Alain Badiou is one of the most refreshing contrarian voices coming out of France today.

Challenging the banal relativism of the poststructuralist establishment, Badiou’s work is bent on retrieving a notion of universal Truth. While in his earlier work this has been articulated in terms of a mathematical retrieval of Platonism, here Badiou sees Saint Paul as offering an account of truth and the subject which secures just such universality. Thus the “universalism” of the subtitle is in no wise theological; Badiou’s Paul is a “poet-thinker of the event,” not an apostle or confessor of Christ. So his investigation of Paul should not be construed as Badiou’s flirtation with faith. As he puts it, “I care nothing for the Good News he declares.” What interests Badiou is the way in which the Pauline account of the subject formally indicates a structure of “universal singularity.” As such, Badiou’s project of “formalizing” Paul—extracting a formal structure shed of its determinate theological commitments—is very much akin to the project of the early Heidegger in his lectures on the letters to the Thessalonians (reprinted in Phänomenologie des religiösen Leben).

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