18. Early Christian Texts in the Age of Technological Reproducibility

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 (Ph.D. The Catholic University of America) is Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Seattle University. He researches the multilingual poetry of the LXX and the New Testament, publishing most recently in The Catholic Biblical Quarterly (“Acts 1:15-26 and the Craft of New Testament Poetry,” January 2014). He is also interested in the intersections between Paul, Acts of the Apostles, and the so-called apocryphal Acts. He wrote a chapter on Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline epistles (“From the Acts of the Apostles to Paul: Shaking off the Muffled Majesty of Impersonal Authorship” in Unity and Diversity in the Gospels and Paul: Essays in Honor of Frank J. Matera, Society of Biblical Literature, 2012) using the theories of Henry James, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Alain Badiou to consider what unifies these diverse works. Since 2010, Whitlock has participated in a faculty seminar on Critical Theory at Seattle University, researching the works of Badiou, Deleuze, DeLanda, Meillassoux, Bennett, and Latour.


Using Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility” and “The Storyteller: Reflections on the Works of Nikolai Leskov” as springboards, this volume ends with a chapter considering Critical Theory’s role in navigating the rapidly changing landscapes of studying early Christian texts in the twenty-first century. In “The Storyteller,” Benjamin describes the early twentieth century as a world that “overnight has undergone changes which were never thought possible.” Now in the technological and information age of the twenty-first century, the world changes not simply overnight, but at an exponential rate overnight—a rate even Benjamin’s foresight could not capture. When reading early Christian texts in this age, we are not only faced with growing distance of their “origins,” but also the exponentially growing webs of information by which we interpret these texts. Hence, this chapter argues for a broad, interdisciplinary approach to theses texts, a broad approach akin to what the Frankfurt School and later critical theorists espouse, including topics drawn from the theorists and scholars in this volume (and not simply from traditional, biblical theology).

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Whitlock, Matthew. 18. Early Christian Texts in the Age of Technological Reproducibility. Critical Theory and Early Christianity - Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and Judith Butler. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Sep 2020. ISBN 9781781794135. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=30161. Date accessed: 25 Jun 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.30161. Sep 2020

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