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The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336 cover
  • ISBN: 9780231081269
  • ISBN10: 023108126X

The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336

by Caroline Walker Bynum

  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Columbia Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 01/01/1995
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In The Resurrection of the Body Caroline Bynum forges a new path of historical inquiry by studying the notion of bodily resurrection in the ancient and medieval West against the background of persecution and conversion, social hierarchy, burial practices, and the cult of saints. Examining those periods between the late second and fourteenth centuries in which discussions of the body were central to Western conceptions of death and resurrection, she suggests that the attitudes toward the body emerging from these discussions still undergird our modern conceptions of personal identity and the individual. Bynum describes how Christian thinkers clung to a very literal notion of resurrection, despite repeated attempts by some theologians and philosophers to spiritualize the idea. Focusing on the metaphors and examples used in theological and philosophical discourse and on artistic depictions of saints, death, and resurrection, Bynum connects the Western obsession with bodily return to a deep-seated fear of biological process and a tendency to locate identity and individuality in body. Of particular interest is the imaginative religious imagery, often bizarre to modern eyes, which emerged during medieval times. Bynum has collected here thirty-five examples of such imagery, which illuminate her discussion of bodily resurrection. With this detailed study of theology, piety, and social history, Bynum writes a new chapter in the history of the body and challenges our views on gender, social hierarchy, and difference.
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