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Call for sources & input

Doing this series on the body of Christ is really getting the wheels turning for me, in the most positive way possible. It’s also sort of making things balloon, so I may actually be posting about this for a while. Thus, with this in mind I have two requests from readers:

First, I need any and all recommendations you would offer on the topic of the body of Christ. I mean this in the broadest way possible. Right now I’m reading everything from in-depth biblical studies of the metaphor to theological treatments of the three-fold body of Christ. Any sources that you consider vital to investigating this topic, in all its dimension, I want to hear about.

Second, and more importantly, I want to put out a call for contributions from my readership on this topic. Specifically, I’m wondering if any bold readers would be willing to send me some guest posts on the topic of the meaning of metaphor of the body. You could take this in any direction, addressing the three-fold body of Christ as such, or different aspects thereof, or simply doing biblical study of the meaning of the Pauline metaphor in Scripture. There is clearly a diversity of opinion on this topic, and I want those various voices to receive a hearing outside of the comment threads. So, please contact me, either by email or through the comments here if you are interested in doing a guest post on this topic.


  1. Thomas wrote:

    You’re just trying to trick us into realizing that it’s a lot easier to criticize someone else’s position than formulate a defensible position of one’s own, aren’t you?

    I don’t have any particular work in mind, but since most of the conflict is usually between Protestant and Catholic views, I’d be interested to see where the conflict lies between Protestant and Orthodox views (specifically the Protestant criticisms, the Orthodox view is a little more predictable). That may not appeal to anyone else though.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink
  2. Rod wrote:

    I maybe would suggest as a resource Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church by John D. Zizioulas.

    I would be willing to do a guest post on the body of christ as well. after i finish a paper due wednesday for my women in the new testament course from the Jan term.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink
  3. Kampen wrote:

    “School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism” Ed. by the Rutba House.
    “The New Yoder” Ed. by Peter Dula and Chris K. Huebner.
    (Oh, and, you know, virtually anything by Yoder himself.)
    “Theopolitical Imagination” by William Cavanaugh
    “Christ on Trial” and “Resurrection” by Rowan Williams
    (You’ve probably read most of these, but I suggest them nonetheless).

    Along the Epistemological thread I posted in a comment:
    “The Vice of Curiosity” by Paul J. Griffiths (Some of Griffith’s blog posts have touched on the Trinity and the body of Christ as well if I recall correctly).
    “The Craft of Thought” by Mary Carruthers

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Permalink
  4. “Speaking in Parables: A Study in Metaphor and Theology” by Sallie TeSelle.

    I highly recommend. While it doesn’t treat much to do with ‘the body’ directly, it investigates (with Ricoeur and others) the degree to which all our language, thought, and movement is rooted in metaphor. It’s been helpful to me, especially as someone with a love for the poetic word.

    I haven’t read her other books, but I think at least one other deals with these issues…something about “Metaphorical Theology”…

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink
  5. Dennis wrote:

    Don’t know if you’re familiar with Pope Pius XII’s encyclical, MYSTICI CORPORIS CHRISTI (On the Mystical Body of Christ).

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink
  6. erin wrote:

    I’d love to learn more about Rahner’s take on this, too if someone is able.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink
  7. Hill wrote:

    This is liable to open up a can of worms. Halden, if you are looking for things to critique, this is a good place to start. You will find much more grist for the mill here than you will in the catechism.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink
  8. Halden-
    Thank you for the invitation. Of all the themes of our Christian faith, I have found the theme of the “Body of Christ” one of the richest and most satisfying in my 40 years + of being a disciple of our Lord. And beside the Scriptures themselves, and of course the church fathers, I would share one of my favorite sources. It is the 1960 classic “N.T.Images of the Church”, by Paul Minear. He does a thorough survey of all the images but he tells us up front that he is going to evaluate them from 1) how the original authors used them, what they were trying to convey to their original audience, 2) how they relate to or are seen in relation to the main one of the Body of Christ. I highly recommend it.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink
  9. Nathan wrote:

    Certainly I think it would be good to revisit Fr. Robert Aldolfs (The Grave of God) and Donald MacKinnon (The Stripping of the Altars, among others), and maybe even Dorothee Soelle (I’m thinking, in particular, of Christ the representative).

    I’d be happy to contribute a small something on the kenotic body of Christ–especially with Lent and Holy Week looming on the horizon.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink
  10. adhunt wrote:

    Of course you’ve read most and disagreed with most of it, but would we not be amiss to not mention the work of Graham Ward, especially Cities of God; and John Milbank, especially as he has expanded on the work of Bulgakov.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink
  11. roger flyer wrote:

    This should be a rich string. Nice to get a fresh start on the year, Halden. And smart to invite in your thoughtful readers.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink
  12. Derek wrote:


    Tonight I am planning on finishing Webster’s dogmatic treatment of holiness. He devotes a chapter to the church, & while he doesn’t address the idea of the body of Christ directly for the most part, his perspective on the church is quite germane to this discussion. As I was reading it, the dialogue from the comments here kept popping up in my mind.

    I would love to write up a post on this.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Permalink
  13. Jason wrote:

    “The Church” by G.C. Berkouwer

    For a “classical Reformed” eccleisology, MIchael Horton “People and Place” (it won an award from Christianity Today, which may or may not say much about it).

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Permalink
  14. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    I’d say that Lumen Gentium is probably the most important text written for contemporary Catholic ecclesiology. Of course it’s a council text, so it covers a wide diversity of opinions.

    But really, you should probably re-read some Sanctorum Communio.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Permalink
  15. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Or you could simply save yourself some time and reproduce everything N.T. Wright says because he’s right about everything.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink
  16. Hill wrote:

    Yeah, I think engaging LG is probably a lot more fruitful that Mystici Corporis Christi.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Permalink
  17. adhunt wrote:

    Also, Charles Gore’s “The Body of Christ”

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Permalink
  18. Chris Grataski wrote:

    Just reminders:
    Nicholas Healy’s book, Church, World and the Christian Life
    Tripp York’s work, including the early chapters of the anarchism book
    Precarious Peace
    Barry Harvey
    and there are interesting essays by John Webster and Jamie Smith in “Community of the Word”(?)

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Permalink
  19. Chris Grataski wrote:

    i would very much like to see such a guest post. Is Aldolfs’ book a Holy Saturday type book like Alan Lewis’ book?

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Permalink
  20. Patrik wrote:

    I’m sure its on your list already, but Michel de Certaeu’s The Mystic Fable has a good chapter on this, expanding on de Lubac’s Corpus Mysticum.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalink
  21. roger flyer wrote:

    Glad you came around, R.O.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 5:19 am | Permalink
  22. I was in an AAR session of the Society for Scriptural Reasoning a few years ago and heard something on the body of Christ that has trolled my thoughts ever since.

    The conversation turned to the Eucharist, and several of the Jewish folks present were making comments about eucharist-ish elements of Jewish life and worship in an appreciative manner. One Christian fellow made some fairly benign comment about the body metaphor in this connection, and pretty quickly a Jewish woman stood and suggested that “body” imagery tends to make Jews very nervous. This was confirmed by several of the other Jewish folks in the room.

    I took that nervousness to be rooted in memories of Christendom (and the vestiges of Christendom) in which Jews, as paradigmatic others, are seen as a contagion, a foreign body to be expelled from “the body.”

    Ever since, I’ve thought that it would be worthwhile to think carefully through the body metaphor in relationship to continuity/discontinuity between the people of God in the church and the people of God in Israel. Particularly in the theological connection between the Jewish body of Jesus (circumcised and baptized by John) and the mystical body of Christ in the church.

    Jenson has some comments in a Pro Ecclesia article from a few years back that regard the metaphor as a positive site for overcoming supercessionistic thinking, but I’ve seen little else (not that I’ve been looking real hard.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink
  23. Nathan wrote:

    It’s a curious little book. Haha. It’s a fierce little polemic, and strangely left cast aside by all but a few theologians, and people like Lewis and Hall definitely seem(ed) to be the most recent holdouts.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

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