By Sarah Beckwith

ISBN-10: 0203990064

ISBN-13: 9780203990063

ISBN-10: 0415144264

ISBN-13: 9780415144261

On the very center of Christian doctrine and overdue medieval perform was once similar to the crucified Christ. Sarah Beckwith examines the social that means of this snapshot throughout more than a few key devotional English texts, utilizing insights from anthropology and cultural stories. a twin of the crucified Christ, she argues, acted as a spot the place the tensions among the sacred and the profane, the person and the collective, have been performed out. The medieval obsession with the contours of Christ's physique functioned to problem and rework social and political relatives. a desirable and demanding booklet of curiosity not just to scholars of medieval literature, but additionally to cultural historians and women's reports experts.

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It is in fact one instance of an almost obsessively repetitive phenomenon. 6 But the particular context of this representation renders it tellingly poignant. If Christ can be emblematic of resistance, he can also be emblematic of acceptance, of humility, of being a body not acting, but acted upon. It is a depiction which appropriates the revolutionary Christ back on the side of the church militant, and in doing so reveals the signification of Christ’s body as a highly contested area, an area that is crucially related to the strained social relations of late medieval English society, and an area that touches the very core of self-perception and identity as a means of social control.

67 At issue was the fracturing of the medieval monopoly of learning and its aspiration to be the sole mediator of scriptural and spiritual truths. The result of this fracturing of monopoly was that more evidently and more widely than previously there are two languages of transmission. This obvious but crucial point has been much underestimated in the literature on devotional writings, largely of course because, as I outlined in chapter 1, embodiment, including the embodiment of and in language, has been so studiously downgraded.

To ingest it in the form of the host is not to join in the body of Christ, but to defile and debase him by a passage through the most inward, the most profanely, and profoundly dissolving of the body’s mediums. Baxter, here, appears to share the Wycliffite view that the church’s teachings on the consecrated host, the doctrine of the Real Presence—that Christ’s body was materially present in the blood and in the wine - rendered it abject, an object less of adoration than of debasement. 8 Incorporation into Christ’s body, effected by means of incorporation of it in the act of swallowing the host, is seen as an abjection, a profanation of the spirit.

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Christ's Body: Identity, Culture and Society in Late Medieval Writings by Sarah Beckwith


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