Presented here for the first time in English is a remarkable screenplay about the apostle Paul by Pier Paolo Pasolini, legendary filmmaker, novelist, poet, and radical intellectual activist. Written between the appearance of his renowned film Teorema and the shocking, controversial Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, St Paul was deemed too risky for investors. At once a political intervention and cinematic breakthrough, the script forces a revolutionary transformation on the contemporary legacy of Paul. In Pasolini's kaleidoscope, we encounter fascistic movements, resistance fighters, and faltering revolutions, each of which reflects on aspects of the Pauline teachings. From Jerusalem to Wall Street and Greenwich Village, from the rise of SS troops to the death of Martin Luther King, Jr, here— as Alain Badiou writes in the foreword—"Paul's text crosses all these circumstances intact, as if it had foreseen them all."
This is a key addition to the growing debate around St Paul and to the proliferation of literature centred on the current turn to religion in philosophy and critical theory, which embraces contemporary figures such as Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek and Giorgio Agamben.
Pier Paolo Pasolini is perhaps best known as the openly gay, avowedly Communist director of the notorious Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom (1975). Yet, as Alain Badiou notes in the Foreword to the English translation of St. Paul, available to read at Mubi Notebook, Christian reference was key in the formation Pasolini's thought.
After writing The Gospel According to Matthew (1964), Pasolini had conceived an "episodic tragedy" in which the episodes of the apostle Paul's life is transposed into contemporary Europe. In "Plan for a Film About Saint Paul," also available on Mubi, Pasolini explains that the film would reveal the opposition between "the present" and "the holy".
One of the signal features of our era is the re-emergence of the 'sacred' in all its different guises, from New Age paganism to the emerging religious sensitivity within cultural and political theory.
Verso has published for many years a range of critical accounts of Christianity and the broader issues of religion, belief and faith. Here, in conjunction with the publication of Pier Paolo Pasolini's St Paul, Verso presents a Radical Christianity reading list.