St. Paul among the Philosophers. Edited by John D. Caputo and Linda Martin Alcoff. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2009. 208 pp. $22.95 (paper).
This collection of essays was originally written for a conference on the recent philosophical uptake of the Apostle Paul, most notably in the work of Marxist-atheists Alain Badiou and Slavoj ¿iiek. While there is much to laud in the volume, on the whole it is rather uneven and disjointed.
The best attribute of this text is its goal to introduce the reader to the various recent discussions surrounding the Apostle Paul. The participants are philosophers, biblical scholars, and a theologian. John D. Caputo offers a good summary of the current interest in Paul by philosophers, namely Alain Badiou, Slavoj 2i2ek, and Giorgio Agamben. Caputo's fine introduction also situates the responses of the biblical scholars to Badiou and 2i2ek. Another helpful aspect of the text is the inclusion of the roundtable discussion that takes place between the participants. While at times 2i2ek tends to dominate, the discussion offers brief summaries and clarifications by the essayists that are valuable. In compiling the essays the editors have made an explicit attempt to bring these philosophers into conversation with religion and biblical scholars. While others have done this in their own individual research, Caputo and Alcoff offer the chance to read these thinkers in conversation with each other. The differences become apparent, not only between philosophers and biblical scholars, but also between Badiou and ¿i¿ek and between the biblical scholars themselves. These disagreements introduce the reader to the number of difficulties that actually exist when it comes to dealing with someone like Paul.
However, there are some problems with the text. First, Richard Kearneys essay seems to be out of place in that it does not really fit within either section of the book. Kearney writes from an explicitly theological position that is built upon philosophical hermeneutics. …