Thesis Eleven 102 (1):76-96 (2010)

This article treats post-Holocaust humanitarianism as a secular version of St Paul’s ‘Jewish Question’: why are there still Jews now that the particularities of Jewish history have universal meaning? It considers Paul’s Judaeo-Christianity, a distinctively Christian embrace of Jewish survival, as the prototype of today’s secular project of conversion to human rights, and asks what it means within this project for Jews to regard themselves as the only Jews. The article concludes by defining an Islamic alternative to the imperial reach of today’s human rights discourse, based on the recent publication of 1981 lectures by the late N. O. Brown, who presented Islam as an alternative to the Pauline synthesis of Athens-Jerusalem that would renew, rather than supersede, the prophetic tradition of Jewish monotheism. Following Brown, the article presents Muhammad as the anti-Paul, and considers the key differences between their respective political theologies on issues such as fidelity, cruelty and particularly the urgency of justice. Islam’s insistence that there is no ‘time between’ the end of evil and the beginning of justice shows the limitations of today’s human rights discourse as a religion of permanent transition that denies urgency to justice itself. The ‘Jewish Question’ that Paul formulated for Christians in a Roman world order thus illuminates issues posed by the Holocaust and Israel for professed humanitarians today
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DOI 10.1177/0725513610371039
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Rogues: Two Essays on Reason.Jacques Derrida - 2005 - Stanford University Press.
The Sociology of Religion.Max Weber & Ephraim Fischoff - 1963 - Philosophy 41 (158):363-365.
The Parallax View.Slavoj Žižek - 2004 - Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 8 (2):255-269.

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