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Benjamin's Perpetuation Of Biblical Myth

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Chapter Summary

It is a commonplace of Walter Benjamin criticism that his great creative tension lies in the intersections between metaphysics and materialism, theology and Marxism. In the language essay, Benjamin lays out a linguistic theory that features Adam, names and the Fall, in short a sustained exegesis of the first chapters of Genesis. He embraces a biblical notion of history as historical or fulfilled time, a history of salvation, Heilsgeschichte, that had its own tradition in German theology and is much more extensive than a messianic theory of history or even the simple notion of Creation, Fall and Redemption. Benjamin's efforts to overcome myth, especially the hellish myth of capitalism, make use of another myth to do so. And that myth is biblical myth, or rather a theological appropriation of certain elements from the Bible that could only exacerbate its mythical dimensions.

Keywords: biblical myth; Genesis; Heilsgeschichte; Marxism; Walter Benjamin



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