A Materialism for the Masses: Saint Paul and the Philosophy of Undying Life

Overview

Nietzsche and Freud saw Christianity as metaphysical escapism, with Nietzsche calling the religion a "Platonism for the masses" and faulting Paul the apostle for negating more immanent, material modes of thought and political solidarity. Integrating this debate with the philosophies of difference espoused by Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ward Blanton argues that genealogical interventions into the political economies of Western cultural memory do not go ...

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A Materialism for the Masses: Saint Paul and the Philosophy of Undying Life

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Overview

Nietzsche and Freud saw Christianity as metaphysical escapism, with Nietzsche calling the religion a "Platonism for the masses" and faulting Paul the apostle for negating more immanent, material modes of thought and political solidarity. Integrating this debate with the philosophies of difference espoused by Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ward Blanton argues that genealogical interventions into the political economies of Western cultural memory do not go far enough in relation to the imagined founder of Christianity.

Blanton challenges the idea of Paulinism as a pop Platonic worldview or form of social control. He unearths in Pauline legacies otherwise repressed resources for new materialist spiritualities and new forms of radical political solidarity, liberating "religion" from inherited interpretive assumptions so philosophical thought can manifest in risky, radical freedom.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

James Crossley

Ward Blanton's handling -- and mastery -- of Western philosophical traditions provides a much more convincing account of Christian origins as well as a greater appreciation of the ways in which power works in the present.

Laurence L. Welborn

Ward Blanton attempts nothing less than the overthrow of an understanding of Paul that has dominated philosophical criticism since Nietzsche. Blanton is convinced that Paul is better understood within a repressed tradition of Western thought that Althusser called a 'materialism of the encounter' and that Blanton names 'materialist spirituality.' He pursues two intertwined goals: the destruction of the image of Paul as a metaphysical dualist and the resurrection of an originary Paulinism which is materialist in invigorating life in this world with messianic hope. Blanton writes with an intensity that is hypnotic. There is nothing like his book in existing scholarship.

Hent de Vries

In this exciting new study, Ward Blanton further solidifies his reputation as the most adventurous and rigorous scholar of his generation as he reimagines the historical meaning and political impetus of early Christianity and its ongoing, indeed increasing, effect on the most enduring philosophical and ethical questions of our time. A worthy successor to his groundbreaking Displacing Christian Origins, the argument of A Materialism for the Masses is deeply original and, once again, compellingly demonstrated. Much has been made in recent years of the return of the idea of communism, the common, and the concept of materialism it must necessarily invoke, perhaps resuscitate. Here Blanton fills an important lacuna in this debate by offering an extensive prolegomenon to any future materialist spirituality that deserves its name. He does so by revisiting the archival source and conceptual apparatus found in St. Paul's New Testament letters and some of the early Church Fathers, among others, whose fortuitous return to actuality under presumed postsecular conditions we have barely begun to comprehend in all of its promise and no less pertinent peril. He demonstrates that reviving the political Paul neither commits us to the reductive materialisms nor to otherworld religiosities of old but prepares us for a world without foreseeable limits or end, a world in which we may once again come to believe -- that is to say, an eternal life for which we must be ready to fight and create. Timely and provocative, Blanton's book challenges our preconceptions with a thorough scholarly treatise that proceeds in the guise of a deeply personal and passionate manifesto, therefore advancing and altering the terms of conversation as all insurrectional thinking surely must do.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Ward Blanton is reader in biblical cultures and European thought at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface to Politics as Materialist Spiritualities: For a Postsecular "Return" of PaulinismPlatonism for the Masses: On the Sacred Cement Shoes of Paul the Apostle1. Contingency; or, Covenantal Comedy: In Praise of Strange Paulinist Federations2. On Being Called Dead: Splitting the Imperative of Being3. Insurrectionist Risk (Paul Among the Parrhesiasts)4. Singularity; or, Spiritual Exercise (Paul and the Philosophical Immanence of Foucault and Deleuze)5. Seizures of Chance: Paulinist Agencies in Neocapitalist ContextsConclusion: New BeginningsNotesIndex

Columbia University Press

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