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Religions 2019, 10(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010024

Giorgio Agamben—A Modern Sabbatian? Marranic Messianism and the Problem of Law

Department of International and Political Studies, Jagiellonian University, Gołębia 24, 31-007 Kraków, Poland
Received: 30 September 2018 / Revised: 20 December 2018 / Accepted: 27 December 2018 / Published: 1 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
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Abstract

The article analyzes the influence of the kabbalistic doctrine of Sabbatianism on the messianic philosophy of Giorgio Agamben. I argue against Simon Critchley that Agamben’s critique of the sovereign law is not inspired by Marcion’s idea of the total annihilation of law but by Sabbatai Zevi’s project of deactivating its repressive function. I further argue that Agamben also adopts the Sabbatian idea of Marranic messianism, which makes him repeatedly contaminate the Jewish tradition with foreign influences. Although this strategy is potentially fruitful, it eventually leads Agamben to overemphasize antinomianism and problematically associate all Jewish-based messianism with the radical critique of law. In the article, I demonstrate that things are more complex and even in the openly antinomian works of Walter Benjamin—Agamben’s greatest philosophical inspiration—Jewish law is endued with some emancipatory potential. View Full-Text
Keywords: Giorgio Agamben; Judaism; messianism; law; state of exception; Marcionism; Marranism; Sabbatianism Giorgio Agamben; Judaism; messianism; law; state of exception; Marcionism; Marranism; Sabbatianism
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Sawczyński, P. Giorgio Agamben—A Modern Sabbatian? Marranic Messianism and the Problem of Law. Religions 2019, 10, 24.

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