Book: Critical Theory and Early Christianity
Chapter: Dialectical Images and Critical Theory
The chapters in the volume do not aim to resolve, through seamless syntheses, the tensions in dialectical images of the past and present. That is not theory’s chief purpose—at least in the minds of our four theorists. Theory here mediates between images, between the past and the present. What is more, the analyses in this volume are not organized under categories of biblical theology and synthesized by them. Rather, we try to discuss early Christian texts without recourse to biblical and traditional theological categories, even in their secular remains. We offer images not typically associated with early Christian texts: malls, arcades, and libraries; automaton chess players, and chess boards; bodies without organs, machines, rhizomes, national anthems, and call centers; political revolutions, Lenin, Stalin, and mathematical sets; performativity, drag, and mattering bodies, both human and non-human, earthly and celestial. And we offer mediating theories, concepts, and categories not traditionally associated with interpreting early Christian texts: gentrification; body-of-Christ-without-organs, deterritorialization and reterritorialization, simulacra and simulation, facialization; evental sites, mathematics, set theory, and queer theory. These images and theories challenge unspoken premises of our scholarship, and they produce new montages of thought.