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

(AAR Lectures)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  86 ratings  ·  13 reviews
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 o ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 23rd 1996 by Columbia University Press (first published January 1st 1995)
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The pivot for the argument of this books is 1 Corinthians 15, where the apostle Paul describes the body laid in the grave as a seed. The analogy serves to stress that what will be raised to life will be more than what was laid in the grave. We move from death to life, but also from a natural body to a
glorified state. However, Romans 6-8 stresses that this new birth and resurrection has already begun in the life of a christian. Out of this sprung notions of immortality and that of the soul, or
Denise Kettering
Jun 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, theology
This book traces the notion of the resurrection of the body over the course of the early church and into the medieval period, following in close detail the changes that took place in the presentation of the idea and the way that different theologians wrestled with it. At times, the book becomes almost overwhelming in detail and some of the writing could be more straightforward. However, this book is a worthwhile read for those interested in the conversation around body and soul and how to engage ...more
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
For some reason I got really into this, I guess because it provokes bizarre and interesting questions about what happens to the body when it goes to heaven? What is the role of the body in eternity and prior to it? This great, impossible contradiction is explored in regurgitation, eating and defecating, and identity: does the body change sexes? does it go to heaven at a perfect age? without scars? Tracing metaphors and ideas over time, this was strange, interesting, and conceptual.
Laura Hellsten
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting yet not that readable with the many detailed changes of such a large time-frame.
Doris Raines
Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Briana Wipf
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting. Bynum somehow manages to make theological debates compelling.
Oct 26, 2008 marked it as to-read
My body, what do you love? My soul, what do you seek? Anything you love, anything you seek, is here...It is swiftness and might, and....a bodily freedom no barrier can contain? The elect will be as angels of God for what is sown a natural body rises a spiritual it Inebriation? You will be inebriated with the plenty of his house...Is it melody> Here the choirs of angels it pleasure? Thou, oh God, shalt make them drink of the torrents of thy pleasure. Is it friendship? Here the ...more
Christopher Smith
Nov 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Bynum is not the most lucid writer. Labyrinthine sentences and scattershot paragraphs make the argument difficult to follow. The reader is left with the arduous task of parsing out the different lines of argument. But the issues the book discusses are interesting, and her methodology is more interesting still.

The most useful part of the book, in my opinion, was Bynum's explanation of why the most useful point of entry into an abstract theory is to look at the concrete metaphors used to illustra
I should state at the outset that I do not have the mind of a philosopher or theologian. I am never going to be able to expound on Tertullian or Origen, or debate Aristotelian thought or neoPlatonism. However, Bynum's writing is lucid enough that while I'm reading her, I mostly feel as if I do understand a theological argument—in the case of this book, the metaphors of bodily resurrection used in both the early Christian church and again in Western Christianity in the 12th and 13th centuries. Sh ...more
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this about five years ago and would love to find the time to read it again. Bynum's discussion of theological concepts is simply inspiring - lucid, challenging, even exciting. I know very little about theology as a field of knowledge, but I found I was able to approach this fascinating topic as an amateur with some interest in Catholicism, medieval history and literature, and a smattering of philosophy.

Though the focus of this book is clearly in the medieval period (though it spans an ap
Sep 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
What interests Bynum is her theologians' metaphors. What is resurrection like, and thus, what problem is it addressing? She doesn't have a thesis here so much as a collection of images, so this is less of a monograph like Holy Feast, Holy Fast than a survey. Nevertheless, she has a clear preference for metaphors that make space for flux and transformation, and is disappointed when they don't appear.

As a collection, I found this insightful and helpful. It isn't particularly accessible to non-spe
We used much of this book for a History of Medicine class I took in college. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and bought the book a few years ago because I wanted to better understand the topic. Finally finishing the book while also reading Luther and it's re-igniting my love of medieval theology. ...more
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
Ughhhhhhhhhhhh. Basically just throwing a bunch of evidence at you and it gets real old real quick.
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Caroline Walker Bynum is Professor emerita of Medieval European History at the Institute for Advanced Study, and University Professor emerita at Columbia University in the City of New York. She studies the religious ideas and practices of the European Middle Ages from late antiquity to the sixteenth century.

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