Secular Messiahs and the Return of Paul's 'Real'

A Lacanian Approach

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Concetta V. Principe
  • New York, NY: 
    Palgrave Macmillan
    , May
     245 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Tom Edmondson forthcoming.


Considering that secularism was designed to erase the influence of religion from the public sphere, the use of the messiah in secular texts begs the question: Why does the religious trope recur? Following from this point of inquiry, this book posits that the messiah in secularism can be understood as the 'return of the repressed' and, as such, may be read as symptomatic of trauma. According to psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, trauma indicates the 'encounter with the Real', where the 'Real' is so inexplicable that it is visible only in what returns to haunt the subject: the objet a. But if the messiah may be seen as the objet a, then what is the source of this traumatic return? Principe engages with the limitations of answering this question with the aim of circumscribing a field of exploration: is there a relation between the modern use of the messiah and the earliest witness to the term in Paul's letters of his encounter with Christ? And what is the relation between Paul's Christianity and secularism? In other words, what of Paul's 'Real' returns in the twentieth century?

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Concetta V. Principe is an adjunct professor in the Humanities Department at York University.


Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments