Journal Article — Justice after the Law: Paul of Tarsus and the People of Come — by Eduardo Mendieta




This is a commentary on “The Liberatory Event of Paul Tarsus” by Enrique Dussel (2009), a part of the third volume of Dussel’s Politics of Liberation. The article’s author seeks to show how Dussel reads Paul in a dialectical way, in what we can call a prismatic hermeneutical way, namely, first by attending to the Sitz im Leben, the historical-interpretative, context in which Paul produced his own texts, and how that existential and historical situation continues to disrupt the Pauline texts; second, by attending to ways in which this Sitz im Leben, has been excluded, concealed and negated when appropriating Paul’s texts; third, by reading Paul against our own contemporary problems and questions. It is by reading Paul against and through his Sitz im Leben, the author argues that Dussel is able to show how there are in Paul’s letters a series of “critical categories”—to use the expression he uses in our text (Dussel 2009:115)—that can and must be recovered for the sake of a critical, liberatory political philosophy. In a third and final part, the author turns to Dussel’s reading of Agamben, as is articulated in the text before us, in order to show that while Agamben is closer to Dussel than Dussel himself is willing to acknowledge, Agamben falls short of what Dussel’s prismatic hermeneutics accomplishes—namely to show the way in which Paul can indeed be read in a philosophical-political way that does not retreat behind to a political-theological reading that closes off both Paul as a “sacred” text to innovative readings, nor closes off our political reality to a religious critique. The philosophical-political reading of a religious text can yield a religious critique of fetishized political institutions and ways of thinking that in turn may generate new critical categories. A philosophical-political reading of sacred texts may also yield a political-economic critique, as Marx so eloquently illustrated (see Dussel 2007 [1993]).

Recommended Citation

Mendieta, Eduardo. 2013. “Justice after the Law: Paul of Tarsus and the People of Come.” Pp. 19-31 in Conversations with Enrique Dussel on Anti-Cartesian Decoloniality & Pluriversal Transmodernity (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume XI, Issue 1, 2013.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).

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