ABSTRACT

To what extent is religion a relevant dimension of politics understood as a struggle for people’s imagination? This chapter addresses the question by focusing on an often neglected yet crucial aspect of religion: the Messianic imagination. In order to understand the mechanism through which this kind of imagination came to operate in modernity, the chapter reconstructs its genealogy. The so-called Axial Age (ca. 800-200 BCE), whose importance is now popularized by the best-selling author on comparative religion Karen Armstrong (2006), is interpreted as the “pivotal” age of human history that started around the middle of the first millennium BCE and in which, according to Karl Jaspers who first employed the term (1953 [1949]), a momentous revolution in thinking took place simultaneously across Eurasia. Particularly in its western part, the revolution laid the bases of the political theology that generates Messianic imagination.