Suspending, believing, and truth telling: Reading Giorgio Agamben's pilate and Jesus with Bultmann and Foucault

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Abstract

In this article, Giorgio Agamben's essay Pilate and Jesus and in particular its notion of suspension as stalemate is treated as an important contribution to an ongoing exegetical conversation about the theological valence and event of John 18:28.19:41. In Agamben's essay, the suspension created by the dialogue between the Christ and the "Vicar of Caesar" demonstrates a peculiar stalemate of immanent and transcendent claims to sovereignty. Then, the central concept of believing ('Greek Passage'), both for John's Gospel as a whole and the passion narrative in particular, is juxtaposed with the theo-political thrust of Pilate and Jesus. By turning to Rudolf Bultmann, the article suggests a minor corrective to Agamben's reading of John and guides the concept of suspension as stalemate towards a slightly different outcome. Lastly, as a final supplement to Agamben's suspension as stalemate, Michel Foucault's famous emphasis on the Greco-Roman concept of truth telling ('Greek Passage'), from his final two lecture-series given at College de France, is also brought into play. Considering the conversation of Jesus and Pilate as taking place from an immanent terrain of truth telling, Agamben's vision of suspension in the trial of Christ is extended further.

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  • Religious Studies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-189
Number of pages17
JournalSvensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift
Volume93
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes