Divining History: Prophetism, Messianism and the Development of the Spirit | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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Divining History: Prophetism, Messianism and the Development of the Spirit

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Volume 26

Making Sense of History

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Divining History

Prophetism, Messianism and the Development of the Spirit

Jayne Svenungsson
Translated by Stephen Donovan

240 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-173-2 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (August 2016)

ISBN  978-1-80073-217-9 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (December 2021)

eISBN 978-1-78533-174-9 eBook


View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®



“Insightful, astute, thoughtful, this book traces the developments of liberal Jewish and Christian theologies of history… Creatively synthesizing many primary and secondary texts, this book will interest religion and philosophy students, theologians, and historians. Recommended.” • Choice

“[this book] provides an utterly cogent methodological response to contemporary scholarly debates about genealogical origins of secular modernity. It offers in five chapters a meticulous close reading of a fascinating variety of texts demonstrating how prophetic and messianic takes on historical meaning have continued to inform the history of historical, philosophical, and political thought.” • Religious Studies Review

“The evolution of the concept of history and its apocalyptic elements are lucidly brought forth in a fascinating new book by the Swedish theologian and historian Jayne Svenungsson, exploring uses of history from the Old Testament prophets to today’s Paul-inspired philosophers.” • Politiken

“Svenungsson’s analysis of contemporary theory is as historically insightful as one could wish. She shows how the motifs found in biblical texts… recur in the works of varied thinkers writing as if they were independent of this historical tradition… Even those with no interest in theology of history or deep-seated religious motifs should consider reading Svenungsson’s book.” • Respons


For millennia, messianic visions of redemption have inspired men and women to turn against unjust and oppressive orders. Yet these very same traditions are regularly decried as antecedents to the violent and authoritarian ideologies of modernity. Informed in equal parts by theology and historical theory, this book offers a provocative exploration of this double-edged legacy. Author Jayne Svenungsson rigorously pursues a middle path between utopian arrogance and an enervated postmodernism, assessing the impact of Jewish and Christian theologies of history on subsequent thinkers, and in the process identifying a web of spiritual and intellectual motifs extending from ancient Jewish prophets to contemporary radicals such as Giorgio Agamben and Slavoj Zizek.

Jayne Svenungsson is Professor of Systematic Theology at Lund University, Sweden. She is part of the interdisciplinary research program “Time, Memory and Representation: Transformations in Historical Consciousness.” Her recent publications include the books Jewish Thought, Utopia, and Revolution and Monument and Memory.

Subject: Anthropology of ReligionHistory (General)


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