Looking at populist rhetoric from a ‘Biblical’ point of view (the first of three populism online seminars, spring term 2022)
Guest: Maria Armida Nicolaci
Some so-called ‘tribal’ or premodern traits of modern populisms prompt us to evaluate populist rhetoric in light of the way in which the Christian Bible represents the identity of the ‘people of God’. Prophetic speech, especially, is depicted as a relentless fight against the various fetishes of the “people of God” and its idolatrous absolutization – as if it was a monolithic, ahistorical, untouchable, and abstract entity. Even the Scriptures, therefore, display a dynamics of identity comparable to the morphologies of some populisms. A glimpse at the ways in which the Christian Bible also unveils and challenges similar dynamics can provide useful insight for elaborating a non-idolatrous and, indeed, inclusive and open notion of a ‘people’.
Marida Nicolaci is Professor of New Testament Exegesis at the Theological Faculty of Sicily. Her research focuses on Johannine literature, Catholic epistles, the origins of Christianity, and Biblical Hermeneutics. Among her recent publications are: ‘The “People of God” and its Idols in “The One and the Other Testament”: How Sacred Scripture Challenges Populist Rhetoric’ (2019); ‘Le “parole di Dio” nella Chiesa. Tradizione in tensione’ (2019); and ‘Oltre i muri. Identità e differenza come dono’ (2021).
About the Seminars
These seminars form a series of seminars on populism and Christianity focusing on the theoretical, philosophical and theological aspects of populism. The worldview and the conception of politics — political community, political processes and political decision-making — are typically issues that characterise populist thought. One fundamental conviction is that precisely this kind of questions is necessary to deal with if we want to deepen the dialogue about how society is organised beyond straightforward descriptions and explanations of certain facts. Descriptions and certain facts cannot exclusively account for all the questions society constantly poses, let alone the answers. Both senior and junior scholars, as well as doctoral students and beginners are welcome to the seminars. In order to reach as many as possible, the main language is English, but in the future occasional seminars in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, French or German, are not precluded, if that is appropriate.