This essay examines the way in which Giorgio Agamben's work is marked by a persistent inquiry into that space where what appears as one thing is in fact two. This dynamic characterizes his “state of exception” as well as the notion of “messianic time” central to his book on the apostle Paul, The Time That Remains: A Commentary on the Letter to the Romans. By contrast, Alain Badiou's Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism serves as the most extended example of Badiou's philosophical system, Paul's fidelity to Christ's resurrection being the model of a Badiouian militant engaged in a “truth procedure.” Badiou's book has only three categories (the Greek, the Jew, and the privileged term of the law-surpassing Christian) compared to his customary four (politics, art, science, and love), and in Saint Paul he casts suspicion on what would be the potential fourth category, the mystical. However, his other work on counting and number reveals his sensitivity to the problematic of a difference of one between two numbers in a count. In this fashion, there is in Badiou a hidden messianism of number that links his work, in spite of its diametrically opposed reading of Paul, to Agamben.

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