12. Badiou and the Origins of Marxism-Christianity

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

James Crossley [+-]
St Mary's University, London
James Crossley is Professor of Bible, Society, and Politics at the St Mary’s University, London, U.K. He is the author of numerous articles in various academic journals, author of seven books, most recently Jesus and the Chaos of History: Redirecting the Life of the Historical Jesus (Oxford University Press, 2015), Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism: Quests, Scholarship, and Ideology (Routledge, 2012), and The New Testament and Jewish Law: A Guide for the Perplexed (T&T Clark, 2010), and he has edited and co-edited three books, most recently Judaism, Jewish Identities and the Gospel Tradition: Essays in Honour of Maurice Casey (Routledge, 2014).


This chapter will look at Alain Badiou’s understanding of Event, love, and Paul to analyze critically, with some help from anarchist critiques of Marxism, “revolutionary” understandings of Christian origins. Playing with Badiou’s comparison between Jesus and Paul, on the one hand, and Marx and Lenin, on the other, it will show how, despite the obvious anachronisms, the idea of some kind of radical Event in Palestine is assumed and developed by Paul in the consolidation of the Jesus movement across the Eastern Mediterranean. This movement, whether explicitly or indifferently, provided an alternative power structure to Rome and can be compared with other “revolutionary” moments in its destabilizing notions of class, race, and gender. But, as critics from Bakunin onward have stressed (as would postcolonial critics), such movements typically have the seed of their own brand of imperialism and “dictatorship” which function as part of their survival mechanism. This essay will finish by looking as the letters of John and their concept of love as an example of bolstering the foundations for Christian vanguardism, the unwritten or unspoken next stage of Badiou’s thinking of Christian origins.

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Crossley, James. 12. Badiou and the Origins of Marxism-Christianity. Critical Theory and Early Christianity - Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and Judith Butler. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Oct 2021. ISBN 9781781794135. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=30155. Date accessed: 10 Aug 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.30155. Oct 2021

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