This essay traces the origins of the contemporary interest in “political theology” and focuses on the work of Leo Strauss, Gershom Scholem, and Jacob Taubes in particular. They offer three competing instrumentalizations of the concept; they alert us to a dimension of the problem thus far unrecognized, namely, how the problem of heresy figures at its core; they help us recall the interwar origins of the contemporary fascination with the term, the historical “horizon” in which it was born; they make plain what was at stake for Jewish thinkers in particular; and they help us ask after its resurgence, whether political theology means quite the same now as it did in the era of its birth.

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