The Messianic

  • Edmund ChapmanEmail author


This chapter outlines Benjamin’s and Derrida’s differing ideas of ‘the messianic’, the element of a system that continually promises a total overcoming of the system. For example, a messianic event would overcome what we understand as ‘history’. For Benjamin, the messianic event is completely unpredictable, while for Derrida it is essential that the messianic can never actualise as such within history. Both writers understand history and language as structures based on messianic potential, and it is the potential for the messianic event that is essential. The chapter concludes by showing how overliving, texts’ continual translation, underlines the messianic nature of textuality itself, and how this affects how we should understand and read individual texts.


Walter Benjamin Jacques Derrida Messianic Translation Afterlife 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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