It is a mystery as to why more is not made of the influence of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust on Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s body of work. After all, as a great philosophical poet, and tremendously concerned with language, Goethe’s work could not have failed to capture Agamben’s attention, especially given his early and sustained interest in poetry. Indeed, Agamben cites Goethe in at least 12 of his works including: The Use of Bodies, Creation and Anarchy, Pilate and Jesus, The Kingdom and the Glory, Homo Sacer , The Signature of All Things, Stanzas, The End of the Poem, Potentialities, Karman, Adventure and Infancy and History. Crucially, the last five reference Goethe’s Faust directly. Thus, this paper seeks to remedy the relative lack of explicit engagement and demonstrate the strong, clear and persistent influence of Goethe’s Faust that underpins Agamben’s signature philological and philosophical approach to literarily explicating law’s foundational riddles. Agamben’s Homo Sacer, project – it must be recalled – quite accidentally began in part as a direct response to the legalistic justifications for the 1990–91 Gulf War. The present discussion seeks to demonstrate that Goethean influence ironically enough through a close examination of both Faust’s and Agamben’s attempts at partially translating a biblical phrase: ‘in the beginning was the word’.