St. Matthew Passion
Published by: Cornell University Press
Imprint: Cornell University Press
Published: November 2021
258 Pages, 6.20 x 9.00 x 1.10 in
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St. Matthew Passion is Hans Blumenberg's sustained and devastating meditation on Jesus's anguished cry on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Why did this abandonment happen, what does it mean within the logic of the Gospels, how have believers and nonbelievers understood it, and how does it live on in art? With rare philological acuity and vast historical learning, Blumenberg unfolds context upon context in which this cry has reverberated, from early Christian apologetics and heretics to twentieth-century literature and philosophy.
Blumenberg's guide through this unending story of divine abandonment is Johann Sebastian Bach's monumental Matthäuspassion, the parabolic mirror that bundled eighteen hundred years of reflection on the fate of the crucified and the only available medium that allows us post-Christian listeners to feel the anguish of those who witnessed the events of the Passion. With interspersed references to writers such as Goethe, Rilke, Kafka, Freud, and Benjamin, Blumenberg gathers evidence to raise the singular question that, in his view, Christian theology has not been able to answer: How can an omnipotent God be so offended by his creatures that he must sacrifice and abandon his own Son?
1. The Horizon
Pacing Off the Horizon
The One Author of the One Story
The Beginning of Wisdom
Relief?or Even More?
The Theological Generosity of the St. Matthew Passion
Saving the 'Implied Listener' from Historical Reason
The Metaphorical Horizon
And the Listening Never Ends
An Apostrophe Goethe Could Not Understand
Imagining Nietzsche Listening to the St. Matthew Passion
Listening to Rilke as He Listens to the St. Matthew Passion
'Never Will This Child Be Crucified...'
2. Escalations of a God
If It Was This One, It Can Be No Other
An Aesthetics of Creation: How It Justifies the Existence of the World
God Refuses to Be Transparent
Time and Again: What Happened in Paradise?
The Magnification of God
The Work of the Patriarchs and the Work of Music
Abraham's Fear of God, Thought to the End: The Lamb, Not the Ram
The Incarnation of the Word as an Offense to the Angels
Countermove: The Angel of the Annunciation
God's Entanglement in the World
Since When Am I? Since When Was This One?
Why So Late?
A Fulfilled Promise
The Comic Element of Simon Peter
The Denial Becomes Defamation
The One Driven by Great Expectations
When Someone Becomes Too Old to Reach for Dominion
Visit to a Stone That Almost Cried Out
The Realism of the Field of Blood
The Pieces of Silver
5. Between Two Murderers
Jesus's Susceptibility to Temptation
Barabbas and the Authentic Words of Jesus
The 'Two Murderers' on Golgotha
'He Calls for Elijah!'
The Primal Scream
Theological Defense and Human Recovery
The Last Word in the Passion of Saint John
The Witness of the Fourth Evangelist
6. The Tears
'We Sit Down in Tears...'
Unto the Sealed Tomb
Tears of the Father, Only to Be Thought
The Power of Tears over Omnipotence
7. The Imperceptibility of the Messiah
From the Unwritten
A Misinterpreted Agraphon
The Messianic: Prophet and Sybil
The Risk of Still Waiting for the Messiah
The Desperate Messianism of the Second Rome
The Sin That Cannot Be Forgiven
8. The Excesses of the Philosophers' God
"Hans Blumenberg's St. Matthew Passion is a profound and passionate examination of the philosopher's central theme of Christian faith and the passion of the Son of God."Zeitzeichen
"The translators have managed beautifully the enormous shifts in Blumenberg's sometimes taxing prose; [they] offer readers both senses of "passion," suffering and enthusiasm, a kind of enlargement of humanity that parallels the still-unscrolling story Blumenberg tells"Critical Inquiry