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4. “On the Concept of History”: St. Augustine and Walter Benjamin

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1. Title Title of document 4. “On the Concept of History”: St. Augustine and Walter Benjamin - Critical Theory and Early Christianity
2. Creator Author's name, affiliation, country Carl Levensen; Idaho State University;
3. Subject Discipline(s) Religion; Philosophy
4. Subject Keyword(s) Walter Benjamin; Early Christian Thought; Critical Theory; Augustine; Borges; Messianic expectation
5. Subject Subject classification Early Christian Thought; History of Ideas; Critical Theory
6. Description Abstract Levenson imagines a dialogue between St. Augustine and Walter Benjamin that mirrors the structure of Benjamin’s final testament, his essay “On the Concept of History.”  Three questions are in focus: (1) Where do patterns in life and history come from?  (2) Can a future Messiah redeem the present moment?  (3) Can we in the present redeem the sorrows of the past?  As the dialogue unfolds, images from Benjamin’s writing (e.g. the chess-machine, the little hunchback, the tragically ineffective “history angel,” the flaneur of Paris) interact with images from Augustine (e.g.  the Edenic garden, the wanderer, the Messiah tortured and triumphant, the mysterious unchanging inner light). Augustine’s theory of time and memory sheds light on Benjamin’s concept of a weak – but real – messianic power that reaches out to assist the past in the present; also pertinent are Kabbalistic doctrines taught by Gershom Scholem, Benjamin’s life-long friend.

7. Publisher Organizing agency, location Equinox Publishing Ltd
8. Contributor Sponsor(s)
9. Date (YYYY-MM-DD) 28-Oct-2022
10. Type Status & genre Peer-reviewed Article
11. Type Type
12. Format File format PDF
13. Identifier Uniform Resource Identifier
14. Identifier Digital Object Identifier 10.1558/equinox.30148
15. Source Journal/conference title; vol., no. (year) Equinox eBooks Publishing; Critical Theory and Early Christianity
16. Language English=en English
18. Coverage Geo-spatial location, chronological period, research sample (gender, age, etc.) 4th Century CE; contemporary
19. Rights Copyright and permissions Copyright 2014 Equinox Publishing Ltd