Barthes' and Derrida's Agon with God

Kathleen Steele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay considers Barthes' and Derrida's continuing dialogue with Nietzsche's claim, "God is dead". Barthes urges one, in The Death of the Author, to accept the text as a means of escape from the nothingness of the self, and Derrida, at first glance, appears to agree when he states in The Gift of Death, that the first effect or destination of language involves the deprivation of an individual's selfhood. However; he uses the aporia of responsibility to highlight the paradoxes present in language/texts and offers deconstruction, not as a solution, rather as a tool for recognising and disarming such. A thorough examination of Barthes and Derrida contesting claims reveals flaws in their attempts to free post-modern theory from the grand narrative of Judeo-Christian theology, and sees both theorists caught in the paradox of defining their freedom against the very theology they deny.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian e-journal of theology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Barthes
  • Derrida
  • theology


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