Critical Theory and Early Christianity - Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and Judith Butler - Matthew G. Whitlock

Critical Theory and Early Christianity - Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and Judith Butler - Matthew G. Whitlock

7. The Many Acts of the Apostles: Simulacra and Simulation

Critical Theory and Early Christianity - Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and Judith Butler - Matthew G. Whitlock

Matthew G. Whitlock [+-]
Seattle University
Matthew G. Whitlock (PhD, The Catholic University of America, 2008) is Associate Professor of New Testament at Seattle University. His research focuses on Acts of the Apostles, the Apostle Paul, New Testament Poetry, Critical Theory, and Science Fiction. His publications have focused on topics ranging from New Testament poetry in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly to the Body Without Organs and Christianity in Deleuze and Guattari Studies. He is currently working on a book of dialectical images from the science fiction of Philip K. Dick and from the letters of the Apostle Paul.
Philip L. Tite [+-]
University of Washington
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Philip L. Tite (PhD, McGill University, 2005) is a specialist in early Christian studies with strong interests in method and theory in the academic study of religion, engaging research on ancient Gnosticism, ancient martyrdom, apocryphal traditions, religion and violence, and social scientific approaches to the study of religion. He is the founding editor of SARC, served as editor of the Bulletin for the Study of Religion for nine years, and is the author of numerous books and articles. Dr. Tite is an affiliate lecturer at the University of Washington in Seattle and an instructor at Youngstown State University.

Description

What does Critical Theory’s discussion of simulacra reveal about the quest for Christian origins? Whitlock and Tite explore Deleuze’s theories about simulacra, contrasting them to those of Jean Baudrillard, and then applying them to the Acts tradition. On the one hand, Baudrillard views simulacra negatively, claiming that we have been so overcome by copies of copies that we have lost sight of the real. His theories affirm the dichotomy between the real and the virtual, and the original and the copy. Applying Baudrillard’s theories to the quest for Christian origins, Whitlock and Tite demonstrate how we are left only with copies of copies of early Christian “origins.” And if we seek the “authentic” or “authoritative” essence of Christianity behind these copies, we find, in Baudrillard’s terms, “the desert of the real.” On the other hand, Deleuze views simulacra positively, claiming that life is a simulacrum of becoming, an infinite and evolving series of real images and real differences. Deleuze’s theories challenge the dichotomies between the real and the virtual, authentic and inauthentic, authoritative and apocryphal—dichotomies too often undergirding modern quests for Christian origins. Using Deleuzian theories, Whitlock and Tite examine early Christian texts not as authentic and authoritative representations of an original source or essence, but as a continuous and evolving series of real images and real differences, a simulacrum of becoming. Applying these theories to the Acts tradition, Whitlock and Tite examine how stories of Cornelius repeat and differ from Luke to Acts, and from Acts to the so-called apocryphal Acts, and how this series of forms, in Deleuze’s words, leads to “the abandonment of representation.”

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Citation

Whitlock, Matthew; Tite, Philip. 7. The Many Acts of the Apostles: Simulacra and Simulation. Critical Theory and Early Christianity - Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and Judith Butler. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Nov 2022. ISBN 9781781794135. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=30152. Date accessed: 30 Sep 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.30152. Nov 2022

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