The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government

By Giorgio Agamben; Lorenzo Chiesa | Go to book overview

§ 6 Angelology and Bureaucracy

6.1. In 1935, the same year when he resolutely denies the possibility of a Christian political theology in his monograph, Monotheism as a Political Problem, Peterson also affirms the “political” and “public” character of the celestial city and—through its liturgical participation in it—of the Church. He does so, unexpectedly, in the form of a short treatise on angels (Das Buch von den Engeln. Stellung und Bedeutung der heiligen Engel im Kultus, 1935), which, although it went unnoticed in the theologian’s bibliography, should be read alongside the better-known work that, in a way, it brings to completion.

“The development of the Church,” writes Peterson, “leads from the earthly to the celestial Jerusalem, from the city of the Jews to that of the angels and saints” (Peterson 1994, p. 197). In this perspective, the Church is constantly described in the treatise using “political” images: in the same way as profane political assemblies, even the Christian ekklēsia can be defined as “the assembly of citizens of the celestial city with full rights [Vollbürger], that gather together to carry out acts of worship” (ibid., p. 198). Even the Pauline text is read, by way of a somewhat violent interpretation, politically: the term politeuma in Philippians 3:20, that the Vulgate renders as conversatio (way of life, conduct), is translated as “citizenship,” and a note suggests, albeit hesitantly, that the verb apographesthai in Hebrews 12:23 (which in all probability has the eschatological meaning of “being written in the book of life”), actually means “inscription in the register of the citizens of the celestial city” (ibid., p. 231). In any case, Peterson’s thesis is that, precisely insofar as it keeps to its path toward its celestial goal, the Church “necessarily comes, through worship, into rela-

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The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Translator’s Note ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1- The Two Paradigms 1
  • 2- The Mystery of the Economy 17
  • 3- Being and Acting 53
  • 4- The Kingdom and the Government 68
  • 5- The Providential Machine 109
  • 6- Angelology and Bureaucracy 144
  • 7- The Power and the Glory 167
  • 8- The Archaeology of Glory 197
  • Appendix- The Economy of the Moderns 261
  • Notes 289
  • References 291
  • Meridian 305
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