Criticism of Heaven: On Marxism and Theology

This volume consists of a critical commentary on the interactions between Marxism and theology in the work of the major figures of Western Marxism. It deals with the theological writings of Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin, Louis Althusser, Henri Lefebvre, Antonio Gramsci, Terry Eagleton, Slavoj Žižek and Theodor Adorno. In many cases their theological writings are dealt with for the first time in this book. It is surprising how much theological material there is and how little commentators have dealt with it. Apart from the critical engagement with the way they use theology, the book also explores how their theological writings infiltrate and enrich their Marxist work. The book has three parts: Biblical Marxists (Bloch and Benjamin), Catholic Marxists (Althusser, Lefebvre, Gramsci and Eagleton), and the Protestant Turn (Žižek and Adorno).

Part of the Historical Materialism Book Series.

About the author

Roland Boer is Professor of Liberal Arts at Renmin University of China (Beijing). He has published extensively on Marxism, theology, political theory and biblical criticism. His most recent works are Criticism of Earth: On Marx, Engels and Theology (Haymarket 2013), Nick Cave: A Study of Love, Death and Apocalypse (Equinox 2012), The Earthy Nature of the Bible (Palgrave 2012), and Lenin, Religion, and Theology (Palgrave 2013).

Reviews

"The tradition of the Marxist reference and critical appropriation of Christian legacy is a long one, starting with the Late Friedrich Engels. Through the XXth century, it left its mark on some of the greatest Marxist figures, from Gramsci to Benjamin, and it was given a new boost in the last years by Agamben and Badiou. Boer’s book, the first one to give a detailed overview of this entire tradition, is much more than a mere critical compendium. One usually says about introductions and overviews that they succeed if they bring the reader to take a look at the original texts themselves. Criticism of Heaven stands fully on its own, achieving a perfect balance between a detailed exegesis and the deployment of the interpreter’s own position. In an almost miraculous way, the more we understand the interpreted authors, the more we hear Boer’s own voice. An indispensable volume not only for those interested in the topic, but for all who strive for a cognitive mapping of today’s perplexing state of things.
(Slavoj Žižek, Birkbeck College, London)

"In his highly intriguing and relevant work, Roland Boer, esteemed and prolific biblical scholar, offers a traveller’s guide to European Neo- Marxist positions from the point of view of their various biblical and theological bearings. Roland Boer’s brilliant exposition and highly controversial interpretations suggest that Marxism is the last resort of a bona fide Calvinist theology of grace.
Carsten Pallesen, Professor of Theology, University of Copenhagen