e r e nt c ul t u r es a nd , m o r e

ge n era l l y, d if f er e n ces a l r ea d y a b u n d a n t in o n e a nd t h e "sa m e" indivi d u a l ,

t hat t he wo r ld is mu l t i co l o r e d , th a t on e m u s t l e t p e op l e live, ea t, d r e ss ,

i m agine , l ove in w h i c h e v e r w ay th ey p l e a se, i s not t h e i ss u e, w h a t eve r cer -

t a i n di s i n ge nu o u s sim pl e ton s may wa nt u s t o t h in k . S u c h l ib e r a l trui s m s

a r e chea p, a nd o n e w o u ld o nl y l ik e t o see t h ose w ho pr o c l a im t h em no t

r eact so v i o l en t l y w h e n ever co nfro n t e d w ith t h e s l i g h t est se r i o u s a tte mpt

t o di ssent from th e ir ow n p u n y lib e r a l di f f e r e n c e. Co nt e mpo ra r y c o s -

mo polit a n i sm i s a be n e f ic e nt rea l ity. W e s i m p l y

ge t th ems e l ve s wor k e d u p a t t h e sight o f a yo un g ve ile d w om a n , l es t we

b eg i n t o f ear th a t w h a t t h ey rea l l y d esire , f a r from a r ea l we b of s h iftin g

di ffer e n ces, i s t h e u n if or m di c t a t o r s h ip o f w h a t th ey t ak e t o b e " m o d e r -

nit y . "

as k th a t its p a r t i sa n s n o t

It i s a q u esti o n o f k n o w ing w h a t id e ntitar i an a n d co m m u n itar i a n

ca t ego r i es ha ve to d o w i th t ru t h p r oc e dur e s , w i t h po lit i c a l proc e d ur es f or

e xa m p l e . W e r e p l y : the se c a t eg o ries m u s t b e a b sen t ed fro m t h e pr ocess,

f a i li n g w h ic h no tr ut h ha s t h e s l ig h test c h a n c e of e s t a blis h i n g i t s pe r s i st- ence a nd acc ruin g it s i mm anent in fini ty. We k now , m oreov e r , th a t th e

12 Paul: Our Contemporary

mo s t con se quent ia l

b e llicos e a nd criminal . The id e a that on e can wi e ld s u c h c a tegorie s inno-

centl y , ev e n in the form of Fr e n c h " r e publi ca n "

One w ill, of n e c e s s it y, e nd up o s cill a ting b e t we en the ab s tra ct uni v er sa l of

capital a nd loc a li zed p e r secution s . The cont e mpor a r y w orld i s thu s doubly ho s til e t o truth proc e dure s .

Thi s ho s tilit y b e t r a y s it s e l f th o u g h n omi na l oc c lu s ion s : wher e th e n a m e

of a truth pr o c e dur e

th a t o f "a r t . " T h e wo rd

s way. Th e n a m e " c ul t ur e"

in s t a nces of ident i t a ri a n

politic s , s uch a s N az i s m , a r e

id e ntit y , i s incon s i s t e nt .

s

hould obt a in ,

a noth e r, w h i ch r e pre ss e s i t, h o ld s

c

o m e s t o oblit era t e

"

oblit e r a t es the w ord " po l iti cs. " Th e wo rd "s ex u a lit y" o blit era t e s l o v e . T h e

" cultu re-t e c hnol ogy - m a na ge m e nt -se x u a li ty "

s y s t em, w hi c h h a s th e im-

me n s e m e rit o f b e in g homo ge n eo u s

to t h e m a r k e t , a nd a ll of w h o se t e r m s

t ec hn o lo gy" oblit e rate s

th e w o r d " s c i e n ce . " T h e w o r d "m a n ageme nt "

Paul: Our Contemporary

13

th

politic a l op e r a t o r s .

mentar y d e m a nd s , e i t h e r for th e g e ne ti c ri g ht to h a v e s u c h and s u c h a

form of s p e c ial i ze d s ex u a l beh a v ior r e co g ni ze d as a min o ritar i a n id e ntity ;

or f o r th e r e turn , pur e a nd s imple, to arch a i c, cultur a ll y e s t a bl is h e d

ceptio n s, s u c h as th a t of s tric t c onju ga lity, th e confin e m e nt o f women,

and s o forth. It i s p e rfe c tly po ssi bl e t o c ombin e

pa

th

bility f o r th e d e frocki n g o f a pri es t w ith th e P op e ' s bl ess in g .

ese tra its (n a tio n a l , r e lig iou s, s e x u a l, a nd s o o n ) c on s id e r e d as domin a n t

L a s tly, in th e c a s e o f lo v e , th e r e w ill b e th e comple-

c o n-

th e t wo, a s b e come s a p -

in

ren t w h e n h omo se x u a l

e gran d t r a diti o n a lis m

pr o t est co n cer n s th e r ig ht t o b e r e in c lud e d

of marr i a ge a n d th e fami l y , or t o t a k e r e s p o n s i -

T h e t w o co mp o n e nt s

of th e a rticul a t e d w h o l e (a b s t r a c t h o m og e n e- pr o t e s t ) a r e i n a r e l a ti on of r ec ip r oc a l m a in -

o f

ity o f c a pita l a nd id e n tit a ria n

ten anc e an d m i rror in g. W h o w ill ma int a in t h e s e l f - ev id e n t s up e ri or it y

d

es i g n a te a c a t ego r y o f c omm e r c i a l pr e s e nt a t ion, con s t itu t e s th e mo d e rn

th

e c o mp ete nt - c ul tiva t e d -se x ua ll y

lib e r a t e d m a n a g e r? Bu t w h o w ill d e -

n

o m i n a l o c c lu s ion of th e "a rt - s c i e n c e- p o li t i cs- l ov e"

syst e m , w h ich i d e n t i-

e nd t h e corrupt -re lig io u s - po l y ga mi s t

f

t e r r o ri s t? O r e ul o g i ze t h e c ul t u r a l -

fi

es tr ut h p roce dur e s t y p o lo g i c a ll y.

m

a r g in a l - h om e o p a t h i c -me di a - frie n dl y

tr a n ssex u a l ? Eac h f i g u r e ga in s it s

N ow, f a r fr o m r et u rn in g t o wa r d a n a ppr o pr i a t i o n o f t hi s t y p o l o g y ,

m e r e l y pr o p o ses a var i a nt o n its n om i -

id e nti tar i a n or mino rit a ri a n l o g ic

n a l o c c lu s io n b y c a p i ta l . It in v e i g h s a ga in s t e v e ry g e n e ric co n ce p t of a r t,

r ot ati n g l eg i t imacy fro m t h e ot h e r 's d i scre d it . Ye t a t th e sa m e ti m e , eac h

dr aw s o n t h e r es o u r ces of t h e o t h e r , s i n c e th e tr a n s fo rmati o n o f t h e m o st

typica l , mo s t rece n t comm u nit a ri a n

i d e nt i t i es int o a d v e r t i s in g se ll i n g

pu t t i n g

th e co n cept

of c ultur e in i t s p l a ce , co n ce i ve d as c ul t u r e of t h e

points a n d sa l a b l e i m ag e s h as for it s co u n t e rp a rt

th e e v e r mor e r e f i n e d

g

r o up , a s th e s ubj ect iv e o r r e pr ese nt a t i ve g lu e for t h e g ro up 's e x i s t e n ce , a

comp e t e n ce

t h a t th e m os t i n s ul a r o r m os t v i o l e n t g r o up s di s p l ay w h e n i t

c

ul t u r e th at a dd res s es o nl y i ts e l f a nd r e m a in s p ote n t i a lly n o nuni v e r s a liz-

c

o m es t o s p ec ul a tin g o n t h e fin a n c i a l m a rk e t s o r m a in t a ini n g a l a r ge - sc a l e

a

bl e . Mor e o v e r , i t d o es

n o t h e s it a t e to p o s it th a t th i s c ultur e's co n s t itu t i ve

a

rms co mme r ce,

e

l e m e nt s a r e o nl y full y c om p r e h e n s i bl e on th e co nd i tion th a t on e b e l o n g

B

reak in g w ith a ll t hi s (n e it h er mon e t a r y h om o ge n e it y no r id e nt i -

to th e s ub s e t i n qu es ti on . W h e n c e

so rt : o nl y a h o m o sex u a l ca n " u nd e r s t a nd "

A r a b can und e r st a nd

tru t h s ( t h o u g ht)

th

p r ono un cem en t s a r e ge nui n e l y

i s m p ro m o t es th e t e chni c a l p a rt ic ul a rit y

of t h e

h a t a h omo sex u a l i s , o nl y a n

w h a t an Ara b i s, a n d s o f o rth . I f, as we b e l i e v e, on l y

c

a t a s tr o phi c pr o n o u nc e m e n t s

w

from

t o say th at

a ll ow m a n to b e di s t in g ui s he d

him, i t i s no e xa g ge r a t i o n

th e hu man a nima l s uch min o r ita ria n

a t und e r li es

barbaric. I n t h e c ase o f sc i e n ce, c ul t ura l -

of s ub set s t o th e eq ui v a l e n t

o f

tari a n pr ot es t ; n eith e r t h e a b s tr ac t u n i ve r sa l i t y o f c ap it a l nor th e p a rt i cu - larity of interest s p r o p e r t o a s ub se t ), o u r q u est ion ca n b e c l e ar l y f o r m u -

lat e d : W h a t a r e th e co n di tion s fo r a universaL singuLarity?

I t i s o n this po i n t th a t we i n v ok e S a int P a u l , f or t h i s i s p rec i se l y h i s

qu e s tio n . W h a t d oes P a ul w a nt ? Pro b a bl y to d r ag t h e G o o d Ne w s (th e

t o t h e

Go s p e l s ) out fro m t h e rig id e n c l o s u re wi t hi n w hi c h i ts r e s tric t io n

Je w i s h co m m u ni t y wo ul d c onfi n e it . Bu t e q u a ll y, n e v e r to l e t it b e d e t er -

s

ci e ntific th o u g ht, so th a t a ntib iot i cs, S h ama ni s m , th e l a y in g on o f

min e d b y th e av a i l a bl e g ene ra liti es , b e t h ey s t a ti s t [hatiquesJ or id e o l og i -

h

a nd s, or e m o lli e nt h erba l t e a s a ll b e come of e qu a l wo rth . I n t h e c ase of

cal. S t a tis t ge n e ra lit y b e l ong s to Ro m a n l ega l i s m , a nd to Ro m a n c itize n -

p

o litic s , th e co n s id era ti on

o f i d e ntit a r i a n

tr a it s pr ov id es th e b a s i s f or de -

s

hip in partic ul a r ,

t o its co nditio n s

a nd t h e righ t s a ss ociate d

w ith it.

t

e rmin a tion,

b e it t he s tat e's or th e pr o t esto r ' s , a n d f i n a lly i t i s a m a t t e r of

Alth o u g h hims e lf a Roman c itiz e n, a n d pr o ud o f i t, P a ul w ill n e v e r a ll ow

s

tipul a tin g , through la w or brut e f o r ce , a n a uthor i t ar i a n m a n age m e nt o f

a

n y l eg a l c a t ego rie s t o id e n t if y t h e C h r is tia n s ubj e c t . S l aves, w om e n , p e o-

14 Paul: Our Contemporary

pi e of ev e ry pr ofess io n and nationa l i t y w il l t h er e fore b e a dmitted w i t h o u t

restric ti on or pri v i l ege . As for i deolog i ca l ge n e r a li t y , i t is o b vious l y re p re - sented by t h e p hil osoph i c a l and moral d isco u rs e of t h e G reek s. Pa ul w ill

esta bl is h a reso l ute distan ce t o t his di s course , which i s for him th e co un -

terpois e t o

a con s ervativ e v i s ion of j ew i s h l a w . U l timate l y,

it is a c a s e of

mob il i z in g

a uni v e r s a l sing u l a rit y b oth a gainst th e pre v ailing a b stracti ons

(lega l t h e n , econom i c now), a nd ag a in s t comm u nitarian o r pa rti cu l aris t

protest.

P a u l' s g en e ral pro ce dur e is t h e fo l lowing: if t h e r e h as b ee n an e ve nt,

and if tru t h con s i s t s in d ec l a rin g it a nd t h en in be i ng fait h f ul to t h i s d ec-

l a ration , two con se q u enc es

ord e r o f w h a t o c c u r s , it i s s ingul a r. It i s n e ith e r s t r u c tu r a l , nor a x ioma tic , nor l e g a l . No ava il a bl e ge n e r a l it y ca n ac co un t for it, nor s tru ctur e t h e

t h e r e ca nnot b e

a l aw of trut h . S econd, truth b e ing in scrib e d on th e b as i s of a d ec l a r a tion

th a t i s in esse nc e s ubj ec ti ve ,

nothing c ommunit a ria n o r hi s t o ric a ll y establi s h e d ca n l e nd its s ub s t a n ce

to th e p r oc ess of t r uth . T ruth is d i a go n a l r e l a ti ve t o eve r y co mmunita ria n

s ub se t; it n e ith e r c l a i ms a u thorit y

d e l i ca t e point ) co n s ti t u t es

eve r y on e, w it h o u t a c ondition o f b e l on g i n g b e in g a bl e to limit th is offe r ,

or thi s a ddr ess. Once th e t ex t s tr a n smi tt e d

a nd h e n ce g o ve rn e d b y l oca li ze d t ac ti ca l s t a k es, P a ul 's p r o b l ema tic , ho w-

it;

s

e n s ue . F ir s t, s in ce tr u th i s eve nt a l, or of th e

ubj ect w ho c l a im s to fol l o w i n it s wa k e . C on seq u en t l y,

no pr eco n s t i tut e d

s ubs e t ca n s u pport

f r om, n or (thi s i s o b v iou s l y th e mo s t

a n y id e nt i t y . It i s o f f e r e d t o a l l , or addr esse d t o

to u s a r e a l l see n as l oca l interve ntio n s,

e v e r s in ewy it s a r ti c ul a tion , imp l aca b l y f o ll ows th e r e qu i r e m e nt s of t r uth as uni ve r sa l s in g u l a r i t y:

1 . Th e C h r i s ti a n

( C hri s t 's r es urr ect i o n) .

t e n ce

n e ith e r J e wi s h (o r c ircu mc i sed) ,

th e or y of di s c o ur ses

s ubj ect d oes no t preex i s t th e eve nt h e d e c l a r es

T hu s , th e ex tr in s i c co ndition s

n or G r ee k (or wi se ) . Thi s i s th e

(th e r e a r e t h r ee : th e J ew i s h, th e G r ee k , t h e

o f hi s ex i s-

or id e ntit y wi ll b e a r g u e d aga in s t . He w i ll b e r e qui re d t o b e

n

ew ) . N o mor e th a n

h e w i ll b e r e quir e d t o b e f rom this or th a t s o-

c

i a l c l ass (th e ory of e qu a lit y befor e truth) , or this or that sex (th e -

or y of wom e n) .

2 . T ruth i s e nti r e l y s ubj ect i ve (i t i s of th e or d e r of a d e c l a ration

te s tifi es to a con v iction

that

e ver y s ub -

r e l a tiv e to th e eve n t). Th u s,

Paul: Our Contemporary

I5

s u mpti on of i ts b ecom in g u n der a l aw wi ll be a r g u ed aga in st . I t w i l l

b e necessar y to pr o ceed at once via a r ad i ca l cri t ique of Je w ish l aw ,

and of Gre e k l aw as the

of dest i ny to t h e co s m ic o r de r , w hi ch h as n ever be e n

s ub ord in ati on

w hi ch h a s b e come ob s o l ete a n d h armf ul ,

a

n y thing

but a " l e a rn e d " igno r ance o f th e p a th s of sa l v ation .

3

. Fi d e l ity to the de c l a r a tion

is cr u cia l , for tr u th i s a proc ess , and

not an i llu m i nation.

ce pt s : one th a t n a m es th e s ub j e ct at the po in t of d ec l ara tion

In order t o th i nk it , on e require s thre e c on -

(pistis,

g

e n e r a lly tran s l a t e d as "fa ith ," b ut which i s mor e a ppropria t e l y

r e n-

d

e r e d a s "c onv i c t i on " ) ;

on e th a t n a m es t h e s ub j ec t at th e point of

hi

" c h a rit y," but more a ppr o p r i a t e l y

th a t n a m es t h e s ubj ec t acc ording to th e for ce

f e rre d upon h im thr o u g h th e ass umpt i on

completed [acheve] c h a r ac t er (eLpis, ge n e r a ll y tr a n s l a t e d as " h o p e, "

f th e truth p r o ce dur e's

s con v i c tion 's

milit a nt a ddre ss (agape, g ener a ll y tr a n s l ate d

r e nd e r e d

o

as

as " lov e" ) ; l as t l y, on e

of di s p l a c e m e nt c on-

b

u t m o r e a ppropri a t e l y r e nd ere d as "ce rt a int y" ).

4

. A t ruth i s o f its e l f ind if f e r e nt

t o th e s t a t e of th e s itu a t io n,

t o the

Rom a n St a t e f o r exa mp l e . T h is me a n s t h a t it i s s ubtr ac t e d

f ro m th e

or ga ni zatio n

c orres p o ndin g

f r o m t h e S t a t e a nd fr o m w h a t c orr es p o nd s

o f s ub se t s pr escr ib e d

b y th a t s t a t e . Th e s ubj ec ti v it y

to th is s ubt ractio n co n s titut es a n ecessa r y distance

t

o th e S t ate in p e opl e's

c

o nsc i o u s n ess: t h e a pp arat u s o f o pini on . O n e mu s t no t a r g u e a b o ut

o

pinions, P a u l says. A tru t h i s a concen t ra t e d

an d ser i o u s pr oce-

dur e, w hi c h m u st n eve r e nt er into co mp e titi o n

wit h es t a b l is h e d

Opl l 1 1 O n s.

T h e r e i s not o n e o f th ese m ax im s w hi c h , se ttin g as i d e th e c ont e nt

of th e eve nt , ca nn o t b e a ppr o pri a t e d f o r o u r si tu a ti o n a nd o ur p hil o -

s

or ga ni za t i on ,

empt f ro m w h a t a truth d e m a nd s a nd di s joinin g th e tru e f r om th e L a w , pro vo k ed-e n t i r e l y a l o n e-a c ul t u r a l r e v o l uti o n upon w hi c h w e s till d e-

p end .

whi l e g iv ing c r e dit to him wh o, d ec idin g th at n o n e was ex-

o phi ca l t as k s . A l l t h at re m a in s i s t o d e p l oy t h e ir und er l y in g

co n ce ptu a l

2

W h o Is Pau l ?

W e cou l d b egin in th e sa n c timoniou s s t y l e of th e u s u a l biographies .

-

--

-

_

Who Is Paul?

17

A nd ye t , no, l et u s p a u se instead. Pa u l i s a maj or fig ur e of a n t ip hi-

l osop h y . B ut i t i s o f t h e esse n ce o f an t ip hilosop h y th at th e s u b j ecti ve po -

s iti o n fig ur e as a d ec i sive fac t o r in d i sco u rse . E x istentia l fragm e n ts, some -

ti mes a n ec d ota l i n appearance, a r e e l eva t e d to th e r a n k of g u ara n to r of

tru t h . Can one i mag i n e Ro u s s ea u without t he Confessions, K i erkegaard

witho ut o ur b eing informed of t h e detai l of hi s engag e ment t o Regine, or

N i etzsc h e n ot in vit in g u s to pay wit n e ss, t h ro u ghout Ecce Homo, to the

r ea s ons en t itling him to ask t h e qu es tion " W h y am I a destiny " ? For a n

anti p hi lo s opher, t h e e nun ciat i ve po s itio n i s o b v i o u s l y part of the sta t e-

m ent's protoco l. No di s cour se c a n l a y c laim to truth if it d o es not c ontai n an exp li c i t answ e r to the ques t ion : Who s pe a ks ?

W h enev e r Pa ul addr e sses h i s writing s, h e a l wa ys dr a w s atte nt ion t o

th e f ac t th a t he ha s b ee n entit l ed to s peak as a s u bj ec t . And he became t hi s

s u b j e ct. H e b eca m e it s udden l y , on t h e r oa d t o Dam asc u s (if , a s w e b e -

l iev e , in thi s particu l a r inst a n c e on e ca n, f o r onc e and o n c e on l y, t r u st

t hat fa b ri ca t e d b io g raph y of Pa ul t h a t th e New Tes tamen t pr e s e n t s und e r

P

a ul ( a ctua ll y Sa ul, t h e nam e of t h e fir s t kin g o f I s r a e l ) i s born in T a r s u s

th

e tit l e Ac t s o f th e Apo s tl es ) . Th e s tory i s we l l kno w n: w hi l e trav elin g to

b

e tw een I a nd 5 A .D. ( i mpo ss ib l e , f rom a s tri ct l y sc ho l arl y p e r s p ec ti ve, to

D

a m asc u s as a z ealou s Ph a risee i n ord e r to p e r sec ut e C hris tia n s , P a ul

e m o r e pr eci s e ) . Thu s, h e i s of th e s a m e ge n e r a t i on as J esu s , w h o, eve ryon e k now s -but th e c i r c u l a rit y i s int e r es tin g- is born a nd c o ncur-

b

as

h e ar s a m y st er io u s v o i ce r evea lin g to him both th e tru th a nd hi s v oc a t i on.

I s th e t e rm " co n ve r s ion " a ppropri a t e to wh a t h a pp e n e d on th e ro a d

r

e nt l y es t a b l i s h e s hi s o w n d a t e of b i r th by in s tit u tin g ye ar I of " our " e r a

to D a m asc u s ? It w as a th u nd e rbo l t , a caes ur a, a nd not a di a l ec tica l r ever -

(

" h i s , " rath e r) . P a u l ' s f a th e r i s an a r ti san- r e t a i l e r, a t e n t m a k e r , H e i s a Ro -

sal. It wa s a co n scription i n s tituti n g a n e w s ub j ec t : " B y th e g r ace of G od

m

a n c i ti z e n , a nd h en c e s o i s P a ul . How did thi s f a th e r o bt a in c i ti ze n s hip?

I

a m w hat I a m [eimi ho eimz]" ( C or . 1 . 1pO). W h a t this a b s o l ut e l y a l ea -

It

i s s imp l e s t to suppo se , d es pit e th e a b se n ce of e v id e n ce, th a t h e b o u g ht

tor y i nt e rv e ntio n on

th e ro a d to D a m asc u s s ummon s i s th e " I a m " as

it. It w o ul d not b e b e y ond th e m ea n s o f a n a f f lu e n t re t a i l e r t o brib e a Ro -

such .

m a n c i v i l s e rvant . P a ul i s a J ew o f th e Phari s a i ca l t e nd e n cy . H e i s a n a r -

In a ce rt a in sen se, thi s co n ve r s ion i s n ' t ca r r i e d o u t b y a n yo n e: P a u l

d

e nt p a r t i c ip a nt in th e p e r s e c u tion o f C hri s ti a n s , w ho a r e co n s id e r e d

h

as not b ee n c on v ert e d b y r e pr ese nt a tives of " the C hur c h " ; h e h as no t

h

e r e tic s by th e orthodo x J ews a nd , as a r es ult, l eg a l l y p rosec ut e d but a l s o

b

een w on o v e r . H e h as no t b ee n pr e se n t e d with th e g o s p e l . C l ea r l y, th e

b

ea t e n , st on e d, a nd driv e n out, in acc ord a n ce with th e v a r y in g po we r

en c ount e r o n th e ro a d mimics th e foundin g ev ent. J u s t a s th e R es urrec-

s tru gg l es b e t wee n di f f e r e nt f a ct i on s in th e J ew i s h co mmuniti e s .

C hri s t 's e x e c u t i on d a te s a ppro x imat e l y from th e ye ar 3 0 . W e a r e in

the reig n of Tib e r i u s. In th e y e a r 3 3 or 3 4 , o n th e road to Dam asc u s P a u l

i s str u ck by a di v in e app a rition a n d c onv e r t s to Chr i s t i a nit y . He b e g i n s

h i s famou s m i s s ion a ry v o ya g es . And

W h a t u s e i s a ll t hi s? Yo u can co n s ul t the b ook s . Let 's c u t s tr a i g ht to

t h e doct r i n e.

s o on .

t ion r e main s tot a ll y in ca l c u l a b l e and it i s from th e r e th a t o n e m u s t b e gin , Pa ul 's faith i s th a t from whic h h e begin s as a s u b j e ct, and nothin g l e ad s

u p to it. T h e e vent -" it happ e n e d ," pu re l y a nd s imp l y, i n th e anon y m i ty

of a ro a d - i s t h e sub j e cti v e s i g n of the e v e n t proper t h a t i s t h e Re s urre c -

t ion of C hr is t . Wi t h i n Pau l hi mse l f , i t i s t h e (re) s u rg e nc e [(re)surrection]

o f the s ub j ect. T h is is the ex emp l ar y m a tri x of the l ink between exis t ence

a n d doc tr ine, for Pa ul d r aws from t h e conditi ons of h i s " co n ver s ion " t h e

18

Wh o I s P au l ?

Wh o I s P au l ?

19

c

o n se qu e nc e th a t one can o nl y b e g in fr o m f a ith , fr o m t h e d e c l ara ti o n o f

d

e c l a r e th a t w h a t took pl ace did t a k e pl ace. A m a n w h o, arme d w i t h a

fai th . Th e s udd e n a p pea r a n ce o f th e C h r i s ti a n s ubj e ct i s un co nd i t i o n e d .

p

erso n a l eve nt , h as g r ou nd s for d e c l a r ing th at imp e r s o na l eve nt t h a t i s

Acco r ding ly, i f we a r e t o g r as p h is message, we can in n o wa y n eg-

t

h e R esu rrec tion .

 

le ct th e c i rcu m s t a nc es of P a ul ' s li fe . I n thi s re gard, it i s f o r t un ate t h a t

 

P

a ul s t ays in A r a bi a for t h ree years. D o u b tless, in hi s ow n eyes, his

th ose c i rcum s t a n c e s to w h ich we acco rd th e hi g h est im po r tance are th e

mili ta nt eff i cacy pr ov id es a suff i c i e nt g u a r a nt ee,

so th at h av in g e ndur e d

o n es h e h im se lf in c o rp or a t es int o h is e p ist l es . Fo r re li a bl e i n d e p e n de nt ev id e n ce i s ex tr e m e l y r are. T h e narrat ive of th e Ac t s of th e A p os tl es i s, as we h a ve a lr ead y me n t i o n e d , a r e t ros p ect i v e c on s tru ct i o n w h o s e int en -

t i on s mod ern criti c i sm h as c l ear l y b ro u g h t t o li g ht , a nd w h ose fo rm is

fre qu e n t l y borro we d f r om th e rh e t o ri c of Greek fa bl e s . T o di s tin g ui s h it s

th is d e l ay he is fi n a l ly e n t i t l e d t o m ee t t h e Ch ur c h ' s " hi stor i c l eaders. " We

s h a ll see l a t er th a t a l t h o u g h stu b b or n , eve n vio l e nt , w h ere matters of

prin c ipl e are co n cerne d , Pa ul is a l so a p o l i tician , o n e w h o kn ows th e

va lu e of reasona bl e c omp ro mis e, a nd par t icul a rly of ve rb a l co m p ro mise s ,

w hi c h o nl y s li g h t l y imp e d e hi s f r ee d o m of ac tio n in t h e p l aces a nd t e r r i -

r

ea l e l e m e nt s from th e e di fy in g (a nd p o l i t i call y c h a r ge d ) f a bl e in w hi c h

to

ries h e c h oo s es ( pr efe r a bl y t hose w h ere hi s o pp o n e nt h a s th e l ea s t f oo t-

th ey a r e e nv e l oped requir es a n e x ce pti on a l a nd s u s pi c i o u s ri gor . A nd we

in

g). T hu s, P a ul g o es to J er u sa l e m , w h e r e h e m ee t s P e t er a nd th e a p os tles ,

h

av e pr actically nothin g e l se to go on , u n l ess it b e t h e a bilit y to ve r i f y

th

e n l eaves aga in . W e kno w n o thin g of th e i ss u es d e b a t e d in this f irs t

s

uch and s u c h a d e tai l throu g h th e int e rm e di a ry of R o m a n hi s torio g r a-

m

ee tin g. It see ms it did not co nvin ce P a ul of the n ecessity o f fre qu e nt l y

ph y , whi c h couldn ' t h a v e cared l ess a bout th ese littl e gro up s of J ew i s h here tic s. Moreo ve r , o n e mu s t b e s u s p ic i o u s eve n o f " P a ul ' s e pi st l es,"

c a noni call y g ath e r e d to ge th e r i n t h e New Te s t a m e nt a t l ea s t a c e ntu ry a f -

t e r th e ap o s tl e's d ea th. Sc h o l a rl y exe g e s i s h a s demo n s tr a t e d t h e a p oc -

r y ph a l nat ur e o f m any of t h e m , to the e x te n t t h a t t he co rpu s of th i s f un -

d ame nt a l a uth or m u s t , in th e fina l a n a l ysi s , b e r e d u ce d to s i x r a ther bri ef

c o n s ul t in g w ith t he j e ru sa l e mit e "cen t e r , " b eca u se hi s s e c ond p er i o d o f

milit a n t voya g e w ill l ast fourt ee n yea r s ! C ili c i a , S y ria , Tur k e y, M ace d o ni a, Gr e ec e . T h e ex -centered dim e n s i on o f P a ul 's acti o n i s th e pr acti ca l s ub -

st ru ct u re of hi s t h o u g h t , w hi c h po s its th a t a ll tru e un iver sa lity i s d evoid

of a ce nt e r . We k n ow r o u gh l y h ow t hes e m ilita n t p e r e gr i nation s f u nctio n e d. At

te x t s : Romans, Corin th ia n s I a nd II , G a l ati a ns, Phi li pp i a n s, a n d T h e ssa-

t

h a t t i m e J ud aism w a s st ill a p r o s e l ytiz i ng r e l ig i on . To a d dr ess on es e l f to

lonian s I . Thi s i s non e t h e l ess e nou g h to es t a b l i s h ce rt a i n major s u bj ec ti v e

G

e nti l es was no t, as i s of ten t h o u g h t, a n i n ve ntion

of P a u l 's . J e w i s h pro s -

tra it s a nd g u ara nte e c e rt a in d ec i s i ve e pi s od es .

e

l y t i s m w a s s u bstantia l a nd d e v e loped . I t divid e d its a u dien ce in to two

Thu s , for exa mp l e , a po in t of th e h i ghe s t impo rt a n ce, w h ich P a ul

c

i r c l es that cou l d b e c a ll ed , u s in g a risk y po l itic a l a n achro ni s m , t h e sy m-

r e l a t es to u s w ith not i ceab l e prid e (P a ul i s ce r t a inl y n e ith e r in t r ov e rte d , nor fal s e ly mo d e s t) : Wh a t do es h e do a ft e r th e D a ma s cu s e x p e ri e n c e ? We

k n ow in any cas e w hat h e do e s no t do . He d oe s n ot g o to J e ru sal e m ; he

d o e s not go t o s ee t he a u t h orit i es, t h e in s titut io n a l apo s t l e s , th o s e w h o knew C hri st . H e d oes n o t s e e k "conf ir m a tion " for t h e eve n t th a t a pp o int s him inhi s o w n eyes a s a n a p o s t l e. H e l eaves thi s s ubj e c ti v e up s ur ge o ut -

si d e e ve ry of f ici a l sea l . T h e un s h a k a bl e co nvicti o n as t o hi s ow n d estin y

prob a bl y d a te s from h e r e , a c on v i c tion th a t w ill on seve r a l o c c asion s

c a u se him to c om e into c on f li c t w ith th e c or e o f hi s tori ca l a po s tl es,

a m o n g w hom P e t e r i s th e ce ntr a l fig ur e. Turnin g away fr o m a ll a uth o rit y

oth e r th a n that o f the V o ic e th a t p e r s on a ll y s umm o n e d hi m t o hi s b e - co min g - s ub je ct , P a ul l eaves for Ara bi a in o rd e r t o pr o c l a i m th e gos p e l, to

p athi ze r s a nd t h e ad h erent s :

(a ) Th e " Go d- fe a r in g" r ecognize monoth e i s m ' s g l oba l l e g iti m a c y

b ut a r e ex emp t from th e p r es cript i on s of t he l a w, a n d no t a b l y fro m

C

(b) T h e co n ve rt ed are comm itted to f o llow in g th e p r e scri p tio n s of

t h e l aw, an d m u st b e c i rc um c i s e d. C irc um cis i o n h e r e i nd e x e s its fun c tion as a form of br a nding, of p r imary initiati o n.

T hu s , it i s n o t prim a ril y th e f ac t th a t h e a ddr es s e s Ge ntil e s th a t i s o-

.

.

.

I rc u m C I S I On .

l a t es Pa ul f r om th e J ewish co mmunity . More o ve r , P a ul b eg in s hi s t eac h-

in g b y b asi n g him s e lf o n th a t c o mmunity's in s t i tution s. Wh e n h e a rri ves

in a t ow n , h e fi r s t in terve n e s in th e sy n agogue. U n s urp r i s in g l y , t hi n gs g o

2 0

Who Is Paul?

b a d l y wi th t h e orth o d o x, f or r e ason s of d oc trin e : t h e s tubb or n p ers i s t e nc e in a ff ir min g th at J esu s is t h e Mes s i a h ( r e m e m b e r t h a t "C hri s t " i s s impl y th e Gr e e k w or d for " m e ssiah, " so t h a t th e on l y con ti n u i t y b e t w ee n th e Goo d New s accor din g to P a ul and pr o p h e ti c J u d a i s m i s th e e q ua ti o n J e-

s u s = C hri s t ), a n a f fir m at i o n th a t , in t h e e y es of t h e m a j ori t y of J e w s, a nd

f or ex t r e m e l y po wer f ul an d l egit i m a t e r easo n s , p r o p ou nd s a f ra u d . F o l-

l o w i n g in c id e n t s th a t, in t h e co ndi ti o n s o f th e tim e , c o ul d b e e x t r e m e l y

v i o l e nt , a nd w h e r e, b a s i ca ll y , o ne ri s k s o n e's l if e, P a ul a b a ndo n s th e sy n a -

g o g u e a n d wi t h d raw s t o t h e hom e o f a l oca l s ymp at h i z e r . T h ere h e tr i es

t o set up a g roup

s e e m s t hat ve r y q ui c k l y t h e Ge n c i l e - C hri st i a n s w i ll co n s t it ut e th e m a j o r -

com p r i s i n g J u deo -C h r i s t i a n s an d Ge nt il e - C h r i s ti a n s . It

it y amo n g t h e a dh e r e n t s o f t h e g roup . I n li g ht of th e m i n i m a l c o n cess i o n P a ul ma k es to th e J ew i s h h e r i t age , p a r t i c ul a r l y so far as r i t es a r e co n - ce rn e d , t hi s i s n ot i n th e l ea s t s urpr is i n g . O n ce th e gro up h as b een s u ffi -

c i e n t l y conso li d at e d in hi s eyes (it w i ll t h e n b e ca ll e d a n ekklesia, f r om

w h i c h eglise [ c h u rch ] undou b te d l y d e rives, a l t h ou g h t h e f o r m e r sho ul d b e

e n v i sio n e d i n t e rm s of a s m a ll g ro u p of m i l i t a n t s ) , Pa u l e nt r u s t s its r u n - n i ng t o t h ose who se co n v i c ti o n h e h o l d s in h i g h rega rd , an d who w i ll b e - come hi s li e u te n a nt s. T h e n h e co nt i nu es o n h i s voya ge.

N o t h in g b e ars w it n e s s to P a ul 's ce rt ai nt y c o n c e r ni ng th e f u t u r e o f

hi s act io n so mu c h as th e id ent ifi c a ti on, t ow a r d w hi c h h e i s co n s ta n t l y

proc e ed i ng, b e t w een a s m a ll core of t h e c o n s tit u t ed f a ithfu l i n a t ow n an d

t h e ent i re r eg i o n . W h o a r e t h ese T h e s s a l o ni a n s , th e se C ori nt h i a n s, t o say no th ing of th es e R oma n s , to w h om P a u l a d dr e s ses , i n a n an im a t e d a nd m a j es t i c to n e , hi s e p is t l es? Pr o b a b l y a few " b r ot h e r s"- w h i c h i s a n a r -

c h a i c f or m of o ur "com r a d es"- l o s t i n t h e c it y . T h r o u g h t h e ir co m me n -

s ur a b i li ty w i t h a t r u t h , a n ony m o u s indi v idu a l s are a l wa ys t r a n s f or m e d

in t o v e cto r s of h um a nity as a w h o l e . L e t 's ju s t s a y t h a t t h e h a n df ul of R e -

s i sta n ce f i g h t e r s in the yea r 1940 or 1941 occu p y th e sam e pos i t i o n a s

P a ul 's C o rinthi ans : i t i s to th e m , a nd to t h em a l o n e , th a t i t i s l e g iti mate

t o a ddress o n es e l f i f seek in g t o in dicate a r e a l p rope r to F r a n ce . How eve r f a r away , P a ul n e ve r l oses s i g h t o f th ese e n c l aves o f th e

f a it hfu l w h o se e x i s t e nc e h e h as p l aye d m i d w if e t o . Hi s e p i s t l es a re n o t h-

in g

but int erve n t i ons i n th e l i ve s o f t h ese e n c l av e s, an d t h ese a r e po ssess e d

of a ll th e po liti cal p ass io n p r op er t o s u c h in t e r v e n t i o n s . St ru gg l e s ag a i n s t

i n t er necin e di v i s i o ns, r e mind e r s of f u n d a m e nt a l pri n c i p l es, r e a sse rt ion s

Who Is Paul?

2 1

o f tr u s t i n l oc a l o r ga n i zers , ex a min a tio n s of l i t i g i o u s p o i n ts, p r essi n g d e -

m an d s fo r co ntin u ing p rose l y tiz i ng ac t i v i t y , o r ga n i z a tion of f i n a n ces

N ot hi n g th a t a n a c ti v i s t for a n y or g a ni ze d ca u s e wo ul d no t r e co g ni ze as

fund am e nt a l to th e conc e rn s a n d pa ss i on s o f c o llec t i v e inte r v e ntio n .

Aft e r f o ur t e e n y ea r s of o r ga n i z a t i on a l wa nd e r i n g,

of w hi c h no w rit-

t e n t r a c e r e m ai n s, we a r e ro u g h l y i n th e year 5 0 . A b o ut t we nt y yea r s h ave

p asse d s in ce th e d ea th of C hr ist . I t h as b een seve nt ee n y ea r s s in ce P a ul re-

c e i ve d t h e D a m a s c u s co nvo ca t i o n. H e i s i n h i s fifti es a nd r e f e r s t o him-

sel f as " t h e o l d P a ul. " H i s ear l i es t t ex t s th a t h ave b ee n h a n d e d d ow n t o u s

d a t e from th i s p e ri o d . Wh y? A f ew h y p o t h e ses ca n b e pr o p o se d.

S i n ce h e i s r espo ns i b l e f o r se v e r a l g r o u ps l a r g e l y co mp r i s e d of Cen-

til e - C h r i s t ians , P a ul r esid es in A nt i oc h , a very l a r ge c ity , t h e t h ird cit y of

th e e mp i r e af t er R ome an d A l e x a ndr ia. Reca ll t h a t P a u l w a s b o rn in to a

w e ll - off f ami l y in Ta r s u s, t h a t h e i s a m a n o f th e c i t y r a t h er t h a n a m a n of

t h e co u nt ry. T hi s i s mor e t h a n a d eta il. H i s s t y l e ow e s no t hing to t h o se

r u ra l im a ges a nd me t a ph or s t h a t , on t h e con t rary , a b o u n d in t h e p ara b l e s

of C hri s t . I f hi s v i s io n of t hin gs fe r vent l y e mbrace s t h e dime n s ion of th e

w or l d a nd ex t e n d s t o th e ex t r e m e lim i t s of th e e mpir e ( h is d e ar es t wi s h i s

to go t o S p a i n , as i f h e, t h e Or i e n tal , co ul d o nl y a c co mp l i s h hi s m i s s i o n

at th e ex t r e me e d g e of t h e Occ i d e n t), it i s b e c a u s e u r b a n

tani s m an d l e ngt h y voy a g es h ave s h a p ed i t s a m p lit u d e . Pa u l 's un i v e r sa l -

i sm a l s o com pri ses a n i n t e r n a l geogra p h y , wh i c h i s not t h a t of t h e p e r e n-

ni a ll it t l e l a n d ow n e r .

f Pa ul beg i n s to w r ite a b o u t p o i n t s of doc tri n e , if h i s tex ts a r e

co pi e d a nd c i rc u l a te d , w e b e l i e ve i t i s b e ca u se h e b ec om es a w a r e of th e

n ece ssi ty of e n gag in g in a l arg e -sc a l e s t r u gg l e . T h e s i t u a t io n fo r ce s him t o con ce i v e of hi ms e l f a s l e a d e r of a party o r fa c t i on .

D u rin g P a u l 's s t ay i n A nt i oc h , some jud e o-C hris t i ans of s tri c t o b -

s e r va n ce ar ri v e . T h ey conf r on t t h e a p o s t l e, sow di sco rd , d e man d t h e c i r -

c u m c i s i o n of a ll t h e fa i t hfu l. O n c e ag a i n, it is not pr ose l yt i sm towar d

n

d

o ct r i n a l sy mp at h iz e r s a nd th e " t ru e" c o n ve rts, i n iti a t ed a n d c i r c u m c i se d . Fo r hi m (a nd we s ha ll g r a nt h im t h i s p o i nt ) , a truth pr oce du r e d o es not

o mpri se d eg r ees. E i t h e r on e p a r tic ip a t es in i t , d e c l a rin g t h e fo u n din g

c

e

d

c os mo p o l i -

I

o n -j e ws t h a t i s i n q u e s ti o n . T h e poi n t i s t h a t Pa ul c a nn o t co n se n t to t h e

i s tin ct i on b etwee n two c i r c l es amon g th ose w h o m h e h as ra l l i e d , th e

ve nt a n d dr aw ing i ts c o n se qu e n ce s, or o n e r e m a in s fo r e i g n to i t. T hi s

22 Who Is PauL?

distinction , wi t ho ut interm e di a r y or m e diat i on , i s e n tir e l y s u bj ec tive .

Rite s a nd e x ternal m a rking s ca n provid e n e ithe r a foundation , nor e v en a qu a li f i cation for it. Such i s the pric e for truth ' s s t a t u s as a un ive r sal s in-

g ul a rir y . A truth procedure is onl y uni ve r s al in s ofar as it i s s upp o rt e d , a t

th a t point th r ou g h w hi c h it i nd exes th e r ea l , b y an imm e di a t e s ub ject i v e re c o g n i ti o n of it s sing u l a rir y . Fa ilin g w h ic h , on e re s ort s to o b s e rv a n c es or pa r ticul a r s i gns, w hi c h ca n onl y fix th e G ood N ews w ith i n th e c ornmu- nit ar i a n s p ace, blocking it s u n i versa l d e plo y m e nt. T h u s , P a u l c on s ider s a ll

c on ve rt s as fu l l y practicin g fol l o w e rs, wh a t e ver t h e i r b a c kg round , a nd re-

gard l ess o f w h e th e r th ey ar e c i rc u mc i se d. Jud e o- C h r i s ti a n s o f st rict o b- se r va nc e mai n tai n the pr ac t i ce o f di s t i n g ui s hin g b e tw ee n d eg r ees of b e -

l on g in g a nd find it g e nuin e l y sca nd a l o u s tha t indi v id u a l s po ssess i ng

n e it h er the m a rk i ngs no r t h e rit u a l pr ac tic es of t h e communi ry c a n b e

co n s id e r e d a s e qua l s. P e op l e w ho , in a w ord , h ave n e ith e r th e s l i g ht est

l mo w l e d ge o f, nor r es p e ct for , t h e La w . A g rave di s put e en s u es . It is fin a ll y d e cid e d th a t th e i ssu e b e set t l e d

w ith th e hi s tori cal a p ost l es in J e ru sa l e m . It i s P a u l ' s seco nd e ncoun te r w ith P e t e r , a nd t hi s t i m e w e h av e inf o rm a t i o n a b o ut w h a t was a t stak e . I t co nc e rn s a m a jor c onflict, o n e in w hi c h th e d es tin y of th e n ew d oc trin e

i s a t i ss u e. To w h a t exte nt d oe s t h e l at t er r e m a in d e p e nd e n t on it s o ri g in

in t h e J ew i s h com mu n i ry? I n my ow n l ang u age : W h a t i s th e exact r e l a- ti on b e twee n t he s u p p osed uni v e rs a l i t y of th e p o s tev e n ta l t r u t h ( th at i s ,

w h at i s infe rr e d f r o m C h r i s t 's r e u rr e ctio n ) a nd t h e e v e nt a l s i te , wh i c h is, in dubit a bl y, th e n a ti on b o u n d to g e th e r b y t h e Old Tes t a m e nt ? Of w h at

i m p o r t are t h e tra d i ti o n a l ma rk s of b e l o n gi n g t o t h e J ew i s h comm un ir y fo r t h e co n st ru c t io n of thi s tru th, for it s d e pl oymen t in the p eo p l e of th e

e mpi re?

T h e J e ru s a l e m c onf e r e n ce ( in 50? in 51?)i s o f d ec i s i ve import a n ce

f o r th ese qu es ti o n s , whi c h coo rdin a t e th e bi n din g of s in g ul a r i r y a nd uni -

v e r sa lir y . Sp ecifi call y a t s t a k e in it i s c i r c u m c i s ion , a nd P a ul d e l ib e r a t e l y

fo ll o w er .

But i n th e b a ckgro u n d th e que s tion is: Who i s c a ll e d? Wh a t i s it to be

com es to Jeru s a l e m ac comp a ni e d b y T it u s, a n un c ir c um c i sed

Who Is Paul?

23

of the s ubje c t i s d i a lec t i cal . It is no t a que s tion of den y ing th e p o w e r of

th e eve nt . It i s a que s tion of asse rtin g th a t i t s n o ve lry c on s er ves and s ub -

l a t es t h e t r a ditiona l s ite o f f a i t h , th a t i t in cor p o r a t es it by e x cee din g i t . Th e C hri s t - eve nt accompli s he s th e L aw ; it d o es not t e rmin a t e it. Thu s th e m a r ks inh e rit e d fr o m tra di t i on ( cir c um cis ion , fo r exa mple ) are s till

n ecessar y . O ne m ig ht eve n say t h a t , t a k en up a nd e l eva t e d b y th e n ew an -

noun cemen t , th e l a tt e r b ecome t ra n s fig ur e d a nd are a l l th e m o r e ac t i ve for it .

P a u l find s h i m s e l f lea d i n g th e sec ond f a cti on . I n hi s eyes, the eve nt

rend e r s pri o r m a rking s ob s ole t e, a nd th e n ew uni ve r sa l iry b ea r s n o pr i v i -

l ege d r e l at ion t o the J e wi s h communiry. Ce r t a in l y, t he compon e nt s of t h e

e ve nt , it s l o ca tion , eve r y thin g i t mobil i zes, h a ve this c ommunity as th e ir

s i te. P a u l h im s e l f i s e n ti r e l y of J e wi s h c u l t u r e a nd c i t es th e Old T es t a m e nt

f a r mor e fr e q u e nt l y tha n th e p u t a tive w o rd s of th e l i vin g C hris t . But a l -

t ho u g h th e e v e nt d e p e nd s on its s i t e in i t s b eing, i t m u s t b e ind e p e nd e nt

of i t in its truth efficts . Th u s , it i s not th a t c o m munit a ria n mark i n g (c ir- cum c i s i o n, rit e s , t h e m e ti c ul ous o b s e r va n ce o f t h e L aw ) i s ind e f e n s ib l e o r

err o n eo u s. I t i s t h a t the po s teven t a l i m p e ra t ive of truth r e nd e r s t h e l att e r

i ndiff e r e nt (w hi c h i s w or se). I t h as no s i g ni ficatio n, w h eth er p osit i v e o r

n eg a t i ve. P a ul i s n ot o p po s e d t o c i rc u mci sio n. H is rigo r o u s a ss e rti o n i s "C ir c um cisi on i s n o th i n g, an d un c i rc u mci sio n i s n ot hi ng " (Cor. 1 . 7 .19). Th is a s s e rtion i s o b vio u s l y s a c ril eg i o u s fo r jud e o-Ch risri a n s . But no t e

th a t i t i s n ot, f o r a l l th at , a G e nt i l e- Chri s tia n a sserti o n , s in ce u n c i rc u m-

ci s i on acq uir e s no pa r t i c ul ar v a lu e throug h i t, s o t h at i t i s in no w a y to b e

in s i sted u po n .

T h e d e b ate , phil oso p hica l l y r eco n s tru cte d , b e a rs up on t hr e e con-

cept s : int e rrupt i o n ( wh a t d o e s a n eve nt inte rrup t , w h at d oes it pr e se r ve? ) ;

f i d e li ry (w h a t is it t o b e fa ith f ul t o a n eve nt a l i nt e rrup t i o n i ), a nd m a rk i n g

(ar e th e r e v i s ib l e m a rk s or s i g n s o f fid e lir y?) . T h e fun d amen t a l interroga -

t io n i s c r ysta ll ize d a t t h e int e r s e c tion

s u b j ec t of th e t r u th pro ce dur e?

W e k n ow of t h e J e r u s a l em co n f e r e nc e's e x istence and s t a k es on l y

o f th ese three c on ce pt s: W ho i s th e

ca ll e d? Is th e c a ll ind exe d b y vi s ibl e s ign s ? And fina ll y : W h o is a su b j e ct?

th

rough P a u l 's own bri e f n a rra tiv e, a nd t h rou g h its s t ag in g i n th e A c t s .

Wh a t m a rks a s u bj ect?

T

h a t it e nd e d i n c ompromis e , in a s ort o f d e l imitati on of s pher es of in-

T

h e jud e o-Christi a n f act ion , w hich m a intain s str ic t ob ser v a nc e , a s -

fl

u e nc e , i s c e rt a in. The formu l a f or t h a t compromise i s : th e r e a r e a postl es

se rt s th a t t h e C hri s t - e v e nt do es not a bo l i s h the o l d o r d e r . It s conc e ption

workin g in th e J e w i s h e n vironm e nt , a nd oth e r s w or k i ng in th e G e n til e

Who Is Paul?

e n vi r o nm e n t .

th e ethne (t r ans l ate d as "na t io n s," a nd in fact de s i g n a t in g a ll p e op l e s other

t h a n t h e J ew i s h pe o p l e). Pa ul r e l ates t he ep i so d e i n hi s epi s t l e to t h e Ga l ati a n s , 2.1 .1 0:

P e t e r i s apostl e of t h e Jews; Pa ul, a p os tle o f t h e G en t iles ,

T hen a ft e r fo u rt een ye a r s I w e nt u p ag a in to Jeru s a l e m w ith Ba r n a b a s, t a k i ng T i - tu s along with me. I w e nt up b y r e v e l a ti o n ; a n d l a id b e fo re th e m (but p riva t e l y , b e for e tho se who we r e o f r e p u t at ion ) th e g o s p e l t hat I pr eac h a mong t h e Ge n -

t i l es, l e s t s om e how I s h ou ld b e runnin g or h a d run i n v a in. But e v e n Titu s , w ho

wa s with m e, w as not c omp e ll e d to b e c ir c umci sed , tho u g h h e was a Gr e e k . B u t b e cau se of f a l se br e thr e n secr e t l y brou g ht in , w ho s l ipp e d i n to s p y o u t our free - dom whic h w e hav e in Ch r i s t J esu s, t h a t th e y mi g ht brin g u s i nt o b o nda ge- to

t h e m w e d i d no t y i e l d s ubmi ssi on

g o s p e l mi g ht b e p rese r ve d for y ou . A n d from tho se w ho we r e m os t e ste e m e d (wh a t th ey we r e m a k es no diff e r e nc e to m e ; G od s ho ws no p ar tial i tyl- c- th ose, I

s a y , w ho w e re of r e p u t e a dd e d nothin g to m e . But o n th e co nt r ary, w h e n th ey

s aw that I h a d b e e n e n t r u s t e d w i t h th e gosp e l of th e un c i rc um c i se d , ju s t as Pe t e r h a d b e e n e ntru s t e d th e go s p e l o f th e c ir c um c i sed ( fo r h e w h o wo r k e d t hr o u g h P e t e r for th e mi ss i o n to th e c ir c um c i s e d , wo rk e d t h r ou g h m e a l s o fo r t h e G e n - ti l es ) , a nd w h en th e y p e r c e iv e d th e g r ac e t h a t w as g i v e n to me, J a m es a nd C e p h as a nd J ohn , who w e r e r e put e d t o b e pill a r s , ga ve to m e a nd B a rn a b as t h e

r i g ht h a nd s o f fe l l o w s hip , th a t w e s h o u l d g o to th e G e ntiles a nd t h e y t o th e c ir-

on l y t h e y wo uld h ave u s r e m e mb e r th e p o or , w hi c h ve r y t hin g r wa s

c u mc i se d, eager to d o .

e v e n for a mo me nt , that t h e t r uth of th e

Th i s i s a n e ntir e ly po l itic a l t ex t , fr o m wh i c h w e m u s t re t a i n a t l eas t

thr ee point s :

1 . Wh a t eve r th e pond e r o u s c h a r ac t e r of thi s di sc our s e , we d e du c e

of s tri c t ob-

s erv a n c e (p r o b ably tho s e wh o were b e hind th e di s turb a n ces a t An -

tio c h) a r e d e no u n ce d

o f kno w in g w h e th e r on e i s g oin g

a

th a t t h e s tru gg l e wa s a f ie r ce on e . T h e J u d e o -C hris t i an s

as " f a l se br e thren, "

a nd i t is c l ea r l y a qu es t i o n

to g iv e i n to pr e ss ur e. T h e r e wa s

ap o s t l es, P ete r ( Ce p h a s ) ,

J a m es ,

n i nt e rcess ion

by th e hi s tori ca l

a nd J o h n, w h o, c a rr y in g o u t th e i r sy mbo li c g ov e rn i n g ro l e in a

sp i rit of ration a l compromise,

a li t y i n t h e m i lit a n t fun c tion.

i n t hi s con c l u s ion provides a c l ea r i nd i cat i on

b e e n ta k en

a pprov e d s om e k i nd of e mpiric a l d u -

N eve rth e l ess , w e not i ce t h at n othin g

as to w hich s i d e ha s

on t h e fundame n t a l i ssue s. Th a t P a ul conc e rn h i mse l f

Who Is Paul?

wi t h the Ge n tiles is one t hin g tha t h e imp ose o n th em n ei t he r r it es no r marks is anothe r , o n e w hi c h th e conf e rence appare ntl y d oes no t decid e .

2 . The key mome nt

i n t h e te x t is t h e one i n wh i ch P a ul d e c l ares

t

h at hi s oppon e nt s

s p i ed o u t t h e "f r e edom w h ic h w e h a ve in C hr i s t

J

es u s , that they mig h t b ri ng u s i n to bondag e . "

For fr ee d om pu t s

into p l a y the questio n of th e l a w , a que s t ion t h a t wi ll b e cen t r a l i n Pa u l' s di s co u rse . W h a t , i n th e fina l ana l y sis , i s t h e r e l ation b e t ween

in t h e form of a l ega l

s u bj e ction? Th e J e r u sa l em confer e nc e resolves nothing, co nfli c tin g ex p er i e nc es d e v e l op .

3 . E v e ryth in g , i n c lu din g

in g f o r th e re c ogni ze d

c

tori ca l influ e n ce . On

a l lowin g P a u l 's ac tion to d ev e l op a t t h e s ame time a s that of jud eo -

C h ris tia n s of s tri c t ob se rvan ce , th e J e ru sa l e m conf e r e nc e u l t i m a t e l y

pr eve nt s C hris tia n i t y from b ec om i n g a J e wi s h se c t, a n o th e r pr eca r-

i ou s sc i ss ion ( in th e wa k e o f m a n y oth e r s ) . B u t in c u rbin g th e z e a l

o f tho se Ce ncil e -C hris ti a n s

P a ul h i m s e lf, i t pr e v e nt e d

l umini s m,

b u t l e t s

l a w a nd s ub j e ct? I s e v e r y sub j e ct config u red

Pau l 's

d e f e nsiv e ton e ( h e i s v is ibl y p l e ad-

rig h t to p u r s ue hi s action) , s ho ws that th e

hi s -

th a t influ e nc e is c on s ider a ble . B y

ompromis e

w as un s t a b l e , w h i c h i s not t o s ay it was without

th e c o n tr a r y,

ho s ti l e to J ud a i s m , and p e rh a p s th a t of

C hri s tianit y

f rom b e in g m er e l y a n e w il -

b eca u se d ev oid of a ll b as i s in hi s-

o n e ju s t as pr e c a ri o u s

tori ca l Jud a i s m. T h e J e ru sa l e m c onf e r e n c e

tion a l, b eca u s e it e ndow s C hri st i a nity

It th e r e b y ho l d s ti g ht to th e thr ea d of t h e

th e eve nt i s n ew

s h o u l d n eve r l et u s f o r ge t th at i t i s su c h onl y with r es p ec t to a d e -

o p e nin g a nd hi storic it y.

e

i s gen ui n e l y f o u n d a-

of

w ith a t w of o l d prin c ipl e

Th a t

v e nt as initia tion

o f a truth pr oce dur e .

t

Admitt e dl y, th e c o nfe r e n ce do es

this diff icult m a tch b e t we e n eve nta l ity a nd imma n e n ce

t i on . But th a t it m a n age s to coo r din a t e

e mp iri ca l l y i s a l rea dy a l ot. If i t i s tr u e th at Peter [ Pie rr e ] was the a r-

chit e ct of th e J e r u sa l em compromi se,

n e r s tone

e rmin a t e s itu ation,

w h e r e in it m o bi l i zes

t h e e l e m e nt s

of it s s it e .

of

not see m abl e to fi x th e c ont e nt

to a s itu a -

th e po s sib il it y of thi s m a t c h

h e d ese rv es hi s titl e of cor-

[pierre angulaire 1 of th e C hu rch .

T

hat t h e s i tu a tion

r e ma in e d t e ns e e ve n af t er t h e conference

is a t -

test e d t o by the f a mou s " incid e nt at Antioch, "

after h is narrat i ve of t h e conferenc e a n d wh i c h seems to h a v e occ u rred a t

which Pa ul ment i ons j ust

Who Is Paul?

the e nd of the sam e y e ar . T h is incide n t is pa s sed over i n silence in t h e

Acts , which s uppo r ts

who s e function is to provid e a n a cco u nt of th e first d e cades of Chri s tian -

the view that the l atter is an offi cia l do c umen t ,

,

Who Is Paul?

27

idea t h at wh a t i s req u ired a re new princ i pl es . T h e inciden t reveal s to him

th at th e Law , in its pr ev i ou s imp e rati v e , i s not , is no l onger , t e nab l e, e ven

for t h ose who c l aim to fo ll o w it . This wi ll no ur i s h one of P a u l 's ess e nti a l

ity t h at wou l d be as unifo r m , organiza t iona l,

and " Roman" a s pos s ib l e .

t

hes e s , w h ich is th a t the Law ha s become a fi g ure of death : P e te r ' s s itu a -

Wh a t w a s thi s in c ident a bout ? P e t e r i s i n Antioch (a tour o f in s p ec -

t

i o n, a t th e ve r y

h ea rt of the m e a ge r C h r i s ti a n " a pp a rat u s,"

a prec a rious ,

tion?) , w h e r e P a u l ha s r e turn e d .

s hare ritu a l me a l s w ith non-J e w s . Peter b eg in s b y doing s o, b u t se e in g

Th e i s s u e c on c e rn s

wh e th e r

on e

can di s -

h

the r e quire m e nts o f a ction ar e conc e rn e d, f u rni s h e d him with c oncr e t e

ypocritica l , " r e pr e h e n s ib l e,"

a n d b as i ca ll y moribund

s it u a tion

s o f a r as

cip

l e s ofJames ent e ring, l eav es

th e t a bl e . P a u l t a k e s it ver y b a dl y . Th e r e i s

proof o f this . For

P a ul , it i s no lon ge r po ss ib l e to m aintain

a n e qu a l b a l-

no

doubt th a t h e se e s in P e t e r ' s b e h a vior

a b e tra ya l o f t h e init i a l co m p ro -

anc e betwee n th e

L a w, w hich i s a principl e o f d e a th [ o r th e s udd e nl y a s-

mi

s e and a h y p oc riti c a l

po s ition. T h e t ex t s ti ll b e a r s th e imprint

of ge n-

cend a nt truth , a n d th e eve nt a l d ec lar a t i on ,

w hi c h i s it s prin c ipl e

o f life .

uin e fury :

But w h e n P e t e r carn e to A nt i o c h , I o pp o sed him f ace t o face, b e ca u se h e s t oo d

c on d e mn e d . For b e fo r e ce rt a i n m e n ca m e fr o m J a m es, h e a t e w ith t h e G e nt i l e s;

but w h e n t h ey c a m e h e d r ew b ac k a nd s e p a r at e d him s e l f , fe a r i n g th e c irc u mci -

s

n a b as w as c a rr i e d aw a y b y th e i r in si n ce rit y. B ut w h e n I s aw th at th ey we r e n o t

s tra i g h t f orw ard a bo ut th e t ru t h o f th e gos p e l, I sai d to P e t e r be f o r e th e m a ll, " I f y ou , thou g h a J e w , l i ve lik e a Ge n ti l e, a nd not lik e a J e w, h o w ca n y o u c om pe l

t

i o n p a r t y . A n d w it h h im th e r est of t h e J e w s ac t e d i n s in ce r e l y, s o th a t e v e n B a r -

h e Ge ntil es t o l i v e li k e J ews? " ( Ga l . 2 . II .1 4)

P a u l w i ll imm e di a t e l y

P e t e r . Eve r y thin g indi ca t es th a t h e r e fu sed a n y c o mp ro mise w h e n it ca m e

t o fid e l i t y to prin c ip l es.

say t o P e t e r T h e a n swe r

s upp o ses a n impl i c it r e fe r e n c e t o th e J e r u sal e m ag r ee m e nt s . With r e s p e ct

t o dup l i c i ty . It s h o ws

to t h ese ag r e em e nt s , w h a t P e t e r did is ta nt a mo unt

br e a k w i t h B a rn a b as, w h o h as b ee n l e d a s t r ay b y

T h e a pp a r e nt e ni g m a i s t h e f o ll o w i n g : W h y d o es P a ul

th a t h e ( P e t e r) , w h o i s a J e w, li v es in th e m a n n er o f Ge nt i l es ?

F o r so m e o n e w h o c l a ims t o

f o l l ow th e L aw, i t a m o unt s t o a g r a v e [ a ili ng . O n e mig ht s a y th a t P a u l r e -

to th e i m -

a g e P e t e r him s e l f c l a i m s t o g i v e o f w h a t i t i s t o b e a J e w. H e th e r e b y d e- pri ve s him s e l f o f th e ri g ht to f o r c e th e G e n t il e s t o co n form t o this image

a nd to pra c t i c e fore i g n rit e s . It i s impo ss ibl e t o o v eres tim a t e th e impo r t a nce

A nti oc h. Th a t P e t e r cou l d di s p l a y s uc h incon s i s t e ncy

o w n principle s , such di s lo y a l t y to a p ast c o mpromi s e ,

pr oa c h es P e t e r with a c tin g in a m a nn e r th a t f a il s t o

a h y p o c riti cal di s r esp ec t f o r a c o n v e nti o n .

c

o r r es po n d

o

w ith r e g a r d to hi s i n s til l s in Pau l th e

a t

f th e in c id e nt

No w the l e a d e r of a fa c t i o n , a nd h av in g l ea rn e d [rom t h e se m a j o r,

"summit " co nfro n t a tio n s,

d oni a , G r ee c e ). T h e Ac t s p r e s e nt s u s w ith th e Hol l yw o o d v e r s i o n of th ese

trav e l s. On e e p i s o d e , as f a m o u s as it i s un l i k e l y , i s th a t o f th e g r e a t s p ee c h

Pa ul i s s a id to ha v e g i v e n b e f or e th e Ath e ni a n phi l o s o p h e r s

(St o i c s a nd

Epi c ur ea n s ) " in th e m id s t of th e A r e op ag u s. "

l ea s t in its s piri t, th e e pi s o d e's s orr y co n c lu s i o n :

re s urre ctio n of th e d e a d , th e G r ee k phil o s op h e rs

l ea v e . It i s in [ ac t l i k e l y t h a t P a ul 's d i sc ou r se

Ath e n s . T h e ev id e n ce i s th a t P a ul fo und e d

s e l ve s h e r e on th e sec o nd o f P a u l 's m a jo r f r ont s (t h e f ir s t b e in g t h e co n -

f l i c t w ith th e j u d e o - C h r i s ti a n s ) :

sophica l wi sd o m . B as i c a lly, w h a t ge t s him int o di f f i c u l ty in A th e n s i s hi s

antiph i l o s op h y . In C o rinthian s

of th ese ex p e di t i on s in to ph i l o s o phi ca l

P a ul se t s of f on hi s t r av e l s o n c e ag a in ( M a c e -

P e r h a p s we m a y r e t a in , a t

h ea ri n g P a u l s p e ak of t h e bu r s t o ut l a u g hi n g a nd m e t w i t h litt l e s u c ce ss i n

no g r o up th e r e. We

fin d o ur -

t

h e co nt e m p t

i n w hi c h h e h old s phi l o -

I , w e f i nd a c l e a r , a l b e i t i ndir ec t , a p p r a i sa l

t e r r i t ory b y a n an ti phil o s o ph e r:

Wh e n I c a m e to Y O ll , br ethr e n , I d i d n o t co r n e p r o c l a i m in g t o yo u t h e t es timo n y of G o d in l o f t y w or d s or w i s d o m. Fo r I d ec i d e d t o k n o w n o thin g a m o n g yo u e x -

C hris t a n d h i m c ru c i f i e d. A n d I was w i t h yo u in w e a kn e ss, a n d i n

c e pt j e s u s

m u c h fea r a n d t r e mb l i n g ; a n d m y s p eec h a n d m y m e ssage we r e n ot i n p e r s u as i ve

word s o f w i s d o m , but in d e m on s t r a ti o n o f t h e S p i r i t a nd p o we r , t h at y o u r f a i th

mig ht n o t r es t in t h e w i s d o m

of m e n , b ut i n th e p ow er o f Go d . ( Co r . 1 . 2 . 1- 5)

T h e pr o bl e m l i e s i n kn ow in g how , a rm e d o nl y with th e co n v iction

t h a t d e c l a r es th e C hr i s t- e ve nt ,

lieu , who se e s s e ntia l c a t eg ory i s th a t of w i s dom

strume nt i s th a t of rh e tori ca l s up e riorit y (huperokhe logou).

o n e i s to t a c k l e th e G r e e k i nt e l l e c t u a l

mi-

(sophia), a nd w h o s e i n-

28

Who Is Paul?

Spe a k in g o f lo gos , we s h o u l d n o t e t hat Paul w r i t es in G r eek, th e

G r eek co mm o n ly s p o k e n in th e Ori e nt o f t ho s e d a ys , w hi ch i s a s o r t o f

int e r n a t io n a l lang u ag e ( a b i t l i ke E ngl i s h t o d a y) . I t i s i n n o way a con -

t ri v e d or esote r ic l a ngu ag e , but t h e G r e e k of tr a d ers a nd w r i t e r s . W e mu st

re s tore to P a ul 's w ord s, w h o s e tr a n s l a tions h av e b e com e wo rn b y ce n-

t u r i es o f ob s c u r a nt i s m (a ll th i s " fa i t h " ! " c h ar it y" ! " Ho l y S piri t " ! W h a t a n

ex tr avagan t w a s t e of e n e rg y ! ), t h e ir co n te mpor a r y, e ve r y d ay c u rr e n cy ; for-

b i d o u r se l v es fr o m see in g t h e m as a C hu rc h di a l ect . W h e n P a ul s p e ak s of

th e s ub t l e t i es o f G r e ek , o n e m u s t r e mem b e r n o t o nl y th a t t h e l a n g u age o f

th e li t e rat e, o f th e phil o s op h e r s , i s fro ze n , a l mo s t d e a d a lr e a d y, but a l s o

t ha t th e d e b a t e c a nn o t b e c a r rie d o n fro m o ut s id e, a ccor din g to th e l a b o-

ri o u s tr a n s it b e t w e e n idi o m s. C o nfli c t occ ur s w i t hi n th e sam e l i v i n g l a n-

g u ag e .

br e a th ) a nd p ower

(dunamis) to th e a rm e d wi s d om o f rh e to ri c . T he w i s d o m o f m e n i s op -

p o se d t o th e p ow e r of G od. It i s t hu s a q u e s ti on o f i nt e r ve nin g ouk en

sophiai logou, " w i t h o ut t h e w i s d o m of l a n g u age . " T hi s max im e n v e l op s a

P a u l o ppo se s a s h ow o f s pi r it (pneuma,

Who Is Paul?

29

The jud e o - C hris tia n s see in t hi s p a y in g o f tribute a n ac kn ow l e d g-

m e nt of th e p r i m a c y of th e h i s t o rica l apo s tle s (P e t er an d th e o t he r s), as

w e l l as th e s i g n t h a t e l ec t s J e ru sa l e m-o b v i o u s cen t er , a l ong w ith th e

T emple , o f t h e J ew i s h comm un i t y-as

m o v e m e n t . T h e col l e c ti on th ere b y af f irms a c o n t in uity b e t ween J ew i s h

c ommu ni t a r i a ni s m an d C h ris tia n ex p a n s i o ni s m. La stl y, th ro u g h t h e c o l-

l ec ti o n , e x t er n a l g r o up s r e cogn ize t h at t h ey a m o unt t o a di as p o ra .

n a t ur a l c e nt e r of th e C hr i s tia n

P a u l g i ves an i n t er pr e t a t i on of t h e co l l ec t i on th at i s t h e exac t op p o-

s it e . B y ac c ep tin g t h e ir do n a t i on s, t h e cen t er r a t ifies t h e l eg itima cy o f th e

Ge ntil e - C h r i s t i a n grou p s . I t d e mo n s t r a t e s th a t n e i t h e r m e m b e r s h i p of

th e J ew i s h co mm u ni t y, n o r t h e m a rk s of th a t m emb e r s hip , n o r be in g s i t -

u a t e d o n th e l a n d o f I s r a e l a r e p e r tine nt cr i t e r i a for d e c idin g w h e t h e r a

c o n s tit u t e d g r o up d oes o r d oe s n ot b e l o n g w ithin th e C hris tia n s p h e r e of infl u e n c e.

B eca u se h e w i s h es t o k ee p a w a t c h o n th e co l l ec tion 's futur e d e v e l -

op m e nt , as w e ll as th e m e a nin g

th e f und s to J e ru sal e m r a th e r th a n g o t o S p a in .

as c rib e d t o i t , Pa ul d e c id es to acc omp a n y

rad i ca l a n t ip hi l o s o p h y ; i t i s n o t a prop os i tio n ca p a b l e o f b e i n g s u ppo r t e d

 

Wh a t h a p p e n s n ex t ca n o n l y b e co nj ec t u r e d . Th e mo s t p l a u s i bl e ac-

b

y a phiLosophia. T h e esse n ce of a ll t h i s i s t h a t a s u b j ec t i ve u ps u r ge ca n-

co

u n t i s t h e f o ll o w in g . In J er u s a l em, P a u l i s, i n a se n se, i n t h e l i o n ' s d e n .

n

o t b e g i ve n as th e r h e t or ic a l c on st r u c t i o n of a p e r s o n a l a d ju s t m e n t to

H

e i s r eq uir e d t o co n f o rm to ce rta i n J ew i s h r ites. P a u l acce p ts, b eca u se,

t h e l aws of th e u ni ve r se o r n a t u r e .

a s h e h a s w ritt e n , h e kn ow s h ow to b e " a J ew amo n g J e ws , " ju s t a s he

 

P

a ul ' s a pp rai s a l seems s in ce r e . T h ere was a f a i lu re b e f or e th e

kn

ow s h ow to b e a G r eek amo n g G r ee l <S :s ubj e c t ive t ru t h i s in d ifferen t to

"

Greeks. " T h e J ews ra i se th e q u es t i o n o f t h e Law ; t h e G r eeks, th a t of

cu

s t o m s . He goes t o th e T e mp l e. Su b se q u e n t l y , h e b ecomes t he tar g e t of

W i s d o m , of phi l o so ph y . S u ch are th e t wo h i s t ori c a l r e f ere nt s for P a ul ' s

e nt er pr i se . On e m u s t fin d th e p a t h fo r a tho u g ht th a t a vo id s b ot h t h ese

a n ang r y m o b , b eca u s e h e h as b e e n acc u se d of h av in g smu gg l e d a Ge n t ile

int o t h e Te mp l e . In t h e eye s of t he J ew i s h r e l ig i o u s a d min i s tra t i o n, sec-

r

efe r e nt s . I n p ubl ic c ir c u m s t ances, thi s at t e mp t at a di ago n a l t r a j e ct o r y

ond e d o n t hi s po in t b y t h e R o m a n occ u p i e r , w ho i s i n t h e ha b i t of m ain -

r

a r e l y m eet s w i th s u ccess, ra ll y i n g on l y a f ew a n o ny m o u s co m pa nio n s. So

t

a i ni n g l oca l c u s t o m s, s u c h a n ac tion i s wor th y o f th e d ea t h p e n a lty .

b

eg in s eve r y tr u th .

 

Di

d P a ul r ea l l y c om m it t h e c r i m e o f w hi c h h e i s ac c u se d ? T h e m a-

W

e are n ow u nd e r N ero ' s r eig n , a nd P a ul 's w i s h - w e m e nt io n e d i t

j

o ri t y o f hi s t or i a n s t hi n k n o t . The tru t h i s, n o on e kno ws, P a u l i s a n a c-

e

a r l i e r-i s t o go t o S p ai n , w h i c h a t th e t im e r e pr e sent s th e e d ge of th e

t

i v i s t, a nd n ot hin g ru l es o ut t h e p o ss ib ili t y t h a t h e b e l i eve d s u c h a pro v o -

w o rl d . A t th e mo m e n t of d e p a r tur e , a n e w mi l it an t q u est io n a ri ses , th a t of th e co l l ect i o n . In a l l th e g r o u p s a ffi l i a t e d w ith t h e C hri s ti a n d e c l a r a ti o n , fund s

d e s tin e d f o r th e J e ru sa l e m com mu ni t y a r e co l l ect e d. W h a t d oes t h i s co n -

t rib u t io n s i g ni fy ? H e r e, we e n co unt er o n ce ag a in th e co n f li c t b e twee n

p os s i b l e a nd u seful . I n a n y c a se , h e i s a rres t e d b y a

s oldie r s a t t he momen t w h e n h e is a b o u t to b e

l y n c h e d . It i s th e R o m a n s w h o w i l l initia te p rocee din gs a g a in s t hi m . P a ul

i s t a k e n to t h e ga rri s on a t Ca e sa r ea . Aro und 59, h e a pp e a r s b e f o r e th e

d e t a c h m e n t o f R o m a n

c a ti o n t o b e b ot h

go ve r n or , F estu s (t hi s mu c h i s ce rta i n ) . S in c e th e acc u s a tio n ca n l ea d t o

30

Who Is Paul?

cha r ge d w ith a cap ita l offense h as t h e r i g h t t o b e jud ge d in R o m e . T hu s,

h e i s t r ans f er r e d

to 62. A b rief a llu sion by C l eme n t ,

a f orma l trial, o r d u r ing a p erse c u -

f i n a ll y e x ecut e d - w h e th er

t he r e, an d i t seems h e r e m ai n e d p r isone r th ere from 60

a r o u n d 90, l ea d s one to t h ink he was

fo ll o w ing

3

t

ion, n o one can know . No n e of Pa ul ' s te x ts r e fer to t h ese e pi s od es, an d for good r e ason : a ll

t

h e auth e n tic t ex t s th at h a ve be e n h a nd e d down to u s w e r e c e r t a i n l y w r i t-

t

e n p ri or t o h i s arr est , w hi ch i s to s ay that, s o far a s t h e fin a l y e ar s of Pa ul 's

Te xt s and Conte x ts

l

if e a r e concerned ,

we r e ma i n, in r ea l it y, u t t e rl y i g norant. Th e v o yag e to

R

ome i s reco u nt e d w it h a gr e at wea l th of d e tai l in th e Act s, fo llowin g th e

fami l iar con v e nt ion s

d i s t inguish

a s on e m i g h t e x p e ct, w i t h P a ul 's m a rt y rdom , b u t w ith th e e di fy ing s p e c-

t a c l e of a n apo s t l e co n ti nu ing

f e c t t r a nq ui lit y , wh i ch, a l on g w it h

Rom a n b e n e vo l e n ce h a r b or e d by t h e a uth o r of t h e A c t s. Ye t a ft e r a ll , Pau l him self t eac h es u s th a t it i s not th e s i g n s of po we r

ac t iv i t y in R o m e i n p e r-

m a n y oth e r d e t a i l s, t es tifies t o th e pro -

of t h e s ea f a rin g a d vent u r e ya rn. It i s impo s sib l e

to

between th e tru e a nd the f a l se. T h e A c t s e nd s str a n g e l y , n ot,

hi s pro sel y t i z in g

th a t count , nor exem p lar y l iv es, but w h at a c o nv i c t i o n

n ow, a nd for ev e r.

i s c ap a b l e of , h e r e,

b y a l ea d e r to t h e g roup s h e h as

s t a r t e d o r b ac k e d. T h ey c o ve r a ve r y bri e f p e r i o d (fro m 50 to 58). T h ey a r e

mil i tant d oc um e nt s

th ey n ar r a tives, in th e m a nn e r o f th e Gos p e l s, o r th eo r e ti ca l

s u c h

a s th e A po ca l y p s e a ttr i but e d to J o hn. T h ey are inte r ventio ns . F ro m thi s p o i nt of v i e w, th ey a re m o r e a kin t o th e te x ts of Le nin th a n t o M a r x 's Capital, o r t o th e m ajo rit y o f t e x t s b y Laca n th a n to F r e ud 's Interpretati o n

o f D reams , o r t o W itt ge n s t e in 's l ec tur es th a n to Ru sse ll ' s P rincipia M a th-

th e k i nd l a t e r w ritten b y th e C hur c h

In n o way a r e tr e at i s es, o f

P a ul 's t ex t s a r e l e tte r s , w r i tt e n

se nt t o s m a ll g r o up s o f th e c on ve rt e d .

F a th e r s , o r l y ri ca l proph ec i es,

ematica . T hi s form a t , in w hic h th e o p po r tuni ty f o r act i o n ta k e s pr ec e d e nt o ve r th e pr eocc u p a tio n w ith m a k i n g a nam e f o r on es e l f thr o u gh publi c a -

t

i on s ("p o ub e l lica tion s," * as L aca n u se d to say ), ev in ces o n e of th e an -

t

i philos oph e r 's c har ac t e r i s tic

tr a it s : h e w rites n e ith e r sys t e m nor t r e ati se,

no r eve n r e a lly a book . H e prop o u nd s a s p eec h o f r u ptur e , a nd w ritin g en s u es w h e n n e c e ssar y .

T h e e n i g ma l i es main l y i n lmow i n g

ho w t h ese topi ca l t ex t s w e re b e-

q u e ath e d in c l u sion

to u s, a nd w h a t w a s res pon s ib l e for th e i r s o l emn a n d s u s p i cio u s

wit h in th at u n touch a bl e

c orp u s kno w n as t h e Ne w Te s t a ment .

T h e ca nonica l co lle ctio n of " Pa ul 's e p i s t l e s" i s l at e . It pr o ba bl y date s

" Portmant ea u wo rd c ombining poubelles, " t ras h ca n s , " a nd publications, " pu bli ca t i on s . " - Tr a n s.

3 2

T e xts and Contexts

f rom th e e nd o f t h e se c o nd cen tu ry. T h e o ld es t copi es we po ssess com e

f r om th e b eg innin g of th e third ce ntu ry a nd c o n s i s t o n l y of frag m e nt s.

M oreo v e r , as we in d ica t e d e ar li er, o u t o f th e thirt ee n l e tter s co nt a in e d i n

th e New Tes t a m e nt a t l eas t s i x a r e c ert a i n l y a p ocryp h a l, even i f i t see m s

pr o b a bl e th a t so m e of t hese or i gina t ed fr o m w i t hin Pa ul 's "e nt o u rage."

W h y an d h ow did th i s cor pu s come t o b e canon i ze d ? Reme mb er

th a t P a ul h as no o b vio u s hi s t o r ica l l eg i t i macy . H e i s n o t o n e of th e tw e l ve

a p ost l es . He kn e w not hin g of th e Lo r d ' s l ife . He ca u sed ma n y prob l e m s for th e his t o ri cal cen ter in J e ru s a l e m .

Fo ur i m p o rt a n t r emark s may illu m in at e t hi s o d di t y .

1 . Con t rar y to th e p e rsis t e n t illu s i o n har b ore d b y t h e New T e s t a- me nt ' s can o ni cal , m u l t i sec ul ar o rd er, and im pos e d on o u r s p o n taneous

o pini on , we wi ll never tir e of r e p e ati n g tha t P au l's epistles p re d a t e, by a

lo n g w a y , t h e co m posi tio n of th e G o s pel s . B e tt e r s ti ll : Pa ul 's e pi s t l es a r e ,

uit e s imply , the oldest C h r isti a n texts to b e hand e d dow n to u s . Of co u r s e,

q

o

a b un d a n t l y pro p a g at e d at t he tim e of Pa u l ' s pr e achin g . But no docum e nt estab l is hi ng t h e d e t a i l s of t h at h i s tory h as c om e d ow n to u s writ t e n pr i or

t o t h e y ear 70, whi c h i s to sa y, a b o u t t e n y e ars afte r Pa ul 's d e ath. If on e

d a t e s t he fi r s t e p is t l e to th e Th essa lonian s from 50, wh i ch i s p l a u s ib l e , a tw e nt y - y e ar gap se par a t es i t from the wri ti ng of the fi r s t gospe l (M ar k 's ).

C on se qu e ntl y , P a u l e n j oy s a pa l p a b l e a n t e rio ri ty s o fa r a s th e w ri tten

propagat i on of th e C h ri s tian do c tr i n e i s c on ce rn e d . An d b eca u se hi s l e t- te r s w e r e copi e d a n d circ ul a ted v e ry ea r l y on, it wou ld pro b ab l y h a v e

b ee n diffi c ul t to s imply i gnor e th e m w h en th e tim e ca m e (m u c h l a t e r, a t

t h e end of t h e third c e ntur y ) to c o l l ec t t h e n ew r e l i g i on 's fo u ndin g doc u -

m e nt s . 2 . With t he pa r tial ex c e ption ofJohn 's (w h i c h w a s w r itten l ast, pos-

s i b l y a round 90) , the G osp e l s provid e a g e nu i n e c ontras t to P a ul 's epi s -

t l es , o n e to wh i ch w e s h a ll hav e o c c as ion to r e t u rn . T heir a im i s ob v iou s l y

t o e m p h as i z e J es u s ' exp l o i ts, hi s l if e ' s ex c e ption a l s ingu l a rity . A ll t h e truste d s tap l e s of r e li g i ous t h aum a t u r g y a nd c har l a t a nism are a bund a nt l y

mo bili zed : mir a c ul o u s c u re s , w a l k i ng on wat e r, divination s a n d a n- nou n cem en t s, resuscitat i o n of the d ea d , abno r ma l meteo r o l ogic a l phe-

n o m ena, l aying on of h a n d s, in sta n ta n e o u s mul tip l icat i on of vic tu a l s

J es u s' sty l e , as r eco un te d to u s b y t he Gos p e l s, i s in com pl e t e acco rd a n ce

r a l acco unt s of C hri s t ' s li fe , of hi s m ir a c l es, of hi s d e at h , m u s t h a ve b e e n

e xts and Contexts

T

33

w ith th is i tin e r a nt m ag i c i a n 's p ara ph e rn a l ia. Ce rta inly, th e c h o i ceness of

it s a ph o r isms, a nd i t s s h a p ing of th e w ill t o ruptu re, re nd er i t br i lli a nt .

Ye t f o r a ll t h a t , i t is n o l ess mar ke d b y th e conve ntion s of t h e ge n re: p a r a-

bl es w ith a d o u b l e m eani n g, o b sc ur e m e t a ph o r s, apoca l y pt ic i m agery,

c aref ull y c onst ru c t ed

(Prop h et? Messi a h ? Messenge r of Go d ? Son of God? N e w Go d d escen d e d

o n ea r t h ? ).

Pa ul 's t e x t s retai n a lm ost n ot h i n g of a ll t hi s, in s p i te of th e f a c t t ha t

und ec id a bili ty as t o th e c h arac t e r 's id e nt i t y

it mu s t have b e e n r ecou nt e d in a bund a n t d e t a il among Ch r i s tians of t h e

fir st gene r a t i on . It h a s of t e n b e e n noted t ha t th e e mpir i c a l l ife of Jesu s

pr actic a ll y go es unmention e d in t h e e pist l es, a s d o all of t h e mas t e r 's fa -

m o u s p a r a bl es. J esu s ' t ea c hin gs , like h is mira c l e s, are s p l e nd i d l y i g n ored .

E verything i s b ro u ght b ack to a sin g l e po in t: J e s u s , so n of Go d (w e s ha ll

see w h a t t h i s me a ns), a nd C hr i s t i n v irt u e of this , di e d on th e cro ss and

was r esu r r e ct e d. T h e r est, a l l t h e r es t, is of no r ea l importa nc e . L e t u s g o

fu rt h er : t h e re s t (wh a t J esu s s a i d a nd d i d) i s n ot wh a t is r e al i n co n v i ctio n,

bu t ob structs , o r e ven f o lsi f i es i t . On l y a co n c e ntra t e d s t y l e , s h orn of t h e

m an n e ri s m s o f prophe ti c a nd t h a u m a t u rgic a l l ite rarur e , can b e appropri- ate to s uch a r eduction . Ther e i s no doubt t h a t Pa ul i s a s up e r l a t i v e

wri t er: cond e n sed , l a p i d a r y, knowing ju s t w hen to u n l ea s h unu s u a l a n d

p ow e rfu l imag es. Cert a in pa ss a ges, a s th e po e t He nr y Ba c ha u po i nt e d o u t to u s, c om b inin g a k i nd of v io l e nt a b s trac tio n w ith ruptur es in ton e d e-

s i g n e d to put p r ess ur e o n th e r ea d e r, to d e p rive h i m of a ll r es pi te, r e se m -

bl e Shak esp e ar e an d e c l a m a tion s . But ul timate l y, what matt e r s s o fa r as

thi s pro se i s c on ce rn e d i s a r g u m e nt a tion and d e l imi t a t i on , th e force f ul

e

x t r a cti o n of a n esse nti a l c or e of t h ou g h t . C on se qu e nt l y, th e r e wi ll b e no

p

ar a bl es, no l e arn e d obs c urit i es, no s u bj ec t i v e ind ec ision , no ve ilin g of

t

r u th . Th e p a r a do x of f a i t h mu s t b e bro u g ht out as i t is, born e by pro se

in t o th e light of i t s r a dic a l no v e lty .

T h e r esul t of a ll t hi s i s th a t Pa ul ' s epis t l es are th e on l y tru l y do ctr i-

n a l t ex t s in the N e w T es t a ment. One under s t a nd s w h y, for ex amp l e ,

L uth er co n s i d e r e d t h a t Pa u l 's ep i s tle s , a n d t h ey alo n e , co nt ain e d t h e

me a ning of t h e Rev e l a t ion, and he d id no t hide hi s l ow opinion of th e

sy n o pti c Gosp e l s, esp ec i a lly L uk e's .

W i tho u t P a u l's te x ts, t h e C hr ist i an message wou ld r ema in ambig u-

o u s , wit h li t t l e t o d is tin g ui sh i t from t he ove r a bu nda nt prop h eti c and

3 4

e xts and C o ntexts

T

a po caly pti c lit e r a tu re o f t h e t im e . Thi s i s a n i mpo r ta n t r eason f o r th e ir in-

c lu s i on w ithin th e ca n o ni c a l cor pu s . 3. W h at h appene d b etw e en th e wr i t in g of P a u l ' s t ex t s a nd th a t of th e Gos p e l s? A c ru c i a l eve n t: t h e J ew i sh up r i si n g agai n s t t he R oma n o c -

c u pier , eru pt in g in 66 ( v er y pro b a bl y after Paul's death), a nd c ulmi nating

Texts and Co n texts

35

tio n of th e wor ld as it i s c lear l y es t ab lis h es, i s a mal ev ol e n t b e in g. A b ove

t hi s c r ea t or Go d , there ex i s t s a gen ui n e l y goo d G od whose charac t e r i s

th a t of a Fat h er a nd n o t a c r eator. We can say that, f or Ma r cio n , it is nec -

e ssary t o dis tin g ui s h th e s y m bol i c Fat h e r ( revea l e d t h ro u g h Christian ity alone) fro m t he crea t or , or re a l , father. The Go d of C h ris t ian ity ( t h e s y m -

w i t h T itu s's d es t r u c t ion of t he t emp l e of j er u sa l er n i n 70. T hi s m arks t h e

b

ol i c Fa th er ) i s no t k n own i n t h e same sense a s th e God of th e Ol d Te s -

t

rue b eg i nning of J ewis h di aspo r a . A b ove al l , it m arks th e e n d of

t

a m e n t ( th e p r oge nitor ). The l a t ter i s di rec tly ap p re h e n s i bl e t h r oug h t he

J

e ru s a l e m ' s " cen t r a l " s ignificance for t he C hri s ti a n m oveme n t . He n ce-

n

ar r a t ive of h is d ar k a nd ca pr ici o u s m i sdeeds. The form er, w h i c h t h e

f

o rth b eg in s t h e pro cess t h at wil l , l itt l e b y l i t tle, t urn R o m e int o t he t ru e

world p rovi d e s no t race of , an d w h o fo r that reaso n ca n not b e know n di -

ca pi ta l of C hri s ti a nit y and hi s t orica l ly era s e th at J ew i s h an d Or i e nt a l ori- gin of w hi c h J eru sa l em , where th e h is t o ri c a p os t l es r e s id e d , was t h e sym-

b

o l .

 

N

ow, in s eve r a l r ega rd s, it i s P a ul wh o, b y v irtu e of hi s uni ve r sal a nd

d

e - ce nt ere d v ision of t h e c on s tru c ti o n o f C hri s ti a n e n c laves, ca n b e co n-

s id e r e d th e ge nuin e p rec u rso r f o r th is di s p l ace m en t . T h e r e i s no d o ubt th a t , for him , th e s tru c tur e o f th e Roma n E mp ire, w hi c h m ea n s th e

worl d b etween the O rie n t a n d Spa in , is mo r e i mpo r t a nt t h a n t h e pr ee m -

i n e nce o f J e ru sa l e m . Th a t t he mo s t dev e l ope d , most ca r ef u l l y cra ft e d ,

m o s t d eci s i v e of al l hi s t exts , es p ec i a ll y s o f ar a s t h e b r e ak w it h J e wish l aw

i s co n cern e d , was an epi s tle to t h e Rom a ns, i s an ins t a n ce of t h e k i n d of

fortu itou s n es s w h os e s ymbolic function i s irr e cus a b l e . A n o t h e r major r e a -

s on fo r inscri b ing Pa ul w ithin the offici a l c orpu s.

r ect l y , o r kn own acc or ding t o t h e s t y l e of n a r rative , i s acces s ible on l y

thr o u g h th e co min g of hi s So n . T h e r es u l t is th a t th e C hr istian N e ws i s , pur e l y a nd sim pl y, th e tru e Go d 's m e di a t i n g r ev e l a t io n , th e e v e n t o f t h e

Fa t h e r , w hi c h , a t th e s a m e tim e, d eno un ces th e d ece ptio n of th at c r ea t or God w h o m th e O ld T est a m e nt t e l l s u s a b o ut.

M a r c i on's tr ea ti se, w hi c h h as n ot b ee n hand e d dow n t o u s , wa s

call e d The Anti-th e ses. A cr u cia l p o in t : in it h e m a inta in e d t h at Pa ul wa s

the on l y a uth e nti c a p o s t l e; t h e other so-ca lle d a p ostl es , w i t h P e t e r a t th e i r

h e a d , r e m a i ne d u n d e r th e a u s pi c e of t h e d ark creator Go d . T h e r e w e r e

cer t a inl y g ood reaso n s wh y t h e h e r e t i c c o ul d e nlis t th e "a po s t l e of n a -

t ion s " in thi s wa y : c hi e f among t h e m P a ul 's s tru ggl e ag a inst t h e s trictl y

ob ser va nt J u d e o-C h ri s t i ans, h i s eve n t a l conc e pt i on of C hris tia nity , a nd

hi s po l e mi c a bo u t the d ea t hl y as p ec t of th e l a w. B y pu s hin g a lit t l e , on e

4

. It i s common knowl e d ge th a t a n or g ani za tion p u t s to ge t h e r t h e

c

oul d arri ve at M a r cion ' s c onc e ption: th e n e w go s p e l i s a n a b s olute b e-

comp e ndi u m of it s c a nonic a l t ex t s when the t ime h as c ome for i t to se-

g

ll 1 l 1 l ng.

c ur e i t s or i e n tat i o n ag a in s t d a n ge rou s deviatio n s , or s t r u ggle aga in s t

t h re a t e ning d i vi s ions. In t hi s regard , the fir s t c e n tu rie s of Chri s tiani t y a re

p ar t ic u la rl y f r a u gh t . So far a s t h e que s t i on preoccu py in g u s h e r e i s con -

cer n e d , i t i s esse nt i a l to tak e in t o a c c o unt t h e up s ur ge o f a h ere sy t ha t one co u l d c a ll ultr a-Pa ul ine , t hat of M a rcion , at th e b egin n ing of t h e s e co n d ce ntur y .

M a r c i o n , prov i din g t h e c u e fo r t h e l ong s u ccessi o n of h e r esies o f

Mani c h ean t e nd e n cy , m a int a in s th a t t h e br eak b e t wee n C hri s ti a nity a nd

Jud a i s m, b e t ween ( w h at we ca ll) th e Old Tes tam e n t a nd th e New T est a- m e n t, mu s t b e c o n s id ere d to b e a b so lut e in a pr ecise sen se: it is not t he

N e ve r th e l e ss, th e re i s no qu es t i on b u t that this w as a n in s t a nc e of

m anipu l a tion. T h e r e i s no tex t of Pa ul ' s from w h ich on e c o ul d dr a w a n y-

thin g r e s e mb lin g M a rcion 's doctrine. T h at th e Go d whos e s on i s J es u s

C hr i s t is th e Go d s p oke n of i n t h e Ol d T es t a m e nt , t h e God of th e J e w s,

i s, f o r Pau l , a c e ase l ess l y r e iterate d an d o b v i o u s fac t . I f t h e r e is a fig ur e

w h o m P a ul f e e l s a n affinity , an d o n e w h om he s ub t l y u ses t o h i s

o w n e nd s , it i s th a t of A br a h a m . T h a t P a ul e mph as i ze s rup t ur e r a th e r

th a n co nt i nuit y w ith Jud a i s m i s n o t in doubt . But this i s a m i l ita n t, a nd

not an o ntolo g i ca l, the s i s. D iv i ne un icity [ unicite J brid ges th e t wo s itu a - tion s separa t e d b y th e C h ris t-eve nt , a nd a t no mome nt i s i t cast into

w i t h

same God

wh o is in question in these two rel igi o ns . T h e Old Tes t a m e nt

d

o ub t .

d

ea l s w ith t he Go d w h o c r eate d the wor l d , a nd th a t Go d , as a co n s id era -

I

n o rd er to comb at M a rcion's da n ge r o u s h e r esy (w h ich , i n fac t ,

Tex ts an d Con t ex ts

abrup t l y b ackt r a cked on th e Jeru sa lem compr o mi se a nd thre a t e n e d to

turn C h r i s ti a nit y int o a se ct d evo id o f a ll hi s toric a l d e pth) th e C hurch Fa -

th e r s must ha ve se t out a re aso nabl e an d "ce nt r i s t " ve r s ion o f P a ul i n op-

po s i tio n to ultra-P a ulini s m. T h e c on s t r u ct ion of th e offi ci a l P a ul pr o b a -

bl y d a t es f r o m h ere, a c o ns tru c tio n th at i s not d evo id of var i o u s

do c tori ngs a nd d evi a ti o n s . T h e t r uth i s t h at we kn ow

thr o u g h hi s orth o d ox oppon e nt s, e ith er Ir enaeus or J e r o m e . A nd co rre-

s p o ndin g l y , Pa ul c a m e t o b e kn o w n thr o u g h th is im age of P a ul t h a t i t was

n e c essar y to c o ns tru c t i n o pp os ition t o th ose w h o, i n acco rd a n ce w ith an

e x t re mi s t v i s i o n o f th e C h r i s ti an r up t ur e , app r o p riated th e f o und e r ' s

m o s t r a di cal s t a t e m ents . Herei n li e s a p artia l e x pl a n a ti on for t he i n c l u -

s i o n o f P a ul 's e pi st l es w ithin th e fin a l co r p u s: b e t t er fo r th e C hu rc h , wh i c h w as i n t he pr ocess of cons olid at in g i t s e l f, t o h a ve a reas o na bl e Pau l

o n i ts s i d e , th a n t o h ave a Pa ul ent i r e l y t u rned o v e r to t h e sid e o f h e r esy . Nevert h e l ess, thi s d oes not e xc l u d e th e p o s s ib i l ity t ha t , on b eha l f of the ca u se, an d b y do c t o rin g th e ge nui ne text s a nd fa b rica tin g f a l se ones, th e

a p ost l e came t o b e m ore or l es s " r ect i fie d ," or hi s ra d i ca l i s m temp e r e d , at

th e ve r y l eas t. An ope r at i on i n w h ic h , as w e sa w ea r l i e r , th e a u t h o r ' of th e

Acts was a lr ead y e n gage d a t t h e e nd of t h e fi r st ce n t u ry .

B u t i n s pi t e of e ve r yt h ing, whe n one re a d s Paul , one i s s t up e fi e d b y

t he pa u c i ty of t r ac e s l eft i n h i s pros e b y th e e ra, g e nr es, a nd c irc u m -

st a n ces . The r e i s i n thi s pro se , und e r th e i mperat i v e of t h e e v e nt , s ome -

th i ng s o lid an d t im e l es s , s om e t h in g t h at , p r e c i s e l y b e cause i t i s a q u estion

of ori e nt i ng a th o u g h t towa r d t h e u n i v e r sa l in i t s s u ddenly e mer g i ng sin - gul a r i ty, but in d e pe nd en t l y of a ll an ec dot e , i s i n tell igi bl e to u s w it ho ut hav i ng t o r es ort to c u m b e r som e hi s torica l m e di a t i on s (which i s f a r from

b eing t h e cas e fo r man y p as s ag es i n t h e G osp e l s, l e t a l one for t he op a q u e Apoc a l y p se) .

M a r c ion on l y

No one h a s b etter il lu m i nate d t h e u ni n t e rr u p t e d co n tempor a n e -

o u s n ess of Pa ul' s p r ose t h a n one of t h e g r e a t es t poet s of o u r time , Pi e r

P ao l o Paso lini , w h o , i t m u s t b e sa id , w i t h h i s two f i r s t n a m e s wa s at the

h e a rt of th e pr o bl e m , thr o u g h t he s i gnif i er a l one. Paso l ini , f or whom th e qu est i on of Ch ri s ti anit y in te r secte d wit h th a t of co mmuni s m , o r alte rn a ti ve l y, th e q ues ti on of sain t li ne s s in ter-

se ct e d w ith t h at o f th e mili ta nt , wa nt e d t o make a fi l m a b o ut Sa int P a ul

tr a n s pl a nt e d into th e c o nt e mp orary wor l d . T h e film was n ever m a d e , bu t

e xts an d C o n te x t s

T

3 7

w e po ssess a d e t a il e d script f o r it, on e that w a s tra n s l a t e d into Frenchand publi s h e d b y Fl a m mar io n .

P aso lini 's a im was t o turn P a ul into a contempor ary w ithout mo di-

f y in g an y o f hi s s t a t e m e nt s . H e w ante d to r es tore , in th e mo s t dire ct,

mo s t v i o l e nt way, th e co nv i c tion o f P a ul ' s intrin sic ac tu a lit y . It was a

qu estion o f ex pli c itl y t e lli ng t h e s p ec t a to r th a t it was p oss ible to imag in e Paul a m o n g u s , h e r e, t od ay, i n hi s f ull p hysica l ex i s t e n ce. T h a t it i s our so - ciet y Pa ul i s a ddr ess in g, th a t it i s f o r u s h e wee p s, threa ten s a n d fo r gi ves ,

a tt ac k s an d te nd e rl y em b races. H e wa nt ed to say : P a ul is our f i cti on a l

cont e mp o r a r y b eca u se th e uni ve r sa l co nt ent of h is p reac hin g, ob s t a c l es and fa ilu res in c lud e d , re m a in s a b so lute l y r ea l.

Fo r Pasol ini, P a ul, in revo lutio n a r y f as h io n, wa n ted to d estr oy a

m o d e l of soci e t y b ase d o n socia l i n e qu a lity , imp er i a l ism, an d s l aver y .

T h e r e re s id es in him th e h o l y w ill t o destru c tio n. Ce rta inly, i n t h e film as

en visione d , Pa ul fa il s, a nd this f a ilu re i s even more in terna l th a n p ublic .

But h e pro n ounces t h e t ru t h of the w o r l d, an d d oes s o in t h e sa m e u na l -

t e r ed t e rm s in w hi c h h e s p ok e a l most t wo t h o u san d y ea r s ago. Paso li n i ' s th e s i s i s t hree f o l d:

1 . P a ul is o u r cont e m p o r a ry b e c a u s e t h e s ud de n er uption of

c h an c e, th e e ve n t, t h e p u re e nco unt e r , are a l ways a t t h e orig in of a

s aint l i n e s s . M oreov e r, today, th e f i g u re of t h e sa i n t i s n ece s sa r y , even

i f t h e co n t e nts of th e i niti a ting e nco un t e r may va r y.

2 . By tra n s pl a nt i ng Pa ul , a l o n g wit h a ll h i s sta t e m ents, i n t o o u r

c

e ntu r y, o n e s ee s t h e m e ncou nt e ring ther e a r ea l s ocie t y ever y bit as

c

ri mina l an d co r r up t, bu t infinit e l y more s up p l e a nd resi s tant, t h a n

t

h a t of t h e Roman Em pire .

3

. Pa ul ' s stat em e n t s are e n d owe d w ith a tim e l ess l e g i timacy .

T

h e cen tr a l th e me i s sit u a t e d in t h e r e l ation b etween ac tu a l i t y an d

sai n t lin e ss. Whe n ever the wor ld of H i s t o r y t en d s to e sca p e i nt o mystery, ab s tr ac ti o n , pur e i nt e rr oga tion, it is t he wor ld of th e div ine (o f sa in t li-

ness) w hi c h , eve nt a ll y [evenementie ll emen t ] desce n de d amo n g hum a n s ,

b eco m es co n crete, opera t ive.

T h e fi lm scr ipt c h a rt s th e tra j ec t o r y of a saint lin ess wi th i n a n ac tu-

alit y. H ow i s th e t r a n s p os i t i o n ef f e cte d ?

R o m e i s New Yo r k, cap ita l of Am e rica n imp e r ial ism . J e ru sa l e m ,

T e x t s and C o ntexts

cu l tur a l s eat o c cup i ed b y the Romans, s ea t a l so of in tellect u a l co n form-

i t y , is Pa ri s u nder t he G erma n h e e l. T h e sma ll , na s c e n t C h r i stian com-

muni ty is repres e n ted b y t h e Re s i s t a nce , whi l e t h e Phari s ee s are the P e-

ta i n is t s .

P a ul is Fre nch , fr o m a co m fo rt a bl e b o ur geois b a c kgro u nd , a coll a b-

o r ato r, h untin g m e mb e r s of th e R es i s tan ce .

D a mascu s is t h e B a rc e lon a of Fr a n c o 's S pain. T h e f a sci s t P a ul g o es

on a miss i on to s e e supp o rt e r s of Fr a nco. On th e road to B a rc e l on a, tr av -

e ling throu g h s outh wes t e rn Fra n ce, h e h as a n il lum i n a tion . He join s th e ca mp o f th e a nti fas ci s t R es i s tan ce.

W e t hen f ollo w him as he t rave l s aro und pr ea chin g resistan c e, in

It a l y , in Sp a in , in Ger m a n y . A t h e n s, th e A th e n s of th e s oph is t s w h o re -

u se d to li s t e n to P a u l , i s r e pr ese n t e d b y cont e mp o r a r y Rom e, b y tho se

f

p

e tty Ita l i a n int e ll ectu a l s and cr i tic s whom P as o l ini d e t ested . Fin a l l y, P a ul

g

o es to New Y o rk , wh ere h e is b e t r aye d , a rr es t e d, a nd exe cut e d in sordid

c i rc um s t a n ces .

T h e p r in c ip a l as p ect in th is trajec t or y g r ad u a ll y b eco m e s th at of be-

tr aya l , it s wel l s prin g b ei n g th at wha t P a ul c r eates (t h e C hu rc h , t h e O r ga-

ni za ti o n, th e P a rt y) tur ns aga in s t hi s ow n i nn er sai n t lin ess. He r e, P aso l ini

find s support in a m a j o r tr a diti o n ( o n e we s h a l l exa min e l a t e r) th a t sees in P a ul not so much a th e or e ti c i an of th e C h r i s t ian eve n t as t h e t ir e l ess creato r of th e C hu rc h . A ma n of t h e in s tit ut i on: in sho rt , a mi li tant of the T h ir d I nternat i ona l . For P aso l ini, ref l ect in g on comm uni sm throug h

P a ul , th e P arty i s w h a t, l itt l e b y lit t l e, i nverts sa i ntline s s i nt o p ries t hood

th ro u g h th e na rro w re qu ire m e nt s of m il i t an t ism . How d oes gen uin e sa i nt l i n ess ( w hi c h P aso l ini unh es it a ting l y rec o g n i z es in Pau l ) b ea r th e o r -

d ea l o f a H is t o r y th at i s a t once f l ee tin g a nd m onum e n ta l, o n e in w hi c h

it cons titut es a n except i o n rat h er th a n a n ope r at i on? It can on l y d o s o b y

h

a r de nin g it s e l f, b y b e co min g a u t h o ri tar i a n an d org a ni z e d. B ut th a t

h

ar dn ess , w hi ch i s s u p p ose d t o pr e serve i t f r om a l l co r r up t i o n by Histor y ,

re v ea l s it s e l f t o b e a n esse nti a l co rrup t i o n , t h a t of the saint b y th e pri est.

I t i s the a l mo s t n e c essa ry mov e m e nt of a n int e rna l b e tr a y a l. And thi s in-

t e rn a l betr aya l i s c a ptu re d b y a n e x t e rn a l b et r aya l , so th a t P a u l w i l l b e d e- noun ced . Th e tr a itor is Sa int L uk e, po rt r aye d as a n agent o f th e D ev il , writi ng th e Act s o f th e A p ost l es in an un c tu o u s a nd em ph a ti c sty le w i t h the a im of era dic a tin g s a in t lin ess . S u c h is P aso lini ' s i nt e rpret a t io n o f th e

Te x ts an d Conte x ts

3 9

Ac t s : it is a qu estion of w ritin g P au l 's life as if a l l h e h a d e ve r b e en was a

pr i e s t . The Ac t s , and mo re g enera lly, the o f fic i a l i mage of Pa ul, pr es e nt u s

w ith th e saint er ase d b y th e prie s t. Thi s i s a fa l s ific a tion , b e cau se P a u l is a

s a i nt . B u t t h e fi l m script a llow s u s t o und e r s t a nd t h e truth b e hind th is dec e pt ion : in P a ul , th e immanent d ial ecti c of sa in t lin ess a nd actu a l i t y

con s tru c t s a s u bjec ti ve fi g u re of th e p r i es t . P a ul a l so d ies to th e e x t e nt th a t

s a intlin ess has d ar k e n e d wi thin him. A saint l in ess imm e r se d i n a n a ctua l ity s uch a s that of t h e Roman

E mpi re, o r e qu a ll y , th a t o f co nt e mpora r y c a pi tal i sm, can pr o t ec t i t s e l f

o nl y b y c r eati n g, wit h a l l requisit e severity, a C hur c h . B ut this C hurch

t u r n s sain t l iness in to p r iest hoo d .

T h e mos t s u r pri s in g th i n g in a l l this i s th e way i n w hi c h P a ul ' s texts

a r e t r a n sp l a nt e d un a lt e r e d , a nd w ith a n a lmos t u n fa t ho m a bl e n a tura l -

ne ss, into t h e s itu a tion s i n w h ich P aso l ini d e p l o y s th e m : w ar, f asc i s m ,

Am e ri ca n ca pit a l i s m , th e pett y d e b a t es o f th e Ita l i a n i ntelli ge nt s i a

T h e u niversal val u e of th e co r e o f Pa ul ' s th oug h t, as we ll a s of th e time-

l ess n ess of hi s prose, successf ully u ndergoes t hi s artist i c t r ial , a n d Pa ul

e m erges s t ra n g e l y victor i o u s .

Theory of Discourses

4 1

4

Theo r y o f D i scourses

grasped in t e rms of it s b e li efs , cu s toms, lang u age, terr itory , a n d so fo r th.

Neith e r i s i t con s ti tu t e d , l e ga l i z e d r e ligions t h at are being refer r ed t o . In reality, "Jew" a nd " Greek " are subjective dispositions. More pr e c i se l y, th ey

r

efer to wh a t Paul consi d e rs t o b e the two coh e rent inte llectua l figures of

th

e wor l d he i nha b it s , or w h at co ul d b e c a lled regimes of discourse. W h en

th

eori z ing a bo ut the Jew and the Greek , P a ul is in fact pr e se n ting u s w i t h

a

schema of di s courses. And this sch e ma i s desig n e d t o pos i t i on a t hi rd

di

scour se, hi s own, i n s u ch a way as to rend e r its comp l ete origin a l ity ap-

parent. Like Lac a n, who c on s ider s a na l y t i c a l discourse on l y in order to

in scrib e it with i n a mobi l e s c h e m a w h ere in it is c onn e cte d to the di s -

co u r ses of th e ma s te r , the hysteric, and th e uni versity, Pau l in s titute s

"Chri s tian di s cour se" on l y b y di s tin g u i s h i n g its op e ration s from t ho se o f

 

J

ew i s h di scour se a nd Gr ee k di sco ur se . And th e a n a log y i s a ll th e more

s

t rikin g in t h a t, as w e s h a l l see, P a u l acc omp l i s h es hi s obj ec tiv e onl y b y

d

efinin g a fourth di s co ur se, which cou l d be c a lle d my s tic a l, as t h e m a r -

Wh e n P a ul i s d e s i g n at e d b y t h e J e ru sa l e m co nf e r e n ce as a p os t l e of

g

i n for hi s o wn . A s i f e v e r y sch e ma of di s c o ur ses h ad to c onfig ur e a qu a d -

th e et hne (rath e r in acc ur a t e l y t ran s l ate d as " n at i o n s" ) , o n e mig h t thin k

r

ang l e. Bu t i s it n o t Heg e l who i l lumi na t es t h i s poi n t w h e n , a t th e e nd o f

th a t , h ence forth , hi s pr eac hin g i s to r e l a t e to a n a b s o lu t e l y o p e n mu l tipl e o f p e opl es a nd cu s tom s , in fac t , t o a l l th e hum a n s u b s et s of th e em pi r e ,

which

tion s t wo e n titi es - th e J e ws a nd th e Greek s - as i f thi s m e t o n y mi c r e p- rese nt a tion s uf ficed , or a s if, w ith th e se tw o r e f e r e n t s, th e multipl e of th e

e thne had b e e n e x h a u s t e d s o f a r a s th e C hri s ti a n r ev e l a ti on a nd it s uni - ve r sa l d es t i n a tio n i s c on ce rn e d . W h a t i s th e st a tu s of thi s J ew/Gree k co u- p l e, w hi c h s in g l e - h an d e dl y s t a nd s in for th e e mpir e' s "n a ti o n a l " co mp l ex -

it y?

b a s i c r e p l y c on s i s t s in s ay in g th a t "Gree k " i s e qui va l e n t to

are ex tr e m e l y num e r o u s.

Ye t co n s i s t e n t l y , P a u l o nl y e x p l i c it l y m e n -

On e

" Ge ntil e , " a nd that ul t i ma t e l y th e multip l i ci t y o f n a ti o n s i s c o ve r e d b y

the s tr a ightfor wa rd opp os iti o n b e t wee n J e wi s h monoth e i s m a nd o f f icia l po l y thei s m . Howe ve r , thi s r e pl y i s un c onvin c in g, b ec a u se w h en P a u l t a lk s abo u t th e G r eek s, or a bout G re e k , h e o nl y v e r y ra r e l y a sso c i a te s the se word s wi t h a r e li giou s b e l i e f . As a rul e , h e i s t a lkin g a bout w i s dom , a nd

h e nce a bo u t philo s ophy.

I t i s e sse nt i a l to und e rst a n d th at in P a ul ' s l ex icon , " J e w " a nd

" Greek" do not d e s i gnat e a nythin g w e mi g ht sponta n e ou s l y u nd e r s t a nd

b y m e an s of t h e word " nati o n, " which is to s a y an ob j ec t i v e h um a n s et

hi s Logic, h e s how s th a t th e a b s o l ut e Know l e d g e o f a t e rn a r y d ial e c tic r e -

qu ir es a f o urth te rm?

W h a t i s J ew i s h di sco ur se ? T h e s ubj ec tive f ig ur e c on s tit u t e d b y it i s

t h at o f th e pr o ph et . But a pr o ph e t i s one who a bid es in th e r e qui sition of

sign s , on e w ho s i g n a l s , t estifyin g to t r a n sce nd e n ce b y ex po s in g t h e o b -

scur e t o i ts d e c i p h e rin g. T hu s, J ew i s h di sco ur se w ill b e h e l d to b e, a b ove

a ll , th e di scou rs e of th e s i g n . Wh a t th e n i s G r ee k di s co ur s e? T h e s ubj ecti ve fig u r e con s titute d b y

it i s th a t o f t h e w i s e m a n. But w i s d om c o ns i s t s in a ppr o pria tin g th e fixe d

ord er of th e wor l d , in th e m a tch i n g o f th e l og o s to b e i ng . G r ee k di sc ou rse is cosmic, d e p l oyi n g th e s ubj ec t within th e reaso n of a n a tura l tota lity . Gre e k di sco u r s e i s esse ntia ll y t h e di sc our s e of tota l ity, in so f a r as it up-

h o l d s t h e sophia ( w i s d om as i n ter n a l sta t e ) of a kn o w l e d ge of phusis (n a -

tu re as o rd e r e d a nd ac comp l i s h e d d e pl o y ment o f b eing) .

J e wish di s cou rse i s a di sc our se of exce ptio n , b e cau se the proph e tic

sign , the mir a c l e , e l e ction, d e sign a t e t r a n s c e nd e nc e as th a t w h ich l i es b e- yond the n a tura l tota li t y . Th e J e wi s h n a tion its e l f i s at onc e s i g n, mir ac l e,

a n d e l ec tion . It i s constituti ve l y e x ceptiona l. Gre e k disco u r s e b a ses i tse l f

o n the co s m i c ord er so as to adju s t i t se l f to it, w h i l e J e wis h

d iscour se

42 Theory of Discourses

b ases i t s e lf o n t h e e xce pti on t o thi s o r der s o as t o tu rn d ivi n e tr a n sce n- de n c e into a s i g n. Pa ul 's pro f o und id ea i s t ha t Jewi s h d isco ur se a nd G r ee k d isco u rse are the t wo aspects of th e sa m e f ig u re of mas t er y . Fo r th e m ir ac ul o u s ex - cep t ion of t h e sign i s on l y th e "m i n u s - one, " t h e poi n t of i n cohere n ce,

w hic h t h e cosm i c totalit y requires in o rd er to sustain its e l f . In the eyes of

Paul the J e w, t h e weakness of Jewis h di s co u r s e is t h at its l ogic of t he ex - cep ti o n a l s ign i s o nl y va l id for the Greek co s mic t ot a l i ty . T h e J e w is i n e x - ception t o the Gree k . Th e re s u l t is, firs t l y , that n eit h e r of th e twO dis-

courses can be univer s al , b e c a u s e e a ch suppo s es the persist e n ce of t h e

Theory of Discourses

4 3

l ies Paso lin i ' s i de nt i f ica t io n wi th t h e apos t le Pa ul. In t he case o f th e for-

m er , w it h regar d t o t h a t J ewis h monoth eism for w hich M o ses is the de-

cent ere d fo un d in g fig ur e (t h e Egy p t i a n as Ot h e r of t h e o rigi n ), C hris-

ti ani t y raises t h e qu est ion of th e r e l ati on th a t sons have t o t h e L aw , w ith

t h e sym b ol i c m u rder of t h e Father in t h e b a ckg r o u nd. In t h e case of t h e

la tt er, t he powe r of th o u ght i ntrinsic to homose x u al des i re is t u rn ed t o -

war d the adve n t of an ega l it a rian h um a n ity, wherein t h e concordance of

t h e son s canc e l s , t o the benef i t of the l ove of t he mo t her, the cr u shing

sym b o l ism of t h e fathers, w hi ch i s embod i ed in inst itu tio n s (the

the C ommu ni st Party) . In ad d i tion , Pasolini' s Pa ul is as

C hu rch , or

o

t her; and s e cond l y, th a t the two d i s co u rse s share t h e presuppo s ition th at

t

ho u gh tor n between the saint l iness of the s on-linked, given the l aw of

t

h

e k ey to s a l v at i o n is given

to u s w i t h in the univer s e, whet h er it be

th

e wor l d, to ab j e c t ion and de a t h - a n d the idea l of pow e r proper to the

t

h

roug h d irect ma s tery of th e tot a l it y (Greek w i s dom) , or thr ough mas -

fa

t h e r , which d r i v es him to create a coercive apparatu s in ord e r t o dom-

t

e r y of a li t e ral t r a d ition a nd t h e deciph e ring of s i g n s (J e wis h ritu a l i s m

inat e History .

and prophetisrn). For P a u l , wh e ther the cosmic tot a li ty b e e nvisag ed as

 

F o r Pau l , t h e e mergence of the i n stance of t h e s on i s e s se n t ially tie d

s uc h or w h et h er it b e deciphe r e d on the ba s i s of th e s ign ' s ex c e ption, in-

stitut es in eve r y c a se a theory of salvat i on tied to ma s t e r y (to a l a w ) , a l ong

w i t h t h e grave add i tion a l in c onv e ni e nc e th a t the m ast e ry of t h e wi s e m a n

and that of the proph e t , nece ssa ri l y un a w a re of th e ir id e nt i ty, divide hu - man i t y in t w o (th e J e w and th e G r ee k), th e r e b y b l oc k i n g the univ e r sal ity

of the Annou n cement. Pau l 's project i s to s ho w th a t a un ive r sa l l o g i c o f salv a tion cannot b e

r e conci l e d with a n y l a w, b e it on e that ti es thou g ht t o t h e c o s mos , o r on e that f ix e s the e ffe c t s of a n ex ceptiona l e l ec tion . It is imp ossible that th e

st a r t in g point b e th e Whol e , but j u s t as impo ss ib l e th a t it b e a n e x c e ption

t o the convic t ion that " Chri s tia n discourse" i s abso lu t e l y new. T h e for-

mu l a a ccording to w h i ch God s e n t u s hi s Son s ign i fies p r imaril y a n in-

t erv e ntion within Histor y , on e through whi c h it i s , as Ni e t zs ch e wi l l put

i t , " b rok e n in t w o , " rath e r th a n gov e rned b y a tran s c e nd e n t r e ckoning in

c onformity w ith the l a ws of a n e po c h. Th e s e nd i ng (birth) of th e s on

n ame s t h is r u ptur e . Th a t it i s the s on , no t th e f a th e r, wh o i s e x emp l a ry, enjoins u s not to p u t our tru s t any l ong e r in any di s cour s e l ay i ng c l aim to

t h e form of ma s t e ry . Th a t di s cour se ha s to be that of the son m ea ns th a t on e must b e

n either j u deo- C hristi a n (prophe t ic mas ter y ) , nor G rec o- C hris tia n (philo-

to the Whol e. Neith e r tot a lit y nor the s ign w i ll do . One mu s t pro cee d from the ev e nt as s u ch , w h ich i s a -co s mic and il l ega l , r e fu s in g i n t e g r ation

sop h ical m ast e ry) , no r e v e n a s y nthesi s of t h e two. The opp o sin g of a di- agon a l i z ation of di s cour s e s to thei r s ynthe s i s i s a consta nt preoccupation

into a ny tot a l it y a nd sig n a lin g nothin g . B u t pro cee din g from th e e ve n t

of P a u l 's . It i s J ohn who, by t u rnin g th e logos into a prin c iple, wi ll s yn-

d

e l i vers no l aw, no form of m as t ery , b e it th a t of th e wis e m a n or th e

th

etic a ll y in s c r ib e C hri s t ian ity within th e s p a c e of th e Gre e k l ogos ,

proph e t .

th

er e by s ub o r din a t i ng it to a n ti- ju dai s m . This i s ce r t a in l y not th e w a y

One ma y a l so sa y : Gr ee k and Jewi s h di s co u r se are b oth di s co u r ses

P

a u l proceed s . For h im, Chri s tian d i sco u r s e c a n maint a in fid e l ity to t h e

of the Father. That i s w h y th e y bind comm un it i es in a fo r m of obe d i e n c e

son on l y by d e li neating a th ird fig u re , equid i sta n t from J ewish prophec y

(to t h e Cosmos, th e Empi r e, G od , or t h e Law). O nl y t ha t w hi c h w ill prese n t it s e l f as a discourse of the Son ha s the pot e n ti a l to b e uni versa l , de-

a

n d the Gr e ek l ogo s . Thi s attempt can o nl y be a ccomp lished thro u gh a s ort of d e c l ine of

tac h e d from e v ery partic ul arism . Th i s figure of the s on e v i d ent l y fascinated Freud , ju st as i t u nder-

th e figure of t h e Maste r. An d s i nce t h ere a r e two f ig u res of the mas ter , t h e

one t h a t l egi t imates i ts e l f on th e bas i s of the cosmos, the master in wis-

44 Theory of Discourses

dom, the Greek master , a nd the one that legitimates its e lf according to the power of e x ception, the mast e r of the l etter and of s ign s , the Jew ish master , Paul w ill b e n e ither a prophet n o r a philo s opher . According l y , the triangul a tion he proposes i s : proph e t, philosoph e r , a po s t l e . What e x actly doe s " apo s tl e" (apostolos) me a n? Nothing empirica l o r

hi s torical in a ny cas e. In order to b e a n a po s tl e, it i s n o t n e ce ssa ry to h av e

b e en a companion of C hrist , a w itnes s to th e e v ent. P a ul , who c l a ims his

leg i timac y only from hims e lf , and w ho, a ccordin g to his o w n ex pr e s s ion,

Theory of Discourses

45

To w hich it is nec e ssar y to add th a t the Resurrection-whic h i s the

point a t w hich our c omp a ri s on ob v i o usly collap s e s-i s not, in Paul ' s o w n

e y e s , of the order of f ac t , f a l s ifiable or demonstrable. I t i s pur e e v ent,

opening of an epoch , tr a n s f o rm ation of the re lati o n s betw e e n the po ss i- ble and th e impo ssible. For th e inte r es t of C h r ist's r es ur r ecti o n does not lie in it self, as it w ould in the c a s e of a p a rticula r, or miraculou s, fact. Its genuin e m ea nin g i s th a t it te s t ifies to th e po ss ible v icto ry o ver death , a death th a t Paul en v i s a g e s, a s w e s h a ll see l a ter i n deta il, not in term s of

ha s b ee n " called to be a n apo s tl e ," ex pli c itly ch a ll e n ges th e pr e t e n s ion of tho s e w ho , in th e nam e of w h a t the y we re a nd sa w, b e li e v e them s e l ves to be gua rantor s o f truth . H e ca ll s th e m " tho se w ho a r e mo s t est ee med, " and see m s , for his o w n p a rt , not t o s h are thi s es t ee m. H e a lso a dd s ,

a cti cit y, but in t e rm s o f s ubj e cti ve di s po s i t ion . Wh e nc e the n e ce ss ity

f

of

con s t a ntl y li n kin g r esurr e cti o n to our r es urrection, of p rocee din g from singul a rit y to uni ve r sality a nd v i ce versa : "If the d ea d d o n o t r e surr ec t, Chr is t i s n o t r esurr e cted e ith e r. A nd if C hris t i s not r es urre c ted , y our

"

Wh a t th ey we r e m a ke s n o di f f ere n ce t o m e; G od s h ows no parti a lit y "

faith i s in va in " ( Co r. 1.15.16). In contr as t t o t h e f ac t , th e eve nt i s m e as u r -

(

Ga l . 2.6). A n a po st l e is n ei th e r a m a teri a l wi t n ess, nor a m e mor y .

abl e o nl y in accor d ance w ith th e uni ve r sa l multiplic ity w ho se p oss ibil ity

A t a tim e w h e n th e imp o rt a n c e o f "me m ory " as th e g u a rdi a n

o f

it pr e s crib es. It i s in thi s s e n se th at it i s g r ace , an d n o t hi s to r y .

m ea ning a nd of hi s to rica l co n s ci o u sness a s a s ub s titut e f o r politi c s i s b e -

T

h e a p ost l e i s t h e n h e w h o n a m e s t hi s p os s i b i lit y ( th e Gos p e l s, t h e

ing ur ge d on u s f r o m a ll s id es, th e st r e n g th of P a ul ' s po s it io n ca n no t fa il to escap e u s. F or i t i s cer t a inl y tru e th a t me m ory d oes not p reve nt a nyo n e from prescr ib i ng tim e , in c ludi ng th e p as t , accordin g to it s pr e sent d ete r- m i n a tion . I do n o t doubt t h e nece s s it y o f r e m em b e rin g th e ex t er m i n a - ti o n of th e J ews, or th e a cti o n of Res i s t a n ce f i g h te r s . B ut I no t e th at th e

Go o d N e w s , c omes d ow n t o this: w e can va nqui s h d e a th ). Hi s di s c o ur se is on e of p ur e fid e lit y to t h e p os s ibilit y o pe n e d b y th e eve nt . It c a nnot , ther efore , i n any way ( a nd thi s i s th e up s h ot of P a ul ' s a nt i philoso ph y ) f a ll

und e r t he rem i t o f kn ow l e d ge. T h e p hilo s oph e r kn ows e t er n a l t r uth s; th e proph e t kn ow s t h e u n i voca l s e n se of wh at w ill co m e (eve n if h e d e live r s

n

eo - Na z i m aniac h a rbor s a co ll e c t or 's m e mory for th e p e rio d h e reveres,

nd th at, r e m e mb erin g Naz i at r oci t ie s i n mi nut e d e t a il , h e r e li s h es a nd