On the Outlook: Figures of the Messianic

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Thomas Crombez, Katrien Vloeberghs
Cambridge Scholars Pub., 2007 - Religion - 165 pages
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This volume explores the traditional and contemporary modes and stakes of messianic thinking in its close interaction with both previous and actual political contexts and theoretical discourses. In the past decades, philosophers and political thinkers repeatedly drew upon the millennial tradition of messianic thinking in their efforts to come to terms with the injustices of the present. Their conceptions of messianism build upon and revise, modify or radicalize politico-theological theories developed in the period between the two world wars by thinkers who, in the face of doom and destruction, reverted to ancient Judeo-Christian visions of redemption. The essays address the ways in which today's messianic thinking relates to its historical Jewish and Christian origins, and how it deals with the legacy of its early twentieth century precursors, such as Walter Benjamin, Franz Rosenzweig, Ernst Bloch, Gerschom Scholem, and Theodor W. Adorno. Historically, attitudes toward messianism interact with the political and historical conditions as well as with the prevailing theoretical and philosophical discourses of their times. Cross-fertilization between messianism, politics and philosophy also inform recent conceptualizations of history and time, language and the law in the writings of Emmanuel Lèvinas, Jacques Derrida, and, most recently, Giorgio Agamben.
The analysis of messianism in contemporary discourse encourages reflections on the following core questions: How does messianism figure in modern and contemporary philosophy? How does it relate to today's state of affairs in the juridical, political, and social realm? Is it still primarily a Jewish concern, and how has it interacted with other religious and political traditions? How does the impact of Jewish messianism on modern philosophy compare with and relate to other influences of Jewish thought, such as the legalistic tradition?
The contributors to this volume shed light on as divergent aspects of messianism as its socio-historical embeddedness, its discontinuous historiography, its manifestations in literature and the arts and its complex relation to human agency.

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Process and Event in Rosenzweigs Messianic Conception of History
Benjamin Critical Theory and the Promise of Loss
Derrida and the Problem of the Secularized Messianic

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About the author (2007)

Katrien Vloeberghs is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the Fund for Scientific Research – Flanders and a member of the Literature Department at the University of Antwerp (Belgium). Her research areas include children’s literature, figurations of childhood in twentieth-century literary and philosophical discourses, German literature and Holocaust literature. In her postdoctoral research at the Institute of Jewish Studies at the University of Antwerp, she investigates the representation of the Holocaust in literature written from a child’s perspective.

Thomas Crombez is a Research Assistant at the University of Antwerp (Theatre Studies).

He obtained his doctorate in 2006 with a dissertation on “The Antitheatre of Antonin Artaud: An examination of esthetic transgression, applied to the contemporary theatre.” www.zombrec.be

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