Desacralizing Political Theology: Dionysius the Areopagite and Giorgio Agamben

Modern Theology (forthcoming)

Authors
David Newheiser
Australian Catholic University
Abstract
Giorgio Agamben argues that Christian thought provides the paradigm of modern governmental power, which reinforces mundane government by investing it with glory. Agamben claims that Dionysius the Areopagite exemplifies this structure; in his view, Dionysian negative theology serves to sacralize ecclesiastical power. In response, I argue that Dionysius desacralizes every authority, affirming that some things are sacred even as he subjects that affirmation to thoroughgoing critique. Against both dogmatic adherence and pure profanation, Dionysius models a politics that draws on the power of the sacred while holding it open to unpredictable development.
Keywords religion  political theology  agamben  biopolitics  mysticism  negative theology  politics
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DOI 10.1111/moth.12506
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