Criticism of Religion

Buy hardcover (Brill)
Published Nov 2016
ISBN: 9789004176461

On Marxism and Theology, II

Roland Boer, University of Newcastle, Australia

Criticism of Religion offers a spirited critical commentary on the engagements with religion and theology by a range of leading Marxist philosophers and critics: Lucien Goldmann, Fredric Jameson, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Kautsky, Julia Kristeva, Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, Georg Lukács, and Raymond Williams. Apart from offering sustained critique, the aim is to gather key insights from these critics in order to develop a comprehensive theory of religion. The book follows on the heels of the acclaimed Criticism of Heaven, being the second volume of a five volume series called Criticism of Heaven and Earth.

Biographical note

Roland Boer, Ph.D. (1993) in Biblical Studies, McGill University, is Research Fellow at the University of Newcastle, Australia. He has published extensively in theology, Marxism, political theory, postcolonialism, cultural studies and literary theory. His most recent works are Criticism of Heaven (2007), Symposia (2007), Political Myth (2009) and Political Grace (2009).


All those interested in critical theory and philosophy, Marxism and religion, as well as biblical studies and theology.


“A great philosopher once wrote that ‘some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested’. The five volumes of Roland Boer’s magisterial series Marxism and Theology may well be all three.”
Matthew Sharpe, Arena Journal, No. 41/42, 2013: [28]-58.

“All […] of these essays are well worth reading. They embody the fruit of many years of reflection and show a most impressive command of a vast and heterogeneous literature. They are insightful, thought-provoking, and also original in the sense of revealing unexpected aspects of those under discussion. The style is sometimes a little arch, but the analysis is always substantial and the assessment judicious. No one reading Boer will come away without being better informed and wiser.”
David McLellan, Marx and Philosophy Review of Books. Accessed 2 September 2010

Table of contents


1. The Paradoxes of Lucien Goldmann
The dialectic of grace
The Elect and the Damned
Wagering It all
In the world and yet not
Theory: the tight fi t of homology
Is Pascal among the Marxists?
By way of conclusion: Marxism as a secular and anti-secular project

2. The Stumbling Block of Fredric Jameson
Supersession versus a dialectic of ideology and utopia
Sidestepping religion
Magic and fantasy
Feuerbach versus Marx
The politics of fantasy
By way of conclusion: towards a dialectic of religion

3. The Christian Communism of Rosa Luxemburg
A Reformer’s zeal
Betraying the spirit
A little Church history
Christian communism
Consumption versus production
Completing Christian communism
Freedom of conscience

4. The Enticements of Karl Kautsky
Text, history, context
The slipperiness of sacred texts
The Bible as a cultural product
Reconstructing economic history
Differentiation and slaves
Slaves and other modes of production
The sacred economy: prolegomena to a reconstruction
Christian communism

5. The Forgetfulness of Julia Kristeva
Flushing out Marx
Monocausality, or, the taboo of the mother
Paul the Apostle, both ways
Other-than-human love
Crucifying the pathologies

6. The Fables of Alain Badiou
Banishing the One
Theology and the Event
A generic procedure of religion?
Pascal’s miracle
Kierkegaard’s encounter
Paul’s fable
Conclusion: necessary fables

7. The Conundrums of Giorgio Agamben
The search for Paul
Christology, or the problem of Jesus Messiah
Faith, law and grace as placeholder of the void
Pre-law, or trying to make sense of Paul
Conclusion: relativising theology

8. The Self-Exorcism of Georg Lukács
A world abandoned by God
Leap-frogging Christianity
Autobiographical exorcism

9. The Bible and The Beekeeper’s Manual
An apparent absence?
Warm Marxism
The working class
Conclusion: the vanishing mediator of the Baptist chapel


Index of Biblical References
General Index