A sustained and systematic theological reflection on the idea that being a Christian is, first and last, a matter of the flesh, Christian Flesh shows us what being a Christian means for fleshly existence. Depicting and analyzing what the Christian tradition has to say about the flesh of Christians in relation to that of Christ, the book shows that some kinds of fleshly activity conform well to being a Christian, while others are in tension with it. But to lead a Christian life is to be unconstrained by ordinary ethical norms. Arguing that no particular case of fleshly activity is forbidden, Paul J. Griffiths illustrates his message through extended case studies of what it is for Christians to eat, to clothe themselves, and to engage in physical intimacy.
About the author
Paul J. Griffiths is Warren Chair of Catholic Theology at Duke University and the author of The Practice of Catholic Theology (2016) and Decreation (2014).
"Paul Griffiths, one of the few truly creative theologians of our time, has produced another brilliant and provocative work of speculative theology, demonstrating the centrality of the flesh to the mysteries and doctrines of the Christian faith and examining questions of the greatest significance today and always."
—Carol Zaleski, Smith College
"In this trenchant and careful theological treatment of our embodiment, Paul Griffiths puts the stress exactly where it should be put––on the possibility of transfigured touch. In doing so he does not shy away from the violence involved in all fallen caresses, nor the degree of caress that survives even in our violent touches. By focusing on the varieties of touch, he is able to untangle several unfortunate arguments between liberals and conservatives in a most refreshing way. One does not have to agree with all his conclusions to be immensely assisted by this book and grateful to him for writing it."
—John Milbank, University of Nottingham
"As ever, Paul Griffiths is almost alarming in his lucidity and intelligence. Very few theologians can boast a comparable combination of profound questioning and precise reasoning. This is a book worthy of the most serious reflection, debate, and admiration."
—David Bentley Hart, Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study
"Readers familiar with Paul J. Griffiths's work know they must be prepared to encounter provocation in his new book, Christian Flesh, for Griffiths is a provocateur in the best sense, someone who intends to leave the reader uncomfortable and thereby provoke conversation. Griffiths enjoys a good scrap of the clarifying kind, and in this book I think he has invited readers of various stripes to a variety of good scraps....This book has prompted me to ponder the issues it raises more deeply, for which I have its provocative author to thank."
—John Cavadini, Commonweal Magazine
"Christian Flesh can help Christians of all persuasions to think deeply and theologically about the body, and what it means to live as a faithful body cleaved to Jesus in the sacraments. Griffiths is driven by theology, not by the latest arguments from the political, legal, and scientific sphere, and in that, his work is both enriching and refreshing."
—Aaron Klink, Anglican Theological Review
"Christian Flesh possesses an integrity and exhaustiveness that evades condensed representation. There is much to recommend its reading, and I would struggle to find any reservations for recommending it. The writing is approachable, even when dense, and its honesty and transparency are commendable."
—Jonathan M. Platter, Reading Religion
"Christian Flesh is supremely lucid and beautifully austere....[In this review,] I have covered only a sample of the provocative, inventive, and profound speculations that make up Christian Flesh. I suspect its influence will be felt for many years as scholars work through its implications and pursue its many fascinating leads."
—Evan Sandsmark, Modern Theology
"[T]hose provocative proposals which linger with and even agitate the reader long after the turn of the last page – are among the cardinal reasons why [Griffiths's] books deserve close, careful attention. He has given us much to ponder in Christian Flesh, and in doing so has provided a model of well-reasoned, stimulating and enduring theology."
—R. David Nelson, International Journal of Systematic Theology