ICS Calendar Title: “To the Unknown God” : Paul and Some Philosophers

ICS Course Code: ICS 220510 S19; ICT5764HS L0101

Instructors: Dr. Ronald Kuipers, Jeff Dudiak

Term and Year: Summer 2019 intensive, May 23-31, 2019

Location: Classroom A, Regis College

Last Updated: May 6, 2019


1. Course Description

2. Reading Schedule

3. Course Requirements

4. Reading Assignment for the Distance Portion (April 21-May 19)

5. Required Readings

6. Some Recommended Readings

1. Course Description

Key contemporary thinkers within and beyond the borders of Christianity have engaged in a new exploration of Pauline texts, in order to uncover what Jacob Taubes has called Paul’s “political theology.” In this seminar, we will explore key texts in this growing literature, paying particular attention to that group of thinkers whom John D. Caputo has dubbed “the new trinity of Paul”: Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, and Slavoj Žižek. The relatively recent interest in Paul amongs such “non-religious” thinkers as these prompts several initial questions: Why Paul? Why now? What is it about contemporary global society that has led these thinkers to become convinced that Paul’s writings hold a particularly important and salient message for our time? What do these thinkers say that message is? As we develop various answers to these and other questions through class discussion, we will also pay attention to the way in which this turn to Paul affects the future course of secular thinking. Could it be that this new interest in Paul is a further sign that the West is moving into a ‘postsecular’ era, one that is less allergic to religious sources of insight into the shared social and political problems that the global human community currently faces? In turn, we will also explore how the insights of these philosophers affect a Christian’s understanding of Paul’s writings.

2. Course Schedule








Apr 21

Week 1: Taubes Part I (pp. 1-54)







3 hrs



Week 2: Taubes Part II (pp. 55-95)

Assignment #1 due



May 1




3 hrs



Week 3:

Badiou Part I (pp. 1-54)

Assignment #2 due







3 hrs (distance)


Week 4:

Badiou Part II (pp. 55-111)

Assignment #3 due







3 hrs



Week 5:

Undergraduate Workshop

Assignment #4 due





UG Workshop attendance and participation


UG Workshop attendance and participation


UG Workshop attendance and participation

12 hrs


Week 6:

Intensive Week (Zizek and Agamben)


In class session #1


In class session #2


In class session #3


In class

session #4


In class

session #5

Jun 1

(Sub-schedule TBD)

15 hrs

(in class)

39 hrs


3. Course Requirements

We won’t get into our incredibly high expectations right now, as requirements will differ based on whether you are taking the course for undergraduate or graduate credit. The instructors have decided that Jeff Dudiak will ensure to communicate course expectations and requirements for the undergraduate students, and Ron Kuipers will communicate course requirements for the graduate students.

4. Reading Assignment for the Distance Portion (April 21-May 19)

During these four weeks, we will be covering two of the four assigned texts: 1) The Political Theology of Paul by Jacob Taubes, and 2) St. Paul: The Foundation of Universalism by Alain Badiou (see the course schedule for more specifics). At the end of each of the four weeks (April 28, May 5, May 12, and May 19), you are to submit a small written assignment that helps you engage that week’s assigned reading. We call it:

Your Burning Question

Step 1:

Begin the assignment by articulating the most pressing question that the assigned reading raises for you. This question might be pressing for intellectual, but also existential and religious reasons.

Step 2:

After stating the question, pinpoint the particular location(s) in the text where that question emerges for you. Re-type these quotations into the text of your assignment.

Step 3:

Provide a close reading of these limited portions of text. This close reading should take the form of a line-by-line analysis of the selected text(s), complete with suggested interpretation and explanation of why that portion of text raises the question it does. Really try to drill down and unpack the texts that incite your question, and share that work with your peers!

While this interpretation may in turn radiate out from that selection and touch on other parts of the assigned text, please (please!) note, complete coverage of the assigned reading is neither required nor requested.

We’re not asking for the moon here. Just try to produce something simple (and if it is simple it will be profound!) in less than 500 words. Jeff and I can’t wait to read your questions, and address them in online and in-class discussions!

5. Required Readings

Agamben, Giorgio. 2005. The Time that Remains: A Commentary on the Letter to the Romans. Stanford: Stanford University Press. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS2665.3 .A4413 2005]

Badiou, Alain. 2003. St. Paul: The Foundation of Universalism. Stanford: Stanford University Press. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS2650.52 .B3313 2003]

Taubes, Jacob. 2004. The Political Theology of Paul. Trans. Dana Hollander. Stanford: Stanford University Press. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS2665 .52 .T3813 2004]

Žižek, Slavoj. 2003. The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BR121.3 .Z59 2003]

6. Some Recommended Readings

Barth, Karl. 1968. The Epistle to the Romans. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [ICS Library

Reserve Shelf: BS2665 .B34 1968]

Benjamin, Walter. 1968. Theses on the Philosophy of History. In Illuminations. Ed. Hannah Arendt. New York: Schocken Books: 253-64. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: HM101 .B46 1985a]

Bielik-Robson, Agata. 2009. Tarrying with the Apocalypse: The Wary Messianism of Rosenzweig and Levinas. In Journal for Cultural Research 13/3, 249-266. [Available via U of T catalogue]

Caputo, John D. and Linda Martin Alcoff, eds. 2009. Saint Paul among the Philosophers. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS2650 .52 S7 2009]

Critchley, Simon. 2012. The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments in Political Theology. London: Verso. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BL2747.8 .C75 2012]

Donaldson, Terence L. 2005. Paul and the Gentiles: Remapping the Apostle’s Convictional World.   Minneapolis: Fortress Press. [1997 edition at Knox College Caven and Regis libraries: BS2651 .D66 1997]

        . 2008. Judaism and the Gentiles: Jewish Patterns of Universalism (to 135 CE). Waco, TX: Baylor University Press. [2007 edition at Robart: BM720 .N6 D66 2007X; Trinity College: BM720 .N6 D66 2007]

Dunn, James. D. G. 2008. The New Perspective on Paul. Revised Ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s. [Robarts and Regis College: BS2651 .D86 2008]

Elliot, Neil. 2007. The Rhetoric of Romans: Argumentative Constraint and Strategy and Paul's Dialogue with Judaism. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS2665.3 .E44 2007]

Harink, Douglas. 2003. Paul Among the Post-Liberals: Pauline Theology beyond Christendom and Modernity. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS2651 .H37 2005]

Hawthorne, Gerald F., et. al., eds. 1993. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. [ICS Library

Reserve Shelf: BS2650.2 .D53 1993]

Keesmaat, Sylvia. 1999. Paul and his Story: (Re)Interpreting the Exodus Tradition. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS2665.2 .K43 1999]

Keesmaat, Sylvia and Brian J. Walsh. 2004. Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS2715.6 .R65 W35 2004]

Kroeker, P. Travis. 2005. Whither Messianic Ethics? Paul as Political Theorist. In Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 25/2: 37-58. [Available via U of T catalogue]

Milbank, John, Slavoj Žižek, and Creston Davis. 2010. Paul's New Moment: Continental Philosophy and the Future of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press. [ICS

Library Reserve Shelf: BR100 .M45 2010]

Ridderbos, Herman. 1977. Paul: An Outline of his Theology. Trans. John Richard De Witt. London: SPCK. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS2651 .R513]

Robbins, Jeffrey W. 2011. Radical Democracy and Political Theology. New York: Columbia University Press. [Robarts: BR115 .P7 R69 2011X]

Sanders, E.P. 1977. Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion. London: SCM Press. [Knox College Caven, Regis and Robarts libraries: BM177 .S2 1977]

        . 1991. Paul. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Knox College Caven, Regis and Robarts libraries: BS2651 .S23 1991]

Segal, Alan F. 1990. Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. [Knox College Cavena and Robarts libraries: BS2655 .J4 S44 1990]

Stendahl, Krister. 1976. Paul Among Jews and Gentiles. London: SCM. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS2506 .S76]

Svenungsson, Jayne. 2016. Divining History: Prophetism, Messianism and the Development of the Spirit. New York: Berghahn books. [Robarts Library: B5802 .U86 S9413 2016X]

Taubes, Jacob. 2009. Occidental Eschatology. Stanford: Stanford University Press. [Robarts Library: BT821 .T21213 2009X]

Wenham, David. 1995. Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity? Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. [Robarts Library: BS2653 .W45 1995]

Witherington III, Ben. 1994. Paul’s Narrative Thought World: The Tapestry of Triumph and Tragedy. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press. [Knox College Caven andRobarts libraries: BS2653 .W45 1995]

        . 1998. The Paul Quest: The Renewed Search for the Jew of Tarsus. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. [Knox College Caven Library: BS2506 .W56 1998]

Wright, N.T. 1991. The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS2655 .C74 W75 1993]

        . 1997. What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? Sutherland, NSW: Lion Publishing. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS2651 .W75 1997]

        . 2005. Paul: In Fresh Perspective. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS2651 .W748 2005]

Žižek, Slavoj. 2000. The Fragile Absolute—Or, Why is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For? London: Verso. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BT1102 .Z58 2008]

Žižek, Slavoj and John Milbank. 2009. The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic? Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BT40 .Z59 2009]

Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability/health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach me and/or Student Services as soon as possible.

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