Academic Year 2011-2012
José Tolentino Mendonça
José Tolentino Mendonça was born in 1965. He completed his PhD in Theology with a thesis applying literary analysis to the interpretation of the Gospels. Currently he teaches Biblical Studies at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa (Portuguese Catholic University, in Lisbon) and his research focuses on the New Testament. He is the director of Didaskalia, the scientific review of the Faculty of Theology. He is a poet and a translator.
His works include: As estratégias do desejo – Uma reflexão Bíblica sobre a Sexualidade (The strategies of desire – A Biblical reflection on Sexuality; 2003); A construção de Jesus. Uma leitura narrativa de Lc 7,36-50 (Constructing Jesus. A narrative reading of Luke 7, 36-50; 2004); A Leitura Infinita. Bíblia e Interpretação (Infinite Reading. The Bible and Interpretation; 2008); O hipopótamo de Deus e outros textos (God’s hippopotamus and other texts; 2010). His poetical works are collected in the anthology A noite abre meus olhos (The Night Opens My Eyes; 2010).
"The Revival of Paul": A Critical Dialogue of Giorgio Agamben
During my stay in New York, I intend to write a book on a field of knowledge which has lately appealed me – the hermeneutics of the writings of Saint Paul. In 2000 the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben published «Il tempo che resta», a commentary on the Pauline Letter to the Romans (The Time that Remains: A Commentary on the Letter to the Romans; Meridian, Stanford University Press, 2005). Thus Agamben joined a line of contemporary intellectuals (from Jacob Taubes to Alain Badiou), responsible for what became known as «the revival of Paul». One decade after this important work first came out – which, in my view, is yet to receive the proper attention and critical debate within the field of Theology –, I am interested in establishing a critical dialogue with Agamben’s commentary. More specifically, I would like to inquire more deeply into two aspects: 1) The time for a broader legibility of the Pauline writings, which Agamben declares (backed by Walter Benjamin) to have finally arrived, together with an understanding which in previous times was somehow hindered; 2) And most of all the question of Messianic Time. It is a fact that the Christian Theology has overlooked this category, which was key for an author such as Paul, and for his vision of History. Messianic Time is not Apocalyptic Time. It is not the end of time but the «time of the end», the time which, according to Agamben, changes in quality. I thus intend to reread the materials of Messianism in the context of the first Christian writings, while addressing the filaments of this category in the present.